|Some mothering days end like this|
I can't tell you when, exactly, it started with each child. But the older three all have paralyzing fears of some kind and it gets exhausting, knowing what to say and do. Anxiety runs on my side of the family and in me, it manifests itself in a couple ways. One is a fear that my children will fall down the basement steps at my aunt's house. Hers are the only basement steps we deal with and we go to her house only rarely, because she is busy with her own grown family of four children. But on occasion when I have to leave my children with her, my anxiety about the basement steps is very powerful.
When my husband uses a knife or saw around the children, I become terrified of a freak accident, partly because double vision long ago destroyed his depth perception.
Any dangerous power tool or gadget, especially loud and sharp ones, like a garden tiller, also strike fear in me. In my mind's eye I can see the blood gushing, and in my ears I can hear the screaming.
My children inherited fears, I'm sorry to say.
For Thanksgiving we left out the table candles; Mary fears fire of any kind. We went through this same fear with Peter and for a time avoided fireworks and candles and bonfires. When the furnace acted up and made loud popping sounds, we wondered in husband-and-wife whispers if it could lead to an explosion. Fire fears also encompass explosion fears, so that word became taboo for a few years.
Eventually Peter's fire fear subsided and I know Mary's will too. Forgoing the candles seems like the best thing to do; the kindest thing to do for now. It's a sacrifice for the rest of us but a loving one, I reminded my candle-loving boys, who would light candles at every meal if they could.
Paul has feared sunflowers for several years and we no longer plant them. Stray mini sunflowers sprung up in the garden from seeds long forgotten this last year, two of them, and Paul did tolerate them from a safe distance. But when the flower began to droop, it become too menacing for him and I asked a reluctant Peter to pull it. Paul would no longer go anywhere near that part of the yard. When we walked past giant sunflowers in other yards on family walks, Paul stood paralyzed, crying, and wouldn't pass by at all until I suggested he close his eyes while I led him through.
Paul also developed a fear of throwing up that kept him from enjoying dessert for several months this year. You never know what tidbit of information their brains are going to exaggerate into an irrational fear. I must have casually said something about overeating causing vomiting, when someone gave themselves a too generous portion of cake. I don't remember the actual scenario, but Paul began fearing dessert even though he loved it.
Eventually, months later, he began enjoying dessert again, no longer bringing up the vomiting issue. One more life stresser gone, I told myself afterwards.
Until last night, that is.
Husband loves summer sausage and though I think it a horrible food to serve my family, I buy it for husband around Thanksgiving every year. Maybe he had it for holidays growing up, I don't know, but he associates it with holidays. It makes him happy and he joyfully shares it with the children, who for some reason, actually like it. I can't stand the sight of it, but I figure it won't kill them to eat it once a year.
Husband served it to the boys last night while he read aloud to them. I guess Paul asked for seconds, so husband gave him another chunk. It didn't set well with Paul's stomach, because at 2:30 AM, he threw up. In the sink, thank goodness.
He woke me up, tearfully relating his horror. I cleaned up the mess, disinfected, and gave him some tender attention before sending him back to bed with a throw-up bowl. Then I secretly asked the Lord for mercy, because a family of six with a stomach bug is...well, not fun.
He didn't throw up again and I didn't know what to make of that. I exercised caution, only giving him a pretzel stick at 11:00 AM, to test the stomach waters. So far, so good. A couple of hours later I gave him some Cheerios, plain. So far, so good. For a late lunch I gave him plain turkey, another pretzel stick, and a few raisins. Then later, a non-dairy drink. So far, so good. At dinner I gave him a lean turkey burger and baked beans, and then later, a non-dairy drink. No problem.
Except that at bedtime, fear struck his heart. He lay awake, crying, telling me his stomach hurt. I got the throw-up bowl, still wondering if we were dealing with a stomach bug.
