She Runs A Good Race

mothering is a marathon

That Post Christmas Blah

Some years it hits me.  Some years it does not.

On December 26th.  Or even sometimes RIGHT after the Christmas morning of fun and frenzy and children’s delights are all over.

Even though I don’t believe in Santa Clause or any Christmas magic per se, I have realized my adult self still has this longing and expectation at Christmastime.  That somehow a special fulfillment will arrive on December 25th.  And then the day comes and goes and poof, it doesn’t happen.

Unmet expectations.

Longings unfulfilled.

Wishes not granted.

Hopes disappointed.

Dreams dashed into despair.

This is the reality for many, at any time of the year.

This reminds me of a time my husband, Chris, had an opportunity to share at church. The theme was surrounding suffering and desires unfulfilled. He did an eloquent job, (if I do say so myself), and its so worth passing on right now.

Here is an excerpt:

Doesn’t it seem the bigger the shattered expectation or the greater the desire that isn’t satisfied, the greater our unhappiness, pain, and suffering?  It was painful to learn that our son, Ryan, has Prader-Willi syndrome, and it shattered our desires for a son who would naturally develop friendships, graduate from college, get married, have children, and grow up to live an independent life.

The most unique characteristic of persons with PWS is that they have an insatiable appetite–actually they never feel full; hunger is never satisfied.  Eventually persons with PWS become very food-seeking and develop an extreme food obsession.  Although Ryan does not sneak or steal food, one of his biggest anxieties arises around his eating schedule.  He needs constant reassurance every day that he will get his breakfast-snack-lunch-snack-dinner without fail.  Cutting off a meal or snack-time for Ryan is like cutting off his oxygen.

C.S. Lewis has an intriguing quote in Mere Christianity:

   “If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another wold.”

In light of all our struggles with Ryan, and losses in our family, that quote is challenging to me for a few reasons.  

The first part of that quote is hard, because I often wonder why do we live in a world where some of my deepest desires are not satisfied?  Does God bear any responsibility? If not directly, can’t He heal and fix things here and now?  After all, aren’t all things possible through Him?   I haven’t discovered all the answers to those questions, but in the midst of daily heartache of life with a child with special needs, God does show up sometimes and I had one of those moments recently.

I was spending some time is prayer one early Saturday morning. Ryan walked in the room after just waking up.  He asked what I was doing and I told him that I was praying and listening to God.  He came and sat on my lap.  I asked him if he wanted to listen to God, too.   I told him that if you sit quietly, God will speak to you in your mind.  He said ok, and put his head down on my shoulder and we sat still. Together.

After a few minutes, I asked, “Did God say anything to you?”

Ryan said, “Yes.”

I asked him what he said.

Ryan responded, “God told me I’m a great boy and He likes me.”

I said, “That’s great. Did God tell you anything else?”

He paused for a moment and answered, “Moses makes great dinners in Heaven.”

I responded, “Yes, Ryan, Moses makes great dinners in Heaven.”

God didn’t just speak to Ryan at that moment; he also spoke to me.  God cares enough about Ryan in a personal way to reassure him that his hunger will be satisfied in Heaven.  There’s nothing more I’d want for Ryan than for him to truly believe that God loves him, and despite his challenges, to understand that God can satisfy the deepest longings of his heart. 
I may never know why we, or Ryan, have to endure such trials and challenges, but its a great joy to know that Heaven is a place Ryan can look forward to and long for. Where our deepest desires and longings will be fulfilled. Forever.

ME, TOO.

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When Tears Are More Than Tears

Just as laughter can be rich-belly-laughter, so can tears come in a way that you know they are from deep within one’s soul.

Kate had those kind of tears a few mornings ago.  And I had to pull the minivan off the road just to hug her and hold her.

We were on our way to drop Luke off at middle school.  Which is always a feat to get the three of them out the door that early.

Not more than a minute in, Ryan started to annoy Kate.  (But of course, what else are car rides with kids for?) And she told him to stop.  He liked the rise he was getting out of her, especially as her pitch rose and her passion ensued.  He was smiling (I could feel it) and relishing in his pestering of her.

And then she broke.  She started crying and yelling at him to stop. And it was primal and guttural.

Not the whiny-crying.

Not the manipulating-crying.

Not the baby-in-the-family-type-of-crying.

It was grief.

It was hurt.

It was disappointment.

It was anger.

It was sadness.

It came from a deep place, and she could no longer squash it and just be the sweet, motherly sister who cares dearly and is so uber protective of her older-and-younger-brother, Ryan.

All about Ryan, and having “special needs” that she wished he didn’t have.  And wished nobody knew about.

