Tuesday, July 27, 2010

One of Those Days

Today is one of those days.  My morning was early, my temper is short, my patience is thin, my house is hot, and my kids seem intent on making messes.  It's one of those days when I question the sanity of having kids at all, and I am certainly not my best mom version.  It's one of those days where I know the only way I'm going to get through it is by relying heavily on the grace of God.

Recently, I have been realizing more and more that relying on Him is the ONLY way I will be the kind of wife or mother or even just the kind of person, that I want to be--the kind I'm meant to be.  There is something both freeing and terrifying about that.  And today I'm finding that it's far more difficult, almost even painful, to be in that position of total reliance on God. 

I'd like to think of myself as being capable.  I'd like to be one of those sweet, even-tempered mothers who never yells at her kids.  I'd like to have some of those sweet-tempered children who need nothing more than a look for them to obey (do those kids really exist?).  I'd like to be patient, not just the kind of patient that makes it possible to deal with kids who have to be told something twenty times before they do it, but the kind of patient that makes it easy to sit on the floor and play cars, or build a train track, or get out the finger paints (I wince slightly at the thought of finger paints, which I feel certain will end up on my walls instead of on paper).  I'd really like to just naturally be a great mom, a fun mom, a sweet mom.  And some days, I come close.

Other days, like today, I feel very inadequate.  And when I feel inadequate, I feel like giving up.  The catch is that this isn't some ordinary job that I can just turn in my two weeks notice for.  This is the un-quittable job.  It's mine until the day I stop breathing.  I will always be a mother, whether I like it or not.

What's more is that I know that God has called me to be a mother.  And if God calls you to something, it's usually best to go along with it, whether you like it or not.  Unless, of course, you enjoy spending time in the belly of a giant fish.  For me, that doesn't seem like the best alternative.

So here I am, doing what I'm called to do, what I have to do, what I need to do, sometimes what I love to do.  Am I qualified?  Probably not.  I'm quite certain there are others who have much better resumes for this job. 

Actually, I feel like this is more like being recruited for an army rather than applying for a job.  I hear God saying, "I want YOU!" and pointing a finger at me like the Uncle Sam poster.  My impulse is to look behind me and see if maybe He's pointing at someone else.  He's not.  Then I want to try some excuses for why I can't possibly.  Unfortunately the good ones have all been taken, and there still hasn't been one that He didn't completely override. 

I like the story of Gideon.  God says, "Hello, you mighty man of valor!" and Gideon says, "Are you sure you have the right guy?"  Then there is a series of tests and signs that they have to go through before Gideon is REALLY sure that this is God and that he's supposed to lead an army.  I can relate to that.  A lot.

It's nice to feel qualified, to feel capable and independant.  It's far more difficult to have to stare straight in the face of my own weakness and admit that I need help.  And God is the only one who is available to me for that help 24/7.  I tell Him, "I'm not good at this."  He says, "Yep.  Do it anyway.  I'll help you--I've got patience to spare."

I have come to see that everything that happens is for God's glory.  It isn't about me.  It isn't about my abilities, or lack thereof.  It's about Him.  It's about God letting me see something amazing happen, and me knowing that I couldn't have done it without Him.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Birthday

Last night we had a birthday celebration extravaganza for Malachi and Israel, which included Blackjack Pizza, TWO cakes, homemade ice cream, and spiderman suits. 

Yes, after a long wait, both boys now each have their very own Spidey suits, complete with masks. 

One suit is the standard red and blue, the other is the black one, which could either be Spidey's alter ego or the bad guy, Venom.  Now at least when they hit each other they'll have a good reason.  Spiderman's gotta fight the bad guys right?  And the bad guy has to fight back.  Superhero 101.

The catch is that my two little Spidermen will not take off their suits.  They eat in them.  They sleep in them.  They play in them.  If I let them, they would bathe in them.  If they continue this way, that may be the only way to get both them and the suits clean all at one time. 

