Before I became a mom, I had little understanding of the brokenness and sacrifice in motherhood. My sights were set on tiny little outfits and the plaid pack-n-play with the adjustable bassinet insert. The birth of my biggest boy sparked a journey of understanding and perspective for my limited thoughts. After all, becoming his mom shattered my preconceived notions of being a mom and focused me in on the thought that everything in life might not go as planned and that’s ok. First of all, the physical changes of pregnancy break and change a woman. The growing belly, a welcomed sight of life changing , cells multiplying and forming a new person. In reading Ann Voskamp’s The Broken Way several months ago, I began to see the parallels of this process to the process of spiritual surrender and renewal. My life, born anew because of Christ’s brokenness on the cross, and then my brokenness bound by his love and grace daily. The emotional toil of becoming a mom has its elements of brokenness as well. I wasn’t too privy to this concept either, before my biggest boy. I had no clue that I’d love him as soon as my eyes saw him and that my emotions would swell inside as I held him. I fell hard for him. And with that love for my son, God began breaking me and I began searching. As I moved through stages of grief, accepting the struggles that would come, scripture spoke to me like never before. I began to understand the frailty of life. The misplaced priorities I had served for far too long. And I began to strive, aspiring to be the bravest and brightest mom I could be for my biggest boy, to pave a future of hope for him. Nothing wrong with that mission, except that it wasn’t what God was calling me to do, which made it very tiring. A couple of years later, pregnant with my smallest boy, my striving met my desperation for hope and Jesus showed me my lack of complete surrender through His Holy scripture. I believe motherhood catapulted me into a place where God could speak to my heart to get me to a place of surrender and remind me day-by-day of my need for dependence on Him. After all, motherhood is messy. Being a mom means you’ll serve more, love more, clean more, wipe more, cry more, laugh more, teach more, and sleep less than you ever thought one human could do. But oh the grace you’ll give. The grace that God gives you to pass on to all the little lives you mother. The grace that, when they’ve come to the end of their rope, will remind them of God’s grace embodied, Jesus, who has the power to bind up their brokenness, no matter how messy. The more days I add to my mothering repertoire, the more my eyes are opened to grace, both God’s grace for me and the grace I can show to those around me. With that, the more I understand how dangerous it is to compare. The comparison trap happens often for us moms, I believe. All the more with social media outlets, where everything looks clean and pretty. We don’t see the moment after the “perfect” mom’s Instagram photo op, where she loses her mind because her kids spill the drink from her monogrammed Yeti cup. After all, it happens. I read a quote not too long ago that said “What you have and what you don’t have are all an expression of God’s provision.” He gives and takes away, scripture says. And bad things happen because this isn’t Heaven. But this is certain, God works everything for good for those who love Him and are called to His purpose (Romans 8:28). He has the power to do that. Maybe you can find rest in that promise today, reading mom. I sure do. And I hold that promise with a grateful heart, thanking God for using motherhood to draw me to Himself and lead me to contentment with what He has given me, even on the hard days, knowing that in the tough moments, His strength is completely enough.
