Tag Archives: motherhood

When God gave me the moon

“Lord, I just need to connect to your world right now. I know you’re here right now, but I can’t see you or feel you. Refine my spiritual senses so I can connect with You.”

I was sitting in the middle of my living room feeling squirmy in my meditation, wondering if I had prayed enough for other people and if it was okay to pray for myself. Somehow I have this ingrained belief that my prayers need to be for other people–the suffering here and across the world, my friends, my family, my town, and my country. When I want to pray for myself it’s usually prayers of thanks and asking for forgiveness for the sins I know I must have committed and the ones I am not aware of. But the whole “ask and you shall receive” thing I have a hard time with. It’s a problem.

I digress. On this day I just needed something from God. I just needed Him. I cautiously flipped my hands over so they were facing palm up as an act and symbol of wanting to receive. I prayed my prayer and I waited in silence, forcing myself to turn off my thoughts and just be. Seconds later I heard my son’s bedroom door open.

Don’t lose focus. Don’t lose focus. Breathe.

Then the upstairs toilet flushed and the sound of the water rushing through the pipes overtook the precious silence.

Don’t lose focus. Don’t lose focus…

“Hey, Mom? Mama?”

I let out a gentle and disappointed sigh.

“Mama? Are you there?” my son called from the top of the stairs.

“Yes, Buddy. What’s up?”

“You have to come see this. Come here.”

I confess, I didn’t really want to come upstairs. “Alright, I’m coming, Buds.”

As I ascended the stairs, Sean said, “The moon woke me up. You gotta see this.”

We walked into his bedroom and to his window. A crystal clear, bright white full moon was glued to the indigo backdrop of the early morning sky. It was gorgeous. I thought I should grab my camera to capture this moment.

No. You’ll miss it. This moment is just for us, said the sound of my thoughts but in a voice that wasn’t mine.

“You can see the craters, mom.”

“I can. You said it woke you up? What do you mean?”

“I was sleeping and all of a sudden a bright light came to my eyes and I woke up. I didn’t know where the light was coming from. So I turned on my bedroom light, but that wasn’t the right light. So I turned it off and laid on my bed and I saw the moon out my window. It was the moon making the light!”

“I want to see how you saw, Buddy. Show me.”

We climbed onto his bed, and as I lay my head down next to his on the pillow, I saw what he could see. This crisp brilliant moon framed by the tree branches pressed against the sky. For 25 minutes my son and I watched the moon ever so slowly lower itself through the branches while we talked about how the earth moves.

I thought out loud, “This is what the passage of time really looks like, Buddy. Isn’t that weird? Usually time feels faster because we’re so busy filling it up with activities, we forget how slow time actually moves.”

“Cool,” he said.

Then my own light came on. “Hey, did you know that right before you called me up here I was praying to God that he would help me connect to his world? I wanted to see God and the next thing I know you’re calling me up to your room to look at this amazing moon and we’re having this really neat conversation, just you and me. He used you to talk to me. That’s really special. I feel so much better now.”

Sean turned to look at me and gave me his signature smile.

The moon landed behind a cluster of branches where we couldn’t see it from where we were lying. Sean squirmed to adjust his position to get a better view.

I let out a gentle laugh. “It will drop below those branches in a few minutes, Peanut. We’re getting impatient because we can’t see it, but we know it’s still there.”

Ah. Just like God, said my thoughts again, in that familiar voice that wasn’t mine.

We lay there several more minutes, but the moon never reappeared from behind those branches.  But I knew it was there. I could feel it.

 

 

 

 

 

When my daughter was called “fat”

The neighbor kiddo called my daughter fat. They are both only 8-years-old. As a recovering anorexia patient, of course I was triggered. Thankfully my healthy voice is dominant right now, and this is how the conversation with my daughter unfolded:

“Hmm. How did it make you feel when she said that?” I asked.

*shrugs shoulders* “I don’t know,” Daughter said sheepishly. “Is it true? I feel like maybe it’s true. I don’t understand because she said she didn’t know why she said it. She said she ‘just felt like saying it to me.'”

“That sounds confusing,” I said.

“Yeah.”

I explained, “Her comment doesn’t make sense for two reasons. One, you aren’t fat, so the comment is wrong. It isn’t true. Number two, and most importantly, even if you did live in a larger body, your size has no bearing on who you are. You would still be the same creative, compassionate, funny, gracious person you are in the size you live in now. While your body can be lots of different sizes, your heart stays the same. So her effort to try to make you feel bad doesn’t even make sense. It’s confusing.”

