Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Hope for Lost Mamas


I remember two years ago, getting groceries with Silas while Calvin and Ruby were at school. Our window was small, with Ruby's pre-school clocking in at just two hours and the drive to-and-from eating up an easy 40 minutes.

We raced the aisles, my belligerent comrade kicking and disagreeing and raging in the seat of the cart, perched on the very edge of his tipping point, ready and scary-willing to blow at the slightest infringement of his personal preferences, and ohmygosh, the list was long.

It was a battle, and I was losing every single day. Especially the days that found us in the public square, or the cereal aisle, as it were.

I never understood the depth of my emotional fragility until an adorable tyrant wormed into my heart.
I never knew how much I sought the approval of others until I felt like I had lost it.

I never knew.

I dug my palms into the bar of the cart as cheap insurance against doing something regrettable and wheeled a week's worth of food and my kid to the van, both of us on the verge of tears and rage, if memory serves me.

Behind us, close enough to recognize the song they were giggling, a happy mom pushed her happy daughter to their happy van.  I turned back to look. I couldn't help myself.

Her hair was done. She looked entirely alive and real, not like a woman on the edge.

Instantly, I fumed, "Must be nice to get groceries with just one kid in tow."

It took me a second to recognize my mistake.

And though I should have laughed, I know I didn't.

I felt the familiar throb of heartache as I stared down the face of my reality: Parenting Silas felt like parenting a small, unruly tribe.

His emotional output was so great, so steady, it felt like too large a quantity to be contained in just one wiry small person. He always felt like far more than I could handle.

Cut to yesterday.

We met a friend at the McD's play area for an hour or so, and my dude was helpful and kind and just the normal amount of rascally.

Then we headed to the farmy greenhouse where we buy our flowers and plants each Spring.

We traipsed down the flower-thick aisles while he suggested I buy every single hanging basket we saw and said things like, "I can't stop loving you!", "I can't stop kissing your hand!", "I can't stop living with you!" (He's long been on the fence about whether or not our living arrangement is permanent or something he can abide on even a short-term basis.)

A rogue rain shower cranked into a downpour and we ducked into this greenhouse then dashed to that one before deciding, what the heck, what could be better right now than getting drenched together?

A girl in a bonnet rang us up while he chattered to me about which plants were the best. "I'll carry the awkward one," he said of the purple basil.

(Cracked me up.)

Then I pushed the cart while he ran ahead, both of us laughing our heads off while rain licked our cheeks and splashed up around our ankles.

For so long, I believed I had lost myself in my youngest child. In my most hidden places, I believed I would never return to who I used to be. She was gone, in so many different ways, but especially this one.

And now here he is, right with the only Shannan I've ever known how to be, hustling flowers and dancing in the rain.

If you're where I was two years ago, please hang on to hope. Clench it with the power of every fear you've known, every lie you've believed. Pinch it when you're feeling low, and on the verge. Grab it when you're crying on your pillow. Find it when you know you've never been more lost.

I know our stories are not the same. I know two hours ago in our house may well have been two years ago. But progress is coming for us, Mama. Make sure you know it when you see it. And maybe even write it down, like I did here, for the days when you need a reminder.


45 comments:

  1. That boy is so very precious. I love that he wanted to carry the awkward one. ;) He makes my heart smile. Just like you make His. Love wins. You've wormed your way into that guy's heart, even among his protests with your consistency--no matter the faults and he thinks he might stay....and even might is H.U.G.E progress. Love wins. Makes me teary! Yeah!!!!!

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  2. I'm so grateful God, in all of his sovereignty, picked Silas for you. What a blessing.

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  3. The seasons where I was so lost as a mother God used to shape me, grow me, humble me. I'll be forever grateful for those time of being so low; I was in desperate need of learning to love, and experiencing life not being all about me.

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  4. I'm deep in that season. And very familiar with crying into the pillow. :)
    Thank you so much for sharing this today.

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  5. This is exactly where I am right now. Feels like you wrote this just for me. Thank you.

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  6. daringly honest and touchingly sweet...I am a gramma now and it is so funny how some things dont matter! i know your story is different than mine....and i love you for telling it!

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  7. You are incredible. ! A magnificent writer. Thank you for this, my kids are now grown but -
    although all of our stories are different we all remain the same - steadfast in our love for our
    children, no matter how challenging the day... sending you hugs and thank you for sharing so much
    of yourself. I can only imagine how very many people you touch on a daily basis. xo

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  8. Philippians 1:6......that's all!

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  9. Thank you. A lurker here, skirting the shadows.. I grocery shop with my boy tribe of 3 and it is unbelievably hard. My biggest is 4 and obsessive about cloroxing the entire cart (hairy wheels included) pre-shopping. Meanwhile the 2 year old has pooped a big man poop and the baby is hungry. And I have no room in the cart for groceries. And I live 25 minutes from town. And i left my list at home, true story. I will cling to hope

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  10. thank you, dearie.

    sometimes i set up these timelines in my head, for the sake of sanity and hope. at one year, we'll be doing better. okay, two years, then. my new one is five years, to line up with all those theories of number of years without us equalling number of those with. so we'll see. but i'm trying to hold loosely to time and how i measure progress and just trust that God's got us in all our flailing mess, and He doesn't let go.

