Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Super Powers

It's been an exhausting couple of days, for various reasons, both good and not as good.

Last night, we arrived home right at bedtime, and the kids willingly went into their room to prepare for rest.  They laid there quietly and happily for a few minutes while I got stuff ready before going in to do bedtime prayer and gratitude, give hugs and kisses, and wish them goodnight.

Then, as is common lately, one by one, they all had reasons to get up, or call for me in the other room.  I try diligently to always have a positive attitude or at very least a kind voice when I re-enter, but it's a struggle sometimes.  Especially on nights like last night where it was already nine o'clock and I had a list of various duties to tend to before excusing myself to bed.

Eventually, they coaxed me into laying among all three of them on their bedroom floor, one laying across my arm while both arms were splayed to my sides playing with the two youngest's hair.  The fish tank light was off, the van on for white noise, and I laid there struggling to stay awake myself, my to-do list playing repeatedly in my mind.  That's when the thoughts started rolling in as well.

"This is so hard."

"This is so exhausting."

"There aren't enough hours in the day."

"There's not enough of this Momma to go around."

"I don't know how I'm going to do keep doing this."

"Its going to take some sort of super human strength or some kind of super powers to keep this up forever."

Eventually, they all drifted off to sleep.  I did a half-baked job on my nightly duties and then flopped myself into my own bed.   Then, I realized I had a few more things to do, rolled on out, finished up, and returned.  Then I realized the door wasn't locked.  So, I got up again, locked the door, and then fed the cats, got some water, and went back to bed again.  I think I fell asleep around 11:20.

This morning, I woke, tired as usual, and forgot to make my coffee before we all marched out the door at 7:40.  The children were all in fairly good moods for their shortage of sleep last night, and we were on our way.

As I sat in the waiting area at one of their appointments, the thoughts of last night replayed in my mind.

But today, they were reframed with a feeling of empowerment.

Parenting is hard.  It's crazy hard.  It's hard when there's two parents.  It's harder when those parents are separated.  It's even harder when you're doing it alone.  At least, in my experience that's true, having done all three versions of parenting in the last 7 years.

Right now, I'm back to being a single parent.  I mean single parent, as in not sharing the children with their other parent. I know that to some, co-parenting or shared-parenting is considered or felt to be single parenting.  Again, in my experience, they're wildly different.  So, as I said, I'm flying solo.  I wish I wasn't, but I am, so I pull myself up by my bootstraps (oh wait, my boots are all strapless...) and I carry on day in and day out.

Even when it feels like it's too much.  Even when I'm too tired.  Even when my nerves are shot and my brain is fried, and I go to work with my pants on backwards (yes, that's happened, more than once actually, in the last couple weeks... maybe I should retire those pants).

I won't pretend to be a super woman.  I won't claim to be a super hero.  I won't boast to be a super mom.  Because, quite honestly, I'm not.  It may look spectators that I am when I calmly herd my three littles into a restaurant for supper, and they sit down quietly and excitedly tell the waitress their order.  But then as soon as she turns her back, two of them are sword fighting in the booth, shortly before one of them bites the other one in the bathroom fighting over who uses what toilet stall.  I hug the injured and break out my "mad voice" and my "mean Momma Bear glare" at the other while the wait staff smiles at me with a knowing look.

I don't have it all together.  I'm not a super-hero, super woman, or super mom.

I'm your run-of-the-mill, ordinary single mom just doing the best she can, usually.  Sometimes I'm not doing the best I can. Sometimes I'm doing what I can just to get through the moment... which I guess, in those moments, is actually probably the best I can.

I will be first to admit though, it does take some sort of super power to be a single mom, a co-parenting mom, or a happily married mom (or dad).  Like I said, parenting is crazy tough.

So, as I sat there, this morning, reminsicing about last night as I choked down the straight black coffee I was accidentally given instead of my regular order in the drive-through this morning, after having forgotten to make my own at home like I usually do, I thought about these super powers that are needed.

And, I realized...

I DO have super power.

It's the power of the Holy Spirit.  It's the power of Jesus. Its' the power of God.

As soon as I realized that, I had verses flooding in my mind, and I needed to share them here.

Because, if we want them, we can ALL have super powers.

Every single parent out there.  Every single person without children out there.  Every single child out there.

We're all equipped.  We just have to seek them.

Ask God, He'll give them to you, freely, lovingly, and happily.

