Friday, September 6, 2013

Dear Other Moms, Please Forgive me for Having Judged You

I used to read those blog posts by moms claiming that their children were never the ones who had meltdowns in public thanks to consistent training fully believing that this was always possible.

I've been the mom subconsciously judging you when your child screams and cries while you look helpless and confused, or angry.  Please forgive me.  I don't know you, your life, or how hard you are working to train those children.  I don't know how long it's been since you slept through the night or had someone come alongside you to encourage you in this journey.  

It is often said that God uses our children to teach us.  To help grow in sanctification.

God has given me three of those little blessings, with a fourth due to make an appearance sometime early to mid January.  And I have never felt so utterly confused, helpless, and out of control. 

You see, one of those children is a sweet, empathetic, funny, and adorable three year old named Gilead.

A boy who is cautious by nature, and over the past years of more moves that I can count because we were literally without a home for awhile, church trauma, and work trouble, has become overly so.  Seemingly innocuous things in life terrify him.  And when they do, I'm pretty sure he literally loses his little mind.

I fear that I have done this to him.  That I haven't handled all of the stress over the past years as I should have.  I haven't shown him faith as I ought.  He hasn't seen through his mother that we truly can trust God to take care of us in all things.

This week he's made some major progress.  We got a new bike trailer, which he thought was really cool, until he realized it had only one wheel instead of the two he was used to on the old one and he melted into a puddle of terror.  We prayed with him, we had him watch his siblings ride in it safely, we prayed some more, and we gently strapped him in and took off.  Three rides later, and though he's still cautious, he's enjoying himself.  He's also conquered his fear of the curly slide at the local park.

We were encouraged.  While feeling at a loss for what to do, we knew a "buck up and don't be a wimp" approach was not it.  So we mostly pray with him and talk to him a lot about God always taking care of us.  Then we help him work through whatever it is that's scaring him on a practical level.

Yesterday we began a homeschool gymnastics class.  I was looking forward to this as an opportunity for Mercy and Gilead to develop their gross motor skills as well as a time in which I might be able to meet other local homeschooling moms.  About two minutes in Gilead lost it.  Really lost it.  I was more than two feet away, the equipment looked scary, and he didn't know how to do a somersault--which he apparently thought was a pre-requisite.

Yes, I was the mom with the child who was screaming, throwing things, and hitting his mother.  None of those are behaviors he typically engages in, or that we tolerate (not that we don't have our moments), but when he's terrified he becomes another creature entirely. Oh, and my toddler was the one darting across the gym trying to get his chance at the rings while I was trying to calm his brother.

By the end he was doing better, and had even apologized to the teacher, but I was still humiliated, confused, exhausted, and yes, shamefully enough, a little bit angry with him and a lot angry at myself.

I came home and cried.  And cried.  And cried some more.  I saw my child being crippled by his fears for life.  I saw my chances at developing friendships and support in a new community go down the drain.  I felt, and still feel, completely drained and totally inadequate as a mother.

I know what I'd have been thinking had I been on the other side and seen a child behaving that way a couple of years ago, and I'm ashamed of myself.  I would have (and have) passed judgement in spades.  Denied support to a mother who very likely needs it more than those whose children could be the positive examples in parenting books.  In short, lived as if God is a God of judgement rather than mercy.

I still have no idea how best to handle it.  We're praying with him, talking to him, encouraging him, and hoping that next week's attempt will go better.  As it turns out, childhood isn't carefree, and helping a little one truly believe that God never lets go of us is one of the most important and difficult things for a parent to communicate.  It requires that we, too, place all of our fears (including, or maybe especially, those regarding our children) at the foot of the cross.

I can only pray that next time I see you with your children, looking about to cry as they wreak havoc on your notions of what parenthood is supposed to be like, I'll be the one reaching out and loving you.  It's what Jesus would do, and I pray that He will conform me into a reflection of him.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Mercy Turns 4!

On May 27 Mercy turned 4.  Four!  That's just a year from five, which seems to impossible.  Four, it would seem, is a definite exit from toddlerhood.

For Mercy's birthday we were in Idaho visiting Ryan's parents before their big move to Arkansas.  We enjoyed gifts, ice cream sundaes, and pirate and princess hats for the occasion.

A new ladybug towel.

A bicycle basket to put flowers and worms in.

Gilead got a toy fishing set.  Wow!

A big girl water bottle.

Opening a puzzle.  She's become quite the puzzle whiz.

Grandpa Joe having a good time.

Showing off the pearl necklace Grandma Carrie made for her.  So grown up!

And the fairy wings and tutu (also made by Grandma Carrie).

A pirate and his ice cream.

A littler pirate, who has no ice cream.

