Mom Needs Grace

Musings on the life redeemed & purpose redefined

Near January 2, 2013

Filed under: Milestones,Motherhood — dayna @ 11:55 pm

These pictures were taken a little more than a month ago, and already you’ve changed so much.

Now, I can see your personality emerging with the crinkling of your nose, each gummy smile, and every breathy coo. My sweet son, you’re growing faster than even I could have imagined, and there are so many things about right now that I never want to forget…

The perfect way your bottom fits into the crook of my elbow as we go about our day. I can still balance you, head tucked under my chin, when I need to use both hands in the kitchen or to help a little girl.

The downy softness of your hair, (all that hair!), against my cheek and nose as I nuzzle it like a proud mama-dog.

Your breath still smelling of the purest, freshest air. Heaven’s own air, it seems.

Your tiny fist always clutching my hair, my shirt, or a strap when I draw you close.

That contented shudder-sigh as you settle into the sweet rhthym of a precious feeding session.

And then your milk-drunk collapse across my lap with your warm belly impossibly full.

Or the weight of you on my chest and shoulder as we sway in the recliner- together drifting in and out of sleep.

I can’t get enough of this memorizing of details, of holding you near and breathing you in. Because I know, son, that we will never be physically closer than we are right now. That for the rest of your life, I will be gradually letting you go…

You are two months, my boy, and I love you so, so much.

*Photo credit to (the talented and patient) Pepper Wooters of Zeebug Photography.

 

So here we are… December 19, 2012

Filed under: Faith,Motherhood — dayna @ 12:00 am

It’s not very often these days that I’m relatively alone. My little threesome and I are a wolfpack of sorts. Ok: a messy, chirpy, sparkly wolfpack. But pretty much always together.

A few weeks ago though, it was only the babe and me in the minivan. I’m driving to shake my postpartum self at a “Zumba-thon” to raise funds and support for a former co-worker fighting the battle of his life. And I’m wondering (almost aloud), if each of my family members knows just exactly how I feel about them…

On the rare occasion that I am semi-alone, I almost always find myself with the same urgency. Feeling a gnawing that my daughters may be unaware of what it is that I adore about them right now. That my husband might not know exactly why he is still the man I choose to be in love with until my dying day. That this little baby wouldn’t know that I already see glimpses of his personality and cherish him well beyond his weeks.

And my thoughts wander to my friend Heather who lost her mother at a very young age and to my friend Amanda whose mom passed away when she was a teen. Were these women (who are now incredible mothers themselves) certain with every bit of their soul just how glorious their mothers already knew they were?

I want my crew to know. To know that I see them. And that they are spectacular.

And I ask: if something happened right now, would my life, my words, resonate with them in a loving way? Would they know exactly what they mean to me? How special they are?

I wretch out a nauseous gut cry as I mentally answer. Of course, they couldn’t! Not with the way I act most of the time these days. With all the snapping and the shortness and the griping. With the tired sighs and continuous correcting.

Yes, I do need to behave better. But I also know I need to write it down. To write to them. Perhaps a letter to each, I think. I resolve on the drive.

And then that Friday happens.

Suddenly we’re all reeling. Mouths gaping at the evil. Breath taken at the heroism. Hearts breaking at the emptiness…

The next day I go to a small local production of the Nutcracker with my kids. I catch myself quietly sobbing at the precious multitude of gumdrops and baby mice. Because across the country, there is undoubtedly a production of the Nutcracker that is missing some gumdrops. Or baby mice. Or ginger children.

I know many of my mama friends are feeling it too. The weight of the privilege of this time with our ones. And we’re all hugging our kindergarteners and 1st graders especially tight.

Later that night, my husband and I are watching news coverage and speaking in hushed tones. We’re shaking our heads and looking at each other wide-eyed.

“Can you imagine?” he says. “Coming home without her…?” His voice trails off as I squeeze my eyes shut hard and hang my head.

And I gulp because I do. Imagine it. More often than any healthy person should. Occupational hazard, I guess. Sadly, I know many of my co-workers and I do occasionally imagine the scape of our homes without our little ones. Right now we’re all picturing life without these insightful, creative, goofy school age kids. I feel sick when I imagine the very sound of my home without her constant singing and narrating all-the-time…

Or I shudder at the possibility of even having to talk honestly to my sensitive girl about what she witnessed happen to her friends, or to her teacher.

Then I tell my husband about the preacher from Colorado that I saw being interviewed on television earlier. The one that was really telling it. Talking about a fallen world and evil and how God is still with us, in and through it all.

