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Sunday, March 7, 2010

gloriously impossible

I wrote this a couple weeks ago, before we drained the pool.  It sat.  I looked often at our neglected pool.  It sat.  It was green.  It was bad.  We drained the pool.  We scrubbed it down.  This morning we gave it an acid wash and filled it up.  It was a lot of work.

And in the transition I discovered bouncy beautiful reflective light in its emptiness.  These images are a result of the transition from algae scum to a sparkly clean pool, ready for summer.  Growth in transition.

The process, rather than the product, produced the best images.

Thank you, God.
.   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .

I cried, a lot. 

I was strong.  I was going to hold it together.  I was the mama.  So rather I tried to be strong.  But then I cried, a lot.  And often.  

So many things went wrong.  One thing after another.  Laundry detergent trailing down the hall.  The dogs got into a left-out jar of peanut butter.  Who left the freezer open?  Tess's tantrums have been escalating and our therapists are scrambling figuring out resources.  Another bad phone call.  My diet?  Do Uncrustables and the bag of chips I just downed count?  No.  And then more bad news.  Babies crying.  A screaming tantrum lasted 90 minutes.  There was biting and pulling her own hair out.   Folks at the door simultaneously.  Bickering and bellyaching, and embarrassingly much of it came from me.  Several errands just had to be run.  I hoped I didn't run out of gas.  Doctor's appointments and health insurance problems.  One of the kiddos teacher's called me to see if, "everything was all right at home."  Every thing's fine at home, but how did she know?  Secretes revealed.  And when I was absolutely sure that I couldn't handle even more more little thing going wrong...  it got a lot worse.  

A friend came over.  (Friend?  Well more like the gal that does my hair.  In times of need, I'll pay for friendship.  It's ok.)  She asked me if everything was ok.  I sobbed, "The Lord is presenting me with so many opportunities today to learn to be a better me."  Optimistically, I try to think, I will be so so strong and such a better person with these challenges God puts before me.  Some days I don't want to be strong.  Some days I just want to be taken care of.  Small.  Insignificant.  Weak.  But being a mama doesn't really allow this too often.  
Don't we all have days like this?  I know (hope?) some of you are with me on this one.  I don't think it matters if  you have 1 or 2 or 6 or 12 kids.  There are those days.  Sometimes there are those weeks, months, or years.  It's hard.  I struggled when I only had one child and had to work when I wanted nothing more than to be home with my baby.  I cried when I had 2 and was a stay-at-home mom and every conversation had words like poopy and all meals involved peanut butter.    I complained when I had 3 and the spills and messes left permanent marks on my treasures.  17 years and 6 kiddos later, I still have yet to master this job of motherhood.  Some days I still cry and complain and struggle.  I have a minimum of 17 years left of active parenting ahead of me, and I am sure that there will always be days like this.  

I'll let you in on my secret.  When I was a new mom, I believed that if I did it all according to the my perfect child rearing recipe, that my kiddos would turn out as I wanted them to.  
---If I talked to them about the hard things, and walked the fine line between parent and friend.  
---If we embraced diversity set our goals high. 
---If we not only spent quality time 
with our children, but a large quantity of time too.
---If I not only joined the PTO but was elected to a board position.
---If we read to our children daily and said our prayers before meals and as we tucked them in to bed and taught them to be gracious hosts and polite guests.
---If we went to church and lived a Godly life, and had family dinners each evening.
---If I didn't try to be perfect, but tried to be the best we could that our children would grow up successfully.
---If we taught them to put God and others above all else.

If I followed this recipe our children would develop into happy successful contributing members of our community, children that other mamas would be envious of.  Along these lines, I matched my daughter's sippy cup to her hair bows.  I dared to declare that our home would be free of plastic toys.  (Ya, I'm embarrassed to say I really tried that.)  And we started our children's college funds before they were born.

But as I progress in my now 17-year-long career of motherhood, I've come to understand that there is no perfect child rearing recipe.  I am a wonderful teacher for them, and I am the mama that is perfectly chosen for them.  I will never stop trying to do what I believe is right for them.  But I am far from being the only factor that affects how they grow.  17 years ago, I really didn't think being a mom would be that hard.  Hardest job in the world?  Well, maybe tough, but not the hardest, especially for those anal-retentive types that are organized, linear, direction followers... like me!  Pride... the first sin.  My presumption that I know and can do better than Him.  God loves to teach the proud His lessons.  James 4:13-17

Then they I grew up.

