Tuesday, March 9, 2010


For the last week I have begun to see glimpses of the me I remember.  I am by no means thoroughly that person, but I am seeing more of my old self than I have since mid-August.  In particular, I am seeing the old me when it comes to Caleb and Joel.  I am SO thankful for this as it means I am actually engaging in the moment, thinking ahead about what I want to be teaching them and how I want to be molding them, enjoying the unexpected surprises of parenthood, and stepping into their needs as they manifest. For the past six and half months (maybe longer), I have ushered my sons from one thing to the next -- from their beds to breakfast, from breakfast to the playroom, from the playroom to roomtime, from roomtime to lunch, etc, etc.  When the boys have needed me for whatever reason, I have tried to figure out how to make them stop whining or fighting or clinging or crying so that the noise would stop and I could continue in my fog, uninterrupted.  With this mindset, every hiccup is an annoyance and an obstacle to making it to the next thing.  Consequently, parenting has been a responsibility and a chore while only occasionally being a joy and delight.

Parenting this way has bothered me terribly.  It's not at all the way I parented before Samuel.  And it's not at all the way I want to be parenting.  Before Samuel, I would have said -- and my friends can attest to this -- that I loved being a stay-at-home mom more than anyone I know.  I found such fulfillment in being a mom.  It's what I always wanted to be.  In high school or college, when anyone asked me to look into the future and predict what I would be doing, the answer was always the same: "I'll be a mom."  I never aspired to be anything "more" than a mom because I didn't think there was any more worthy thing in all the world.  There was nothing I would rather have been doing.  And being Caleb and Joel's mom was utterly fulfilling.  It was the very thing I wanted most, and it was more than satisfying.  It was energizing, electrifying, and...completing.  I felt like I was doing the exact thing God designed me to do.  I didn't look ahead and long for the boys to go to school so I could have the chance to pursue a career or have more time to myself or not have to tend to little ones who needed me for practically everything.  In fact, I nearly wept when we decided to enroll Caleb in a two day a week preschool program at our church.  I didn't want to part with him before I had to.  I didn't understand the purpose behind sending my child to school to prepare him for school.  I wanted him home with me every moment he could be.  I wanted to soak up every second with my kids, for you can never get a day back, and these days pass all too quickly.

Much of those things are still true and have remained true through my grief, but something has permanently changed.  I am not the mother I once was, and I can never be that mother again because being Caleb and Joel's mom is no longer all-fulfilling.  There is a void in being their mom that didn't exist before.  And that void is Samuel.  I don't get to look at my sons and think, "this is everything I hoped it would be and so much more.  I am complete", for now the absence of Samuel is a permanent part of me as a mother.  I don't have all my children with me.  When I look at Caleb and Joel, I only see two of my three sons, and it is not complete.  I am not fulfilled.  Being a mother has a constant emptiness attached to it, a constant ache, a constant longing for something more.  It is not everything I dreamed it would be.  And I mourn the end of that period in my life where I was completely fulfilled and completely joyful -- where life was more than I ever hoped for and being a mom was all I dreamed it would be.  I will never have that back.  I will always have a hole in my life and heart, and though God may heal what is broken and does grant me joy and peace, I will always be scarred.  I mourn my mother's heart that was unblemished and full.  I mourn what will never be again.

Though I know I won't ever feel the way I did about being a mom, I am beginning to see that deep joy return.  I'm emerging, at least a little bit, from this shroud of suffocating grief that takes away my ability to be in the moment and really and truly meet Caleb and Joel's needs.  I have found myself responding to tears with a tender heart again and wanting to understand the source of their pain and comfort them in earnest rather than gloss over it and put a bandaid on the wound -- literally or figuratively.  I have plopped on the floor on a whim when we would normally have been headed downstairs for breakfast to dump out all the change Caleb has collected over the four and half years of his life and to sort it into piles, count it, and teach him about giving, saving, and spending money.  I have walked them to our neighborhood playground to play Star Wars and assume the role of Darth Vader.  I have taken them outside for extra play time instead of going to roomtime.  I have delighted in the hardly-pausing-for-a-breath-20-minute-elaborate-imaginings that Caleb is constantly vocalizing.  I have secretly laughed at how Joel throws himself on the floor and pretends to sob when something doesn't go his way.  I have tapped back into that deep well of joy in being Momma to my two oldest sons.  And it is wonderful to feel again and to see peeking out of me bit by bit.

Saturday was a really hard day for me for a myraid of reasons, but even in that hard day, I found myself genuinely delighted by my boys.  I was solemn all that morning, thoughtful and introspective, but when I looked up at watched Caleb and Joel playing in the sunshine, my heart smiled a bit, and I thought, "I am profoundly grateful for these boys and for the joy and privilege of being their mom.  How they make my heart swell.  Thank you, God."  That was one of the moments that really awakened me to how Caleb and Joel's old mother is emerging.  As a friend pointed out, I am a different mom because of Samuel, and I should be, but I am hoping to one day be a better mom because of Samuel.  I am not there yet, but I am hopeful.  I am trusting God to do in my heart what He wants to do and to protect Caleb and Joel's hearts in the wide parenting gaps I have left and continue to leave in the wake of Samuel's death.  And in the meantime, I am so grateful for the glimpses of the old me that are shedding the chains of grief's encompassing fog.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for your honesty as always. Grateful for the small moments for joy. I pray those moments grow larger and more frequent.