The birthday princess loves ice cream.

A Daddy pirate!

Aren't we attractive?

Abel finally makes friends with Grandpa.


All three with Grandpa and Grandma.

Mercy had also been talking about having a birthday party with friends for some time.  So, the weekend after her birthday, we had a couple of friends over to the local park to grill hot dogs and sausages and eat cake.  Mercy wanted a hippopotamus ballerina cake, and, as the crazy mom, I decided to give it a whirl.

It only took two days.

And a lot of frosting and fondant.

Party favors!

Abel helps Daddy.

Blowing out the candles!

We're very thankful for our Mercy girl and pray that God will bless her as she continues to grow into a lovely girl.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Old Friends and the Big City

 Two weeks ago we learned that my college roommate, who was also my maid of honor, and her husband were going to be in Seattle from their home in New York for a conference the following weekend.  She and her husband are both physicians, and though they would be busy, they had the ability to be free on Saturday.

I hadn't seen Celeste since her wedding over two years ago, which had also been the only time we'd met her husband.  At the time, Mercy was 18 months old, and I was well along with Gilead.

Sarah, another bridesmaid, lives in Seattle with her husband.  Thanks to their hospitality, we were able to arrange for a last minute trip to see both couples.  It was a whirlwind.  We drove the 6.5 hours on Friday, gallivanted around Seattle on Saturday, and drove the 6.5 hours back on Sunday.  But it was very, very worth it.

The drive through Snoqualmie Pass, in particular, was spectacular.  I've only done it twice--one on our honeymoon, and for this trip.

The last time Celeste and I had spent any real time together was the month before Ryan and I were married, nearly five years ago.  In that span of time I've had three children, and she's been married and is now expecting their first child.  We were overdue for a face to face visit.

Despite the long drive and three consecutive days without naps, the children were in remarkably good spirits.  That was a tremendous blessing.  As was the fact that the weather was beautiful--mild and sunny.

Trying to find a stroller friendly way from Pike Place to the waterfront.  With Starbucks, from the original location, in hand.

Pictures outside the Seattle aquarium above.  And the entryway display below.

I'm pretty sure the aquarium, or "ocean zoo" was the highlight of my children's day.  Mercy, however, may argue for the Space Needle.  She's convinced she saw "all of the Eiffel Towers" from there.

We walked up some steep hills.  I let Ryan push the stroller up them.

Gilead hit it off with Celeste's husband and liked to be near him much of the time.

There's something remarkable about a dear friend you can not see for years, but slip into conversation with as though you just saw one another yesterday.

Mercy and Gilead check out an interactive display at the Space Needle.

Saying goodbye.  We're hoping it won't be over two years before our families are able to spend time together again.

And getting some goodbye play time in with Sarah.

And goodbye to Seattle, on a typical Seattle day.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

A Week Off

Tax season ended April 17.  The day following tax season is typically a holiday for accounts.  However, at the firm Ryan is at, the entire week following tax season is a holiday.  The office shuts down and everyone catches up on some much needed rest and family time.

Though we couldn't afford a "real vacation" at this time, we did have a some plans.  Ryan and I were going to go on a "shopping date" in Lewiston (2.5 hours away) to stock up at places like Costco, Walmart and thrift stores.  We don't have much in the way of shopping here in Wallowa County.  Later in the week we were going to go an hour to La Grande to take the kids swimming, or possibly the 2 hours to Pendleton to take the kids to the children's museum.  However, the first morning of the week off, three of the six of us woke up sick.  The rest followed suit.

So we didn't do any of those things.  Instead, we convalesced.  On the bright side, we didn't have 60 hour work weeks to contend with.  And we had the first truly nice weather of the year.  So we convalesced outside.  Small children don't let a little thing like a nasty cold get in the way of some long-awaited outdoor playtime.  We were blessed by the little pleasures this last week.

Abel joining the fun.

Mercy helping a worm climb a tree.

For some reason, the girl loves worms...

More outdoor fun with Abel.

Me, supervising.
Lunch on the porch, in swimming suits.

From the front.

They're pretty cute.

A popsicle in a bucket of water.  Mercy is ready for summer.

We found a wading pool in the garage!

Today is Ryan's first day back (that's true for the whole office), and it was announced this morning that they're going to give a four day work week a try.  Outside of tax season, the office already closed at 12pm on Friday.  However, especially since we live so rurally, that extra full day opens up a world of possibilities for visiting people on weekends, or just getting to places to do some necessary shopping.

These past seven months since Ryan was hired here have been full of blessing.  Yes, there have been adjustments to living in the area, but God has been so gracious.  I'm trying to remember, day by day, to bask in the glory of it all while not forgetting where we came from such a short time ago.