I Can’t Write Their Story

 

Once upon a time 

I reached for the steaming hot ducky felt rice bag for the umpteenth time.  “Thank you, son” I weakly whimper to my fourteen year old.

Lying helpless in bed is not the Mom-image I dream of being for my boys. In spite of the storybook family image I try to write for them over the years, I finally resolve, “I can’t write their story.”

While my youngest boy perfected the ability to stitch straight seams in his 8th grade class, I am certain he never imagined his Mom would be getting so much use from the ducky bag he made.

Up and down the stairs he runs as he takes care of me, commenting how the bag stinks now. Zapped so many times,the rice burns beneath the soft flannel duckies. I place the bag on my gut where bright red burns have created a design the doctor thinks may never go away.

It’s the middle of summer and I have spent weeks in painful misery and long hours in the E.R. I’ve experienced too many blood tests, cat scans and increased doses of ox-codeine than I care to count.

This is not the plan I envisioned for myself or family this summer. The boys and I were going to cook from Alton Brown’s cookbook together. I hoped they would teach me how to lift weights in the garage. I took for granted sitting in my lawn chair cheering on the soccer team, taking videos of their swim meets and watching them improve their stroke.

Instead, I am an absent mom and my husband has taken on the role of Mr. Mom in their summer frolics.

I certainly never planned to listen to the family laughing and splashing in the backyard or conversing around the kitchen table from the misery of my darkened bedroom. I roll over saddened, maybe even ashamed, as I watch my boys walk quietly past my door.

“Please take him out of the room” I whisper to my husband as he shuffles our boy with special needs away from his mom. I can’t bear the thought of him being confused or anxious as I groan and weep in pain.

“Feel… better…. Mommy” he carefully tells me.

This is not the perfect family story I wrote for my children. I don’t want them to have a helpless mom. They shouldn’t have to take care of me at their age. They shouldn’t have to completely care for themselves throughout the day.

I should be vibrant, energetic, interacting with them. I should.

I should be cooking for them and driving them for milkshakes.

I should.

I should.

Wrestling with pain…Wrestling with “should’s”… Wrestling with God…

He stills my heart.

He reminds me this is what I prayed for over the years. I ask the Lord to grow character in my boys, to make of them godly men. I ask Him to orchestrate opportunities for them to rely on Him in a deep and personal way.

This is their opportunity to experience disappointment, even fear and worry — then learn to lean on and listen to their Heavenly Father.  They need to witness the hand of God, to experience their own answers to prayer.

It’s what makes faith real.

On my sick-bed I relinquish to God my rights as Mom. I confess my delusions to control the fine details of my children’s lives. 

Jesus, You be their Master Teacher.

Step into my children’s lives when I cannot and should not.

A sickly Momma is not the image I create in their story. But, God is working with them to create His own story in their lives.

He weaves their joys, disappointments and life experiences for His own good pleasure.

I don’t want to get in Your way, so Lord I am letting go–again–today.

“Be assured, if you walk with Him and look to Him and expect help from Him,  He will never fail you”-George Mueller

Friends, it is almost a year since my surgery and diagnosis of Crohn’s Disease. I have taken time to get my life back in order and enjoy a pain-free summer with the family. Now it’s time to share with you what God keeps trying to teach me at my bedside.

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When Mom messes up

Cade was biting his lip and wincing his eyes as he walked out of practice and stumbled toward me.  My heart often melts as his smiling face approaches the van, but there was no smile this afternoon.  With a look of discomfort he asked, “Mom, can I get a new pair of shoes?  My toes are bleeding again.”

Again? I was clueless my 15 year old had outgrown his soccer shoes for the 2nd time this season. He pulled off his shoes and exposed the bloody sock.  What kind of a Mom have I become?  I am always on top of these things; keeping my kids from wearing high-waters when they grow out of their pants and pressing my thumb at the tip of their shoes to check for perfect fit.

“I let my son down,” I thought.

I questioned myself as we drove to the sports store to purchase new shoes.  My oldest son loves to do whatever his brother is doing, so he too, wanted to try on shoes.  We noticed A.J. has been limping lately.  We inspected the bottom of his feet for splinters or other offenders, and could not figure out was going on.  When he stepped on the foot pad to measure his feet, the problem was evident.  He too, had outgrown his shoes and was limping around with scrunched toes.

