Offering Hope to the Interrupted Mom

It’s one of those days.

Interruptions abound.

They just won’t leave me alone.

Claire, stops by to pick up her large green parrot who I’ve been babysitting for three weeks and whose cage I frantically cleaned this morning. She chats and plays with her bird. Meanwhile, I’m thinking, take him home and let me get back to the numerous projects on my to-do list.

A charity calls, asking for a donation. “Don’t you want to be one of those people who help a dying child’s dream come true?” I mumble yes. “Great, I’ll connect you with Joanne who will go over your information.” I clutch the phone, rolling my eyes, feeling guilty that I am so impatient, when dying children are waiting for their dreams.

Interruptions keep snagging my progress. At 3:00 pm I glimpse hope. Another hour and my current project will be completed. The phone rings. I force cheerfulness. It’s my husband. He asks what’s going on? I want to tell him nothing now that I am standing in the middle of the room talking to him instead of working, but instead I manage, “Not much.”

“I’ll be home in ten minutes for a walk,” he says.

He asks about my day as he grabs his tennis shoes and white ankle socks.

I let my frustration for all the interruptions of the day ooze out and suck away my joy at him coming home early to walk on this rare winter day in January with a temperature of 60 degrees. He listens as we walk through the garage and out to the street. And then he starts. “Maybe you need to manage your time better. You could have told Claire to leave sooner and not answered the phone.”

I sputter. “Should I be rude to guests?”

“Stop it,” I say, hearing my complaining and not liking it but too caught up in the moment. It is like eating potato chips. I know I should stop taking another handful and another handful and I keep telling myself to put the bag down, but my hand reaches into the greasy bottom to grab a few more chips.

Truth was, I felt inconvenienced by him coming home and wanting my attention and I wanted to gripe and inconvenience him a little. Alert him to the fact that I was changing my schedule to accommodate him. Where was his gratefulness? I also wanted him to sympathize with me, not parcel out advice.

I take a few steps, simmering, my blood rising to almost a low boil. Then he points out a white growling bundle of fur and suddenly we are both laughing at the pixie dog named Rocky who thinks he’s on the same par as an attack Doberman. I relax and breathe a deep sigh, releasing my anger, breath-by-exhale.

He grabs my hand and we walk in silence. “Stop,” I repeat. And then I take a breath of humble pie, which scratches as it fills my throat and lungs, causing pain. “I’m sorry I was so crabby and in a bad mood.”

I inhale some extremely warm winter wind and it doesn’t hurt so much this time. “You are right. I don’t have to answer the phone and I should have told Claire to come at a different time or rushed her out the door quicker,” or I think, guiltily, enjoyed the interruption. I could have offered tea and we could have chatted. Instead, I rejected the gift and became resentful.

Why do I become so focused on achieving and crossing off items on my to-do list that I miss the little gifts of life?  Is my worth so tied to accomplishing? To what I got done? And who says that these items must be done today or that I didn’t work hard enough?  Certainly, not my husband. He always says, “Oh, Theresa, it will all be there tomorrow.” And sometimes that is what I am afraid of. I will have all of today’s stuff and tomorrow’s stuff—a double list of stuff to accomplish.

Two days later I am reading a book about thankfulness and the author mentions living in the present and finding happiness and blessings in the small things. The right now and here. My heart leaps. This time with regret. I think about Curtis coming home happy to spend time with me and all I could do was gripe and complain. Can’t I be thankful that he wants to come home early? Spend time with me? Can’t I get my selfish focus off myself long enough to see things through his eyes. Rejoice in his excitement about leaving work a little early to enjoy the weather and wife.

Perspective.That is what it is all about.

I need perspective to live in the moment.

If I had stepped in his shoes and behind his eyes for a moment, I may have reacted differently.

Isn’t that how I can share a sister’s burden and pain? By crawling behind her eyes and peering out at the world and circumstances through her contact lenses? And isn’t that how I can understand God? Be thankful in all things, rejoicing, I say rejoicing—I do this by viewing things through the lens of His word—his perspective?

I bow my head in shame at my selfishness and how often I want people to move behind my eyes and beneath my skin. Why do I insist on seeing things my way–through my selfish, distorted cataracts which keep me from seeing the world, God, and those I love from their perspective?

I ponder, reflect, repent, and peace settles in.

My son interrupts my reflective thoughts. He wants me to look at his Lego boat, tell him if I think he could add anything else. Could he have some more breakfast and …?  My peace is shattered.

And then I look at my son.

I cup his soft chin, that will one day be hard with stubble and life’s responsibilities, and gaze into his eyes. His blue eyes so like his dad’s. I smile at him. His smile bursts forth, like a darting roadrunner. His mother’s lips and smile echo my smile.

“I love you so much,” I say.

And then I try to crawl into his 9-year-old skin and enjoy the moment.

 

This guest post  first appeared at Christen Spratt‘s blog, where she Offers Hope for Mom’s in the Trenches.

Twinkling Mom

I am guest posting at Kindred Mom today.

Twinkling Mom

Christian stamps his foot hard against the tile floor, imitating his mother’s Irish dancing. He stamps three times in a row and laughs, proud of his accomplishment and the sound reverberating through the air.

