Remember when you were young and newly married, dreaming of the day you'd be a mom?
You'd do it this way and that. You were going to be the fun mom and decorate their rooms a certain way. You would never say things that your mom had said. You had names picked out and had already begun planning which career paths you might could send them down. You were dreaming of being a baseball mom and how cute your little buddy would be in his uniform. You were thinking how neat it would be if your sweet little brown-eyed girl would graduate as Valedictorian like you did. You were going to breastfeed and make sure they didn't still suck a binky or their thumb when they were 3. You just knew you'd have them all potty trained by the time they were 18 months old.... or you know, 2 at the latest. You'd read to them every night. They'd be so precious you never could even imagine raising your voice or becoming frustrated. And by all means, you'd be on top of all their school projects.
I do too.
Sometimes I look back at those days and just shake my head. Because somewhere along the way, things went seriously awry.
Because I certainly didn't stick to breastfeeding, our future baseball player in fact has never played baseball, we just paid for our thumb sucker to get braces, and several days this week I forgot to check their school folders. And let's not count the number of times I've said things my parents said while raising me.
I seriously have missed the target I set for myself.
You know, days when there are rings around the bathtubs and you forgot *again* to change the sheets.
Or when you reach to get the potty seat for Emi and wonder why it's all wet, only to realize a certain little boy has poor aim.... and now you have pee hands and are 4 seconds past your patience limit. ELI!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! GET IN HERE!!! Yeah, there went that never being frustrated or angry part. Sigh.
Or the day you attempted to play a game of Super Mario with your kids and they kept running off and killing you, despite you continually telling them to stop it and wait for your pathetic self who is terrible at the game and then just throwing in the towel because you're too tired to keep getting mad at how horrible you are because you know there's no way you're going to be able to keep up with them without them basically just staying behind and waiting until I kill myself so they can run on ahead. Yeah. That was a really long sentence - kind of like yesterday felt for me.
You know those days, right?
The ones where you're sending them to their rooms for their attitudes or disobedience.
The ones where they're fighting and bickering and you jump in to break it up only to find yourself doing exactly what you came to get on to them for doing.
Yeah, me too.
Or the ones when they cut their own hair.... and their best friend's and come out looking like Suze Orman.
Or when during a service while visiting my home church, Aunt Sarah was taking rowdy Emi out as she let out the loudest toot ever.... which prompted Anna and Eli to burst into boisterous laughter, shaking the pews. And in my attempt to get on to them, I got tickled too and couldn't quit laughing. Imagine me laughing, telling them to stop laughing, and them laughing all the harder. Yeah... that happened.
Or days that have been so rough that when you drop your dark chocolate into the bathtub with you, you decide you really just don't care and eat it its partially melted self anyway.
Days when they're so bad you send them outside to weed the flower beds.... and the garden ..... and then consider making them pick weeds everywhere instead of weed-eating.
Or the time one prayed such a spiritual prayer over dinner - you know, asking to not have any tests next week and for his sister to stop being so mean.
Or better yet, when your kid is asking if he was adopted and his name was FartBucket if you'd change it.
What's that? Your kid has never asked you that? Yeah, mine either. Ahem. Moving on.
There are days I wonder if I've gotten anything right while raising them. When I just want to retreat to the bathroom and cry for a bit.... or you know, an hour or two.
But there are also days I see glimpses into who they're becoming. Glimpses that make this momma's heart overflow with joy.
Days when one's teacher tells us how kind and caring and patient he is with the students who are struggling that he's been paired with to help pull them up to level.
Days when I get a text from one's teacher telling me how she went to school and told her class about Honduras; how they believe being good is what gets you to Heaven and then proclaiming that Jesus is the only way.
Days where they're offering to help each other with their chores.
Days where they're giggling and laughing as they play together.
Those moments when they go out of their way to help me.
When they walk in from school with a big grin on their face, carrying a card and a flower they planted for me.
When their love overflows and their hearts are broken saying goodbye to those they love.
Those times when they take pride in taking initiative and a job well done.
Times when, with voices raised, they are praising the Father above.
