“Mama, heeeeeeeeeelp!”

My reaction? Depends on the tone of voice. Parents know. Some cries, you come running. Others, you calmly stroll, because perhaps your little one can resolve his problem by the time you get there. And yet even others – you roll your eyes. Maybe even stop to take a picture! The predicaments that kid gets into! He’s too quick to ask for help – he could totally handle it himself. Or couldn’t he just have the better judgment not to get into that mess in the first place?

And then, as what often happens, the parenting predicament causes my mind to flash to my father. My heavenly Father.

How quick am I to yell, “Abba, heeeeeeelp!” Probably not quick enough.

What do you suppose his reaction is? Quick to run? Waiting for me to solve it on my own? Rolling his eyes? Sighing because I landed myself in trouble…. AGAIN.

The book of Jonah has come up in various ways in my life this summer. And I think of it again. It really cracks me up that Jonah – after being called as a prophet to go to Ninevah – basically whined to God, telling him he didn’t want to go, because he KNEW God was gracious and compassionate, and there was NO WAY ON EARTH Jonah wanted to see God relent and not give Ninevah the big shove-off they deserved. So he ran.

Do I run? Do I whine? (Ha!)

And when I run, do I run TO God, or FROM him?

And when I whine, do I stop and listen for the gentle rebuke, or do I pridefully ignore him, not wanting my Father’s help, even though I desperately need it.

Praise be to God! Who as my Father, graciously gives me all good things. Who listens to my cries for help, and does not turn a deaf ear (or roll his eyes) but helps and disciplines me with patience.

He is God my Helper.

Writing with the fantastic Five Minute Friday community, who spend 5 minutes writing once a week (when we can!) on a one-word prompt. This week’s prompt: “help.”


surrendering the pacifiers

Anxiety! I am having anxiety. Why this anxiety?  You’re going to laugh.

We had Levi throw away his pacifiers today.

Bwahahahaha, right? Celebrate the milestone, right?!

Then why this anxiety?!

Levi’s “paci’s” have been his life line. His source of comfort. He lived one whole week before Grandma gave him a “Nuk” to suck on and he’s been hooked ever since. It’s been fabulous. For a while we didn’t know what to call it – “Nuk,” “Binky,” “pacifier.”  We landed on “paci.” Sometime after he turned two we finally got him weaned down to only using it to fall asleep, or when he was really sick. It was my sure fire method of offering him a way to calm himself down. And if you know Levi, you understand he is a very emotional boy, to all wonderful extremes. Most people say, “Oh, what a happy, enthusiastic, charming boy!” Which he is! All of those. But in a bad mood, when he’s in a safe space at home with mom and dad, not getting what he wants, frustrated, tired, or angry…. Look out. He is all of those extremes, too. So pacifier…. Bless it! For quite a while now – maybe a year or more – he’s had three pacifiers. One red, two blue. The red one goes in his mouth. The two blue ones in each hand. Losing one in the middle of the night sometimes necessitates a trip to mom and dad’s bedroom to find the poor lost paci. In the morning, once it’s time to eat breakfast, the paci’s go on the fridge until the appointed time before nap time, when he gets them back and sucking during our bedtime routine slowly calms and soothes him. So, as I mentioned….

We had Levi throw away his pacifiers today.

The garbage “monster” was hungry, so he fed his paci’s to the kitchen trash. What fun! And then he burst into tears. For maybe 30 seconds. And then we were off playing cars and the pacifiers were forgotten. But my heart still constricted. My shoulders were tense. My mind was bracing for a possible tantrum at nap time, when the reality of not having paci’s sets in. But still…. We’ve hit milestones before. A tantrum at nap time has happened for many reasons, and I have handled them all. What is going on in me?

And then my mind identified the issue. I was losing control. An apron string cut, if you will. I controlled his paci’s, and in my hand they were a very effective tool for soothing my child. Not only that, but yesterday Esther cut her own (GIANT) apron string…. On the day her brother turned three and she turned 13 months, she quit nursing.  The night before she had nipped me at her bedtime feed, so I ended the session. Then yesterday she wanted nothing to do with nursing.  I was an emotional mess last night after I laid her down for bed, because she had gone all day refusing my breast. She chose her thumb and lovie instead of me (she gave up a pacifier LOOOOONG ago).