Sure, I taught him those complicated dance moves, to eat with a spoon, say please, grunt when lifting, and scoot backwards down the stairs, but during our 21 months together he’s taught me things much more valuable. Because of his toddler tutelage, I have a brighter motherly shine.

 

Lessons from my toddler. 

 

He teaches me new ways to love. From the time I discovered that I was growing a baby, I began loving him sight unseen. That love has only grown. His easy smile and charming personality make me want to wrap him in a hug and kiss his fuzzy head, even if he has just colored my kitchen table or spilled the jar of peanuts on the floor. Overflowing with motherly love, I sacrifice my daily desires. What I receive is unmeasurable. The way Christian says, “Momma.” How he kisses my hand and face. When he tugs on my leg so that I bend down and he hugs my cares away. The bottom line is he loves me back. It is not because of what I accomplish–my clean floor, healthy baby lunches, or combed hair–but because I am his mother.

He teaches me to relax and have fun. As a baby, Christian would burst out laughing for no obvious reason. As I began noticing how often he laughed, as opposed to the relatively few times a day I laughed, silliness became a conscious part of each day. We sing crazy songs. Squat and study ants. Shout silly sounds and words. Zoom cars across the floor. To his delight, even place his pants on his head.

He teaches me loyalty. He loves me even when I am gloomy, having a hectic day, or have yelled at him. Christian may look upwards with a confused look and big tears clouding his vision when I disappoint him, but he loyally returns for me to kiss his ouchies, play with him in the bath, and feed him ice cream. He refuses to allow disappointments or anger to cloud his faithfulness and devotion to me his mother.

He teaches me to grow in new and different ways. I now am almost bilingual, fluent in baby talk and interpreting urgent grunts and points. I am a master in removing burp and poop stains, a pro at sleep walking through mid-night nursings, and changing the diaper and clothes of a squirmy child is no longer a challenge. I am learning to live in the moment and enjoy our time together.

He teaches me to have faith in myself as a mother and faith in God. Christian looks to me to work things out. And despite my motherhood induced worries, guilt, and failures, I view Christian as a precious miracle entrusted by God to my husband and me. This clarity strengthens my faith in God, who promises to guide me through every moment of this huge on-the-site training program called parenting.

This first posted at Kindred Mom, a site that was created to help mothers flourish.

Sweet and Sour, Happy and Sad

Sweet and Sour Lead PicIt’s that time of year again.

Sweet and Sour. Black and White. Joy and Sorrow. Good and Bad. Happy and Sad. Excitement and Dread.

Two opposites. More of one and less of the other, but still the two mingled together in some measurement.

For the last two weeks my son asked that the dreaded phrase, “school is beginning soon,” not be spoken aloud in his presence. He didn’t want to be reminded that summer was almost over more often than necessary. “School is beginning soon,” signaled to him the end of the summer. End of free time and periods of nothing to do. That freedom from a structured day is almost over.

School starting is both sad and happy.

Every once-in-a-while he would mourn the fact aloud, and I would listen.

SweetandSour1SweetandSour2Now the tide is turning. He is starting to get excited about school starting. Listing the reasons he likes school aloud to me. Assuring himself that he will enjoy it. He has in the past, why not now? Won’t it be fun to see new friends? Learn new things? Get back to math?

I watch him waffle between joy and sorrow, and I think about the last day of school just months ago where he was saying he was so happy for summer, but also a little sad that school was over.

Bittersweet.

A sweetness and a sourness mixed together. Conflicting emotions over the same event.

Most everything in life is that way. A lot of sadness and a little happiness. Or vice versa.

A marriage starting is so joyous, but it is also the closing of a chapter of singleness.

A child being born is joyous, but also the end of long interrupted showers. There are adjustments to get used to.

SweetandSour4A grandmother dies and there is a longing to see her again, a sadness and emptiness that she is no longer a part of this life. Yet a seed of happiness that now she is greeting the saints and family members that went before her. A small smile tugs on your corners when you think of her dancing and singing in the presence of God. Never will she know pain, sadness, disappointment, and the other things that weigh us down on earth.

A sadness and loneliness when a child moves away to college, and yet joy at their opportunities and new chapter in their life.

SweetandSour3Despair during a time of trial, yet on the other side a new awareness and growth.

Regret that the vacation has only 8 more hours left, but also a tiny excitement at seeing the pets again, resettling back into a routine, and sleeping on your very own pillow again.

There is a sadness of moving away and leaving friends and the known, yet a tiny seed of adventure that is excited to see what the new destination will bring.

SweetandSourQuote3I am not sure everything has the two opposites, but it seems like so many milestones, so many small and large chapters of life are laced with the two. Which in a way, makes so many things easier to accept. It makes it easier to keep moving one foot forward. To count our blessings. To sing in the early morning. To hope for things unseen. To hang on for another day. To trust God with our future.

Somewhere along the journey we realize that God blesses us with emotions of opposite degrees. Sadness will not clothe us physically for the rest of our life, nor will happiness.  We live in a realm tinged by the two.

 

Join the Discussion: What are some Bittersweet things in your life? Does this mixing of two emotions hold true for you?