>> Tuesday, April 28, 2009

I have caught it.... the epidemic that is going around. No, not the swine flu. The overcommitted-under rested-I can't seem to get my act together sickness. And I have a BAD CASE! Chronic, I think. I have so many thoughts in my head. But just wanted to at least put something up here so y'all wouldn't think I have dropped off the face of the earth.

Here are some of my favorite pics from the last week:

A busy week for us all. Emotionally and physically exhausting... even for my little toddler-tornado!
I want to share with y'all about how we remembered Micah this year... but I am waiting for the pictures! :) Coming soon....

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His name in the sand

>> Wednesday, April 22, 2009

I recently ran across this blog of a family whose son was stillborn a couple years ago. Since then, they have been giving other parents who have lost children an amazing gift. They live about 15minutes away from the beach in Australia and they go down at sunset and write your child's name in the sand. They take a picture and post it on their blog. I sent them Micah's name last week, hoping it would be posted during these days of intentional remembrance. It posted today!! What an amazing little gift God gave me!
I hope this family knows what a powerful ministry this is to moms like me. To see Micah's name in the sand, written by a woman half-a-world away whom I have bever met, is surreal but validating. He DID exist besides in my own head!! It gives his little life added significance and honors his memory.
I couldn't look at it for very long at first. But later, when I had a quiet moment, I just sat and stared at it and let the tears flow unhindered. The beach has always been a place of rest and relaxation and therapy for me. And to see Micah's name written there with this gorgeous sunset in the background is healing for me in some strange way.

I have so many pictures of Micah in my mind. The visual images are still so fresh and raw. I wouldn't want it any other way. I don't want the day to come when I can't visually remember holding him and seeing his blue eyes and golden hair. This picture is now just one more image that I don't want to forget.
Should I make a print and frame it? Is that lame? Am I the only one who can't stop staring at it?

He is my son. He is in heaven with the Maker of this beach, this sunset. His name is written in the sand. And he, like this picture, is beautiful!!

For more Wordful Wednesday, visit Angie at Seven Clown Circus.

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Wave of Healing

>> Sunday, April 19, 2009

I don't know what the future will hold. I don't even know what tomorrow will be like.
I don't know why God chose this path for me, for my family.
I don't know how long it will take for this grief to feel less acute.

There is so much that I don't know.

I do know that my God is with me no matter what.
I do know that my Hubby and my boys are evidence of His grace to me.
I do know that it is in this suffering and this pain that I am pointed back to Him.

His healing is washing over me.
His love is my strength and my life.
His Resurrection promises that I too will one day be whole again.

He holds my Micah until I can. And one day I will.
My arms ache today, my heart breaks.
But yet, I have hope.

His grace is sufficient, His mercy makes me new.
He gives me hope.
He heals my hurt.

He will come again and all will be restored.
Come, Lord Jesus, Come.

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

photo credit: Carly Dudley

P.S.~ I submitted Micah's name here. I am waiting with great anticipation to see the result.

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If no Grief, then no Joy?

>> Thursday, April 16, 2009

In this rare moment of quiet, I am sitting here trying to think. While I am a pretty good multi-tasker, I am not that good at deep thinking or processing emotion in the midst of the chaos that normally ensues around here. I need these moments, these calm and peaceful moments, to think and be introspective and sort through the emotional jumble that is inside my head and heart.
This is the beginning of the hardest week of my year. And this year seems particularly hard. It is year #5 and it feels bigger, harder. A milestone.
In the past, I have struggled with feeling like I have to grieve as on-lookers would expect me to grieve. Appropriately emotional and yet able to keep it together and look at "the bright side." I am trying to let go of that and just be what I need to be, grieve how I need to grieve.
I recently had a conversation with someone I deeply love (and if you are reading this, know that I do deeply love you.) She asked me about our plans for remembering Micah this year. We have a couple things in the works and she wanted to know the status. During the conversation, I broke down, trying to open up to her and share my true self, I didn't hold back the tears. I could have. But I decided to let her see what I was truly feeling.
"I am having a bit of a hard time this year," I told her. "This year feels big, like it was so long ago but is still so raw. It just seems so unfixable. This hole I feel, it is so unfixable."

Instead of simply saying she missed him too or some other empathetic offering, she began to tell me how hard it has been to watch me grieve Micah- how she hoped that someday I would be able to "just remember" and not have it be such "raw grief." She went on to talk about how she often thinks about two babies that she lost to miscarriage and wonders if they had lived would she have had her youngest girl. "Would you not have had Lucas and Caden and known that joy had Micah lived?"
Now, to her credit, she is in NO WAY trying to say that having Lucas and Caden makes the loss of Micah any less significant or tragic. Her point, I think, was simply that moving on with my life may mean focusing more on the joy I have with my two boys than on the grief I have over losing one. And she is probably right. Probably.