I pulled over to the side of Grayslake Road.  I did not care one bit if we were running late.  Kate needed me.  She NEEDED a hug.  She needed everything to just stop, for one bless-ed moment, so she could be comforted.  By me.

I slid open the van door and just swooped around her little body.  I held her tight.  And I held in MY TEARS so tightly.

She then whispered as our heads were so close to each other, “I love you, Mom, I love you.”  As if to say, “thank you for validating my tears, and EVERY SINGLE THING I am feeling right now.”

It was a morning that started out like every rushed, hectic before-school chaotic morning.  Unremarkable.  The usual.

But that moment with Kate, I will never forget.

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Moses Makes Great Dinners In Heaven

Some years it hits me.  Some years it does not. That post-Christmas blah. The let-down.

On December 26th.  Or even sometimes RIGHT after the Christmas morning of fun and frenzy and children’s delights are all over.

Even though I don’t believe in Santa Clause or any Christmas magic per se, I have realized my adult self still has this longing and expectation at Christmastime.  That somehow a special fulfillment will arrive on December 25th.  And then the day comes and goes and poof, it doesn’t happen.

Unmet expectations.

Longings unfulfilled.

Wishes not granted.

Hopes disappointed.

Dreams dashed into despair.

This is the reality for many, at any time of the year.

This reminds me of a time my husband, Chris, had an opportunity to share at church. The theme was surrounding suffering and desires unfulfilled. He did an eloquent job, (if I do say so myself), and its so worth passing on right now.

Here is an excerpt:

Doesn’t it seem the bigger the shattered expectation or the greater the desire that isn’t satisfied, the greater our unhappiness, pain, and suffering?  It was painful to learn that our son, Ryan, has Prader-Willi Syndrome (PWS), and it shattered our desires for a son who would naturally develop friendships, graduate from college, get married, have children, and grow up to live an independent life.

The most unique characteristic of persons with PWS is that they have an insatiable appetite–actually they never feel full.  Hunger is never satisfied.  Eventually persons with PWS become very food-seeking and develop an extreme food obsession.  Although Ryan does not sneak or steal food, one of his biggest anxieties arises around his eating schedule.  He needs constant reassurance every day that he will get his breakfast-snack-lunch-snack-dinner without fail.  Cutting off a meal or snack-time for Ryan is like cutting off his oxygen.

C.S. Lewis has an intriguing quote in Mere Christianity:

   “If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another wold.”

In light of all our struggles with Ryan, and other rough seasons for our family, that quote is challenging to me for a few reasons.  

Why is it that we live in a world where some of our deepest desires are not satisfied?   For Ryan, it’s his hunger.  It’s something for all of us.   If God created this world, doesn’t He bear some responsibility for our struggles and unsatisfied lives?   If  God doesn’t directly cause our suffering, can’t He nonetheless heal and fix things here and now — in this world?   How can I trust that heaven will truly satisfy all longings of my heart?   I haven’t discovered the best answers to those hard questions, but in the midst of daily heartache of life with a child with special needs, Ryan has helped me learn more about who God is.  I had one of those moments recently.

I was praying one early Saturday morning (not often I confess) and Ryan walked in the room after just waking up.  He asked what I was doing and I told him that I was praying.  He came and sat on my lap.  I asked him if he wanted to pray, too.   I told him to sit quietly and see if God had anything to say.  Ryan said ok, and put his head down on my shoulder and we sat still. Together.

After a few minutes, I asked, “Did God say anything to you?”

Ryan said, “Yes.”

Surprised, I asked Ryan what He said.

Ryan responded, “God told me I’m a great boy and He likes me.”

Hmm…perhaps God is speaking to him?  “That’s great,” I said.  “Did God tell you anything else?”

Ryan paused for a moment and turned to me and answered, “Moses makes great dinners in Heaven.”

I was truly moved and simply replied “Yes, Ryan, Moses makes great dinners in Heaven.”

God didn’t just speak to Ryan at that moment; He also spoke to me.  If Ryan had asked me what God or heaven is like, that’s certainly not how I’d answer.  However, that IS the way a personal God who cares about Ryan would describe Himself and heaven. God assured Ryan that his hunger — which nothing in this world can ever satisfy — will be satisfied in Heaven.  There’s nothing more I’d want for Ryan than for him to truly believe that God loves him, and despite such exceptional challenges, to understand that God can satisfy the deepest longings of his heart.   

I may never know why we, or Ryan, have to endure such trials and challenges, but it’s a great joy to know that Heaven is a place Ryan can look forward to and long for. Where his deepest desires and longings will be fulfilled. Forever.