That's how I do life right now, when I'm too tired, too overwhelmed, too frustrated, too sad, too everything.  I lay down on the floor with the lights out (or maybe as I drive in broad daylight in the van, or a hundred other places and ways) and I let God in.  It's not always a conscious effort, to be honest.    But, he reaches me, and he blesses me, and through every tear, every sleepless night, every pants-backward-at-work-Wednesday, every joyful-they-ordered-their-own-supper Friday, every big and little moment, I keep on keeping on.  He's the One pulling me up, so I don't even need straps on my boots.

Sometimes, of course, I don't feel this way. I don't see it this way.  Even as I write this today, knowing exactly how I make it through, I'm still exhausted and a bit overwhelmed (even knowing God's going to carry me through).

And you know what, those are my worst days.

I'm praying for less and less of those days, and more days where I'm fully aware of my super power, MY Super Hero.  (Even on those days when I don't think I'll get through it, I know somehow I will, even if I'm too stubborn to admit the real reason.  I'm imperfect.)

I'm praying the same for each of you.


Friday, July 28, 2017

The silence resumes.

I wish I wasn't writing this.  I contemplated not writing this.  But, I felt like not writing it was harder than writing it now.

I gave it a month, even though, I was pretty sure, one month ago today, almost exactly to the minute, I felt I knew what was coming.  I prayed against what felt like the inevitable at this point, but I prayed knowing that prayer does work, not always, but sometimes.  I know it worked once in this situation.  I guess, in my heart of hearts, I know God is a God of miracles, and prayer could bring radical change again.  Yet, at the same time, I'm being practical, and releasing my breath and realizing that for now, this is reality.

You see, for some reason that I fail to understand, one month ago tonight, my children's father disappeared from them, again.  He came back to them on December 26, 2017.  He walked out on them again, almost six months later, to the date.

I wasn't in town, but he had plans to see them with someone I trust dearly.  Up until a few hours beforehand, he was still planning on seeing them.  And then.. he just didn't show.  I reached out to him to find out if he was okay (the bitterness inside me, truthfully, swelled up and I asked him if he was dead), or what had happened.  A few days later, feeling it was the case, I asked if this meant he was done and walking on out again.  No reply to either.  I tried two more times, the most recently, last night.  I pointed out that today marks a month.  There is still dead silence.

I know he is out there.  I know he's active online, and while I can't be certain his phone works or he hasn't changed his number, I know he knows my name, and my phone number hasn't changed in years.

There's silence.

He's abandoned them again.

I find myself quite emotional this week.  I have known all along this was a distinct possibility, but I threw it all in and allowed him back in the children's lives, with the mentality that no matter what happened, whether he was here for good or gone again, we would get through it.  We already walked through hell in regard to this, and we made it through, because of God and his blessings of support.  I knew it would be "easier" this time, as "easy" as something like this could be for four hearts that aren't jaded and cold.   

But that doesn't seem to make it better.  

I'm currently at a point of both thankfulness and despair, pride and humiliation, hope and hopeless.  The part of me that has Christ dwelling inside has a positive spin on it, but my more practical, emotional, momma bear side is angry and negative.  It's a battle.  Yes, I'm going through a battle.  

But, I'm a warrior. I have to remind myself of that even though I feel like laying in my bed and throwing a toddler inspired tantrum.

As I said, I knew it could all fall apart.  But, truthfully, I thought it would be either right away, or years down the road.  

I didn't think he would get bored with his children this soon.

Is he bored with them?  I don't know.

I wish I could understand how someone I "knew" so well for so many years could be this way.  I wish I understood what, in a matter of hours, changed his entire plan.  I wish I could decide if he was incapable of making good decisions, or just chooses not to. I wish there wasn't silence.  The silence, again, makes it even worse.

People have started noticing and asking me about his involvement in their lives and our lack of discussion on the matter.  I am hoping that these questions continue to be directed solely to me, not in the presence of my children.

My children, heaven bless them, are starting to notice his absence.  I don't know if they noticed or felt it right away, because they've been very normal, happy, and truthfully haven't asked about him or mentioned him until this week.  Actually, so far, our three-year-old daughter is the only one who has.  But, I feel it's coming with the birthdays and milestones up ahead.  I am at a crux, wondering if I should confront the issue head on and prepare them, or wait and see when they're ready to talk about it.  I don't really want to assault them with the realization if they haven't come to it on their own yet.  

