Tag Archives: faith

This is Good: All of It.

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I spent most of my first Mother’s Day in tears. Even for a crier like me, it wasn’t how I had planned to spend the day. But I had the triple header of saying goodbye to family that had been in town for the week, saying goodbye to a house we had planned to buy, and preparing to put my son in a new daycare. (For those keeping track, this is childcare plan #4. Hubby astutely pointed out that we have had almost every form of childcare possible at this point: nanny, in home daycare, live-in care with my mom, and now a daycare center.)

Of these major life events, the daycare was causing me the most tears last Sunday. The idea of getting used to another stranger looking out for my son seemed almost more than I could handle. (Though the excuse to spend $150 at Target for “school supplies” for my son’s first day in daycare was some excellent retail therapy.)

SPOILER ALERT: I LOVE the daycare. The detailed daily report of what and how much he has eaten, the times and lengths of his nap, and the diaper changes and numbers of BMs calms my inner helicopter mama. Just kidding, nothing calms my inner helicopter mama. But it is an appreciated OCD step in the right direction.

No, my crying about the daycare has nothing to do with the quality or satisfaction with the daycare. Instead, it has everything to do with watching my beautiful baby boy go on his next big adventure. It is about seeing him grow up and go places and have adventures without me there.

I kept asking my husband, in the midst of my tears, “What if they don’t love him as much as I do?”

Because when it comes down to it, that’s what I want. A world that despite all evidence to the contrary will hold my son in kindness and compassion. A world that will accept him for the perfect person he is. A world that will nurture and adore him.

I look in his innocent face and think that there is absolutely nothing that has happened in his world yet that would make him believe that the world is anything other than those things I just listed. And I find myself waiting for the other shoe to drop, for the reality to settle in, for prick of the spinning wheel, his birthright in this broken world.

I’ll be honest, there’s another side to this coin. It isn’t just the avoidance of pain. The other question that I ask over and over again is… (I’m ashamed to admit this.)

“What if he loves someone else more than he loves me?”

I am the center of his universe. I am the most beautiful and hilarious and exciting thing in his world. And I just love that. I love all of it. I love the attention and the adoration and the acceptance. And if I’m being completely honest (and usually I am) I don’t want to give that up. And letting him go means giving him the opportunity to realize that I’m not the only amazing person in this world.

My husband and I were talking about our son last week and I said something like, “That’s my boy.”

And he replied, “He isn’t yours.”

I obviously responded charitably. Something along the lines of, “SHUT.UP.YES.HE.IS!” But I instantly knew it was true.

Ugg.

I get it. I know that my job as a mom is ultimately to let him go. To let him explore the broken and ugly world, teaching him to see the beautiful in it and to cherish the good. To trust that he will love and be loved by more people than just me; and that this is healthy and right. To put into practice my husband’s words: my son does not belong to me.

But that often seems impossible. Or leaves me in tears on Mother’s Day.

The week after our son was born we asked our pastor to come and pray for him. She came and gave the most beautiful benediction and blessing over his life. And she left me with the best piece of parenting advice. We had been told a lot of “get as much sleep as you can” (useless, useless advice) and “enjoy this time because just you wait, when he’s a teenager you will be miserable.”

In contrast, she said, “It seems like just yesterday that my kids were little, and now [my youngest daughter] is in college. And it was all good. From the time they were babies to now. All of it is good.”

Today is my son’s nine month birthday. We went to the park and he sat in the bucket-seat swing and he laughed and laughed as I made silly faces and kissed the top of his head when he swerved my direction. It is hard to believe that nine months ago I could only image his face, the dimple in his check, the blue of his eyes. And it’s even harder to believe that nine months from now he will be walking around our living room and climbing our bookshelves. In nine years he will be in school, and nine years after that he will be graduating from High School.

Each step of the way, I will be learning how to let go, over and over again. And maybe there will be some miserable teenage years. There will almost certainly be those who do not show my son the kind of love I believe he deserves. And I suppose it is possible that one day he may love someone more than he loves me. (Ugg, again.)

But I am holding onto my pastor’s words. Having faith that I, too, will look back and be thankful. This is good. This is a gift. The loving and the letting go.

All of it.

261755_10150290602379874_2436766_nRachel

Swallow the Pink Fear Pill

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This weekend my husband, son, and I went to visit my family in Minnesota. Among other things, we participated in our family’s annual epic Easter gathering, complete with extravagant food and even more extravagant music, courtesy of my father and the musical friends he has accumulated over the past sixty years.

