Seven years ago, I took a giddy leap forward – toward LIFE. Behind me was a life I had loved dearly, before me adventure! Philip, thank you for sharing life with me. Thank you for fighting with me. Thank you for forgiving me. Thank you for accepting me. Thank you for putting up with my moods. Thank you for seeing beauty in everything I am and do. Thank you for sharing adventure after adventure with me! I adore you on most days. And hate you on some days. And love you every day.
This Mother’s Day marks my sixth as a mama. That fact alone holds so much beauty and pain…my breath catches and I remind myself…breathe. Oh this day, this beautiful day to honor our moms…it can be fraught with longing and sadness. And because of this…this mixed bag that is Mother’s Day, I though I’d share one of my favorite memories…the one that still makes me giggle…my very first Mother’s Day.
I’m a second born. And I had a bossy big sister. Oh, I love the woman. She is the one you want if ever things need to move along in a certain manner. She is the one who dots her i’s, crosses her t’s…and makes sure that yours are dotted and crossed…just right. God, I love her. Anyhoo, because of this glorious force of nature, I DO NOT LIKE TO BE TOLD WHAT TO DO. By anyone. Thank you, very much. I especially do not want to be told by a greeting card company that I MUST celebrate someone or something on a certain day. And so, entering into my first Mother’s Day, I boldly declared to my beloved Phil, “There will be no cards for me. Absolutely none. We will not do all the things and the stuff. That is ridiculous. You all love me well every day. We are skipping this whole crazy mess.”
And we did. Until about noon o’clock on Mother’s Day. We had gone to church in which mom’s were celebrated. And all the mama’s looked so happy. And then Face Book. Right? And then we stopped off at Phil’s “daughter’s” home to give her a Mother’s Day gift…and that was it.
We got back to the car, and I softly said, “Phil. I have made a terrible mistake. I want it. I want it all. I want all the things and the stuff.” And Phil watched me to see if I would laugh or cry. I did a bit of both. And I learned a valuable lesson: when it comes to motherhood, just go with it. There is a rhythm and a flow established by those FAR wiser than me…just roll with it.
This Mother’s Day, may you enjoy the things and the stuff.
I am a planner…a five-year plan is my happy place. Well, it used to be. Life has a way of humbling us…and the thought of mapping out where I think we should be in five years has become a bit comical. Take the month of May, for example. Today is April 22. Within the next thirty days we will either say goodbye to our Peas; say hello forever to our Peas; just hang out with the Peas a bit longer (til the next court date); perhaps take on a additional Pea…as one is cooking and is due in May; AND welcome a new family member for a spell. So, uh, plans are really…not…ummm…conducive to our current way of life.
This kind of “uncertainty” is our new normal. And though it is true for all of us, we are keenly aware that we have no idea what the future holds. But our hope for our future is secure…because it now rests on the unchangeable shoulders of a good God. And that space of faith is our new happy place. Trusting the One who is immovable, unchangeable…and good. We feel such certainty that all will be well. All will be well. This place of peace beats the pants off a five-year plan.
We believe our time with the Peas is drawing to a close. Perhaps. Perhaps not. But in anticipation of a life without these precious girls, my heart cannot help but treasure moments. Images of dimples and crazy hair and chubby legs and outreached arms…the way Chick Pea holds my face as we touch noses…the way Sweet Pea says “Ma ma ma,” and sings with me “Ahhhh ahhhh ahhhh”…these moments placed and secured in a trove.
Some folks, lots of folks, shy away from fostering for this very reason…the fear of loss. Oh! But to live each day with the awareness that time is fleeting…such a gift! This awareness colors our home and relationships…shading the moments of our lives with brilliant hues…making life just a bit sweeter.
We wouldn’t have it any other way.
So, we’ve been fostering for about three years. And in that three years’ time, we’ve been assigned the crème de la crème of case managers. I wish she could say the same for us…or for me. But she has informed me…laughingly, “Jan, you are not a good foster mom. You are a great mom. But you treat these foster babies like they are yours. And they are not. You must remember, they are not yours.” Yep. It is true. I struggle greatly with the disparity in my parenting style for my “own children” versus my parenting style for my precious fosters. Risk management? What’s that? I figure, as long as the consequence is not fatal…or near fatal…let ’em figure stuff out for themselves. Right? Let ’em play, and tumble and climb and explore. Let ’em be bold and courageous in the face of the play scape or the slide or the tree. Yeah. No bueno for my Peas. No. Bueno.
