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Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Maybe Love Is Enough

“Why do you put up with me, Mom? Why do you keep caring about me when I am so bad?” he asked. “Why do you love me even when I am mean to you?” A little while ago my nine-year-old was sitting in the dark on the couch downstairs, arms wrapped around his knees.

The words hurt. Only a second before I had felt furious with him. He had thrown bananas all over the kitchen in a rage. Then he had refused to go to bed. He was exhausted. I wanted him to go to sleep because I needed time alone. And clearly he needed to rest.

Today I took him to just one class at school. We removed him from school a couple of weeks ago because his anxiety was getting so bad, perhaps from so many attempts to "fix him." Today he went without a 1-1 aide, which for him seemed to feel like driving the car (finally) without the damned mom in the front seat. I (the damned mom) waited in the hall, helping him get to the one class, trying to stay behind and appear inconspicuous. I carried a pencil that I had carefully sharpened. It was the best I could do to help.

“Don’t you need this, sweetie?” I meekly asked, tiptoeing behind. He didn’t care about the pencil. Or the math. He just wanted to talk to a friend. One friend would do. He ignored me.

I could see that his whole goal for being there, at school today, was to connect, and to be acknowledged. (I wondered if connection and acknowledgement could possibly be more important that any education or degree or job title or parenting technique.) And I could see his eyes and his gestures seeking a way to fit with the other kids. At school they call this “social emotional education.” I knew that the sounds, the scuffling, the back and forth of bodies, the chaotic language thrown around, were all making him feel like needles were pricking through his eyeballs and eardrums. I could feel how hard it was. And yet I could see him still trying to fit. It was painful for me.

How can I tell my son how to fit?

I want to take it all away. I want to wrap him in a bubble, carry him around under my arm, only allowing love to get inside. I want to protect him from the mean, the angry, the expectations, and the judgement.

But I’m just a mom.

“Why do I keep on caring? Why?” I said in the dark. I was holding back tears for my child who was suffering. Again. And I thought, “Because I don’t deserve you, my beautiful boy. But here you are. Given to me anyway. I have made hundreds of mistakes that are too long and embarrassing to tell you. But look at me! I’m still cared for. I have your Daddy, I have this house, I wear these clothes and I got to have you, and your brother and sister in my life. And so how in the world could I ever not care for you. Not love you? How could I not?” Then I opened my lips to pull out the words to try tell him….

I am just a mom, but I feel like that is enough tonight. A mom's love is enough.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Let's Stop Lying


“Mama. I’m afraid of dying. I’m afraid that I won’t be able to see my gecko again in heaven.” said my 9-year-old.

“I’m afraid of dying too, Love. But honestly, I am afraid of a lot. I try not to be, but the truth is that I have big fears.”  I admitted.

“I also feel really bad about the things I have done that are bad. Things from the past. Like when I hurt my gecko on purpose when I was six,” he confided.

“Uh huh. I have a lot of things I feel ashamed about too. Things that I have done. Bad things. Like when you were little. I pushed you once. You hit your brother and I pushed you out of the way. I was so angry. You were only two, and he was one. And I felt so ashamed of myself. In anger, I shoved you.”

His eyes opened wide. Relief and curiosity and disbelief washed over his face, releasing the tension, allowing hope to reflect from my eyes to his. He saw that I am weak. I am human. I am like him.

“Really?” he begged for more details. Each one that I provided made his face relax a little bit more.

I wonder how many of us adults try to pretend to have all the answers, for our children’s sake, or for the sake of coworkers, or maybe even for our own sake. We want people to like us, maybe even worship us, believing that we are not weak. We are strong. Like little lying Gods. Pretending that we know so much. Pretending we feel no shame. Pretending we make no mistakes. Pretending we are completely sure of the future.

Let’s tell the truth.

We are humans who do not know what tomorrow looks like. We don't know if we will be diagnosed with an illness this week, or if our hearts will stop before we finish reading these words. We do not know if a member of our family will do something horrible tomorrow, or if a car will collide with ours when we drive to the grocery store. We do not know if even the next second will come.

So that is what I explained to my boy.

