Saturday, December 17, 2011

Only By the Grace of God

For the briefest of moments, I was forced to wonder if one of my children might be dead.

There.  I said it.  The one thing that I've been thinking since Monday night, when a teenage boy pummeled into the back of our van, pushing us into the car ahead.  The thing I almost dared not to voice, for fear that actually saying it out loud would somehow make it something that could have happened.  That almost happened, even.  But by the grace of God, didn't.

Only  by the grace of God.

We (me and all five of my children) were running a projected five minutes late for my husband's annual Christmas Program.  I was approaching an intersection, getting into the left turn lane, when the car in front of me stopped very suddenly, forcing me to slam on the brakes.  I thought for a moment that we were going to hit him, but managed to stop the van with not a whole lot of extra space between us.  Relief set in, but my silent prayer of thanks was cut short by the impact of a car slamming full-force into us from behind.

The moments that followed were some of the worst of my life. It was dark. My three oldest children, who were sitting in the backseat, were screaming wildly, and I had no idea how badly they had been injured. The baby, jarred awake by the blow, began screaming at the top of his lungs, too. And for the briefest of seconds, I thought that something dreadful might have happened to one of my children. There was confusion and terror and panic and sobbing, and when I cried out to them to find out if they were hurt, they insisted that they were.

Quickly, I scanned them over.  I saw no blood, no protruding bones, and everyone was awake and alert.  In fact, they were far more alert than usual, although understandably shaken.  Somehow, I got everyone calmed down enough to tell me that they were not seriously injured...just bumped and bruised and whiplashed...and then my relief came down in torrents.

I was able to pull the van off the road into a parking lot (the same was not true for the car behind us, as it was missing its entire front end).  I checked each of my five kids over inch by inch, hugged them to me one by one, and then sobbed out a prayer of thanksgiving to God for protecting us.

The next hour passed in a frenzy of cell phone calls, blinking lights, sirens, firefighters and police officers. I answered countless questions, rattled off birth dates, and shed a thousand tears.  I was a bit in shock over what could have happened, yet even now I could go on and on with all the details I collected from the scene: who said what, how each person was feeling, who was crying, who came to help, whose phone number I misdialed in all the confusion, the damage our van sustained, the sorrow of the boy that hit us when he realized he'd put five children in harm's way.  

But the truth is, none of that is very important.

What's important is that after anxiously waiting for a solid hour for his family to arrive at his program, with no way to be contacted and with no choice but to go on with the show, my panicked husband was able to look up and see all six of us coming toward him.  We were all safe.

And over the last few days, both my husband and I have seen our lives and our children in a new light.  We're cherishing the laughs and the ballerina twirls down the hall, the joking around at the dinner table, the brandishing of little swords, and the hugs and snuggles in between.  When we're brushing little teeth, or wiping little bottoms, or teaching math lessons, or cleaning up after someone who didn't make it to the bathroom on time; when we're listening to children argue or fuss or even throw tantrums, and when we've been woken up yet again in the middle of the night, we've been acutely aware of the fact that we could have lost them.  And we're thankful to be allowed to do even the most mundane of tasks for these precious, irreplaceable people- the children that we love.

A bit of humor, as I can't help but find humor in the ugliest of places:

While waiting for the police to arrive, a bystander picked something up from the ground outside and brought it to us.  It was a picture of my husband that had been on the dashboard.  He had not been properly restrained and had been thrown from the vehicle. 

I remembered and relayed to my husband every emotional and story-telling fact of the accident scene in fabulous detail, except the one thing he wanted to know most of all:  "What kind of cars were they?"  What do you mean, what kind of cars?  Ours is a van, the other two were cars.  Two cars, one van.  "But what kind of cars were they?"  One was red and boxy, the other was tan (I think) and pretty crunchy. 
Apparently this wasn't a good enough description. 

Thursday, December 15, 2011

A Glimpse into Our Marriage

From me to my hubby this morning:

Once upon a time, there was a handsome prince that emailed his love every day while hard at work at the Royal Music Academy. Sometimes he emailed two or three times, even. The princess, pining away in the dark dungeon filled with miniature trolls, lived for the moments when she would check her email and read longingly as once again, the prince declared his undying love for her. Upon reading those emails, the dungeon would appear brighter, little birdies would begin to sing and flutter around the princess's head, mice in stocking caps would skitter around, washing and repairing garments, and the princess would be filled with renewed strength, love and energy to face the day with all those smelly and somewhat amusing miniature trolls.

But then one day, or maybe even several days in a row, the prince failed to email. And all went dark. The birds dropped dead, the mice refused to do the laundry, and the trolls were smellier and grouchier than ever before.

Happily ever after? I think not.