And in my quiet moments, I realize, I am NOT a good foster mom. There are aspects of this gig that I forget time and time again. But I am learning. Slowly. I am learning. The babies belong to another woman. And my haphazard approach to risk management probably leaves her frustrated…and worried. And I am starting to realize, my inattention to detail is…unkind. Sigh.
Though it will feel crazy unnatural, I am going to try to parent in a way that is…against every instinct I have. Now, I won’t stop being me…and I’ll make mistakes…and the fact that I am currently parenting a dare-devil of a toddler comes into play. Up til now, my focus in parenting has been for the love of the babies in my charge. My passion for their good. I am going to try to parent in a way that is loving to my charges’ mama. A consideration for her vulverable position of leaving the care of her babies to another.
Here’s to becoming a more loving foster mom…a fit foster mom.
We do a weekly memory verse from the Bible. Recently I got some ABC Bible verse cards. They are très cute! AND ABC’s? Come on…perfection for this current age.
Well, this morning I pulled out D. For my own amusement, I try to guess the verse and then do a grand reveal. I had settled comfortably on “Delight yourself in the Lord,” when BOOM! I was hit with “Do everything without complaining or arguing,” (Philippians 2:14.) And if you can’t tell by my complaining about drawing this winner, I’ll say it clearly. I speak fluent complaint. No? Not clear? I complain. A lot. It is a sensitive area of weakness for me. I despise my complaining…and yet I persist. I have a lot to say about this struggle…about embracing myself as is…as Jesus does. Accepting my limitation…without condemning myself…while hoping for better. But that is another post.
And so, I’m a bit panicked. This will be an interesting week, and I hope to write through this struggle…speaking the gospel to both my children and to myself. The gospel here…I am a broken woman and God has asked me to raise children…and teach them stuff about behaving as decent human beings. I am a broken woman…both beautiful and terrible…full of love and compassion…and venom and judgement. I get some things right and some things wrong. And God asks me to teach…to teach my kids “to do everything without complaining or arguing” though I am the chief complainer. The gospel? I am loved. And I cannot keep this command. But I am loved. And I will teach them. And my girls will not be able to keep this command. And they will be loved.
Now, Jesus…help me keep a straight face as I introduce my girls to this verse. Open up the discussion of my inability to do this non-complaint thing…and my comfort and hope. You are making me new. You are making my heart new. You forgive my failures, and though You call me to a standard I cannot keep, You adore me. Thanks, buddy.
Hello. My name is Jan. My daughter is about to enter kindergarten. The very fact that it is JANUARY and she will not begin until the fall probably tells you a little something about me. Or that fact that I went to my first home-school convention when she was eight MONTHS old. That might give you a hint. Or the fact that I’ve sat down with my buddy who is the principal of a local elementary school to get the lowdown on public education. And then there’s the private school that I’ve visited. Twice. That does a half a day kinder with TONS of outdoor play and exploration…and, by they way, is my dream school. And costs a million dollars. Oh, and I definitely plan on walking up the block to the elementary school at the end of our street to take a tour and sit in on a class.
What is wrong with me? You guys. This is not rocket science. I am CLEARLY the product of privilege. And perhaps emotional instability. And a touch of over-think-it-itis. Whatever the case, I am laughing at how absurd I am making this whole…venturing into education thing.
Phil? Cool as a cucumber. Of course. Cause at the end of the day, she will be fine. And she will do fine. And there will be mistakes and tears and injustice…whether I school her at home, up the street, or at my dreamy-dream school.
Though I know I am…uh…analyzing this thing to death…I can’t seem to stop myself. Thank God for Phil. Right? Oh, and for all those amazing options. Let’s not forget that. How fortunate?
But seriously, this little stint into motherhood…the FIRST one entering school…this thing has to have some sort of name. Right?
Oh. And the really funny part of my situation? After the first year, we will be an RV family. So we will be homeschooling. Hey. Maybe we’ll just skip kinder!