She Runs A Good Race

mothering is a marathon

What’s In Your Hula Hoop?

This has been reposted from another place I write.  Worth re-posting.  

Whenever Ryan has a horrific tantrum, especially in public, I feel a sick wave inside. Internally and immediately, I ask myself,

“What will this look like when he’s 13? 18? 28?”

I feel panic and fear.  All the while, I’m utilizing my tantrum-reaction strategies and trying to appear calm and cool.  When the tantrum is over, Ryan moves on but yet I am reeling inside.  I’m left with the “oh-my-gosh-HOW-will-I-handle-this-when-he’s-older-bigger-louder-stronger” questions.

Why do I put myself on this futuristic rollercoaster?  Whenever that “wave” hits, I fast-forward and start projecting how HARD it will be.  I automatically assume it’s going to become intensely challenging as the years go on in Ryan’s journey with Prader-Willi syndrome.  It is certainly not going to get easier.  None of the symptoms or behaviors goes away as children age.  They don’t “grow out” of any of it.  (Darn…Too bad there isn’t a special needs fairy that grants every family one wish to remove one aspect of their child’s disability.)  My perception of my future with PWS is its scary, intense, stressful, and possibly unmanageable.  As I write this, even my adrenals are firing and my heart is racing like I just ate a handful of espresso beans!

As I was sharing, (ok, really venting and complaining), with a true-blue girlfriend about my current wave, she short-circuited me with a question.

Friend:  Jess, what is in your hula-hoop?

Me:  What?

Friend:  What can you hold in a hula-hoop?

So I then walked outside to pick up my daughter Kate’s silver sparkly hula-hoop.  I put it around my waist.  Literally.  Its 27 inches in diameter. And with me inside of it, it does not leave much room.

The message my girlfriend was trying to get into my fearful, worry-wart head was that I need to focus on today, this week, or at best, just this moment.  All I have permission to think, feel, and worry about is what I can fit into my hula-hoop.  THAT’S IT AND NO MORE.

A huge struggle in special needs parenthood-dom is to let our hopes for our children outweigh our worries and our fears.  The future will be the future.  I cannot control it or change it or make it infinitely better by freaking out now.  I am only doing my marriage, my family, and myself a giant disservice by ruminating about what life will look like when Ryan becomes a teenager or adult.

Now where’s that hula-hoop?

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Girls. Girls. Girls.

I found myself saying to Kate (age 7, and a slice of Heaven) this morning,

“Oh, honey, you wore that outfit yesterday.  Why don’t you pick out something different for today? We don’t wear the same outfit two days in a row.”

Did I really just say that? Does it really matter?  She got dressed by herself, brushed her hair nicely, and all without me asking or urging her to do ANYTHING. Well done, my daughter.  Thank you for getting ready quickly and all by yourself…is what I SHOULD have said.

And before you judge me, I need to say that I did NOT make her change or go on and on about it.  I dropped it.

 As a post-40 grown-up, I don’t care if I wear the same outfit two days in a row.  Or if I have make-up on every day or my hair is perfectly coiffed.

As a mother, a fellow girl, I DO know, though, how girls are.  I know what’s coming.  How girls can be catty and cruel to each other.  Size each other up.  Compare. Compete.  Judge.  Care WAY too much about looks and shoes and hair and latest trends.  Heck, I still feel and fight against the external pressures and inner voices telling me to keep up appearances. So how am I supposed to prepare her or try to steer her away from this?

At the same time that I want her to grow up SOMEHOW FREE of this, I am burdening her with this by telling her not to wear the same outfit two days in a row because some snotty kid may say something to her.  So I am wrong. Again.

Girls have a gift to give each other.   Women have a gift to give each other. If they could only get past the ugly stuff, and the insecurity that breeds it all!  Why is there so much yucky stuff that prevents women from openly and honestly loving on one another?

Not to sound whiny and “cant we just all get alooooong???” here, but can’t we?