You see, I may have missed the target I set for myself all those years ago, but I've never forgotten the anticipation of being a mom.
I remember those days. Days and weeks and months and months of trying and trying - all to no avail. I remember the day I decided if I couldn't have children I would engross myself in getting another degree. And so I did. And the day my best friend suggested "Are you sure you're not pregnant?" as I continued to crave and eat everything salty in sight. The day I stood in the bathroom holding a positive pregnancy test and crying, sobbing said "I can get pregnant. I can get pregnant. I am pregnant." The day my water broke and I waited and labored in anticipation of holding my baby girl only to have an emergency c-section. The moment they wheeled me out of recovery and to the nursery window to see her. I remember, friends.
I remember having tried so hard and giving up only to get pregnant with Anna on birth control. I remember thinking it took forever, so we should start trying now so we won't have a 3 or 4 year gap in between kids. And then standing in the bathroom holding another positive test the first month we tried. The realization that they were going to be just 16 months apart. The anticipation of Anna being a big sister. The moment of going to the hospital to have Eli and having contractions as I waited to be taken back into surgery. When they walked in and told us he was having trouble breathing and were corresponding with Arkansas Children's Hospital. When they said he wasn't allowed out of the nursery yet the nurse sneaked him out and brought him to me so I could hold him for just a few moments. All the wires and monitors, IV's, feeding tubes, oxygen tents, doctors coming in and out giving us reports. And when he was finally mine to have and hold and kiss and snuggle with without all the wires and needles. I remember.
I remember trying and trying for another baby. And that time it wasn't as easy. Months and months passed. A year. 18 months. And there it was. Another positive test. And how excited we were that it was right before Mother's Day. We had plans to go home and surprise our moms (and the rest of the family) with the news. But God had another plan and instead of sharing the good news, I found myself instead crying on my mom's shoulder as we lost our sweet #3. We still went home for Mother's Day. And as my pregnant sister-in-law got out of the van and walked up to my parents' house, she said "I'm so sorry". I mean, what do you say in that situation? I didn't know what to say, so I said "It's okay." She just shook her head no, gave me a hug, and said "No, it's not." She had given me permission and the right to mourn, and to this day, I've never forgotten it.
We decided we'd try again. And again, months went by. A year. And 15 months later, we were starring at another positive test. All the initial blood work came back good. Yet as I laid on the table for our first ultrasound, I immediately knew something was wrong. Our baby was stuck in my tube. And all I could do was lay there and quote Scripture, willing myself to keep it together until we could get back to the van. Our baby had already passed away and another piece of me went with our sweet #4.
Sometimes it's easy to forget the anticipation you initially had. After losing our babies, I was there. I didn't know if I could muster up the courage to try again or the strength to keep going should we encounter another loss. Yet a year later, I was holding another positive test and a whole lot of fear. I was hopeful yet attempting to not be too hopeful. Yet time went on and she grew and grew. And I began finding my way back - remembering how I had anticipated being a mom all those years ago. And I remember her cry, because I was so relieved she was here, that she was healthy and that God had seen us through all the trials. I remember.
And it's in all those memories that which keeps me focused.
I may fail (and I do, a lot).
I may have completely missed the target I had set all those years ago.
But God knew just what my babies would need and has seen fit to provide that through me. Just as He's seen fit to provide those things for your children through you.
You are who He has given them.
And while that often seems like a daunting task, like I fail them over and over, I'm reminded that He will be Who truly provides the strength I need to be all that they need me to be.
On the days I just want to hide in the closet and eat chocolate, I'm choosing to remember all those years ago. I'm choosing to trust in His grace to allow me to be their momma.
It's in remembering all those hopes and dreams I had all those years ago that keeps me focused on the task at hand. Because I have babies that need led to the feet of Jesus. Babies who need to know His love and faithfulness. Babies who need to know what it is to face adversity and come out on the other side stronger.
So, while I may have missed the target I set, it's my hope and prayer that I hit the bulls eye that He has set for me. That I can love and serve and lead them well. That they'll know without a doubt that they have been and always will be loved by their momma.
Here's to aiming for the right target.