“Why did she say it? She said she didn’t know why and she just felt like it.”

“Sometimes when people get a bad or hard feeling in their hearts,  like sad, mad, jealous, disappointed, hurt, or scared, they want to get rid of that bad feeling so they can feel good. One way people do that is to make someone around them feel bad. It’s like taking off the bad feeling and putting it on someone else to feel. It makes them feel better to see someone else feeling sad or mad or hurt or whatever the feeling. A lot of times, unfortunately, people don’t even know they’re doing this.

Your friend, rather than telling you she had a bad feeling in her own heart, tried to make you feel bad instead by calling you fat. My guess is she didn’t even realize she had a yucky feeling inside and that’s why she didn’t understand why she said it.”

“I wasn’t going to tell you what happened. But it was growing and growing in my chest and I thought it was going to explode outside of me!”

“Yes! That is a great explanation of feelings, Baby Girl. When we don’t talk about our feelings, for you the feelings were confusion and maybe hurt, they sit inside our bodies and they grow and grow until they have to come out. Your friend’s feelings exploded on you in the form of a hurtful comment, that ultimately didn’t make sense. It’s always better to talk about how you’re feeling in the moment so they don’t explode later.

You did the absolute right thing in telling me. Do you feel better?”

“Yes.”

“Okay. If this happens again, then come tell me and I’ll help you. I’ll talk to your friend and her mom. It’s not okay that she was trying to hurt you.”

“She might hate me if you talk to her.”

“Well, if she hates you because of her own actions, then that’s on her and she isn’t a good friend in the first place. Would you rather me not talk to her?”

“I want you to. I need help.”

///

My daughter came to me a few days later and said it happened again. This little girl called my daughter fat and tried to cover it with “I’m only kidding” when my daughter tried to stand up for herself. As promised, I pulled this young girl aside and gently explained that her comment isn’t true and that it isn’t okay joke around about people’s body size because it’s hurtful.  It isn’t funny.

I texted her mother and let her know of the situation and my words to her daughter. We had a positive face-to-face conversation about it later. She confessed her daughter keeps all feelings inside despite her attempts to draw her daughter out; often this little girl comes off as just plain mean. I offered my understanding and support, mom-to-mom, friend-to-friend; she gave me permission to talk to her daughter anytime a situation warrants adult intervention.

///

Here’s what I want you to know dear reader. Everything I said to my 8-year-old applies to any age, and any gender for that matter. Feelings are human and not age dependent; personal character is human not body size dependent.  Joking or making comments about body size doesn’t make sense at any age for any gender. So if anyone has ever insulted you about your body size, large or small, try to remember there is/was something negative growing inside of them and it’s exploding on to you.

In the spirit of grace and love, and if the situation lends itself, let them know their comment doesn’t make sense. See if you can navigate the conversation deeper, beyond body size, and pin point what’s really going on for the person who is trying to hurt you.

 

 

How to parent my daughter who's just like me

Haley Beach

Her emotions wear a cape, soaring her high out of reach where I can’t bring her back close to me. From far away she looks at me with helplessness, “Mom, help me. I don’t know what to do! I feel out of control! I am losing my mind!” We both wait for the wind of exhaustion to gently bring her down into sleep.  Rest restores her body and mind back into control.

She’s just like me. Except she’s only six-years-old and hasn’t figured out how to control her HaleyandMeemotional power. I’ve had 34 years of experience and seven years of therapy to help me reign in my emotional squalls, and even still it’s hard work to maneuver the stormy winds of anxiety, panic, and fear. My daughter, Haley, and I are two highly-anxious, perfectionist-peas in a pod.

Lately I’ve been at a complete loss as to how to parent a child like me. I spend a lot of energy either trying to soothe Haley’s emotional tirades or reacting with my own rants out of sheer frustration. I’ve taken her to the doctor to rule out physical ailments and am currently researching behavioral health support. Nothing feels right. I have been praying for guidance as to how to get my daughter the coping tools she needs now so she doesn’t end up like me later–feeling out of control and coping through disorder.

My friend Andee recently wrote a post called Just Like You–A Post for Mother’s Day, and she describes the curse-turned-to-blessing of having a daughter just like her. It was Andee’s insight into her daughter that has given me insight into mine. She describes her daughter, Annika, as one who “not only wears her emotions on her sleeve, but all the way down her maxi dress. She has no poker face and tells you exactly what she’s thinking. Early on, Annika’s tranquil mood turned to tantrum within seconds and rage would strike out of the blue.”