I know that eventually, I am going to have to take away their suits and hide them in a secret place for another time.  I know they will, in their quest to be just like Spiderman, probably fight with each other more often.  There will be yelling and kicking and hitting and crying.  And there is a good chance that they will, at some point, fight over the suits, who gets black and who gets red.  But for now, they are just happy, and that makes me happy.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Following

It struck me this morning that being a mom is a lot like playing "Follow the Leader".  I went down to the basement to put a load of clothes in the dryer and Malachi and Israel came trickling down after me.  While there I realized that my washer was becoming dirt encrusted around the top, so I went upstairs to get a paper towel. 

"She's going upstairs!" said Israel, and they trooped right after me up to the kitchen. 

Then I turned around and took the paper towel back down to the basement, where they of course followed me again. 

This morning I got plenty of enjoyment out of them following me up and down repeatedly, especially sicne it takes them longer to get up the stairs, only to find when they got there that I was going back down.  I had to chuckle inwardly about that one.

This kind of thing happens a lot.  If I got to the bathroom, they want to come too.  If I lock them out of the bathroom, they sometimes beat on the door and wail for me to let them in.  If I go upstairs, they are sure to follow, unless they are distracted.  Even then it is only a matter of time.  If I'm gone for more than a few minutes, they want to know what I'm doing. 

Sometimes even Aaron will follow me around the house when he's home.  That part is kind of cute, actually.  It lets me know that he still likes being around me, even after six years. 

In a way, I guess it lets me know that they all like me, and they just want to be with me, which is nice.  It's encouraging, especially when I know that at times I'm probably not so nice to be around.  Sometimes I lose my temper with the boys, and more often, they lose their temper about every little thing that doesn't go their way.  Between me yelling at them, and them screaming at me, it could become difficult to tell whether we like each other at all.  And then they follow me, up and down, down and up, up and down.  That's as good as an "I love you" for me. 

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

What a Day

I find it interesting, for lack of a better word, the way that life can go from normal to freaky in a split second.  I doubt I ever noticed it before I became a mother, but I seem to have an over-abundance of opportunities now. 

I've written previously of some of my other experiences, which have included steak knives being smuggled to the park, a bloody nose at McDonald's, and being screamed at by a stranger.  I have to say that what happened today outreaches them all on my own personal thermometer of difficult days. 

This morning I had a meeting at ten o'clock, so afterward I decided to just take the boys over to Burger King and get some lunch.  I had my friend Hannah with me because she babysat the kids that were at the meeting and I had given her a ride. 

We were having a nice time at the playplace; nobody was kicking anyone else in the face or hitting other kids.  I was alternating between eating, talking to Hannah, trying to feed Simeon who was tired and a little testy, and governing the other other boys. 

Suddenly, a horrific scene played out before my eyes.  It was one of those moments when I could see what was going to happen, and there was no way for me to change it.  It played out in slow-motion before me, and yet I could never have moved fast enough to stop it. 

Izzy had decided to give Simeon a ride in his high chair.  In theory, this wasn't a bad thing.  At McDonald's the high chairs have wheels and it is very easy for the older boys to push Simeon around in them.  The Burger King high chairs, however, do not have wheels.  On some other occasion, Izzy might have tried the same thing, and it might have worked, but today the odds were against him. 

He pushed Simeon about three feet before I even knew what he was doing.  I just happened to look over at them at the exact moment that Israel pushed on the high chair and instead of gliding forward, it toppled right over.  And Simeon hit the floor face first.  Or I should say, mouth first. 

Hannah and I both immediately ran over to him, but she was closest and quickly got him upright.  I am pretty sure that she was thinking more clearly than I was, in spite of the fact that she is only sixteen, and I'm sure she was probably somewhat horrified at the whole situation. 

Simeon's mouth was bleeding profusely.  It's not a sight I could ever have prepared for.  I grabbed some napkins and tried to keep him from bleeding everywhere.  Hannah, fortunately mentioned his teeth to me or I probably wouldn't have thought to check them. 

His front teeth had been knocked loose and were shoved back.  Hannah's mom, Renee, who is also a friend of mine, had mentioned not too long ago that if a child gets a tooth knocked loose or knocked out that you should put it back right away and the gums will swell around it and hold it in place so they won't lose it. 

