Wednesday, May 22, 2013


This exact moment, begging to be frozen in time.

Sitting here, fragrance of toddler poo spread like a blanket on the inside of my nose and throat; dry heaves wondering if a green smoothie looks any different on the way back up.

Sitting here, heart beating an angry rhythm, watching a poop-covered tub-occupant clumsily wash himself with a bar of Daddy's soap; little chunks of number two bobbing in the wake.

Deep breaths, Mama, deep breaths.

Blood pressure slowly descending now. 
Initial fury at discovery of finger-painted masterpiece subsiding.

Canvas: crib
Medium: crap
Frequency: third time in as many months

Calming down now.
Calming down tubside while sitting on the throne, of all places. 
I love me some irony.

Nursing a baby, working through frustration with one available hand pecking words tumbling out, directing little puppeteers from room adjoining, and bathing a toddler covered hands, legs and cheeks (both sets) in greenish poo all while sitting on (sitting on, not using, mind you) an ugly 1970s greenish-gold toilet.

My life is less than glamorous.

And now I'm looking at my toddler, soap slipping between wrinkled fingers, getting away from little hands.  Fingers grasping, soap jumping.  Grasping and slipping and jumping.  And laughing.  Eyes smiling, squeals of delight, chubby cheeks all pushed up in million-dollar grins carved out of caked-on poo.

Frustration is lost.

How I love those poo-covered cheeks, and that poo-covered little boy who just yesterday was the nursing baby in my arms, and now uses manners and builds with "yegos" and is washing up all by himself with Daddy's green bar of soap.

And I look away for a moment, more words pecked out, and suddenly he's screaming, bubbly hands rubbing eyes all over.  Soap in eyes, stinging, hurting.  And guilt.  My poor baby, why on earth did I give you Daddy's soap?  Tear-free was far from my mind when I plopped you in that tub.

Rinsing and screaming and rinsing and screaming and shaky breaths drawn from still-sobbing lungs.  Mama makes it better, but Mama is so sorry she gave you that soap in the first place, little man.

I couldn't resist taking a picture. 
Call it payback if you will, but I have the feeling
this photo will pop up in the future.
Hour lost in scrubbing and playing and hair-washing screams that can never be avoided, and singing "scrub your toddler" songs.  And then drying and cuddling, wrapped in arms and a towel, I love on my sweet-scented barely-bigger-than-a-baby.  This wonderful, frustrating two-year-old, who knows his own mind and yet makes no sense at all; with the joy of discovering life dancing alive in his beautiful long-lashed blue eyes. 

And I know I'd scrub poo off him for a thousand years if he needed me to.

This is motherhood.  At its best, and at its worst.  This is my life, replayed over and over inside the core of each day coming end on end.  Anger, laughter, pride, fury, frustration, joy, guilt, and endless work, smiles, cuddles, love and wonder.  Always the wonder.

My heart overflows.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

New Hope of Spring

Last fall was undeniably one of the worst seasons we've experienced in our history as a family.  Circumstances felt so bleak at times that it was difficult to see joy in any situation, impossible to grasp it, hold onto it, and coax it out from beneath the dark veil that clouded every aspect of life. 

Our family was so traumatized last fall that we were scarcely able to function.  The pain, anger and uncertainty bled over into everything we did, everything we said, everything we felt, and for one of the first times in my life, I understood what it meant to feel desperately hopeless.

But we were never completely without hope.

While we were exhausted and afflicted, God sent others to hope for us.  They prayed for us, prayed with us, held our hands, and listened to the mourning of our hearts.  They brought us meals, brought us groceries, offered to watch our children, accompanied us to meetings and appointments, and sent us cards and letters of encouragement.  They helped us financially, and committed to it in the future as well.  They thought of us, Bibles in hand, and shared scriptures that lifted us up when we were at our lowest. 

The people of God loved on us like crazy, and it was beautiful; the body of Christ working together the way God intended.

One of the most beautiful things that was done for us in the midst of our darkness was done by some precious friends, friends with a rambunctious young family much like our own.  They drove an hour just to be with us, and spent time filling the garden around our house with bulbs that would bloom in the spring.  They prayed over each of those bulbs as they planted, and they reminded us that spring comes after every dark season, and spring is filled with new life and new hope.

I was moved to tears often as I thought about those bulbs during the winter.  Our son's behavior was still out of control at his school, and I kept thinking "Okay, God. Spring is almost here!"  I eagerly anticipated the day when we would see the first shoots of life springing from those bulbs, breaking through the dirt and on up towards the sun. 

And that day finally came - the week before we left to visit Mr. J at school for the first time.  Coincidentally (and by coincidentally I mean not coincidentally in the least), it was around the same time that we heard the first positive news from the staff at our son's school. 

Mr. J appeared to be trying.

Scott and I had a great visit with our eldest son over Easter weekend.  We played games, toured the school, talked cordially about nothing serious, and introduced Mr. J to his new baby brother.  There were no deep conversations and no apologies, but there were no fits of rage or irrational behavior, either.  There were even a few moments of tenderness, when our son couldn't keep the tears from running down his face, and when he let me comfort him.  When we had to say goodbye on the final day, we left him sitting at the table, head buried in folded arms, sobbing.  I did the same in the parking lot.

Yet in spite of all the tears, or perhaps because of all the tears, I finally have a new hope of my own.

The biggest sign of hope God has given us is that somewhere between last fall and this spring, our son has moved from "I'll kill you if I come home" or "I'm never coming home" to "When I come home...".

He's written that he wants to change his life so things will be different when he comes back, and although he's still struggling frequently with anger and irrational outbursts, he seems to be recovering more quickly, picking himself up, and trying again.  We remain hopeful.

Spring is here at last.

If you are one of those people that brought hope to our family last fall and continue to do so as we walk this difficult journey, we thank you and love you more than we could ever express.  Please continue to pray us through this process, specifically for Mr. J's continued change of heart, and for his eventual emotional and mental healing.  He still has a long way to go.  Please pray that we can offer grace and unconditional love in spite of everything our family has been through.