I can literally insert Haley’s name in for Annika’s. But rather than trying to “fix” her daughter’s emotional outbursts to avoid future demise, Andee offers a listening ear and reassuring love.

I realized I have spent so much energy on trying to fix Haley to avoid future angst, that I have lost a grip on who Haley is and what she needs right now. My daughter doesn’t need fixing. She needs love, understanding, and reassurance (just like I do). That’s how to parent a child like me. Hello, answer to prayer.

Yesterday, Haley was depressed, unfocused and exhausted. She was getting sassy in her tone with me and tipping into the rage-red zone. Taking my cue from Andee’s insight, I asked, “Did something happen at school today? What’s wrong?” Turns out she got stuck on top of the jungle gym at recess. She was scared to fall; her classmates were encouraging her, but it was embarrassing; she was worried she wouldn’t get down before the bell rang for class; and she was confused because she’d never been scared up there before.

Well, no wonder she was upset! For a six-year-old, getting stuck on top of the jungle gym makes for a rough day. I hugged her and affirmed her feelings and told her I loved her. What a scary and stressful experience! I wish I could say she magically felt better and we lived happily ever after the rest of the night. Her mood didn’t improve, and actually it got worse, but I kept my cool and just let her be how she needed to be. IN accepting her emotions toward her situation, I was better able to love on her despite her coldness toward me. I trust in time she’ll learn to trust me as I parent in love rather than “fixing.”

HaleyMath

I see, now, Haley is just like me– creative, generous, compassionate, funny, intelligent, and intuitive. She’s a thinker and a creator and an achiever. This week she’s written two books, crafted three songs, made me multiple presents and cards for Mother’s Day, encouraged her older brother, and has given her best in everything she’s done. Her future looks much brighter from this angle!

HaleySilly

Belly Ache (blog hop story)

We’re experiencing a blustery windstorm this afternoon that has caused our power to go out. What better way to pass the time in the dark than to write? (Good thing I charged my computer battery!) So, below is my story entry for this week’s blog hop photo prompt. Enjoy!

Cookie Dough“Mommy, my tummy hurts,” said Hannah.

“Well, I bet you ate too much cookie dough,” said Mom with a sigh. “I told you to take one tiny lick and what did you do?”

“I licked both beaters and the bowl,” confessed Hannah, turning her attention to her older brother Steven who stepped into the kitchen.

“Did you guys put eggs into the cookie batter?” asked Steven, looking concerned.

Hannah replied, “Yes.”

“How many did you use?” pressed Steven. He laid a hand on Hannah’s shoulder.

Hannah clutched her belly. “Three.”

“Uh-oh.”

“What uh-oh?”  asked Hannah.

“How much batter did you say you licked?”

“Two beaters and the bowl.”

“I know why your tummy hurts. I am afraid your diagnosis is worse than too much cookie dough.”

Hannah rubbed her upset tummy. “What? What is wrong?”

“You have chickens in your tummy. They’re trying to peck their way out.”

“Nuh-uh. Mom!” Hannah looked nervously at her mother who was tending the whistling tea kettle on the stove.

“It’s true,” said Steven “Those eggs haven’t been cooked yet. They are raw in your stomach and the chickens grow like magic inside humans. That’s why you aren’t supposed to eat raw eggs.”

“You’re lying! Mom!”

“I’m not lying! Mom, isn’t it true you aren’t supposed to eat raw eggs?”

Mom let out a chuckle and shook her head at the sibling squabble. “Steven, you’re right—“

“See!? Told ya!” Steven interrupted with a boastful laugh.

Hannah’s eyes began to water with tears as she leaned forward holding her now cramping tummy. “Mommy, I don’t feel good. I have chickens in my tummy.”

“Oh, Hannah.  You don’t have chickens in your stomach. Here–” Mom handed TruthorConsequencesHannah her Hello Kitty mug, “this is peppermint tea to soothe your belly ache.”

Hannah took the mug and began blowing at the steam.

“Steven, you’re right in that we shouldn’t be eating raw eggs, but not because you grow chickens in your belly. It’s because eggs can carry a bacteria that will make you sick. Outside of raw eggs, though, too much cookie dough can make you ill simply because it’s full of sugar—too much sugar makes tummies hurt, my Loves. ”

“Well, I was half right,” said Steven.

“Bottom line for you both,” warned Mom, “always listen to Mommy. If I say just a taste, just take a taste; otherwise, the consequences can be painful.”

“Okay, Mommy,” said Hannah. “I’m sorry. Can I go lie down now?”

“Yes.”

“I’ll bring your tea,” offered Steven, following his sister out of the kitchen.