Every woman has a world of talents, abilities, wisdom, and joy to give as she shares herself with others with freedom and abandon.  Every woman has a story, or many life stories, that connect her with other women.  No woman has arrived at womanhood without some experience, some mistake, some triumph, some relationship, some family history, some dormant dreams, some fulfilled dreams, some longings of the heart.  All these can be unwrapped and unfolded if we can bring ourselves to the place of caring more about uplifting others than protecting ourselves from scars or judgment or disappointment.

Yes, easier said than done, if you are the woman who has been burned and wounded by other women. 

Or if you have childhood memories where everyone in 5th grade turned on you because of one snot-of-a-bully-girl and you got cruelly laughed off the playground. And you have not trusted women since.  Or you had a mother or sister who was unstable or manipulative or volatile, and made an early decision to make boys (now men) your best friends. Only.  If this is you, and you are reading this, my hope is that somehow someway you can trust again.  You can take a risk again.  That God would bring the just-what-you-need-in-an-ideal-friend your way.  And soon.  And that you will see His handiwork in orchestrating a new friendship with gifts to unwrap.

We need each other. Now.  Without the foolish, girlish stuff.  Just real. Raw. Honest. Loving. Accepting.  Uplifting. Transforming.

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A Mama’s Gotta Dream

“ No matter our age or condition, there are still untapped possibilities within us and new beauty waiting to be born.”

–Dale Turner

If I were to sit down with you, fellow mama, with a cup of coffee in a cozy café, and ask you, “What is your calling—what would you say to me???

What do you feel your PURPOSE in life is?

What are you passionate about?  What makes you feel alive?

What are your dreams, that you may have buried long ago when diapers and infant seats entered your world?

Do you dare to ask yourself these questions?  EVER?  And why not?

Do you have trouble answering them? For what reason?

I don’t mean this to be an interrogation, no, not really.  I am firing these questions at you because I fear that mothers do not give themselves permission to dream dreams; to prayerfully fantasize of things they’d love to do outside their roles as wife and mother.  Notice I said ROLES, not calling.

I have always hungered for more than my wife & mother roles gave me.   I have friends and family who are D-E-V-O-T-E-D wives to their husbands and uber-moms to their children. I’m in awe, and frankly feel guilty that I may not be in love with my mom hat some days, as I see, or perceive rather, in others.  I feel guilty about the tugging’s and the passions that take time and energy away from family.  And then I remember, oh, yes, this was how I was created.  These are God-given desires and dreams.  It’s certainly up to me to keep my priorities in line, and keep family first.  But first does not mean ONLY.

While I encourage you to ask yourself these questions mentioned above, I recognize that stage of life and ages of children (or aging parents), and full-time jobs are real factors.  I have always loved words and wanted to pursue writing.  Now that my 3 kids are in school 8:30 to 3 pm, five days a week, I finally committed to it as a regular discipline and habit. Its wayyyy easier to find the time.

I realize that when you are in the pregnant-breastfeeding-baby-toddler-pre-school phase, ESPECIALLY when there is more than one cutie pie involved, is probably not the time to pick up your dreams and GO BIG.  (But who am I to put you in a box?)

I do believe there is a time coming though, mamacitas, when you MUST ask yourself, you must answer, and you must make a bold statement to yourself, to God, to your husband, your best friends…

“I AM  ________________________” (you fill in the blank)

  • A writer
  • An artist
  • A photographer
  • An entrepreneur
  • An encourager to moms
  • A mentor
  • A marathon runner
  • A designer
  • An adventure lover
  • A chef
  • A traveller
  • A baker
  • A nurse
  • A gift-giver/philanthropist
  • A prayer-warrior for others
  • A coach
  • A personal trainer
  • An inspirational speaker
  • A gatherer of women/mothers/girlfriends
  • A teacher

A mama’s gotta dream.  Someday.  I hope it’s soon for you.  I hope you will give yourself permission to ask, answer, and well in the good words of NIKE, ‘just do it.”

There is beauty waiting to be born in you…so that others may be richly blessed by it.