I wrote recently about feeling angry that God did not answer my prayers and heal Micah. Family and friends and even some random people in bloggy-land have e-mailed me with concern that I am still so "angry" and that I am not focusing on the joy that God has given me. I don't think that is the whole picture. You are all right, that keeping my eye on my boys and the blessings they are to me is honoring Micah and his memory. Enjoying life and staying positive is the way to keep the grief from swallowing me whole. But, I truthfully don't know what to do with this premise that I am missing out on the experience of full joy by focusing too much on the experience of real grief. I have both. I hold both. And there are moments when one or the other mostly shuts the other out. But never completely. That is the nature of this grief, and this joy.
And maybe that premise is true to some extent. Maybe I will never know what it is like to have untainted joy. If Micah had lived, if that fateful ultrasound had been "normal" and uneventful,... What would my maternal joy feel like then? How many children would I have? How much joy would I know if I had never known grief?
I don't like to ask the question "would Lucas and Caden exist if Micah had lived?" It feels like having to choose between my three boys. God is bigger than that, to me. He has known from the inception of this world that someday I would lose my first son and then be blessed with two more. I don't have to figure that out. And I would never be able to.

This kind of goes both ways. My grief may taint my joy at times. But doesn't it also make it more rich? The depth to which I am grateful for my boys is deeper because I know the pain of losing one. I love them differently having lost than if I had never known this grief. I am not saying I love my kids any more than a mother who has not grieved. I just love them differently, with a bigger sense of appreciation and gratitude. And even a little bit of fear thrown in there since I know that my boys are a gift that I am not in complete control over. God holds those reins.

But the question still remains- If I had never known this grief, would I know this joy? What would it mean to know joy if I had never known grief? Would I experience joy more deeply without grief or does the grief make the joy more full?

And more fundamental... are grief and joy even really opposites or... What is the opposite of grief? One emotion certainly changes the experience of the other. But in what ways, I am not sure I really know. I thought by now I would know more. It is, after all, year 5. And yet, it is only year 5.
One thing I do know- I certainly know grief. Raw, intense, overwhelming, unfixable grief. But I also know joy. Vibrant, consuming, warms-you-from-the-inside joy. My grief is part of me. And maybe I am afraid to let it go for fear of what that would mean. But those who know me would hopefully also say that my joy is part of me too. My boys are truly the light of my life and I cherish my moments and my life with them.

Here I sit. Holding both the grief and the joy. This week will be a strange mix of both. Making time to grieve but also being with my boys and living life. It is like rain when the sun is shining, or standing on the beach in the midst of a storm. Grieving Micah, but also joy. Joy that he was here for even those three days. Joy that I have Lucas and Caden and can teach them about their brother. Grief and Joy. Together in my soul. Probably forever. But if not, at least for now. And I am o.k. with that.

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photo credit:maz hewitt


And now, the subject of today's royal meltdown...

>> Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Butter. Yes, you heard me. Butter.

We were sitting at the breakfast table, as usual. I sat down with Lucas' oatmeal and orange juice and banana and cinnamon toast, quietly proud of myself for supplying such a nutritious breakfast on such little sleep (Caden is kinda feverish and not sleeping well). Lucas sees the butter I am about to spread on his toast.
"Can I eat that?"
"No, silly" I tell him. "We don't eat straight butter. I will put some on your toast though."
Begin meltdown. Tears, hysteria, the whole nine yards.
"Here, eat this toast. It has butter on it."
He sits there, crying and staring at the toast.
"Ok, if you just want butter, lick it off the toast."
"I can't!!"
"Why not?"
"I can't pick up my toast!" (All through tragic-toddler-tears!)
"Why? You love cinnamon toast and it has butter on it.
"I can't pick it up, mommy. I'll get butter on my hands!"

Seriously. He is SUCH a TODDLER!!

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Angry, yet Grateful

>> Friday, April 10, 2009

Here I sit, I kneel.
I kiss his sweet head, snuggly sleeping on my chest.
I brush the hair from his eyes and the tears from my own.
I am overwhelmed, emotional, at a loss for words.

On this day we remember.
Christ on the cross.
The ultimate sacrifice for redemption.
I close my eyes and watch the Passion unfold.
And I feel grateful. Humbled and very grateful.
He did that for me.

But I remember something else.
I have been here before. Kneeling, praying, crying.
Save me, Lord. Save him. Save my son.
That, He did not do.
And I feel angry. Hurt, confused, angry.

So here I kneel, again.
Touching a cross, remembering. Crying.
Trying to reconcile feeling both grateful and angry at once.
Grateful for His sacrifice. Angry at mine.
Grateful that He saved me. Yet angry that my son was not saved.

Funny how life seems to come full circle.
I knelt here once with a child in my womb.
Lord, please heal him.
Not this time.
I knelt here once with an infant in my arms.
Lord, thank you for this baby, this redemption.
Again, kneeling while carrying another son.
Lord, save me from the familiar path of grief.