How could I have neglected such basic needs of my boys?  I felt a little sick inside.

When I was a new Mama I imagined my husband being the one who would blunder with our kids.  I worried he would carry the baby seat out to the car, load up his briefcase, hop in the driver’s seat and speed away; absentmindedly leaving the baby on the curb.  I recited safety concerns when he rough-housed and reminded him of everything he needed to be aware of when I left him alone with the little ones.

But, the not-so- funny thing is, the blunders occurred on my watch.  I am the one who dropped a 1-pound can of kidney beans on our toddler’s head. I cried and stewed even though I knew he was alright.  After fretting for hours, I finally called the pediatrician in the middle of the night to explain the bean accident and tell him I feared I had damaged my son’s brain.  He told me to go to sleep.

“Give it a rest,” was the message I began to consider.  Being a faulty parent is inevitable.  Try as I might to be on top of every detail in my parenting, I’m going to mess up and make some blunders. 

We completed our shoe selections and walked to the cashier to make the purchase. My head hung a little low, but I resisted the urge to call myself any names like “Dingbat!” or “Bad Mom”.  I put my arm around my teenagers and squeezed them in to kiss their heads, “I’m so sorry I didn’t know you grew out of your shoes, son.  We want to take care of these things for you.”  They both leaned in.  “Next time you feel your feet do not fit your shoes, please speak up.”  (After all, one of them is capable enough to share the responsibility.)

Are you a mom who messes up?  With every blunder learn to give yourself a measure of grace, ask for forgiveness if needed and learn a little something from the circumstances. And if by chance you’ve been a little harder on that husband of yours, he will be grateful if you pass some grace and praise along to him, as well.

The words of a song written by the late Keith Green encourage me today:

 “Keep doing your best, and pray that it’s blessed.  Jesus takes care of the rest.  Yes, the Lord says that He’ll take care of the rest!”

 

 

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Yes, that was my son who burped during Church

Yes, that was my son who burped during church.

Believe me; I am very conscientious about not disturbing those around us.  We sit on the edge of the aisle, sandwiching our boy with special needs strategically in between us.  We bring gummies and writing utensils to help him make it quietly through the long service.

But there is only so much a mom can do.  Knowing when he will burp or if he will cover his mouth is one of those things out of my control.

The great thing about it was no one turned around to glare at us.

What a gift, for a special needs family to be able to attend church without being inhibited by the stares of people.  Every mom should be given the opportunity to figure out their mothering, without a disapproving audience.

My heart often goes out to the mom in the grocery store who has her hands full of little ones and the need to get her shopping done.  Every one of us can tell the story of our kids losing control in such a situation.

We are doing our best, we prepare strategies to help our kids manage the store outing, and then one of the kids loses it.  I watched it happen today.

It wasn’t her fault.  She was checking out of the store while her little girls still had it all together.  But the cashier was in training, moving terribly slowly and finally giving Mom the wrong change.

The rest of us in line were losing our patience, and so were those little ones.

Spontaneous combustion!  The girls began taunting each other, pulling on Mom’s leg, and Mom began to quietly lose her cool.

I looked for the opportunity to give her a smile.  I wanted her to know it is okay.

The problem for young moms is this, they all know everyone is watching-and judging-when their kids fall apart.  Do we really think we are helping her when we glare?

You know the feeling; your face becomes hot with embarrassment.  The more you try to control your kids in front of everyone, the worse it gets.

Sometimes we witness parents losing their cool because they are reacting to the pressure they perceive from others when the kids are falling apart.

Sister, what if we gave each other a break?  What if we graciously considered this mom really is doing the best she can?

What if we considered the unknown situations that have factored into this mommy drama?

For instance, her child has an ear infection and won’t stop crying, but she needs to get to the store for milk and necessities.  Most of us have been there and could have used some support ourselves.

Just as the mom began to feel the stress of moving out of my way in line, I reached out to pat her back.  I said, “You are doing fine.  Don’t worry about me.”

She gave me a sigh and a little smile.

I hope one more Mom can shut out the noise of the disapproving crowd.

Walk tall my sister.  Keep trying your best at this mothering thing.

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