While at the party one of the guests accidentally dropped a Valium pill on the floor. I didn’t find this out until the next day.

Under normal circumstances this would not be a big deal. Heck, under normal circumstances I might be motivated to look for the pill for the selfish purpose of getting a few winks of sleep. But ever since becoming a mother, my definition of “normal circumstances” has dramatically changed. When I found out about the pill I panicked.

After calling poison control, my father informed us that Valium could make an infant stop breathing. The phone operator said to keep an eye on the babies in our house and take them to the hospital if they displayed signs of excessive drowsiness.

Let’s talk about my rationality when it comes to possible disease or crisis. One night the bottoms of my feet had started to hurt, like I had stepped on glass. I mentioned this casually to my husband, while inwardly starting to plan my last will and testament. My husband wondered if it was possible that my feet were dry and needed some lotion. My skin, after all, is very susceptible to cracking in the winter. I nonchalantly said, “Hmm, that’s a good point.”

When he asked me what I thought I said, “Well, it probably isn’t that my gestational diabetes has turned into full blown untreated diabetes, leaving me with feet that are one sugar spike away from amputation.” My husband thinks I’m hilarious.

So maybe the doctors shouldn’t leave it to my judgment whether or not my son seems overly drowsy.

My son, thankfully, saved us a trip to the ER by not acting even remotely interested in sleep, despite having been up until one in the morning, refusing to wind down until the adults had finished their fun. But the story of how my son deals with FOMO (fear of missing out) is for another time.

This one is about the crippling and devastating fear that grips me when I least expect it. This is about the fear that starts in my stomach and spreads to my limbs. This is about the fear that can keep me in the house on a Friday night instead of going out because I don’t want to get in a car accident with a drunk driver. The fear that turns dry feet into my final moments. This is about a fear that I fight hard to keep from controlling my life.

I didn’t really think of myself as a fearful person until I had my son. Suddenly there are monsters in every corner. The news stories are unbearable as I imagine the world he is inheriting. A world with movie theater shootings over text messages. A world with food shortages due to climate change and disease. A world where parents are abandoning face time with their children for texting with their friends. A world where pills are innocently dropped on the floor at joyous Easter gatherings.

When I was younger I would often overhear my mom telling people that the safest place her children can be is in the palm of God’s hand. I always liked that. That is, until I had my own child. As soon as his tiny body was placed on my chest, umbilical cord connected, I had a different idea. The safest place my child can be is in my arms. Scratch that, the safest place my child can be is back inside my womb.

Actually, scratch that, too. My child has never been safe. Period.

Apparently fear can make me wonder if I made the right choice to become a parent. By this I mean that fear can blind me to the miracle of the flesh and bones and skin in my arms, a beautiful baby boy who through a whole lot of biology I pretend to understand is made up of my husband and me and stardust and the breath of God.

I find it interesting that in the Bible when angels appear the first thing they say is, “Do not be afraid.” I can’t be certain, since I’ve never seen an angel, but I am pretty sure that my face would have been on the ground with everyone else’s, unable to look at the huge fireball of an angel suddenly appearing where there wasn’t one before.

Or for a more metaphorical approach to understanding my faith for my often-skeptical religious self–I am pretty sure that angels are appearing to me all the time. But in my fear I don’t recognize them. They are shrouded in the dark shadow of what might happen. They are in the present and I am off in the future, waiting for what might be, bracing myself for pain or tragedy.

What I am left with is a choice between fear and faith. And I’m not too good at faith. I am the person who much of the time has more faith in my belief that my son will probably find the pink Valium pill somehow tucked away in the belongings we brought back 400 miles from my parents’ home, than I have in the idea of my son sitting in my palm of God’s hand.

But maybe the best part about my parenting fear is that it drives me to want more faith. I don’t want to be afraid. I want to be the person who believes that my son is safe in the palm of God’s hand. I want to be the person who trusts that he won’t pick up the pink pill. I want to be the person who notices the angels all around me, the miracles big and small. I want to believe, as my friend Lenora says so eloquently, that love is greater than fear.

And maybe that stumbling, fumbling desperation, driven entirely by necessity, is itself a kind of faith.

And maybe one of the angels is my mom, reminding me again and again that in the absence of certainty we have the ability to trust, trust that God is holding my son in his hands, pink Valium pill or not.

And if my dry feet do end up killing me, there is really no other place I would rather be.

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261755_10150290602379874_2436766_nRachel