Also, this probably goes without saying, but... please do not speak ill or negatively of their father in their presence at any time.  Whatever their opinions are to be of him, those need to be formed by their own minds, through their own experiences.

I am so torn, right now, emotionally and faithfully. I want to find comfort, knowing that God will get us through, provide, restore and heal our hearts, minds, and souls.  But I'm a bit angry.  I'm not angry at God, because I know their father has free will, and is choosing his own path away from his children and away from God.  I know this.  I know in my heart that I did do the right thing letting him back into their lives, even though it hurts to be where we are now. I know God wanted me to forgive him.  I know God wanted my children to know their father again, for our daughter to create happy memories with him, because up until now, she had no recollection of her own and relied solely on her brothers or word of mouth from other people who knew her dad.  I know God wanted to show my oldest son that He does in fact listen and answer prayers.  I truly believe that his reappearance in our lives last year was God ordained, and for good and not harm.

I try not to blame myself for the fallout.  In the past, I've been so good at taking the blame, from their father, for things like this.  I KNOW I didn't cause the heartbreak that's to come by allowing them the opportunity to have their dad for a while.  I KNOW that is on their father.  But that's something I have to remind myself every time he crosses my mind, because I also know the enemy wants me to take it all back on myself.  I did open the door, but I did not cause him to walk back out.

I know that my children will know I tried.

But it doesn't mean this doesn't hurt.  It hurts my heart for my kids. 

It hurts so much. It feels like I'm being crushed again, admitting this all "aloud."

I pray that my children's minds and hearts will be protected from severe trauma if their dad really is gone for good this time.  I pray that they'll still believe in God, in his miracles, in the power of prayer and that this does not negatively affect their faith and relationship with Jesus.  I pray they'll still feel overwhelming love and know that they're surrounded by it even if their dad walked out on them again.  I pray that someday, God will truly, wholly restore their father.  I pray that I will be able to forgive him again.   

If you pray, please do.

I found myself, tonight, as I sifted through my thoughts, trying to find scripture to calm my heart.  This is the one that spoke to me the most.  I'm trying to just do what I am often (but not always) able to do, and find peace and solace in my Father's words and promises.

But, I'm not perfect, and it's hard.

I know we will be okay.  And I know I need to give it all to God.  But, I think I also know that my imperfect, human side may still need to cry about it, talk about it, and maybe need a hug or a shoulder at some point. Maybe.  Or maybe not.  Guess we will see.  But, I think that's okay, too.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

In the waiting

For years, I've prayed.  I've often asked God for advice, or help, or clear signs, or reassurance, you  name it.  I've had countless requests.  Sometimes, I feel like I hear him clearly. Sometimes, I think I might be making it up in my head.  It's really hard to tell sometimes.  Generally, if it's based on good, it's from God.  But that doesn't mean it's always God, either.  Sometimes, we have good intentions or a good heart, and often the enemy can twist things that make them seem like they could be from God. I run into that a lot, actually.  Fortunately, I've found a safe space in a friend or two and can check in with them when I get confused, and they can help me seek Godly clarity.

That said, every so often, I believe God clearly directs me, and it can take me by complete surprise.

Currently, I'm in the middle of a period of waiting.  I've become quite familiar with these periods, as they've happened intensely and frequently over the past few years.  This one is different, though, because it is a period I sought out, in a way.

A few months ago, I felt God leading me down a path I never expected.  I took a leap of faith, leaned in, and pursued.  And now, I'm waiting. I could be waiting indefinitely.  I could be waiting days, weeks, months, years.  I'm not even sure what I'm waiting for.  I'm not sure if I'm waiting for a direct result, or if I'm just waiting for Him to tell me "well done, my faithful one.  You followed where I led, and now you can rest easy in me."

It's really hard to say.

It makes me anxious.  That's another test in itself.  God tests me on my patience and the anxiousness in waiting. I've noticed a theme.  I don't necessarily think it means that I've been terrible at it in the past, but clearly, he has more in store for me.  

And I have no idea what it is.

So, here's to more praying, in the waiting, to to wearing my favorite shirt as a personal reminder while I wait.

For now, I'll leave this as it is.  God will let me know if and when I should reveal more.  But for now...

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

She opened her window.