Am I really that much of a control freak, that I’m having anxiety over losing control of what my kids suck on?  Or do I just need to accept the incredible emotional bond that exists between me and them? From the get-go, a baby’s cries cause mom anxiety, and her instinct is to soothe, however she can. Breastfeeding has been a huge part of that, especially for Esther. It was for Levi, too, but after weaning he had his paci’s. And I could provide that comfort.

I can no longer offer those to my children. I guess I feel powerless.

I must find a way to surrender some of my power. I am raising children to be independent adults, not grown-up people who still need mommy. Yes, they are a long, long way from adults. They still depend on me for almost all of their needs, and I have a lot of comfort to still offer them. And I would argue that as adults, we all still need our mom in some way. But they are not my children. They belong to the Lord. And this is just one small step of letting go and letting God. All I have to do is glance at my News Feed to know what is ahead…. Kindergarten graduation. Summer camp. High school graduation. Moving to college. Getting married. Letting go, all of it.

But Jesus gives me such calm and peace… because they are his children, for him to call to himself, for him to watch over. They are in my care for just a short time. So now my heart is humming the melody of a soothing hymn…

All to Jesus, I surrender, all to him I freely give.

I will ever love and trust him, in his presence daily live.

I surrender all, I surrender all.

All to thee my blessed Savior, I surrender all.

We surrendered the paci’s. And my boobs hurt. But it’s alright. My kids are His.  🙂

this stage

Yeah, I’m making time to write a Five Minute Friday post today! If you need a few minutes to process your week, I highly recommend joining us for this encouraging, fun exercise!

This week’s prompt: “miss”

Disclaimer: If you don’t want to read about a momma venting/boasting/processing life regarding her 2 year old, stop reading now.

I miss ordinary tasks taking an ordinary amount of time, without interruption. Holy cow.

In the process of just sitting down to write this (in which I THOUGHT my toddler was occupied with Curious George), he politely asked me for the fifth time this morning if he could have more raspberries. I cut him off at breakfast, hoping to prevent stomach cramps and diaper rash. But I finally said yes, and before I could get to the fridge to help him, he had taken the half-full gallon of milk out of the fridge and dropped it, in a valiant effort to be independent and reach the raspberries that I had “hidden” behind said milk. SO. He calmly grabbed a towel (I grabbed 3), and we sopped up the milk and he proceeded to delight in some fresh raspberries. Once we started Curious George again with raspberries in hand, I went back and wiped up the sticky mess with a soapy rag, and then started a laundry load of kitchen towels, because low and behold they have all gotten dirty in the past 3 days cleaning up liquid spills of some sort!

So, 10 minutes later, let’s get back to what I was trying to do, which was… I don’t remember…. Thinking….

“Mom! More raspberries please?” We get more raspberries.

Thinking again… oh yes, I should do some writing… Go to my computer…

“Mom! More raspberries please?” Oh for heaven’s sake. We negotiate for crackers and cheese this time. Another Curious George episode.

And yeah, I’m writing! So yes, I miss ordinary tasks taking an ordinary amount of time, without interruption.

But I am also going to miss this stage, I know I am. Everyone tells me so. You know what I’ll miss? Our conversation at lunch yesterday, a rare moment when it was just him and me chowing down on our grilled cheese together.

“God changed my heart!”

“He did?”

“Yeah, he gave me a new one. A small one!”

“Yes, God can change our hearts, can’t he?” (Context: I recently made up a song about how Jesus changed Saul’s heart and he became Paul. So he’s on a Saul-became-Paul kick.)

“God is big!” (in a voice of wonderment.)

“Yes, buddy, God is big.”

“I love God, Mom.” (insert heart-melt-all-this-parenting-stuff-is-worth-it-the-mind-of-a-child-rocks moment)

Yep. I will miss this.

