May 20, 2015

Seen



Maybe it's silly to have ever thought this was possible:  I thought I could be a fun enough or awesome enough or cool enough mom for my kids to never notice this.  I thought I could make up for some huge flaw of mine by being amazing and exciting and super-loving.  Yet I've learned that I couldn't.  My child still saw me.

I knew this day was going to come.  I should have expected it.  But I was caught off guard and going through my morning routine when out of the blue, those huge words were spoken and they knocked the air out of me just like I always knew they would.

We were having normal morning conversation.  Talking about school and breakfast and the silly dream I had the night before about Ironman.  Todd was putting his shoes on in the living room and I was making my salad to take for lunch at work. 

"That Ironman suit would be too skinny for you mom."

"What?" I said, not completely hearing or understanding what he said.

"That Ironman suit would be too SKINNY for you.  I mean, you still look like you're pregnant."  

And in a matter of seconds, my heart felt like it had shattered all over the floor.  I felt embarassed and angry and so hurt.  I started crying and realizing that these tears were going to be exponential, I ran to my room and sobbed everywhere.  I could hear Todd scolding Tommy for his words.  And all I could do was cry.

I remember wondering a long time ago what it might feel like to have my own child, my own flesh and blood, say something negative about my size.  I have known that if and when it ever happened, it would devastate me which is why, just as I have my whole life, have been trying to get this whole weight thing under some kind of control.  And it continues to be an exhausting battle and a thing I can't seem to get rid of.  I am beyond frustrated and angry with myself and my body and with God about all of it I could scream - and sometimes I do. 

Most of the time I feel shamed and misunderstood and judged by others.  I feel like I have let others down because I have been a disappointment - unfixable by any help they ever tried to offer.  I have changed here - so much - yet my body doesn't reflect those changes.  I have seen a doctor about it recently and the diet I tried was the WRONG one and I haven't had the guts to seek out another doctor because I've been sitting my feelings of failure here.  Just as I have every other time I have tried anything new. 

I feel so exposed to the world.  YOU can see my struggle.  YOU can see what I hold and carry.  YOU can see that I have a problem.  And because YOU can see it, you often try to fix it or help or something. And I am really only left feeling wounded by YOU.  And the One person who I have turned to again and again and AGAIN doesn't seem to hear me.  Or help me.  Or give me whatever strength it is I need to stick to a healthy way of living.  And my stupid RA has slowed me down and ravaged my body and made exercise more than difficult. 

There is so much anger here. Mostly at myself, but perhaps equally, with God.  I am pissed at Him.  For giving this thing to me.  For letting me be set up to have it in the first place.  For not helping me overcome it when His scripture tells me that I'm more than a conqueror and I'm free and all of the things that says we don't have to live stuck in a place like this.  And I'm really pissed because of His silence.  He doesn't speak to me here. 

For the last few months, I've been ignoring Him.  Being silent back.  Because I just don't know what else to do anymore, and I don't know what to do with a God that doesn't help me with something I keep bringing to Him.  I've been discouraged in my faith because I've let this shake some of the things I believe and I feel like I've failed somehow as a Christian.

On a regular basis, I talk with Tommy about how different people are.  How some people are tall or short, big or small, different colors, or in a wheelchair, or wear black lipstick.  And how we don't want to say anything negative about people's differences because really, we are all the same.  We are all human and we have hearts and we all feel and we all desperately need Jesus.  And there is no reason to be afraid or hateful or ugly about how anyone is different than we are.  We talk about the importance of being mindful with our words so we don't hurt anyone's feelings.

Even in these conversations, I know I was trying to prevent his words from ever hitting me.  Trying to make sure that he would never point out what makes me different.  What I'm teaching him is true, but I have been trying to protect myself in the midst of it.

I believe, from the bottom of my heart, that my son wasn't trying to be negative.  He is very logical and blunt and I think he was stating something that felt like a fact to him.  It wasn't until he saw my reaction and received a talking-to from Todd that he realized what he said was "bad."

And more so, he learned that there was something "bad" about my body.