Faith is in the admitting all that we do not know. Faith is in the believing that there is some great One who is taking care of us, who has our backs, who will continue to care for us for eternity. We don't need to know the details. Because, whether we like it or not, we have already accepted the fact that we don’t know what tomorrow will look like. We simply have faith that it will come. That the sun will rise.

Deep, huh?

I can think this way right now because I have to face the fact that I know very little about my future.

We pulled our oldest son out of school because it simply wasn’t working for him. So we don’t know where he will be next year. We have been talking about many plans, including taking a year off and traveling across the country homeschooling (and have decided that this would look good on a blog, but would torture part of our family. So we will not go this route.)

My husband has quit his job, so we do not know where our income source will come from in the next year. We don’t know what our “standard of living” actually is.

And, due to the last item, we are putting our house on the market, so if our house sells, we do not know where we will be living next.

Where does this leave me?

Living. That's where. Living with a faith that is growing as quickly as the clouds float by my desk. Living keenly aware that everything I have is guaranteed to be here only for this moment. And so I need to grab it, hold it, cherish it, and move on to the next second that, once again, is a miraculous gift. I cannot predict where the next blip of air will come from. I cannot possibly say who the next reader of this blog post will be. I will not try to pretend I know how my words will affect one single heart.

I am certain of only one thing— this moment.  In it, I hear my own soft breath mixed with raindrops from outdoors, and I smell the warm oniony soup simmering in the kitchen. I feel the rubbery surface of the chair beneath me and the tap of the keys under my fingers. And I feel hope. Hope that the words that I type may reach another soul who can taste them, drink them, and reach them forward, mixed with her own ideas, to share. Share honestly. Listen.

Maybe faith comes with admitting to knowing little. Perhaps God needs you and me to have the tender heart of a child, willing to wonder in the dark, so that he can speak to us. Maybe strength comes from admitting weakness. And teaching only happens when we can become the pupil alongside of our children. When we share the journey with them.

I am thankful for this moment on the page, in my chair, sharing my thoughts, and for experiences and words that may have possibly connected you to me.


Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Bluebird, I am Sad


Copyright Amy Aves Challenger 2014
Bluebird, why are you staring at me?

I watch your dark shimmery eyes through the thick panes of my tall window, casually snacking on seeds with your neighborhood friends. You chirp to one another making morning music that sings to the grassy field with little effort. Crickets and bullfrogs call back to you, and you know you are not even close to alone.

Not alone like me.

Your bodies flitter as sky colored angels, just dropped from heaven, to entertain the heavy lives down here. We plod along. Though you may be a mother like me, bluebird, still you are free to play, to jump, to dance, to peck, to holler, and to fly away at any moment.

Bluebird I’m tired.

I envy your perky crown of feathers, your carefree fuzz able to go whichever way it chooses. I admire your ability to balance on every surface as though the earth is only a playground to you. Your tiny dots of thought glance at me when my back is turned, tending to a child’s scream or catching a falling orange glass of carrot juice. You see that I am arched over like a bending branch, my bones cracking and tired. You wouldn’t dare rest on me. You might fall. Mothering has worn me. I am a shut-in, trapped among the smell of dirty socks, sweeping crumbs for pleasure. I am a heavy vessel living above flat feet sliding a broom across years of dusty floors.

Bluebird I am sad.

I cannot find the right place for my child this week. He feels lost, and he has told me so. How I wish I could simply hop over to another tree, and find some new fruit, a new home to rest upon, just like you do. I yearn to feel the cool damp wind in my hair, to float above this place, to carry my boy on my back, smiling down on the world like I imagine every bird does.

Bluebird I have hope.

My child saw your face, he heard your song, and he smiled. “Look at the bluebird mom! I want to live in the forest, with the animals, out there,” he said pointing, as he watched you gobble up the seeds we poured into your house yesterday. I wonder if you came here to feed our souls, to tell us that our homes are temporary, and our problems are as transient as the molecules of air that you glide across. I wonder if you are my gift today, reminding me that all mothers are sisters, and maybe I can fly off to a mysterious land this morning, even if only for this moment, just like you.