Fewer Fires

A mother of young children operates in sheer survival mode most of the time. Must feed them. Must clean them. Must keep them safe. Days are littered with bright wonderful accomplishments, smiles, and giggles. I found my life involved moving from one spilled cup of cheerios to teaching values, changing diapers and then on to a new spilled cup of cheerios. My girlfriends and I would talk about how our lives seemed to be a series of putting out the fires and continuously searching for a way to get ahead of the fire starters.

My children are older now. When they spill something they can clean it up. When they start a fire, they may literally have started a fire (exercise caution when using hairspray on your potato cannon). They need me just as much but in very different ways.

My days are so strange now. Good strange but strange nonetheless. I am rarely awakened in the morning by emergencies like a dog vomiting in someone's bed, weird itchy rashes, or missing hamsters and bunnies in the house. I wake up pretty much when I want and get moving when I feel like it which is usually sometime between 7-8 am. I sip my coffee and browse on my laptop. Then I decide what I want to do for the day. I know, weird.

You may be thinking this is bliss. It is for the most part. A well deserved respite from 24 years of mothering without stopping. But can I tell you a little secret... I miss the chaos a little, okay, a lot.

I am left to my own devices and to find my own way each day. I have plenty to fill my days - a business I've built refurbishing furniture, helping my daughter with her bakery, continuing to homeschool my youngest at 13 for starters. I love my writing, my flowers and homemaking. I love the outdoors and I have carefree timelessness with all those I love. I have time to sit in the classroom of silence with my Lord, and time to serve in all the capacities I love.

Yet, some days I miss the firefighting. I miss the roller coaster ride a little bit. I miss collapsing into bed at night and falling immediately asleep because I had nothing at all left to give. I miss feeling like Wonder Woman. I miss fighting fires successfully. Maybe I really just miss those days with my little children? I miss creating the fires in the first place. Like having 3 dogs, fostering a litter of 9 husky puppies, having a bunny, a hamster, a fish and a cat. I miss being at the farm at sunrise for horseback riding, hiking and hot coffee or heading to the beach at sunset to make memories.

It's harder being a good steward of your time when your time is all your own. It's harder getting older and having MS hasn't made it a cakewalk exactly. The energy, the drama, the feeling that I was soaking up life in each and every moment was so rewarding.

Now I am ever mindful of how I order my days, how I spend the precious freedoms afforded me. It was easier in some ways to have the day sweep you up and take you along. I'm learning to find my way in this new normal. But it's strange to me, a firefighter with no fires to put out. I suppose I could just ride around in the big truck and play with the lights and sirens? Give rides to little kids and rescue kitties from trees. I guess I could teach fire safety to other mothers. I don't know yet, but I'm sure I'll think of something.

Motherhood Matters

Over the years homeschooling I learned that above any other duty to my children, I needed to be their advocate. I spent years seeking out opportunities for them to try new things, to experience opportunities, and above all to develop their interests. Corey loved horses. He always did from the time he was very small. Not having horses, not knowing anything really about them and having no plans to relocate and run a farm, (ha!) it was important to find places and people who could foster this interest within him.

I found the most amazing places and people who would teach, nurture and mentor him through the years. He began at age 8 volunteering on an Equestrian Therapy Farm called, Whispers of Hope in Texas. Daily he worked M-Sat 8-12 in the barn and then he rode. When we moved to Mississippi we found another similar farm and then moving to Illinois I found Alison Lewis, a fellow homeschooler. She was the most pivotal influence in his life outside his family for the last 8 years. She taught him so much. She built him up, knocked him down a peg when he needed it and pushed him by taking him under her wing and trusting him to do so much more than folks would think a kid can do. The debt I have to her, can never be paid. If she ever needs a kidney one day, or bone marrow - she need only call!

Today talking to Corey, away at school, knee deep in work, and stress I could not have been more proud of him. He has been looking for a place to ride there. A place to volunteer, work in a barn, to be around what he loves and to get into a saddle. He searched, he found leads and he began following up on them.