Tommy came back to my room to talk to me.  He was crying too, devastated that he had hurt my feelings and not knowing that he had.  I tried my best to cover his little heart.  I tried to say all of the things that he needed to hear.  I told him it was okay.  I told him I know he didn't mean to hurt my feelings and that I know he loves me.  I told him that the size of my belly was something that made me different, and because of it's size, it's something I don't like about myself.  I told him that when he said what he did, it reminded me how much I don't like how big my belly is and that's why it hurt my feelings.  I told him I loved him and that nothing he could ever say would change how much I loved him.  And that he was a kind boy and I knew he didn't mean to hurt me.  I grasped for all of the perfect words because I didn't want him to feel like he had to carry any of my shame or struggle or feel guilty for any of it. 

He didn't say anything that wasn't true.  I would not fit in the Ironman suit.  And the size of my stomach does make me look like I'm still pregnant.  He was right.

And sitting there crying with my almost 6 year-old, I felt so incredibly exposed and vulnerable.  Having to admit to him that there was something about myself that I don't like.  And now he knows what it is.  And my head began reeling with the thoughts of what he could be gathering from all of this.

It was hard to bounce back that day.  I still haven't completely recovered from it.  If anything, I'm only angrier.  And it's clear, that anger is getting me nowhere. 

I'd like to say that this story has a happy ending.  Or hearing these words from my son was the motivation I needed to get my ass in gear and stick to a diet program.  But, it hasn't been that. 

If I have any hope (and hoping in this place feels almost ridiculous) it is that I could grow from it.  To realize that I can't really love my boys by hiding the things from them that I don't like about myself.  That I need to be more honest and transparent and real in this place to my children.  To encourage them in healthy ways of living that I wasn't pointed to.  And to take the best care of myself that I can so I can continue to be here for them. 

As for God, I want to not be angry anymore.  I want to make peace with Him here and let go of all of the things I am blaming Him for and where I hold Him responsible.  Because maybe that's the problem.  I'm holding on to so much in this place, that there is no space left to receive anything, not even a word or His voice.  I wish I could figure out how to let it all go.

May 15, 2015

Motherhood Eucharisteo

Little faces covered in fudge popsicles, all drippy and sticky.

Snuggles and singing before bedtime and "I luh-you mama" from my littlest.

Learning how to vaccum and do chores like a big person.  Glory.

Conversations about God and Jesus, and our greatest enemy: Satan.  And when I tell Tommy how the enemy does whatever he can to get us to do or say bad things, or even believe things that aren't true, his innocent reply of "Satan isn't the boss of me.  I'll never listen to him!"  Oh Jesus, let it be so.....

Lego spaceships and train engines and superheroes and stuffed monkeys.

Small toes and magical blue eyes and loud laughter.

 Tears from a boy when he knew he had hurt me deeply.  And His grace there in the moments where we both had failed.

Children's glee in spring sunset.  And His light covering them, shining over and through.



May 12, 2015

Mother's Day and all the feelings

The problem with Mother's Day is that there are so many feelings to feel.  I mean really.  So many feelings and not adequate time enough to feel them all in the span of the day.

I feel swallowed by these hurricane-like feelings, being blown over by emotions and I have no way to hold them all.  Even more so, no one else to help me hold them.  And so they leak out.  A steady drip, until the dam breaks.

During a dinner with some friends recently, I said "Mother's Day was shit," and I didn't even know that was exactly how I felt about it.  But it had to be true, because I was speaking quickly and loudly and sometimes our truest feelings come out when we are just word-vomiting all over the place.  Also, when I'm word vomiting, I say things like shit too. But I was disappointed and I felt like I disappointed others and wallowed in all of these disappointing things of the day, and then felt defeated that I let disappointment get the better of me.  Damn disappointment.

Just upon waking up on that very day, I knew it was going to be a bad.  I could feel it.  And the wisest part of my self, advised me to stay home from church.  To take the morning to feel the sad things especially so that I could feel them and let them go.  But I decided it was more selfish than self-caring and I went to church anyway.  And nothing bad happened there.  But, I was bombarded again by all of the feelings that are there to feel and realized I wanted to not be feeling them there.  I tried my best to swallow tears and choke them down until my throat hurt.  But they were leaking - just like feelings tend to do when you don't feel them.