And suddenly we’re having church up in our living room. We’re talking of mourning and comfort. We’re looking up verses like 2 Corinthians 1:3-5. We’re wondering how to best be the very hands of God and offer some peace in the midst of crisis and disaster.

Then the baby really gets going. And so I’m up pacing with him.

But still there is that gnawing, that urging, that knowing that I’m supposed to be living a life obedient. Supposed to write some stuff down. Supposed to be prepared.

As the babe and I shuffle, I’m humming the tune “Better than a Hallejuh” and thinking of those precious lyrics: “God loves a lullaby in a mother’s tears in the dead of night better than a hallelujah sometimes… We pour out our miseries. God just hears a melody. Beautiful, the mess we are. The honest cries of breaking hearts are better than a hallelujah.”

I’m praying as I stride thinking “Please Lord, don’t let me forget. Help me to say what you would have me say.”

Because it’s really hard to write when you pace the tile floors, shoulder covered in spit up, and arms full of colicky baby.

But I’m thankful… because my arms are so full.

 

fabulous four March 4, 2012

Filed under: Milestones,Stuff — dayna @ 11:55 pm

The other morning my four-year-old took me by the hand and pulled me into her room. She wanted to show me what she would be wearing to play in our backyard that day. Here’s what I saw:

A little later, she actually rocked the outfit. The only thing I can take credit for is the clumsy ponytail.

Her attire held up quite nicely to all of the day’s activities. The Jolie-esque lips are courtesy of a concrete faceplant the day before. The girl is tougher than she looks.

I only hope she is tough enough to allow nothing in this world (including her mother) to diminish that creativity and confidence.

 

zoo flashback February 22, 2012

Filed under: History lessons,sisters — dayna @ 11:55 pm

Lately, fewer things have thrilled me more than observing my girls’ blossoming sister-friendship. Most of the time, they seem to honestly adore each other’s company.

I found myself grinning at this sweetly predictable picture from a trip to our local zoo last month.

And then, an echo in my mind. Childhood memories flooding back.

Sure enough, while visiting my mother recently, she obligingly dug up one of these little gems…

That’s my adorable big sis front and center in the yellow coat, a couple of our cousins, and me on the eagle’s shoulder in the blue hat. Yes, our frequent trips to the National Zoo were usually documented by a similar shot.

Here’s another one from a few years later with other (obviously thrilled) cousins…

Even the eagle looks miserable, doesn’t he?! And yup, that’s me wearing glasses only the early 80’s could love.

Hmm, sharing this family tradition with the next generation could be serious fun;)

How about you? Did your childhood include any regular rides on concrete wildlife?

*****

Postscript: I couldn’t resist adding another one with a friend from just this week…

There’s no creature these girls can’t tame!

 

Nearly wordless February 1, 2012

Filed under: Motherhood — dayna @ 11:55 pm

Sometimes, I can scarcely say…

… they take my breath away.

 

the crux January 21, 2012

Filed under: Better life,Faith,Motherhood — dayna @ 12:00 pm

*This post was originally scheduled for the day my father-in-law passed away. When he died so suddenly, I pulled it, uncertain of the timing. In the days to come though, we’ve had many frank discussions with our little girls. Somehow, these conversations I managed to scribble down a few weeks prior seemed to give comfort and provide a starting point for the topics to come…

***

She’d been talking crosses all day.

Right after we settled the tiny one down for a nap, we were in the middle of picking up the house. I scurried about in anticipation of friends dropping by to exchange belated Christmas gifts.

“But, how did they keep him on the cross, Mommy?” She asks abruptly, as if we were mid-discussion.

Not sure I heard her correctly, I turn to meet her eyes. “What, hon?”

“How did they put Jesus on the cross, Mommy?” she continues insistently.

I’m close to her now. Hands on her shoulders, I drop to my knees to be level. I draw in my breath, buying time with a stumbling, “You really want to know, babe? It’s tough…”

She nods.

I know that this kid, as much as any I have ever met, needs deserves honesty. It’s just the extent of the detail that sometimes wants tempering…

“Well… they nailed him there,” I answer quietly. Her brow furrows, perplexed.

“Big nails…” I gulp to explain. Her eyes are wide.

I feel my face twist a bit. And my tears wanting to stream.

“And it must’ve hurt really bad. But he wanted to do it. He came to do it… You know why?”

“Why?” Earnestly curious.

“Because he loved us so much. He loved you so much. He loved me that much. So, he was willing… so we could be rescued!” (We love that word around here).

***

Later that night, as we lay in her bed ready for prayers, being mauled by the clambering two-year old, she continues…

“Which one did he die on?”

“What do you mean?”

“Which cross?! All those ones we see when we drive…which one was his?”