My beautiful Sweet Pea has been emotional for the last 10 days or so, quite clingy, and not quite herself sometimes.  I've been wondering what was going on, but was unable to pinpoint it.  Tonight, I think I am better able to understand. Tonight, after bedtime prayers, my sweet, sassy, perfectly quirky little princess opened the window to her heart for me, for one of the very first times in a way that both nearly broke my own heart, and amazed me with the depth of her self-knowledge and ability to articulate her emotions with clarity beyond her young three-years.  I had kissed her goodnight, as she said to me (roughly, edited to remove some names), "Mama, my friends don't see me anymore and play with me and don't like me anymore.  They're my best friends and I love them and I miss them."  

You see, almost two weeks ago, she went through a big transition at daycare, where she spends the majority of her time.  She moved from one floor to the next, from young toddler rooms to older rooms where the preschoolers are growing up.  And, while it isn't a big deal geographically, or in many ways, it dawned on me tonight, that it's a big change to her.  

She's been making it seem pretty breezy and not that big of a deal, even though her mama was sad about it at first.  She loves the kids and staff upstairs and will thrive and flourish in the new environment, and I haven't been worried about it at all.

But tonight, as I tried to calm her fears that her friends do in fact still like her, love her, and even miss her too, I realized that she was feeling her first real insecurity.

That time and distance mean people don't care, don't like you, don't miss you, or don't love you.

It's a common thought, even for adults, so I was blown away by her innocent little saddened heart.

After comforting her and reassuring her that she is loved, that her friends miss her, and some will soon be back in the same room as her with the new schedule, teachers, friends, and environment, I left the room and began thinking about what had just occurred.  I understand where she's coming from.

Her previous transitions at daycare have all been on one floor, with schedules that are relatively similar, where she would see the same people passing in hallways.  Her last transitions were done at a younger age where, while still forming attachments to teachers and children, she wasn't as mature and able to process and fear things like she does now.

So this was her first big change at daycare.   She still sees some of her most beloved people on a regular basis, but there are a lot of empty spaces in her day that used to be filled by people she had grown exceptionally close to.

Not only that, but on another level, I can feel her equating that to some of her past experiences where he dad was absent from her life.

And I can understand why she may feel that gaps in time and distance can affect relationships.

I mean, really, they often do.  Only the strong ones survive and grow, I suppose.  It's amazing to me that she is so young and already experiencing these sort of friendship quandaries. 

So, to my darling little three-year-old, her heart is in some sort of jeopardy, and it's my blessing and burden to calm her fears and speak life, truth, and love into her heart, just as with her brothers.  I try to build up their store-houses with these things, to help build their self-esteem, knowing that the way of the world is often to bring you down.  I never want my children to feel worthless, unloved, or anything other than of exceptional value and worthy of the deepest, most sincere love on earth.

They're treasures, and they should know it.

While this moment where the window was open was over an insecurity, I am so fortunate that she chose to open up to me, share her deepest fear at this moment with me, and trusted me with her heart.  I wish I could make her feel better, but aside from praying, which we did, only time will heal.  

And, my darling, my sweet, sweet girl, I can assure you, you are worth missing, and you are loved by those that you  miss right now.  

Thursday, June 1, 2017

The first to first.

Today was a day that sort of snuck up on me, even though I've known it was on the horizon for months now.  Today was my first child's first last day of school.  Now, my first child is going to be a first grader.

That sounds unbelievable.  It seems like just weeks ago (I guess it was if you want to be technical) that I was sitting here, tears falling, after dropping him off for his first day of kindergarten.  Today, I dropped him off at school like it was no big deal, and wished his happy little self a wonderful last day of school.  
"Have a wonderful day too, Mom!" he called as he ran off.
I picked him up tonight, and he told me how his last day was awesome, and how he's now going to be a first grader.  

We didn't make a big deal out of it, like I know some people do. Maybe we should have.  I don't know.

We took his photo in his graduation year shirt, which he wasn't a fan of because it's too big, and I tried to explain how I want him to wear it every year on his last day of school so I can take his picture and compare.  He told me I was silly, but agreed to it anyway, and I hugged him, telling him I was so proud of him for all that he's learned and accomplished this year, for how brave he's become, and how joyful he has been.  I commended him on his perfect attendance, and his love for school, telling him how I loved school as a child as well.  He didn't have much interest for sentimental time and just wanted to have a little down time in the living room by himself reading one of his newer books from his last book order while his younger siblings enjoyed a big of fresh air before supper and bedtime.  
And that was that.  

Now it's our first summer vacation.  And next year, I'll have a first grader and a kindergartner and I don't know how my heart is going to handle it.