But as I listened to him, I realized that fear and anxiety were causing his stomach upset. The possibility of throwing up again was about the worst thing he could think of. He dreaded it to the point of crippling insomnia, and I knew better than to try to convince him he was being irrational.
I was a weary Momma by this time. It had been a long day of strife with his older brother and my emotional energy stores were dangerously low. The thought of his vomiting fear returning made me feel discouraged and rejected. So many people have normal children. Couldn't I just have one of the four without problems?
Why God? What does life bring me one problem after another?
Two days ago Peter broke the zipper on his winter coat, and today, while playing football outside, Paul pulled on the hood of Mary's jacket and ripped it. The furnace is doing the popping thing again and we're wondering how much life its got left, or if it just needs cleaned and serviced. And why, oh why, is Peter wild with OCD and tics again? His ADHD is difficult enough, but when all three are present, life is significantly altered.
One problem after another, and now I've got a nine-year-old boy too paralyzed with fear to fall asleep.
|Sometimes mothering feels as crazy as this looks |
I wanted a cup of cocoa and my Bible more than anything else. I needed those two things something fierce.
But something inside me said no. Not you, not now. Instead, I crawled into bed beside my nervous nine-year-old boy and stroked his forehead and cuddled with him while reciting the 23rd Psalm. Reluctantly, at first.
But then, as I felt his whole body relax at the Scriptural promises, I knew this was a holy moment. And I got to be a part of it. Something beautiful and healing. Something sacred and true. The Holy Word of God is alive and active. More powerful and transforming than anything we can imagine.
John 16:32-33 Behold, the hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home, and will leave me alone. Yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me. I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
Jesus has overcome this world! Rejoice, because in Him, we are healed. We are whole.
Me, a weary Momma about to explode, finds the power of the Holy Spirit at just the right time and cuddles the boy I was about to walk away from. I am inadequate, selfish. There is always an end to me, but never to God's grace. His grace carries me through my mothering, just as it carries my children through their own personal trials.
My grace is sufficient, he tells me in Scripture. And I live this truth. Moments like this, beautiful ones I couldn't put together myself...they prove to me that yes, His grace is sufficient. That no hardship, no disorder, no problem, is too much to bear. Because in Him, we are whole once again. He takes our brokenness, eclipses it with the Cross, and we become whole.
Suddenly, heart racing with excitement, I wanted to explain it all to the boy beside me...how it is that the Cross makes us whole.
But I noticed his even breathing. He was peacefully slumbering, his arms wrapped tightly around my neck. All I could do was privately, tearfully, give thanks to God that I hadn't walked away.
My heart went from lamenting over my hardships, to marveling at his grace. My grumbling turned to thanksgiving and I felt like the richest woman alive.
Giving Thanks Today:
- A life lived under the power of His grace
- A hardworking, hard-loving husband
- Children eager to bring smiles to their neighborhood friends this Christmas
- Hot cocoa and Scripture taken together
- The power of the Spirit making me more than I am as a mother, even in the middle of the night
- The first snow fall
- Neighborhood-friend Lexie over for dinner and baking, teaching us that love is patient
- Sons learning to be gentlemen
- Daughters learning to say please and thank you
- Siblings making up indoor games on a snowy, windy day
- Warmed-up sweet potato casserole
- Two days of turkey noodle soup this week (their favorite)
- Delicious cranberries boiled with orange juice...even better the second day
- No stomach bug...I think
- Beth has a dental surgery this Friday and has to be put to sleep for an hour. They didn't want to fix a cavity with her awake, unfortunately, because I couldn't guarantee that she'd cooperate. I've been dreading it for months and fearful about the anesthesia, but God has settled my heart tonight. They'll also get her first x-rays and a hygienist will clean her teeth within the same hour. We had to be put on a waiting list so this has been long in coming. Please say a short prayer that she doesn't come down with any illnesses? If so, it would have to be postponed. Thank you!
Giving thanks with Ann today, and other thankful ladies.