Suddenly, I understand. This girl who watches so intently out the mini-van window as the world goes by…thinks she may have been seeing Jesus’ very own cross in every road side memorial! In the little shrines so present in our town that I almost don’t notice them anymore.

I explain that those smaller crosses are markers in memory of other people who have died- perhaps Christ-followers themselves.

Her questions come faster now. I find myself being urged to explain the three crosses on “that page in her Jesus Storybook Bible,” and realizing with shock that she thinks everyone’s life ends on a cross. Her logical pre-schooler questioning continues on into an exploration of varied ways that people can die. Oh my.

Bedtime when you are four and your mind is electric!

And then…

“How do you get to heaven, Mommy?”

She’s a bloodhound sniffing out a trail. She’s pressing me. Certain that this whole cross thing is key.

Then I hear myself talking about telling God we’re sorry. Me. Straight reeking of sinful nature mere minutes after lashing out at my husband and babes in the exhausting “to bed” hustle.

Talking about messing up and forgiveness and about how Jesus is the only perfect. The only way to fix this mess.

To fix us.

“And we can pray and talk to God, right Mommy?” She beams, nodding, and then snuggles in close. Satisfied for a brief moment.

I’m slightly dumbfounded. Her wheels still turn.

Next: “But what were the legs of the manger made out of?” She’s obviously recalling the concrete-stucco trough our pastor produced to show the kids at Christmas Eve service. She grills me for dimensions with her hands spacing, “How big was it? Was it this big? This big?”

I sigh and breathe an “I honestly don’t know, honey. Let’s talk about this more tomorrow, ok? It really is late.”

This year, the connection of the manger to the cross becomes just a little more clear.

We say prayers. Even the tiny two-year old settles, doing her own whispery listing of loved ones.

And the Almighty leans in close to hear their sweet voices lift…

 

that thing i wish i knew when i turned thirty… January 18, 2012

Filed under: Better life,Blogging,Milestones — dayna @ 12:00 am

Oh, how I wish I could do the title of this post justice. But, try as I might, I simply can’t come up with that thing. That thing that would have guided me into my thirties with ease.

I definitely can’t offer any sort of sage advice or words of wisdom that a certain girl (ahem) woman doesn’t seem to already know in her very self-assured being. You see, the lovely Stephanie turns the big 3-0 today. (Sorry Steph, if you were trying to keep it “hush-hush.” I’m pretty sure Darcie and Nicole have other plans…)

I’ll never forget that particular birthday. For months, I’d been determinedly proclaiming my excitement about entering this new decade. “My thirties are going to be great!” I would assert, certain that this would be my era of confidence, purpose, of something beautiful.

And then the actual date. The details of the entire day are a bit hazy, but I vividly remember that evening. And a rebellion in my closet. Literally.

My husband was taking me on a date to a high school musical.  I was mildly underwhelmed by the glamor of the destination, but still determined to look my best. Finally through my first trimester of my first pregnancy, I stood in the middle of my closet.

And smack in the middle of a perfect storm of hormones and nothing-fits-right.  As I flung aside yet another cute clingy wrap dress that was now wildly immodest, I wailed “And I’m thirty!”

In that moment, it sounded so much older than 29. I’m certain that I stomped my feet, clenched my fists, and shed more than a few flushed selfish tears before pulling it together. Then I sighed, grew up a teensy bit, and we went out.

I suppose I do wish I could have hugged my tantrum-having, newly-thirty, mom-to-be self and whispered: “Shhh. Shhh… Do you know you are on the brink of beautiful? Yes, it may get messy… but it will be magnificent.”

Almost five years later, I’m in awe of the lessons I’m still learning and the way life marches out. I never would have guessed that all those high school extra-curricular events would now figure so prominently (and happily) into our family life. I never would have guessed that pregnancy and birth could provide such body image healing. Or that the experience of mothering two girls would demand careful scrutiny or joyful rejection of so many beauty ideals.

I would have told myself “Yes, these next few years might age you a lot, but what you gain will be just so priceless.” I would’ve breathed a reminder that the truest self-discovery is the journey towards selflessness.

This is the confidence, the purpose, the something beautiful.

So today, as I look at my friend who is gorgeous inside and out, I know that she already embraces this life most full. She has learned lessons well beyond her years.

Although she ponders much and has ideas that keep her restless, she steps into her thirties with rare confidence and grace. She has a third little girl on the way to punctuate a third decade. She has countless joys, experiences, and memories already beautifully chronicled.

She dreams fearlessly, gives continuously, and loves with sheer abandon.

I, for one, can’t wait to see what thirties look like on you, Stephanie! The very happiest of birthdays to you, my friend.

Got thirty? How’s it treating you?