And by lunchtime, the feelings I had somehow thought would go away by this point, weren't going anywhere and the floodgates opened.  I ugly cried and had no clue what I was even crying for. The dam broke and I was a mess.  And what's weird, is that I couldn't name anything specific.

I cried because it was Mother's Day and my mom isn't here.  And I hate how it feels extra awful to be motherless every year in May. 

I cried because this day is like this exclusive club.  Like you can only celebrate or be celebrated if you have a mom or if you are a mom and I find myself aching for all of the women who don't have either of those things and it makes me not want to be part of whatever club this is to begin with.

I cried because I have friends who hurt deeply on this day.  Because their moms have died too and I know what they're feeling.   And some because they can't get pregnant and infertility steals their joy and their hope, especially on Mother's Day.  And I want them all to know I see them and I love them and I'm hoping with them and I hate that they don't have anyone to call them mommy - because everyone who wants to be called mommy should have their baby and it breaks me because that's not how life happens.

And then I cried because I want to honor all of the mother people in my life and I feel like I do a horrible job of loving them and telling them and showing them and because I still can't stand in the Mother's Day card aisle and not want to weep.  Because the feelings.

And then I cry because of the guilt.  Because I am a mom.  I have these precious boys and being their mom is maybe my deepest joy ever.  Tommy and Jacob are living, breathing miracles and I love them so.  Yet, I don't know how to be celebrated.  I don't know how to embrace that this day could even ever be about me.

Mostly, I want to slap myself in the face and tell myself to get over all of the feelings.  To be happy and embrace joy and let myself be celebrated and find a way to choose to feel something greater than the sorrow that I feel.  But I don't know how to do that.  And perhaps someday, I will have healed beyond all of this and I can feel my feelings better, as if there is such a thing. 

All of it - the feelings, the celebrations, the memories, the longings, the guilt, the everything - it all hits and it hits hard.  And this year, it knocked me over.

May 6, 2015

Super Family Fun Day

We called it "Super Family Fun Day."  We had promised Tommy a fun outing and we all needed some time to be together, to laugh and play and enjoy. 

We spent the morning at a fun children's museum.  We ate lunch together at Sonic complete with ice-cream cones.  The afternoon was spent playing outside with waterguns and we splashed in our little plastic pool and felt the sun shine down on us as summer let us know it was nearly here.  We grilled burgers for dinner and played a game and snuggled up on the couch for stories and cuddles.

We don't get many days exactly like this one, but it was perfect and needed and so much fun.  And hopefully we are leaving our boys with memories that will last a lifetime. Not just of enjoying the food and the things and the places - but memories where we enjoyed them.

 Shopping at "the store."
 

 I'm a scary bat!


Astronaut Tommy!




Ice-cream cone trance.



Sunshine and the love of my life.



Daddy won.

May 4, 2015

Ironman and Me


It's true that I have always preferred a good action movie over a chick-flick any day.  And superhero movies always promise to be action-packed. They are my favorite - all of them.  Marvel anything, Star Wars, James Bond, Mission Impossible....the list goes on and on.  Of course, this works out fabulously for Todd, because he gets to be married to someone who wants to see all of the same movies he does.  Lucky guy.

I guess it should come as no surprise, that we were at the movies on opening night of the latest Avengers movie.  And to my delight and utter glee, some of my favorite superheroes were there taking pictures with us movie goers.  Hulk, Captain America, Quicksilver, Hawkeye and my favorite of favorites - IRONMAN.

I'm not quite sure what it is exactly about his character that I love so much.  It may or may not have something to do with Robert Downy Jr. who plays Tony Stark, but I can't really confirm or deny that.  Ironman is kind of a jerk sometimes, but he's smart and funny and he doesn't take any shit.  And his suit does cool stuff and he's a superhero because he wants to be, not because he has any special powers.  He invents all of the special stuff.  And I guess I like all of those character traits in a superhero.

Needless to say, when a photo opportunity presented itself to take a picture with my favorite superhero in the entire world, I got over my "I'm a grown 34-year-old woman" thing and totally went up to all of the guys, and asked for a selfie with Ironman.