Then being a mom got hard.

And when I thought knew declared threatened that I absolutely could not handle even one more single thing going wrong... did.  And being a mom got harder.  

It is the hardest job in the world.

I'm reminded that God has other plans for His children.  Kiddos grow and make their own decisions, and sometimes all you can do is sit back and watch their mistakes.  I cry with them and hold them and pray they will learn and pray that I'll know how to be a better teacher.  And then they make the same exact mistake again.  Being a mama is tough.  No job is full of this much responsibility.  And if that weren't enough, it's a responsibility that never has a restroom break, or vacation time, or even sick days.  24/7 they are our responsibility, every morsel they eat, every person that they hit, scratch, or bite, every lie they tell, every law they break, every sin they commit, every heart they hurt.  Each of these is the responsibility of the parent to train and teach and guide and pray over and love unconditionally.  

Parenting will shake you to the core and make you question your deepest convictions.  It will make you doubt your self worth, and it changes every single aspect of who your are.  

But being a mama also rewards us in ways never dreamed possible.  We hope and pray that having a child will be as good as we have imagined, and then we discover that it is even so so so much better than that.  It touches us deep into our souls from the very first moment a newborn passes from our wombs, or for a child that has waited for a family and is passed into our arms.

17 years later, I know to gather up the special mama moments and savor them.  Gather them in your soul and keep them precious and fresh and alive.  The moments when I'm the only one that can soothe the skinned elbow.  When a dirty hand print marks a pant leg and can be a sweet reminder all day long.   A little one that looks up at me and challenges me to a PS3 ATV vs. Motocross race, and I don't know what that is.  Macaroni necklace gifts and even a discovered stash of hidden candy wrappers beneath a bed.  Paperclip bracelettes.  Wildflower bouquets with bugs, dirt, and all.   A child's prayers.  A teenager that still holds my hand.  A difficult test passed with a B.  A shoulder used for her tears.  A good decision made against the pressure and friends, and then rushed home to tell me.  These mama moments are treasured and savored to make it through the long haul.  Only the hardest things come with the promise of such reward.  Motherhood is a gift that not all women get to savor.  A gift that not all women get the honor of being challenged with.

It is hard.  Really really hard.  And it is the most gratifying job that ever existed.  It is both.   One can not exist without the other.   That dichotomy still amazes me.  

At the end of the day, Boo crawled in my bed last night.  His body spooned with mine, and his head snuggled beneath my chin.  His breath slowed, and I knew he was asleep.  My tears flowed.  Again.  Maybe this time they flowed because this day was finally coming to an end.  But more likely this time the tears flowed as a reminder of such a wonderfully glorious challenging responsibility I have in mothering him.  Such a wonderful responsibility in mothering each of my little ones.  And it was all the sweeter because of the struggle of the day.   

Oh Lord, thank you so so much for presenting me with this gloriously impossible job.  


  1. twice i've had a good cry reading your blog in the last few days.

    1)finally watched you adoption video. bawled through the whole thing

    2) this post. you are a good Mama. you are a good example to me. i am praying for your awesome family and for you. heaven knows, i need to be returning the favor of praying a little.

    3) dang i want to do a photoshoot in your pool. i told my hubby our next house MUST have a pool and I am psyched because in Boston the pool season is VERY short, which means I will have all of early spring and fall to take pics in it.

  2. Staci-thank you for the prayers so much. i'm not one to ask God for help with the little things even though i should. thank you so much. And the pool? Don't want one. everyone in these parts has one, and that're just a big algae-growing headache. and they only get drained very rarely. only the second time in 13 years we have drained it.

  3. I heart your blog! And even more so, your transparency. Thank you for sharing.

  4. What a post! Your words are beautiful. So are your children. If I were you I would keep the water away from that pool! That pic of Tess with tears???? Oh my.

    On a side note, have you thought of a salt water generator? We used one for our pool and the water was perfect. We had little to zero maintenance with it.

  5. Norah-
    We used to have a salt system and it was great. But the real problem is our neighbor's eucalyptus trees on our property line. They are huge trees and a huge mess! We curse them!
    Tess's tears?! Thanks! Always looks like she has eyeliner on!


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