Made a lunchbox choice at 6:15am, but at 7:30am, time to enter school, realized you made a wrong choice. Ever happened to you? It happened to my biggest boy this morning. He sees me putting his lunch together around 6:15am and says, “I wanna use the Mickey Mouse wunch box, wike I used in Ms.Wadell’s (Ladell) class, (last school year) not the Olaf wunch box today.” I adhere to his request, packing his items for lunch into the specified lunch box. Our morning continues as routine. Load car. Drop little brother off at preschool. Head to elementary school. Pull into parking spot, 7:25ish, and a declaration comes forth from my biggest boy, in the back seat. “I DON’T want the Mickey Mouse wunch box today!!” I reply with the apology you’d expect, offering every explanation that comes to mind: it’s too late to change your mind, you can take the other lunch box tomorrow, etc. Nothing worked. Redirection attempts ensued. Hurry, let’s get to class before the bell rings. Let’s have a great day so I can write a smiley face on your calendar (Reward system at home). Still, nothing got his mind off the “wunch box”. So, I try movement. “Let’s get out of the car”, forcing a smile to my face, in an effort to maintain patience with my biggest boy. With movement, I sing whatever words come to mind about going to school and listening to your mom. P moves out of the car, shaking his head “no” the whole time. We walk to the door of the school. He says, “I not goin in. I dont want Mickey Mouse wunch box!”, as he refuses to take the lunchbox from my extended hand. I see the minutes passing. I reply, “P, the only other option you have is one of my garbage bags from the car.” P says, “Alright, I want dat!”. So, that’s what he got. Mom conceded the battle. P won the “fight”. But look at the smile on his face. He joyfully walked into school; I turned to walk back to my car, as the words from my morning’s devotion rang through my head. Be more like Christ. Don’t place your rights above what Christ commands–patience. My biggest boy helped me exercise patience this morning. I definitely needed the lesson. God gave me a really cute teacher. So thankful for him.
How do I begin here? Literally. For starters, I had a blog and my first post was in September 2010. In that post, I shared my firstborn son’s (my biggest boy) birth story. It was a lot like many birth stories, except that his chromosome count totals 47, instead of 46. That’s because my biggest boy, P, has Down syndrome, also known as Trisomy 21, signifying a third chromosome on the 21st pair in every cell of his body. I’m going to publish that original post, if I can figure out how, because it was the first piece of my heart after his birth. My initial, raw emotions. The important thing I want to say about my first post is that my understanding and perspective has grown as my son has grown and because of his life, I can see things differently, and in some ways, better than I did on that day when I first wrote, holding an 8 pound 6-week-old baby, full of love for him and his chromosomes but empty of sleep and searching to find my bearings. My days with P are gifts, even hard moments are times I’d never want removed from our story. I began my blog in those early days to bring positiveness to raising a child with DS. I published a few times and then I quit. I would go back to my blog periodically, but I couldn’t get to a place where I felt like the words I typed had any meaning for anyone other than myself. So, I’d delete and click “logout”. After some time, it occurred to me that the name of my blog didn’t fit like I thought it did in those early days. It was “things unseen”, taken from scripture that actually addresses spiritual warfare, clearly not the same as raising my P. So, I unpublished my old posts and tried to delete the thing so it wouldn’t exist anymore, but I didn’t have time to figure that part out. However, the thing of a blog page continues to weigh on my mind. As does the fact that there are indeed “bad” days and moments in raising my son, a thought I set out to extinguish for the world in my first blog endeavor, hoping my efforts would save some mother out there from not wanting to give her baby a chance. My limited-to-6-years mothering experience with P and my littlest boy has led me to this thought: there are good days and bad days with any child, even children with Down syndrome who are stereotypically “always happy”; HOWEVER, the fact that there are even “days” of any kind with that child is a precious gift. A gift for some that ends way too soon without a warning at all. So, with that in mind, here I am. Sharing my honesty. Sharing my experience, not intended to be the same as yours. And sharing my biggest, bright boy. My bright boy probably isn’t like your bright boy or girl, and that’s ok. After all, he’s mine. Navigating the day-in, day-out events in raising a child with needs a little different from other kids is well, different. But it’s also unifying. Because there’s a whole community of parents out there who know from experience that daycares and schools are not one-size-fits-all. And that finding the perfect toy for your child’s birthday doesn’t always mean you go by the manufacturer’s recommended age level. And that the best kids’ shoe brand is the one that has a footbed wide enough for the brace to fit in it. And the parents who know all these things and more stick together. To encourage each other. To give a warm smile when everyone else stares. And to share experiences. Not because we are all the same, Heavens, no. But because regardless of our paths, we know the joy that comes in the road less-traveled and the nuggets of wisdom that are gained through differences. I won’t please everyone, but I will share about being “Mommy” to my bald, bright, and beautiful P and our days together, along with his dad and his brother.