I mean seriously, this picture kind of made my life.  Because I'm super grown and mature and everything, it's even my Facebook profile picture.



Somewhere along the way in my adult life, I have become a serious superhero fanatic. Like geeking out, wants to go to comic-con, fan-girl kind of fanatic.  And having boys has only encouraged this.  I blame it on Marvel and their genius way of making movies. And starring dashing men as both heroes and villains doesn't hurt either.  (Damn you Tom Hiddleston).

Clearly, I am embracing it fully. And scoring major cool points with my five year old superhero loving boy in the process.

April 27, 2015

Tonight, Tonight

Tonight, my boys are tucked safely in  their beds.  I've read stories and helped brush teeth and snuggled and sang my little one to sleep.  I didn't do the laundry, and I served them leftovers and we stayed inside to play.  But I loved on them as best as I could with all that I had.

Tonight, I am weary and tired.  Exhausted from lack of sleep due to worry, anxiety and pain. And so over the pain.

Tonight, I am grateful that Jacob doesn't have any broken bones after a scary fall this weekend.  I am worn from worry over the what-if's and could-have-been's and finding it hard to calm after thinking about my little one hurting and injured.  I so badly wanted to hurt for him.  To take the X-rays for him.  To do it all for him.

Tonight, I am overwhelmed about big decisions in regards to my health.  About treatment for my Rheumatoid Arthritis and learning to trust my doctor's advice.  I feel both defeated and relieved.  And incredibly angry that I have this stupid thing.  That I don't have the power to make it go away by myself.

Tonight, I feel quiet.  Todd is working late and I feel alone and I am missing his presence.  Wanting more of the protective, understanding embraces of earlier today when we sat with the news of what we're dealing with in regards to my RA.  My husband - he loves me good.  So good.

Tonight, I am thinking about what it means to be brave and keep going.  About how the bravest thing we can do sometimes is to surrender and let go of what we were holding on to in the first place.
Tonight, I am wishing God wasn't so big. And while I need his bigness and greatness, these moments when my heart is full and heavy and aching, I'm wishing He was small enough to meet me in my living room.  To hold me tight and close.

April 23, 2015

Invitations

The thing about invitations is that they always give you a choice.

To attend or stay home?  To accept or decline?

And usually, they are easy choices to make.  Because, yes - I do want to go to that birthday party.  Or yes - I will be your 'friend' on Facebook.  Or yes - I accept that job offer.

But there are the more complex invitations too.  Sometimes we get invited to engage in an argument that will have no positive resolution.  Or we get invited to join someone in gossip or slander and a slew of other-centered contempt.  We can be invited to join family members in their familiar ways of relating which can feel like abuse or wounding all over again.  And often times, life can present us with difficult circumstances and disappointments and we can be invited to either wallow in it and let it take us down or struggle through it all well. 

And again, our response is always up to us.  Our choice.  We get to decide how to act, what to say, and how we will respond when these invitations present themselves. 

Recently, I received an actual for-real invitation.  It came with a fancy envelope and beautiful script writing on gold foil paper.  Just the sight of it promises to be a grand celebration.  I was immediately flooded with emotion and conflict and curiosity.  As I sit here and type this, it's staring at me begging me to RSVP as the event is only a month away.  And I wish it felt easy to accept, but it doesn't. 

It reminds me of hurts and pain from the past.  Places I felt betrayed, abandoned and forgotten by others I had given my heart to.  And for a long time now, I have let myself feel justified in my hurt and anger.  I've pouted and ignored several other invitations or opportunities as if I was trying to prove something or get back at them for how I felt.  I was hoping my absence and silence would make an impact.  And the last few years I've really only discovered that I've only felt more of the same feelings.  The not showing up and the staying quiet and being absent hasn't brought healing.  It has never made me feel better and I can't shake the memories of my hurts either.  I'm in the very same place with all of it, and I don't like how true that feels.

And all of this from a piece of fancy paper.

Tonight, I am trying to be curious about what reconciliation might look like.  About what showing up to the celebration might be like.  If I'm ready or if it would only invite more feelings of hurt.

Either way, it's up to me.  Because the thing about invitations is that they always, always give you a choice.