Have you ever thought about what it would be like to travel back into time to when you were younger, and watch yourself from the fly on the wall’s perspective?
Having a child is very much like that. You’re not as useless as you’d be from the fly’s perspective, but you can’t really control the way things go either.
There is loneliness in his eyes, and while I think a sibling might help, I don’t think it’s going to fill the longing in his little heart that’s been there since the day we met.
My mom said she watched me play alone on the beach, and she saw those eyes. She knew it was time to have another child so that I could have someone to play with. And while I love my sister very much, that still didn’t fill the gaping hole that made itself known through my eyes.
Having Abram as my son has been like time travel. I’ve been given this human to watch over and care for that is so much like me. I am deeply familiar with that loneliness I see in his eyes everyday, because it’s the same gaze that looked back at me in the mirror for so much of my life.
I watch him with his friends. His anticipation to be with them next is sweet at best and annoying at worst, but as soon as he’s with them, that gaze settles back in. That overwhelming feeling of being alone shows up on his face in a room full of peers and laughter.
He’s so desperate in his quest to feel like he belongs. It’s why he got so bent out of shape last week when I told him our television didn’t belong to him, but just to us and that we let him use it. The thought of him not being included in that ownership wrecked him.
It’s why, no matter how many times a day we tell him that 1) we love him and 2) he’s not alone, he still falls apart when we ask him to go play in his room.
I could go on and on with the examples I’ve taken note of and observed to explain the longing that I see in my son, but continuing to write them out would just make me sob, and I’ve already done that once today.
What’s so hard about this part of my job as Abe’s mother is that there’s nothing I can do to convince him of the truth. I can teach it to him formally, I can have dozens upon dozens of conversations with him about what he’s going through and what I’ve gone through, we can fight about it and then pray until our voices give out. But at the end of the day, there’s no transaction of truth we can make that will leave his heart convinced until the God that created and treasures him convinces Abram Himself.
I anticipate the day when I see that lonely look turn into one of peace and satisfaction. The fact that I can’t control when that happens doesn’t mean I’m going to give up telling my son the truth, day in and day out. My job is to help him plow the fields of his heart and sow the seeds. The growth, the changing of seasons and the pruning- that’s not up to me.
Last Wednesday, I woke up feeling rough. My last days of pregnancy have never been characterized as fun and refreshing. I’d say “trying and exhausting” would be a more accurate depiction, and maybe some other colorful descriptives I probably shouldn’t share here.
I don’t sleep well at all in my “terminal stages of pregnancy”, as Michael Scott would refer to it. I’m actually leaps and bounds more okay with this reality than I was 4 1/2 years ago, during my last trimester with Abe. I used to worship sleep well above pretty much everything else, and not being able to get enough of it seriously and literally would ruin my life. It’s still embarrassing to admit that. And what I find so absurd about that time, looking back, is that I didn’t have a young child to care for while I was pregnant. And by the end of my third trimester, I was on partial bed rest and had absolutely no responsibilities but to simply lay around and do nothing. What did I have to be so bent out of shape about? Nothing. However, I digress.
As my eyes barely opened that morning, I became immediately aware of the soreness imparted by the breath taking contractions from the evening before paired with a restless night in bed. I looked at my phone for a few moments to adjust my eyes to being open, and slowly forced myself to sit up. Our bed doesn’t currently have a frame, so it sits on the floor. This is fine, for a normal-bodied human. But for me, physically getting up out bed makes me feel as though my eye balls are for-realsies going to pop out of my face as I push myself in an upward motion. It’s making me giggle thinking about it, but it’s never funny when the ordeal is taking place.
I walked into the living room to get a glance at my tiny man, exchanged morning greetings, and then waddled my way into the kitchen for my usual glass of lemon water. I turned around and Daniel came up to hug me, and I told him I needed Abe to go to daycare for the day because I was just not going to be able to care for him. It frazzled him a bit, as getting Abe ready would put him a few minutes behind for work. Abe wasn’t happy about the sudden change in his routine, as he doesn’t go to daycare anymore, except for maybe once a month when I really need him to (our daycare is wonderful and always has a spot open for him). We managed to get him dressed through the groans and the objections, and off they went out the door, leaving me sitting on the couch wondering what to do.
Normally, I’d start making myself breakfast, but I’ve not been very hungry the past few days. Just nauseated, really. When I do get hungry, I just want to eat extremely sharp cheddar cheese and drink soda. I don’t know why, but that’s just what my body is craving during these final days. I would imagine the desire for soda has to do with my unsettled stomach, and the cheese for the fats and proteins. I don’t know.
I wasn’t going to drink coca cola at 8:50 in the morning, so I just sauntered back into my room and plopped down on the bed. As I huddled under the sheets and grabbed every pillow in arms reach to cushion myself, I could feel my body and my heart urging me to do the thing that always brings me rest: fall apart and spill into the hands of God.
