Thursday, September 26, 2013

Give yourself Grace

"Give yourself Grace. God already has."

These are the words I've been repeating to myself these past few days.

This is a short but humbling time of life. A time in which I have to lay down a lot of my identity as someone who gets things done, or who even does a few things well. It's a new reality for a few short weeks, and I finding it desperately hard to remember to give myself grace in it.

I'm intensely grateful that I am still able to work, still able to function on a very basic level and get everyone ready in the mornings and somehow keep up with the laundry and dishes. But I haven't cooked in days, and can't even really bear the thought of it. A couple nights ago I thought perhaps I could bring myself to make quinoa in the rice cooker and boil some sweet potatoes on the stove, and it nearly did me in. After smelling them for 15 minutes, there was no way I could think about eating them, or really anything else save a few bites of instant Grits. At least the boys got a decent dinner.

 Justin sustained himself on cookies and various juiced vegetables, like any real man would do in such a dire situation, especially when the surf is good and your wife gets panicky every time you turn on the oven.

I'm also extremely grateful that, with the morning sickness I had with Aqauman, and the incredibly mild nausea I had with The Dude, it was all ancient history by 14 weeks. That's only 5 weeks away. And surely things will slowly improve long before that.

And man, I love this baby dearly already. I already can't picture my life without him. Even though he is still so tiny and so unobtrusive (though he has already shaken up our world quite a bit), there is a feeling of completeness and finality to our family now that he is a part of it.

One of the best (and worst) things about my job working with special needs children is that I can't really ever take healthy children, or a healthy pregnancy for granted. Now that some of the uncertain days have passed, I am relatively positive that, as before, I am going to have a rather uneventful pregnancy that produces a healthy (albeit extra needy) little baby. But there isn't a single morning, nauseated or not (strangely, I feel best early in the morning, so much for morning sickenss..) that I don't wake up grateful for all of this glorious, normal chaos. And maybe I even glory in the nausea, in my less gaggy moments, knowing that it is a really quite trivial side effect of something amazing.

And now, stretching before me is a 4 day weekend with no doctor appointments and no big plans, aside from a movie date with JT on Friday night (hopefully the popcorn smell won't be too distracting). Two days to drop off and pick up Aquaman from school, and spend the whole morning and early afternoon having quality time with The Dude.

Who is growing up.

And even as he daily grows more unreasonable in certain moments, somehow 2 and 1/2 seems to fit him better than 2. He's starting to *get it* once in a while. He actually cares when I tell him to stop doing something. Annoyingly he now copies Aquaman's enormous production of pronouncing with a wail "mommy's MAD at me!!" and burying his head while still somehow managing to produce deafening shrieks.

Potty training is just about complete, and all week he has stayed dry all night, one night in which I forgot to put a diaper on him at all. And he's sleeping, through no intervention at all of my own because I have been too tired to do anything different. But several nights this week I did not hear from him for 10 hours straight. Though one of those nights I was up half the night thinking I was going to get sick, so it wasn't entirely restful. But at least all I had to worry about was myself.

What can I say about Aquaman? His energy seems boundless lately. Sometimes he makes me absolutely crazy, through no fault of his own but for the fact that he's just different from me, and way too much like me.

Now that we have even less time together, with the start of school, I get even more frustrated with myself for not always being the sympathetic mom when he bursts into theatrical tears at the drop of a hat. Truly, I just don't know what exactly I'm to do. I want to empathize with his pain without feeding his delusion that the things he's upset about are really worth all of that drama. And I'm not quite sure how to go about that. He has a bent toward negativity, anxiety, and narcissism that I see and have seen in myself, and I think sometimes I over-react to it because I know how much pain that kind of mindset causes.

At night we practice his Awana Bible verses together, and read his stories, and by his request he falls asleep listening to Bible stories on his headphones.
He has it all there in his head, but his very sensitive, cautious heart, balks at letting it in. I see him resist it, and it scares me. But it also encourages me.

Aquaman will never be a child who adopts our faith blindly. His faith, which I pray every day he will come to someday, will be real and dirty and exposed. He will come about it painfully and slowly, as he has so many things in his life.

And really, that's exactly the kind of child I want to raise, and I hope I'll have the courage to live the kind of life that will point him that way. I so often struggle with perfectionism, and how I long to not pass that on to my son. I see him struggle with the same inner turmoil I see in myself, and I find myself lashing out inwardly for somehow making him feel that he has to be perfect.

And what I'm realizing is, that is the exact moment to give myself grace. Because that is one of the ways he will find Grace for himself.

We're probably going to watch a lot of movies this weekend. And even though they'll probably jump all over me and make me more nauseated with their frenzy of movement, I'll probably stay on the couch instead of retreating upstairs (where they'd just follow me anyway). The Dude will probably mutter sadly "mommy doesn't feel well" every now and then, and Aquaman will wheedle me for sips of Ginger Ale and bargain for extra Renegade Racing time while my defenses are down.

The rainy days are bringing cooler weather, and, even though the late September winds don't bring the exhilerated thrill that they usually do, we'll probably venture outside some too.

The cooler air is an intense relief, and the sun going down sooner makes it possible to attempt a stroll around the block with The Dude and Cozy in the evening time.

We probably won't be making pumpkin muffins any time soon, and I can't even stand the smell of brewing coffee, so I've given up buying the pumpkin spice coffee creamer.

But when I look at the calandar and realize October is coming, and that by Halloween I'm going to be feeling even more than myself again: well that just feels good.

I'm thanking God for His grace this morning. For that healthy baby up there on the screen last week that feels like a parasite right now but will someday bring me the joy that these other two beautiful boys have brought me. For coworkers who stop and ask how I'm doing, and bosses who buy me more ginger ale, saltines and vanilla wafers. For a husband that doesn't complain too much about eating cookies and juice for dinner or the state of our house, and takes the boys out to play so that I can lie down. For that the fact that I don't have to do or be anything to be loved. That I can come just like I am with my hair sticking up and my eyes half closed and a not-exactly-smile-when-will-this-be-over look on my face.

And, like all good pregnant women, that makes me cry a little. Which doesn't do much for appearances, but is truly good and cathartic for the soul.

I don't know if I'm getting stronger. To me, the hard times make me much much weaker not so that I can get stronger, but so that I can be reminded of Who IS strong. I do know, that even in this 3 steps forward 2 steps back kind of life, that even if I don't get stronger, some part of me is growing. Stretching. Limbering up for the next setback I suppose.

Or for the next great leap of faith.

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