I am so proud that he knows how to do this for himself now. He knows how to do it, because I modeled it for him, and handed him the reigns. What we do as mothers - MATTERS. I didn't do everything for him, but I showed him how easy it is (really it is) to find people, good people, to work with. He learned to do it for himself and no longer needed me to take the lead some years ago.

He wants to ride because he loves it. Because it is a part of him. He loves the physical work, the sweat, the horses. He doesn't like couch potato life, he longs to be outdoors. He recognizes it's good for his health, his temperament, and his life to do what he loves. He has a great spirit of volunteerism. Which, here again, is priority we focused on all our life.

I am very proud of him. I am so thankful for the people who have meant so much to him. And I'm not ashamed to admit that it is moments like these where I do feel God patting me on the back, and saying, "Well done, my daughter."

I have given my life to my children, and to see it bear fruit, to see direct moments like these where I can see how my work and sacrifice meant something and stood the test of time. wow. I feel overwhelmed in this confirmation.

Every year, every sacrifice, every thing was worth it. It matters. Motherhood, matters.
What you do as a Mother, matters. 

Over the years through tears, and sacrifice I often wondered if it all mattered. Kneeling beside their beds, praying over their tiny bodies snuggled beneath the blankets I prayed for God to accept my personal sacrifices for their good.

All mothers make some sacrifices for the children. Some make more than others, but all mothers make a sacrifice. Simply accepting the life within our bodies as a blessing and agreeing to be a co-creator with God to bring new life into the world is a tremendous sacrifice. A woman is risking her very life being pregnant. Pregnancy is dangerous business even with all the advances in medicine.

A woman's body is never quite the same after she gives birth. I know I earned my tiger stripes (stretch marks). Scars from C-sections, shifts in hormones, a myriad of changes all beyond your control confront you in pregnancy. 

I loved every moment of breastfeeding. I loved the extension of that private connection I felt during pregnancy that only nourishing my baby from my own body could create. Each every pregnancy was high risk. With my last delivery I survived by grace alone. 

I chose to be a mother. To make motherhood my life's work. While it's not all I do, or the only thing which defines me as a person or a woman, it is what defines me most. 

When my oldest child was only 2 years old I was scouted and had the privilege of discussing a potential recording contract. Please understand this horse never left the starting gate. The discussion was largely over before it began. You don't just walk into a studio. What you do is hit the road. You pack up a van and a band and you play every dive they book you into for months and months. You gel as a band, you write music, you pay dues, and learn to work a crowd and a room. I knew this but I wanted to know, just for me, that I was good enough to be considered. I was. I would not however leave my child to chase down the dreams of my own childhood. Not for any amount of money, or ego, or fame would I have traded the time I spent with him during his most formative years. Not to go play in dive bars for half drunk people in bars all over the midwest. As I think about it, I actually do laugh out loud. 

I would be vetted again a few years later when my middle child was just one. And again, not interested.  Loving work, earning money, and having a drive to be the best at whatever I am tackling may not seem like a great fit, for being a stay at home mom. 


Poverty

Married at 17. A mother at 19 and divorced before I turned 21. The product of great poverty. Poverty not only as it relates to the nickel, but of a great many poverties.

Defined as:
1) The state of being extremely poor. 
2) The state of being inferior in quality or insufficient in amount.


Family. In-tact families are like rare and beautiful birds, hard to find. Divorced, remarried, divorced, and remarried. Divorce wreaked havoc on my family going back many generations. It left a legacy of brokenness and a trail of broken people in it's wake. 

Addiction. Alcoholism. Adultery. Crashed through every generation and every household either as the dependents or the co-dependents. The alcoholics or the adult children of alcoholics. 

Lack of Education. Resourceful, and hard working but lacking in education, formal or otherwise perpetuated the cycles.

Absence of God. There is a terrific difference between knowing there is a God, and following Him. Whatever vestige of a small church country faith may have existed several generations ago leaves no trace in the family now.