I had no other option but to reach into his mouth and move his teeth back into the correct position before the swelling started.  It was something that I had hoped I would never have to do.  I really had no idea whether I had put them back the right way or not, because there was so much blood I couldn't see. 

A Burger King lady rushed in with napkins and ice and said something about filling out a form.  We cleaned him up as best we could and I tried to put the ice on his mouth, but he wouldn't have it. 

Finally, I picked him up and just held him.  Dn't ask me why I didn't do that in the first place.  I have no idea.  Now it seems obvious that I should have held him immediately and to hell with worrying about all the blood.  That's just not what happened. 

I sat with him and waited for the BK lady to come back with whatever form she was talking about while I tried to comfort my poor little boy.  His teeth had stopped bleeding, but he had a nasty gash or two on his bottom lip from his teeth when he hit the floor.  After a few minutes I realized how stupid it was to be waiting for a form when my baby was bleeding and upset, and decided to just leave.

Hannah had a dental appointment, so I dropped her off at her grandma's, who lives not far from where she needed to go.  Then I went over to her parents' house because last week I lost my cell phone, and therefore had no way to call anyone when this happened.  I cannot even adequately describe the frustrating helpless feeling of not being able to call anyone. 

When I got to their house, another friend was there too, and I was mildly comforted by the thought of having two other moms to consult with on the situation.  The older boys went off to play, and I took Simeon inside.  Renee gave me a cold washcloth to see if we could clean him up and get a better look, and then got some infant tylenol to give to him.  He didn't like having the medicine administered, so I just held him for a while and he started to fall asleep. 

The general consensus was that I probably didn't need to take him to the doctor, so after that I just called Aaron to tell him what had happened.  I had held it together pretty well up to that point, but of course, I cried when I told him what had happened. 

I stayed at their house for a little while, but I knew I had to go home sometime.  I laid Simeon, sleeping, on the couch, and gathered the big boys into the van to go home.  Renee was kind enough to let me borrow her cell phone since I lost mine, and since I don't have any other phone at home. 

I took them all home and got Simeon settled into his crib, then put the other boys down for a nap as well.  After that, I called our doctor's office, just to make sure I shouldn't take him in. 

Normally, I'm not a person who likes to go to the doctor over everything, but seeing him bleed like that caused me to think twice.  To my relief, they let me talk to a nurse right away, and she reassured me that I had done everything right and told me to try to put some ice on it or let him eat a posicle or ice cream cone to help the swelling go down.  It seemed like he would be fine, and I was very relieved about that, but I also felt very shaky, and emotionally I was completely drained. 

Later, after he woke up from his nap I gave him a dose of ibuprofen and cut up a strawberry popsicle (okay, it was two strawberry popsicles) for him, which he thoroughly enjoyed.  Between the popsicles and the ibuprofen, he was almost his normal happy self, aside from his poor little fat lip. 

We ended the night with a bath--he was all sticky from the popsicles and a vanilla milkshake that he drank some of, but mostly dumped on himself.  I realize that it sounds horrible that I gave my child popsicles and a milkshake for dinner, but they seemed like good options for a kid whose mouth is all busted up.  The rest of us had breakfast for dinner--egg and cheese bagels with blueberry muffins. 

Tomorrow I have the option of going to a park with some other moms...but at this point I'm not sure I dare to leave my house.

Monday, July 5, 2010

No Fireworks For You

Aaron and I will have been married for six years this month, and until last night have never gone to see fireworks on the fourth of July.  In fact, even before we got married we didn't go see them. 

Last night, for the first time, we actually planned on seeing them.  We went over to a friend's house because you can see the Country Club fireworks from his backyard.  We took all the boys with us, along with a pack-n-play so Simeon could go to sleep.  We had hamburgers and brats, and put Spiderman on to keep the little guys from destroying the house we were visiting (they don't have any kids yet, so everything was very "in place").  Aaron's brother and his wife and their baby came too.  