His reply:

Once upon a time, there was an incredibly ugly ogre. This ogre was particularly blessed to be married to a beautiful, intelligent, witty, funny, creative, late-as-molasses princess. The ogre was off fighting very busy battles trying to get his incredibly huge pageant ready for King Jack. (school principal) The ogre forgot to send his carrier-pigeon messages to his beloved because his time was severely limited. The lovely princess was mad and sent a sarcastic message by carrier pigeon to the hideous ogre, who realized the err of his ways. He was intent on sending his own sarcastic story to the lovely princess as he ate his frozen burrito with rice. (which said scorned princess lovingly prepared, no less) He felt badly that his beautiful princess felt unloved, when, in fact, she was quite adored. The ogre knew that his princess was a wonderful blessing from heaven. Then, the ogre pricked his finger on a spinning wheel and threw the Ring of Power into the fires of Mount Doom, slaying Darth Vader's evil twin brother, Garth Vader.

And they lived happily ever after...

Burritos are good.

The end.

Are we a match made in Heaven, or what?

Sunday, December 11, 2011

No Regrets

My first baby turned six last week.  Wow. 

I called her a baby until she turned two, and I stretched "toddler" until four.  When she turned five, I convinced myself that she was really just a big toddler, on the edge of becoming a little kid.  When she started kindergarten, she was still only five....hardly more than a baby, really.  My baby.

But now she's six, and I can no longer put off acknowledging what I know to be true.  I can't deny it, even though everything in my aching heart longs to hold onto her babyhood for a few years - or lifetimes - longer.

My little daughter is a child.

These six years have gone by so quickly, and my memories of them are a series of blurs tangled up in my already over-full mind.  Why can I no longer smell the clean, hot, soapy scent of my freshly bathed baby girl as I snuggled her up with her last bottle of the night?  Why can't my arms remember the weight of her cradled in them, fast asleep?  I can't hear her baby giggles and coos, her first words, or recall the feeling of watching her take her first steps, clap her chubby little hands or hold her sausage-arms out in a silent plea for me to hold her.

Those days are gone, as are the days when I taught her to write her name, when she drew me her first picture, when she sang her first song, when she lost her first tooth, when she learned to skip and do puzzles and decorate cookies and ride her bike and braid her hair and read a book by herself.

Time passes so quickly.

As I snuggled my little-but-getting-big baby girl this morning, I was flooded with these emotions, and simply had to pour them out.  I wish that I had all the time in the world to savor this sweet child....savor each of my children...and I will never regret giving up these years of my career, extra money, a big house, nice cars, new clothes, fancy vacations, trips to the salon, my hobbies, my freedom, my social life, my very identity outside of being a breathe myself and my faith into the very fabric of this child.

At the end of their lives, no one ever says that they wish they'd spent less time with their children when they were young.  I've never met a mother who, when her children were grown, wished she could go back and invest more of their childhoods working or building her own career, but I've heard from many who have said just the opposite.  This time is so short, they tell me.  Slow down.  Hold onto them.  Invest in them.  Enjoy them fully...the years and the children...before they're gone.  

Six years has passed in the blink of an eye, and will never be able to be grasped again, no matter how hard I try.  I'm so thankful that I'm not looking back on this time with regrets, that I figured this out at the beginning of those six years instead of when it was already too late.  The moment that beautiful, squalling baby was first placed on my heaving chest, I heard the voice loud and clear....the squalling voice, yes...but the still, small voice, too, whispering...

"This is what I have for you now.  This is what I made you for.  You will love her with a love like no other, with the kind of love I have for you.  You will breath into her all that you have learned, all that you know, all the beauty that you see.  You will sacrifice so much of your life for her, and in doing so, someday, she will be better able to see Me."

Thursday, December 8, 2011


In the past three days, my little blog has exploded (at least in my eyes).  My stats are climbing by the hour!

My little ministry to parents raising children with Attachment Disorders...unsung heroes, in my growing exponentially right now, and I've had almost nothing to do with it.  I've been getting tons of positive comments and feedback, both on this blog and on various facebook pages, and I so greatly appreciate knowing how something I've written has touched you.  It fills me with joy....a supernatural kind of joy, really.  In fact, I've had goosebumps for three days now!

But I also feel just a little sense of caution, and I wanted to clarify something.

I'm just a person.

I'm selfish.  I think about me a lot.

I'm grumpy sometimes, and I take it out on my kids.

I lose my temper, even though I know full well it's what my RAD kids are going for.

I like to be right.  I like to be in control.  And I like to beat a dead horse that's already been beaten.

I sit on facebook when I should be doing laundry.  Or cleaning the kitchen.  Or teaching math.  Man, I hate math.

And I'm still in my pajamas, and it's nearly three o'clock.

Need I go on?  I could.  Trust me.  I'm completely, indisputably, sinfully human. 

Since it appears that we all might be friends for awhile, I wanted to get that off my chest, so to speak.  I don't ever want anyone to think for a second that I have "it" all together.  I'm so far away from "it", that I don't even know what "it" is.  I'm not equipped to be anyone's hero, but I know the One who is.

I'm humbled and thrilled that God is using my writing to speak to your hearts.  That you and I can have a common bond and find comfort in one another; share in the joys and pains of this - the craziest of all journeys.  But if ever I write anything that speaks to you, please know that it is only by His grace....because anything that is good in me comes from Him.

And if ever I write anything that's really, really crappy....then I'll take the credit for that.  :)