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  11. ps sometimes i imagine Jesus saying that about me. 'I'll carry the awkward one.'

    :)

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    1. This! Reading this made me laugh out loud!
      (and dribble milk back in my cereal bowl, but it doesn't count because no one saw)
      I laugh because I had the same exact thought when I read it too.
      I'm the awkward one, just as Jesus intended me to be.

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  12. Loved this! Love the way you write! You make me laugh and cry :) "For so long, I believed I had lost myself in my youngest child. In my most hidden places, I believed I would never return to who I used to be. She was gone, in so many different ways, but especially this one." That sentence was me up to about 6 months ago. I am starting to emerge from the fog again......the sun is peeking out from behind the clouds.....a shimmer of hope.... and at least a few moments to relax the aching vigilance....before heading back into the fray. Thank you Lord for the lessons, for the journey, for the hope for the future!

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  13. My kids are grown now with children of their own, but I remember calling those moments-- "signs of hope." God bless you Shannan.

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  14. What a wonderful reminder that there is a light ..or rainshower...at the end of the tunnel!

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  15. How do I put this in words?....I am at a very hard place. My youngest son (19) is making the wrong choices. I've raised him to love God, to know right from wrong, brought him to church every Sunday and Wednesday. Did everything I could to ensure that he would follow wise paths. He was always insecure as a little guy. Craved friendships and would always end up with his heart broken. So sensitive and so loyal. Then, it started in High School. The wrong friends, exposure to "weed". He found out the drug helped the loneliness and the worry that was always nagging at his heart...and so it began. The battle. For him and for me. He's had bright moments and progress...then setbacks. I've done all that I can think of and still I keep trying. Fighting for this young man. I won't give up...but lately I've been so tired. I trust God and I know He is our only hope for healing and for change...Thank you for this post.

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    1. My youngest and my oldest (and sometimes the middlests) have shown me that it's not my job to fix them and that I truly cannot change them. We can point them to Jesus. The rest of the work is His. Thank you for sharing your heartbreak. Lifting you up.

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    2. SBlair, I would have messaged you, but didn't see any way...so maybe you will read this. Anyway, your story and son sounds much like mine...and this..."I've done all that I can think of and still I keep trying."... sounds so much like my way of thinking for so long. And even now, I sometimes go there and shouldn't. Just being a Mama, I guess. Like Shannan said, you can't fix him. It really is between him and his FATHER...this is a work that is heart work between a person and Jesus, the ONE who died for them to break the chains and set them free... and sometimes knowing that can give you peace and heartache all at the same time. My oldest is 21 and I have walked this road with him for 6 years now. I wish I could say it got easier, but not yet. I pray that you find REST in HIM. That is the only place I have found it and the ONLY place my son will find complete healing and restoration. I finally stopped trying to "figure everything out" and just prayed OVER and OVER for God to help him. That is still my prayer. He knows what they need and He knows the best ways to bring about change in their hearts. Every idea I've had so far didn't work out, so why not trust God? :) Praying for you...I know how hard this battle can be.

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    3. Just continue to love him. He'll find his way.

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  16. When I was that mama at the end of my rope with a screaming kid in the grocery cart, a sweet lady stopped me and said, "Honey, you're doing a great job. Keep it up!" I was moved to tears there in the parking lot and have never forgotten it. Now that my brood (usually) makes it through errands without threatening my sanity, I try to remember to pass on that encouragement to the moms I see. It's not easy, but we are in this together. Thanks, as always, for your words.

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    1. Oh my goodness, pnix! I'm going to find a reason to do just that every single day. Thank you for the reminder.

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  17. Were you with me at the park yesterday?? Between the baby pooping and me changing her diaper on a park bench, and both big girls needing multiple trips to the (eww) public bathroom, I got to say maybe two words to my girlfriends and was raging on the inside the whole afternoon. Why bother?? I kept asking myself!?? Thank you for making me feel not so alone today. xoxo

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    1. I once met up with a new friend for the first time at a park whilst trying to potty train Silas. Long story short, he climbed to the top of the curly slide, then dropped a bomb. And he wasn't wearing underwear, bc until that moment, it appeared he wouldn't go in his britches if he didn't have underwear on. I so feel you here.

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  18. I LOVE this. I have definitely had some dark seasons parenting our son, who is 2 and a half. I've gotten so many good reminders recently that we really need to parent the Gospel to our children - understanding that they WILL make mistakes, and those are an opportunity to reach their hearts. Have you heard of the book Desperate, by Sarah Mae & Sally Clarkson? One of my biggest takeaways was when one of them was writing about complaining to her husband about her child's bad behavior, and he asked her, "Well, when are YOU going to stop sinning?" Such a good read for moms who love their kiddos fiercely but need a breather & a good reminder of Who is in control. :)

    Thanks for your encouragement and honesty for us fellow mothers!