It's been very hot lately, but suddenly yesterday it turned cold and rainy.  Still, we had high hopes that the rain would subside and there would still be fireworks.  We hung out and talked and waited for them to start. 

While we waited, we would occasionally hear firecrackers or see one or two fireworks set off by neighbors.  The boys were very excited.  We had ice cream (even though we were cold) and waited for the big show.  We finished our ice cream and waited even longer.  We waited until almost 11 pm, but the fireworks never came.  It was very disappointing.  

Malachi couldn't figure out why there weren't any big fireworks.  He didn't seem to think rain should have any affect on whether or not there was a big fireworks show.  We gathered all our little people and took them home to their beds, shrugging and saying, "Well, we tried." 

I am beginning to wonder if for some bizarre reason, I am not meant to see a fireworks show on the fourth of July.


Sunday, July 4, 2010

Step

On the edge of knowing
On the verge of being
Uncertain of the ground that's showing
Can I take a step?
Or when I place my foot
And try to stand
Will I find myself in sinking sand
Sucking me under
Into a dark oblivion?

In between
Who I was
And who I will be
The question must be asked
Who am I right now?

Thursday, July 1, 2010

The Wire

Life can seem like a high-wire act at times.  We are up in the air doing a balancing act on this thin wire, hoping we don't fall. 

When it comes to God, I sometimes tend to view Him as a sort of safety net.  I'm on the wire, I'm balancing my life, and it's always nice to know that if I should fail in that balance, there's God, my safety net, ready and waiting to catch me so I don't splatter on the ground. 

Lately, though, I feel like God wants to be more than just "there" somewhere in the back of my mind, more than something to fall back on when I lose my balance.  More than just a safety net. 

He wants to be the wire.

He wants to be the thing that my entire life is balanced upon; not a fall-back, but a life-line.

He wants me to know that He is everything that I need.  Nothing else will do and no one else can be to me everything that I need. 

The answer to my fear, my weakness, my doubt, my insecurity, my stupidity and my pride is entirely found in Him.

This is something I know in my head.  I've known it for a long time.  But I have trouble knowing it as more than a fact.  I have trouble really believing it.  He wants me to believe it.  He wants me to more than just believe it.  He wants me to live it and breathe it.  He wants that knowledge to become as much a part of me as my own flesh and blood, maybe even more so.

He wants to be the wire that I stand on.


Trust or Torment

In a Bible study I've been doing, the question was asked, "What situation most recently tempted you toward mental torment?"  My answer came from something that had been bothering me within the last week or so, but as we talked about this question in my discussion group, I began to remember other situations.  One, in particular stood out to me.

Not too long ago we were at Wal-Mart getting groceries.  When we got to the check-out, we realized that Izzy wasn't with us.  Aaron went to look for him while I continued tranferring the groceries from the cart to the check-out.  That particular time was a big shopping trip, and we had a lot of stuff.  As the cart began to empty, I was waiting for them to come back.  But they didn't.  It was taking a long time, it seemed, for Aaron to find him. 

Scenarios began to run through my mind.  What if he went outside?  What if he was lost?  What if someone took him?  What if someone hurts him? 

With all the horrible stories of children being abducted and the things that can happen, my heart quailed at the idea of something like that happening to him.  "Not my son!" I thought with anguish.  And then I heard God speak to me.  "No, MY son," is what He said.  "Don't you think I will take care of him?  Don't you know I love him more than you do?" 

At that moment, I felt peace in my heart.  God was reminding me that Israel doesn't belong to me.  He belongs to Him, and He will take care of him, because He loves him more than I am even capable of doing. 

I can't be with my kids all the time to protect them from life or from pain.  In fact, even when I am with them, I can't always keep them from being hurt.  But I know that God is with them all the time.  They belong to Him, and He will take care of them.

I have done a few different Bible studies in the last year or so on different books of the Bible, and there is one mesage that has come through very clearly to me: GOD IS IN CONTROL.  He knows what's going to happen.  He isn't surprised.  And no matter what is going on, even if it seems bad, even if it seems terrible, even downright evil--in the end, HIS purpose will be accomplished.

What is required of me, is trust. 


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