My friend Rachel shared a great reminder on Facebook yesterday… that as parents it’s so easy to fall into the trap of wishing for the next stage. I easily think, “Oh, I can’t wait until he’s potty trained,” or “I can’t wait until the baby can walk.” And doing that, I fail to see how they have grown, what they have accomplished, realizing that not too long ago, I was wishing for THIS stage. So my resolve for the near future is to be content with THIS stage. When they leave this nest I want to say (like the wise Angie Schmitt commented once) – EVERY stage was my favorite. 🙂

Levi snapped this portrait of me writing during Curious George.


Mommy’s first day of Lent

Sigh. Oh my. Today! Yikes, today. Today was ordinary and yet extraordinary in its own ways and I’m going to go bananas if I don’t sit down and spew some words at ya. Whew.

Today included:

Repeated lessons to Levi about why we don’t hit. No hitting. Stop hitting. Don’t throw things at Henry. Don’t tackle him. Stop, Levi. Be gentle, Levi. If you do that again you’re going in timeout. If you don’t stay in time out, you are getting a spanking. Timeout. Spanking. Levi. LEVI. LEVI JOSEPH HATTING……

Contrast that scene with ¾ of the way through lunch….. “Mama! Pray first!” “Okay, Levi, go ahead, you can pray. You say the words.” (We bow our heads and fold hands.) “Dear Jesus… Thank you. Thank you for food. For food on table. Thank you, milk. Sandwich. Thank you (for) baby Esther, Henry, Mommy. Dear Jesus. Thank you. Daddy… safe… house. Amen.” And my heart is melting. That is the first time I’ve heard him pray. Usually we prompt him and he repeats after us, or refuses to pray at all and asks us to pray. But here he was. Reminding me to pray and be thankful. Praying at the beginning of lunch wouldn’t have worked, since I had three little ones on my hands who were “hangry”, two of them literally doing a constant cry/whine until they had a piece of food in their mouth, and the other who was “helping” make his peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Thank you, Jesus. Thank you for the sandwich.

Today also included my 9 month old (9!) getting into everything. And asking to nurse every 30 minutes, then barely eating at all… because she’s congested? Teething? So distracted by the toys in the living room she just wants to get down as soon as she’s on my lap? Who knows.

Contrast that with her huge, 2-tooth smile that breaks out as soon as she sees the camera and knows it’s awesome if she turns on the charm. 🙂

Levi’s portrait of his sister

And hallelujah, I did get an hour nap today! Bliss. I woke up as Levi quietly entered my bedroom with his blond bed head and paci’s. He joined me in bed to snuggle- “rub my back Mom?” – and watch Thomas. Sigh. I love him.

It is now 5:02 pm, and I just changed out of my sweats 15 minutes ago so I won’t feel like an unsexy slob when Chad comes home. (He wouldn’t necessarily care, but I do). The mess from lunch is still on the table and the counter, the washer and dryer are full and need to be switched, and there are 3 baskets of wrinkly clean laundry that need attention. My living room is full of today’s toy disaster behind me, with Curious George on the TV so I can vent some sanity into my day.

This is hard. This is so hard. But it is so good. Is this how God feels? ALL THE TIME?

“My children are so difficult, but damn, I love them so much! They are so wonderful!”

The thing with God, though…. Pretty sure his patience lasts a little longer than mine. His love is fiercer than mine. His compassion hits “refresh” instantaneously. His wisdom in fatherhood is perfect. His being, wholly holy. His lap, always open and welcoming. His anger, always righteous. His jealousy, full of passionate love for his own. I am so glad he is infinite. That he carries me. Always. Because man, his job. Running the whole world. Being creator of everything. Loving everything. Judging everything, just in all his ways. That is mighty. Do you think it’s a crazy hard job? Or easy, because he is God, and so powerful, that everything in his nature comes freely, like breathing?

Today is the first day of Lent. Jesus, wash my soul. Father, make me like you. Spirit, bear me up so I might carry my cross. And maybe a baby on my hip while I’m at it.

Pizza Ranch for supper it is.

Levi’s portrait of Mommy