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  19. Thank you, as always, for writing with such beauty and emotion. My heart swells.

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  20. This is so good to read. Even though my kids aren't that difficult some days I feel I've completely lost myself in the herding and diapering of littles. It's nice to know "me" is still having around, unseen.

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    1. Girl, even before Silas, life didn't seem "easy", when it came to parenting littles. You know I get it! And I'm so glad you're still hanging around for me to yack to and consume carbs with. (Also, I don't have it in me to fix that sentence.)
      xo

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  21. Thank you. Sometimes it's really hard to admit how exhausting my second child is. I love every piece of her, and yet somedays she just makes me cry. So thank you for bearing it all, and giving those of us in the trenches a piece of your soul so that we can look forward to better days.

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  22. What an encouraging post! It's important to remember that progress, even if little, is progress. And sometimes looking back to where we were in comparison to where we are now is just what we need to do to see how far we've come. Beautiful reminder!

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  23. I'm happy for you. My child was the perfect toddler, happy go lucky, witty, charming.....now he's 13 and sullen, acts bored and truculent most of the time. The mere glimpses of his younger self sustain me and give me hope that "he's still in there somewhere". I pray to God this pesky thing called puberty gets over and done SOON!

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  24. Thank you so much for this! My oldest daughter, who is now 4, stretches me beyond myself almost everyday. So many days have been tearful for us both and my insides feel like they are bursting. Love so much how you said you thought you had lost yourself in your youngest child and you didn't think you'd ever find yourself again. I feel so much that way. But your words bring me hope that the parts of me that I love and miss will one day resurface and that the moments of joy will override the moments of despair. Thank you for sharing your life with us. You are an inspiration.

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  25. same song, different verse. I finally found my sanity a few months ago. I mean I still cant believe it. I cannot BELIEVE it. I thought I was locked in crazy town forever.

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  26. Thank you for writing this!! While we are still a few years out from our adoption journey, this is needed future encouragement to call upon when there may be some difficult days ahead. (along with the many, many beautiful ones as you so often write about too!) Thank you for being honest and such a wonderful mama!

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  27. Thank you. Today my youngest (3 yrs old) cried for some unknown reason about shoes in Target - and not your typical 3 year old tantrum. Sometimes people look and I vacillate between wanting to tell them to mind their own business to wanting to hold up a sign that says, "He has special needs" to hating myself for wanting to broadcast my child's disablilities to the whole world just so I won't get those looks in Target. So I read this encouragement from you tonight (a day after you posted), and it is so timely that I cried.

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  28. Thank you Shanny. This could be my story but different with Maddie. Sometimes it happens with a toddler and sometimes a high schooler. Either way it will bruise your heart and have you questioning everything. Later you realize how much more beautiful it all is because of the difficulty that you survived to get there.

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    1. Lord help me if I get a double-whammy and he's this hard in HS, too! I'll be running to you...and for the hills!

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  29. I don't know why Bloglovin hasn't sent me updates for a few days, but I am so glad I found this post. This, SO MUCH THIS::

    "It was a battle, and I was losing every single day. Especially the days that found us in the public square, or the cereal aisle, as it were.

    I never understood the depth of my emotional fragility until an adorable tyrant wormed into my heart.
    I never knew how much I sought the approval of others until I felt like I had lost it.

    I never knew."

    x2; our two youngest are twins. Oh my word -- the challenges. Thank you. I am beginning to see the glimmers of what is to come as they {we} navigate three-year-old-hood. It is glorious and exhausting and teaching me new things every. single. day.

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    1. Dude. I'm about to abandon Bloglovin' for life. Most days I don't get my email update at all. What gives??? Glad you found your way back over here. Good luck with those littlests. I can only imagine how much you pine for a dull moment. ;)

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  30. oh, how i needed to read this. not just today. but every day. i wonder this so often, "am i gone forever?" "will i ever be the same?" i know, in ways, i never will be. adopting our 2 boys...and going from 4 to 6 has wrecked me and knocked things out of me that NEED to stay gone. but the "real me" that i wonder is still in there? and that i desire to FEEL again? i sure hope so! thanks for giving me hope.

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  31. This is so well written! You are completely right and thank you for sharing with all of us <3

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  32. I've been reading for a very long time. I'm not sure if I have ever commented...maybe I have...maybe not...but while catching up on our space today...this post just caught in my throat. I'm there. Alone in the aisle with the child who holds all of my heart in his hands. It is a precarious position for sure and I'm learning that parenting him (he is our 5th) is not like anything God has asked me to do before. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your words!

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  33. Perfect words and perfect timing shannan. Just what I needed. My youngest is so hard for me right now, in so many weird and hurtful ways I can't even explain. She's just one but this year has been the hardest year of my life I think. I can't get enough of her and always want her around and in the same moment I want someone else to deal with her before I lose it. We are walking on egg shells with each other and it's painful sad business. Thanks for sharing your hope.

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