This time, yes.

And then tonight.
Kneeling, praying. Again.
Holding close my third son. Holding close these emotions, this anger, this grief.
Yet as I kneel beside this cross, I feel my Savior come.
He comes to sit with me, to touch me, to speak words of life into my soul.
I'm sorry, Lord Jesus. I can't understand all this. Forgive my anger and hurt.

Lay it at the cross? Yes, I can do that.
The cross is a place of complexity. Grief and sadness. Yet redemption and gratitude.

Tonight I lay my own complexity at His feet. At His Cross.
Grateful for so much. For His Sacrifice. For His Mercy.
For His Love for me despite my anger and lack of understanding.

It is Good Friday.
A day we remember.
Remember His Love and His Mercy and His Sacrifice.
I remember my pleadings, my sorrow, and my joy.

This night, this Cross signifies my grief. But also my hope.
On this cross He stood. Nailed there for my anger.
To take away my sorrow and give me hope.
And for that, and so much more, I am grateful.

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Here, There, and Everywhere

>> Thursday, April 9, 2009

I have been all over the place lately... doing five million different things. The biggest? My new blog/website DupageMamas. I started this site with a friend to give moms in our community a new voice. It is a place for moms to connect with other local moms and to share resources and help each other with this task of raising our kids. I am super-excited about it and we are already getting some good buzz. Our official launch is next Wednesday the 15th and we are kicking things off with a week of straight giveaways! Come check us out and help me feel like all this work I have put into it has been worth the time! :)

I have also been busy contributing here about my recent itch (don't worry, not THAT kind of itch....)

And here (at my other new home, Chicagonista) about Lucas' birthday and our cool find in downtown Wheaton.

Plus it is Holy Week, and I am trying (keyword=trying) to build time into my day for reflection and quiet. Maybe more on that tomorrow.

Oh, and if I don't say it enough. If you are here and reading my blog and sharing in my motherhood journey. Thank you. I value all of you and the therapy that this blog provides me.

Peace to you.

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The Mind of My Child

>> Wednesday, April 8, 2009

I love seeing his little mind at work- the thoughts he has, the ideas he chooses to take action on. I love watching the creativity in his brain take shapes in his play and the art he creates. This proud mama can't help but share some recent masterpieces.

Lucas drew this today on his whiteboard. It is "a tree with some apples for the birds to eat and a nest so they can lay down once their bellies are full." To the left of the tree is a "house for mommies and little boys to sit in and watch the birds through the windows 'cuz they can't be outside yet. It is still too cold. Spring is almost here, Mommy, but not yet." (So true, little man!) A masterpiece, don't you agree?!

Yet another creative work in progress, Lucas took all the Little People and the animals from his ark and made chairs out of his blocks. Somedays it is beds. But today, they "wanted to sit up and just have quiet time but not nap." Hmmmm.....

A few days ago he built this rocketship with the Duplos. Then he carefully placed his army men all around it so they could go to the moon. Very impressive!

I love the mind of my child!!

For more Wordful Wednesdays, visit Angie @ Seven Clown Circus.

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Some much needed Sunshine

>> Saturday, April 4, 2009

After yesterday's somewhat "dark" day, we all needed a little bit of sun. Lucky for us, God blessed us with a beautiful Chicago spring day (well, morning at least- it got cold in the afternoon). We took full advantage and ran an errand to the plant nursery and had lunch and park-playtime with some friends. I think all of us needed to exhale and then breathe deep the fresh smell of spring. It was refreshing to the soul. And even though Lucas had a near-meltdown at naptime, it was still a very good day. And I will take them however I can get them. :)

Oh, and one more thing. Thank you to all of you who sent encouraging comments and e-mails my way today. I can always depend on y'all to pick me up out of my slump and give me some fresh perspective. It helped me see that Lucas and I are really doing ok. We have a very special bond, my son and I. And if I can just learn to stay calm when my frustration starts to build, it will go a long way in teaching him how to do the same. And that will make life better for everyone. Thanks y'all. Love to you!

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Raising my Tender Bully (aka: My need for God's Grace)

>> Friday, April 3, 2009

Today has been one of those days where I feel like I have no idea what I am doing in regards to motherhood. Lucas woke up at 5 and was up for good. Which meant all of us were up. I have been fighting a sinus infection and ear infection and one of the most horrible headaches of my life. Caden took a decent morning nap which gave Lucas and I some good time to play together. But, by 10:30 I was out of steam and the day was just getting going.

