I’m fearful of writing these days, afraid of what might slip out. Fearful of what I might uncover if I just let my fingers do the typing and let the filter off of my words. Truth isn’t always beautiful. It can be hard and piercing, and I don’t want to admit that I’m being broken, chipped apart and punctured. But then there’s the mending. The light that shines through my wounds, the thread that stitches me up with brilliance.
Things just have not been adding up for our family and it’s a tightrope daily to keep my eyes forward. Crushing blows, and I’m too tired, and too spent, and the little things then look like big things with monster heads and beady eyes. Yesterday, you see, had been one of those days. Except that it had been many of those days in a row. Patience and tolerance have been pounded paper thin, and all that remained clung to the bottom of boots, marched through the dense woods of the day.
But then it’s these mirror eyes looking back at me, with mercy and love. The Littlest is on his back, staring up at me, his hero, his mother. His tiny lips curl up into a smile as our eyes meet and he coos; it melts me. He twists and turns to show me his new moves, to surprise me with his strength. He doesn’t know about this hard time we’re having. All he knows is this moment, right now, with his feet stomping into my belly, his voice singing healing prayers over me. I lean forward, bow into him, tip myself until I’m undone, and wash his cheeks with my tears. I’ve been stuck in the thickness of my own struggle, not sure what to do next, when all he wants is me. Feeling like I have nothing left to give, I forget that sometimes all I have to do is be: broken, messy, troublesome, imperfect me. My voice to echo his; my cheek pressed to his. My finger to be grasped in his; my warm body to nuzzle around his.
Later in the evening, I cried a barely audible breathy “you have no idea” goodnight on the phone to Mark while enduring the last and worst bits of the day. All was quiet at the time, and the Littles all sounded pleasant for their father, but this could not be said of moments just prior. Parenting the better (or worst) part of the day alone, I’m tired at the sound of my own voice, stern and repetitive, demanding order out of this impossible chaos. The Littles were all crying, and I can’t say that I wasn’t, too. Struggle begot struggle: The plastic dixie cup of medicine was met with pursed lips and a battle that ended when it was kicked out of my hand, purple syrup now streaking down the white wainscoted walls of the bathroom, threatening to stain the bath mat. My anxious spirit consumed with this fever lasting too long, my Middles all out of sorts. The sadness born of grief and loss, and missing a daddy at times needed most. The daily battle of wills, heads and horns locked fiercely with each other, with myself.
My brave face shriveled in that phone conversation, wrinkling with arrogance and impatience, weariness written on my brow. My words didn’t say much. My body crumbled forward, clasping the Middlest collapsed in fevered fatigue between my legs, sprawled in my lap. My hair pooled on the flushed skin of her sweaty face. My shoulders shook with the weight of all these things to bear, and as they did the Eldest tiptoed off of the rocking chair and enveloped me with his arms too small. He rubbed my arm, patted my shoulders, tender touches that only God can send, and from Him only I could receive. I hung up the phone, embarrassed and humbled, snapped out of my selfishness, and the tears baptized our night. We prayed right there together, the Eldest, Middlest and I, broken together, mended together. I owned my weakness right there with the Littles as my witnesses, and gave words to my fears. Offering up my everything right there in that darkened bedroom, I touched holy ground, or maybe it touched me.
As I tucked the Eldest into bed that night, his demeanor had changed from a sassed-out, argumentative arm-crosser to a tender-hearted, compassionate hugger. We had a sweet and peaceful bedtime together, which in this house is few and far between. We vowed fresh starts for each other in the morning.
Micha Boyett wrote this today: “Parenting should always be changing my view of God and my understanding of mercy. When I’m willing to see it, my children’s sin inevitably points back to my own.” I’m breaking. I’m losing my ever-loving mind. But maybe that’s a good thing.
“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,”therefore I will hope in him.” Lamentations 3:22-24