Although this year was NOT one of those blah years for me, I am thankful for this reminder that Heaven is real and no blah moments or blah seasons of life exist there.

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Still No Tears Over Sandyhook

I am surprised at my reaction to the Sandyhook tragedy.  Or my lack of reaction, in terms of tears and sadness and heaviness.

For anyone who knows me, I am a touchy-feely girl who cries at sappy commercials and gets choked up EASILY at others’ joys or woes.  I FEEL.  I LIKE TO FEEL.  I go to movies that are contrived and emotional because I like to FEEL things.

Last Friday I was in a meeting until almost 1:00 pm (Pacific Time), so I did not hear about the Sandyhook incident till after that.  I did not turn on the news.  I did not check the internet.

I saw people’s posts all over Facebook. But I could not read any articles.  I could not look at pictures.  I could-not-would-not look at anything too closely.

My defense mechanism was and is to put it at arm’s length.  I could not dare personalize the drama and imagine this horror happening at my little Kate’s elementary school or Ryan’s elementary school.  I could not think about darling little children being gunned down by an evil maniac.  It was and is JUST TOO MUCH  for me.  So I push it away.  I don’t even want to talk about it.

And although I recognize this is my defense mechanism, I feel embarrassed and kind of ashamed.  Especially when I have briefly read other people’s dramatic posts.

I still have no tears.

The jaded part of me says, “Bad things happen all the time.  There are horrors going on daily in millions of people’s lives.  We live in an extremely broken world.  This is yet another unbelievable story.  And there will be more.  I cannot let myself get dragged down, or dwell on it.”

Please don’t judge me.  I am not as insensitive as this sounds.  Maybe this cynicism is born out of experiencing crisis after crisis in my own family life.  Maybe it’s because I know this world is not as it should be, not as God designed it to be.  And Heaven will be.  (I don’t mean that morbidly, friends.)

The only article i did read was “I Am Adam Lanza’s Mother” by Liza Long, a freelance writer, whose piece made it into the Huffington Post.

As a mother of a son with special needs, I did personalize THAT.  Although Ryan does not have the same challenges as this young man did, I do think about the greater mental health issues of our country and the lack of adequate funding and help for all affected.  It may become epidemic someday especially if there are not proper, long-term, costly-but-made-affordable-to-most, interventions.  For all ages.  Many children and adults will Fall. Right. Through. The. Cracks.  I do not want that to be Ryan, especially if his psychiatric health takes an ugly turn.

I thought that maybe writing about this today would elicit some suppressed emotions. But it has not.  Maybe it will all be delayed.  Maybe not.

What are your thoughts and reactions??

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I Avoid The Mother’s Day Aisles

I still miss my mother. 

It’s been 7 years and 7 months since she passed away from lung cancer. And I still. Miss. Her.

 

I think of her when I buy new sheets and hear her voice in my head, saying “always buy high thread counts.”

I think of her when I buy “half & half” creamer for coffee as a treat and how she poured this over our cereal growing up, like all good moms from Nebraska do.

I think of her when I read Luke’s writings for school, and how she always proof-read and edited my papers.

I think of her when I tuck Kate in and she asks me to rub her back.  My mom always rubbed my back at night, until she fell asleep and then I would shake her arm over and over to remind her she wasn’t done.

I think of her when I am curled up on the big chair in our garage/playroom.  She used to cozy up in this cream-colored lounger when she lived with us her final summer.

I think of her every time I put my cookies in the freezer.

I think of her when I wash her quilts she left me.

I think of her when I see some of her clothes in the way back of my closet, and I still try to smell her. I try to breathe her in.

I think of her when one of my kids has a very special moment, like when Luke had his first piano recital. She would have been so teary-eyed proud to see him play with such rhythm and natural talent.

I think of her as Ryan grows and finally reaches milestones. They were roommates for a summer.  Ryan in his crib and Mom in her hospital bed.  Ryan began to crawl that summer, and she slowly became immobile.

 

That summer.  That intense summer.  The last summer.  (A post for another day…)

This is why I avoid the Mother’s Day aisles at Target, Rite-Aid, and CVS, etc.  It reminds me she is gone.  I can’t buy HER a card. Or gift.  Or call her when I need cooking advice or parenting advice, or ANY ADVICE.  Or when I want to tell her that Kate was so giddy about losing her first tooth.

I read a quote somewhere once and have shared it many times to others who have lost a loved one. It said, “There is no deadline for grieving.”  And there isn’t.  I still grieve the loss for me, and for my children.  It hurts less than it did 7 years ago, that is true.

 

YET…I don’t think we ever really outgrow the need for a mother, and the precious gift of her loving, wise presence.

 

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