I'm sure it goes with the territory of having 2boys, or maybe just 2kids, but Lucas is just so rough with Caden. I seriously hear myself a hundred times a day telling Lucas "Be Gentle!" or "Don't throw things!" or "Do NOT kick your brother" or "Why did you just knock him over?" Sometimes it is overzealous affection. He loves to lay on top of him or hug him a little too vigorously. Other times, it is because Caden was simply looking at his cars or "in the way."
On days like today, I just can't deal. I get SO TIRED of correcting him. I do try to let them "be boys" and be a little rough and tumble. I can't police every moment and I know that is part of being brothers and being boys. I want them to be close and have fun together and I know that sometimes Lucas is really just trying to engage with Caden and he just doesn't know his own strength. But, that is not really the problem.
The real problem is me.

I have derailed this mommy-train somewhere along the line. I know that when I get frustrated with Lucas and even with Caden, I am not good at controlling my emotional outbursts. Caden is SO clingy. He wants to be physically touching me, climbing on me, held by me ALL the time. And sometimes even this babywearing, co-sleeping mama just reaches my limit. Lucas is SO whiny. He doesn't want to stop playing long enough to get dressed or go potty or come to a meal. So when I ask him, he whines and cries as if I am pulling out his toenails or something. And on days when I am overtired and not feeling 100%, my tolerance for these things is almost nill.
I see Lucas playing with his trains and he is so rough. Crashing and smashing them together with his voice raised and using words like "dominate" and other aggressive language. Part of that is being a little boy. I get that. But that can't be the whole story. He is rough with his toys, rough with his brother, with the dog, with his friends. He is just a rough little boy at times. And I don't know how we got here.

During this self-indulgent pitty-party, I start feeling frustrated that I am not able to keep it together. Lucas' whining and rough behavior just sends me to the edge of insanity. However, it is becoming more and more clear that much of this current issue is due to my own "roughness" and not so much his. I know that my lack of self-control when my children frustrate me or are naughty has rubbed off on my 3yr. old and I don't know how to un-do that.

The irony of this is, this bully is not my Lucas. He is a sweet, very tender kid who loves to be cuddled and read to. He chooses me over everyone. He talks about missing me when I am away, and missing his brother Micah whom he has never met. Last weekend Hubby told him that one of the gorillas at the zoo went to Heaven. Lucas got really sad and said through tears that he just wanted to go see that gorilla one more time. He had no idea what gorilla we were talking about he just knows the concept of missing someone/something and he gets very emotional about it. His heart is as big as they come and we have some of the tenderest moments together that a mother could ever hope for.
Days like today feel so out of control, like I am doing all I can to keep my head afloat. I am simply responding to life and not in any way able to direct it. I am putting out little fires instead of being able to focus on fire prevention. You know what I mean? I just sometimes feel like I have failed him.
I tell him constantly that I love him. That he gives the best bear hugs. That I cherish having him close to me. I kiss his head and comb his hair with my fingers. We talk about everything and I love to hear his stories that come out of his imagination-driven mind. I love the moments when he is being a little boy and not so under constraint. But yet, I yell WAY too much and am not always good at keeping him stimulated. Also, he's never slept well (neither really do), is resisting potty-training and gets so rowdy when bored. He is stubborn, oh-so stubborn. But most of these things seem to directly indicate some sort of mothering-insufficiency. We are very slowly making progress with potty training and have been cooped up in this house all winter. So maybe I am over-dramatizing this in my mind. I tend to do that too. The moments when it is just he and I or when he can be outside running free seem to be without this drama.

Hubby graciously took the boys out for an hour this afternoon so I could have a quiet house to hopefully quiet my soul and my headache a bit. Our day ended with Lucas and I laying on the floor together reading books before bed, his head resting sweetly on my chest. As I prayed for him and sang his "Jesus songs," he innocently turned to say "I love you Mommy."
I just pray that the moments I tell him I love him or that I am sorry for getting frustrated with him ring more loudly in his ears than my over-emotional behavior corrections. I hope that he will see my imperfections, my rough edges, and then see our need for God. I can't smooth out my own edges, much less my son's, without God's grace. I may fail him in other ways, but I hope that I can at least be a living example to him in that way.

Any advice on how to raise my tender bully without breaking his spirit, or mine?

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Cake, Cake, and more Cake

>> Wednesday, April 1, 2009

About a month before his birthday, Lucas announced to me that he needed three cakes because he was turning three. A dangerous tradition to start, but I indulged him this year. While we were in Florida with my parents, I made a fire engine and a police car and an ambulance (per his request).

Then, for our family birthday celebration he told me he wanted a "mountain that is on fire, with strawberries, and the firemen are coming to put out the fire." Lucky for me, he agreed to have a house on fire instead of the mountain.

Notice the gummie bear waiting to be rescued out the window. :) With last year's dino cake as my first attempt, I was pretty pleased with this year. Lucas is forcing me to step up my game a bit. Of course, for his actual birthday party he just wanted some chocolate cupcakes. I can handle that. :)

For more Wordful Wednesday, visit Angie at Seven Clown Circus.

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