The truth is, I really, REALLY hate giving in to “weakness”. Ha. As if being pregnant is a weak condition. What I mean is, I don’t like having to tell Abe that he’s got to go hang with some other people for a while so I can rest. I want to be able to watch him and rest, I want to do both. I want to be super woman. The night before, I was crying and venting over feeling so awful about laying in bed while Abe watched tv that day, as I just did not have the energy to get up and play with him. Daniel had a put-down-his-foot moment and said he was going to take Abe to daycare in the morning, because I needed a break. I got more upset and came up with all kinds of excuses why he didn’t need to go, but I knew in my heart Daniel was right.
Sometimes, I need help. I thought I’d cleared that prideful wall, but I haven’t. There’s still so much left of it for me to climb.
I knew it when I woke up that morning, which is why I gave in. Wrapped up in my nest of sheets and pillows, I began to thank God for the day. I didn’t have much fluff to say, and got right into what I really needed to tell Him:
“Help me rest in your hands. I’m experiencing fear, anxiety and the feelings of failure. I want to hand those over to you so that I can find peace in You being in control. I’m afraid that the end of this pregnancy will be like the last one, and I’ll go in and out of labor for what seems like an eternity and be so incredibly miserable. If my body is meant to do that again, help me to see it with different eyes. Help me to see what You see.”
After I prayed that, the words “Be Thou my vision, oh Lord of my heart” flooded my mind. Just that first line and nothing else. I thought about it for a moment and was astounded by the lyric.
Replace my eyes with your eyes so that I can see everything the way you see everything.
As I let that simmer, I cried and released all of that tension. And then I felt the rest that I’d been needing. I found a piano/violin version of Be Thou My Vision on youtube and just listened to that for a few minutes as I closed my eyes and allowed my body to unwind.
There’s still a lot of pride left in these bones. God removes things from me in layers, and I suspect He won’t be done with the layers of pride anytime soon. If you’re reading this, and I’ve refused your helping hand, I’m sorry. I’m still learning that receiving is just as important as giving. Giving can become a foul thing, as it is easy to allow the act to be about one’s self and how good one can be. Receiving requires the terrifying choice to be vulnerable. Jesus received over and over in the new testament with gladness and joy; I don’t know why we ever try to believe we’re somehow different.
Most days, I wear my unwashed hair up in an alligator clip. My bangs are only ever cute for two weeks, because I’m too lazy to trim them and they end up being long and swooshed over like Kelly Kapowski’s huge bangs.
I throw on ratty tank tops and pajama shorts during the day, because most of what I do on a weekly basis does not require actual clothes.
None of my dish ware matches. Most of the time, my sink is fully of dirty dishes and cups, because we don’t have a dishwasher and I cook a lot.
The dinners I make are easy because I’m tired by 5:30 pm, and sometimes we just get Wendy’s because it’s 4 blocks down from our house.
I love the smell of non-organic, regular ol’ chemical cleaners, and I use them to clean our living space.
I eat a lot of gluten.
I kinda don’t care if the floor is dirty, but I mop it because I don’t want people to judge me.
I really like to listen to Enya and Owl City.
I’m into succulents, but I usually can’t keep them alive, so I sometimes buy the fake ones from Michaels in the sealed displays because I can never kill them.
My dog and I don’t get along very well. He makes me angry most of the time because he follows me everywhere and ruins my stuff. In the 5 years Daniel and I have been married, everything Titan has chewed up has been mine, with the exception of one of Abe’s toddler skates.
I don’t pray for others as often as I should because I fail to remember, or feel too overwhelmed to believe that God can take on what I have to tell him.
Sometimes I get pushed to my breaking point and mess up with Abe; I’ve yelled at him in the middle of the Wal-Mart parking lot. I have to do a lot of apologizing.
There are days when I’d rather spend all of my time hiding on my phone instead of interacting with humans because I’m afraid of people, and I think technology will love me more (even though I end up feeling more isolated and miserable than I did before).
A couple of times a month, I lay awake late at night after everyone’s asleep and sob hard into my pillow, thinking of all the terrible things that might happen to my family.
I still expect Daniel to read my mind sometimes, and get mad at him when he doesn’t.
The more pregnant I get, the more I let Netflix watch my kid because I just don’t have any energy.
I pin way more projects on Pinterest than I will ever actually do.
There’s probably a lot more I could add to that list up there, but that’s all I can think of at the moment and you get the idea. I’m not just sharing that list for the sake of coming across as uber “genuine” or anything. I wanted to write that list down and put it out there for whoever reads it because I know that my Instagram and Facebook life does not always reflect my real life. In the past year, I’ve worked really hard to be as honest as I can be with whoever is listening, but I still fail and can get caught up in the curation of an image. I know I reserve a lot of the truth talk for my more serious posts and articles, but the real-ness of my life can still get lost in translation through the cute pictures and funny anecdotes that riddle my social media feeds. I truly enjoy sharing the sweet and savory moments of my day, but every now and then I’ll get a comment on something that makes me ask myself, “Wait… does that person actually think my life is always like this?” It’s a good reminder to make sure I’m letting you see all of me, while still being appropriate and using discretion when necessary.
So there ya have it. That stuff up there… you’re typically not gonna see any of it on Instagram, but it’s the truth, and it’s okay if you see it.
What about you? What are the things we don’t always get to see?