Friday, March 20, 2015

Secret Shames of Motherhood

There it was. Right as I just put two children on the bus and was about to take the third to preschool...I saw it. A small white spec in her light brown hair. My breathing stopped, my heart began to beat faster, and my fingers started to quickly move her hair around to get a closer look. There was another one. No, two more. And my plans for the day were ruined. This was awful. Terrible, even. I knew the remainder of my day would entail hours of carefully picking nits out of my child's "mermaid hair" as she liked to call it. That in-between rounds of nit-picking I would be running up and down the stairs to my laundry room in an attempt to wash every piece of fabric that could be removed. And the fear trickling through my veins brought on by questions such as "What if the older two have lice also? Can a baby get lice? (nah---first time I'm thankful that number 4 has no hair.) If this was hard when my 6 year old had it, how will I make it through with a 4 year old? And only worse than the fear was the sickening feeling in my stomach knowing that I needed to call the school, call the church, and inform my friends of the following: "Ummm, sorry to tell you this, but my child has lice! You might want to check your children's hair also. Please forgive me if they have it too! If they do, I promise I'll help you pick their nits!" (true story, I did this for a friend the first time we had lice as in fact her daughter had it also and I was just certain it was our fault!)

 There's no time to waste. I don't know when the baby will be fussy next, so I run her to the bathroom and immediately begin de-lousing her. (I'm a smarter mom now---I keep an anti-lice kit on hand after experiencing this two other times at the beginning of the school year with my oldest child. just in case I plug in my ear phones so that I can make appropriate calls while carefully combing through her hair strand by strand. And with each call I am informed of the following: "We're so sorry to hear that! There have been no other cases of lice reported. It must just be your child." Hmmmmmm....wait a minute! I know the lice did not come out of the clear blue sky! And it certainly isn't fleas! I start replaying the conversations in my head (I've got nothing better to do unless I'm highly interested in the 6th episode of Daniel Tiger's neighborhood playing on the iPad no less than 2 hours of sitting still later while Mommy picks the nits). "PLEASE FORGIVE ME if they have it too!"??? As if the lice are MY FAULT! As if it was due to the personal hygiene of my household. Or as though I knew my child had lice and I purposefully told her to go rub heads with her friends or play dress-up with some hats. I hadn't done that!!!!! I'm picking nits right now like its my sole purpose in life! I'm washing more clothing and sheets than any person should in one day. And I'm feeling ashamed. But this case of lice is not possibly the only case of lice in the school or at the churches we attend. Someone else's child has lice and they are more ashamed than I am at this moment. Why do I know this? Again, lice don't just appear out of no where! Some one, somewhere, is too ashamed to make these calls. Maybe they could not get rid of the lice on their first attempt because their child would not sit still. Maybe they couldn't afford the expensive shampoos that you have to buy to cure the problem. Maybe despite their best efforts the lice just would not go away...I have heard of all of these problems from other women brave enough to share their knowledge only gained from experiencing our tiny household head loving friends. Regardless of why they were unable to rid their household of lice, they were too ashamed to speak up and give everyone else the heads up---pun intended. Too afraid to ask for help. Too afraid to ask for advice---because certainly she is the only one who is dealing with this, and it MUST be HER FAULT! This is a shame that she must bare in secret.

 Is lice the only secret shame of motherhood? Not really. There's always the old favorite subject of breastfeeding. As you read that word you probably physically felt something. Was it pride since you made it the 12 months or more? Guilt for never even trying it? Frustration? A gut reaction to explain all the reasons why it worked or did not? Anger towards the male who told you, "When it comes to breastfeeding, you must be relentless!"...2 weeks after you found yourself nursing 20 of 24 hours a day while your three older children were running around like maniacs fueled by lucky charms and pepperoni rolls as you could not get off of the couch to feed them because you were not going to fail this time around!...7 days after you decided that your baby who's weight was declining might not actually be benefitting from breastmilk if he's starving so maybe going to 100% formula could save not only your baby but your sanity and the health of your other precious three children who also have needs! Oh wait, that was just my own experience. And maybe since I find myself defending my choice realize that this too causes a bit of shame buried deeply within though almost no one else even questioned my decision.

 Or is your secret shame a desire to lose weight? No overweight person really wants people to know that they have a desire to lose weight until they are actually losing weight---Or maybe that's just me also. The list could go on and on. Whether these self made secret shames are within my control or outside of anything that I could have done to prevent it. Secret shames range from not knowing how to handle a difficult child (it must be because I am a bad parent...I've never seen their children act like this at the library). Or a child who is struggling in math (if only I'd bought a subscription to ABC before they were its surely a lost cause at 7!). It can be anything that you are embarrassed to talk about because you feel alone.

 Somehow as I gave in to cutting off 7 inches of my daughters beautiful hair, realizing that I can not win the battle against the lice if I do not, I shed some tears and realize that people are going to know about her lice. And that's probably better. We are not meant to live life alone. Secret shames feel much less shameful when you find out that someone else is fighting the same battle. When you find out that you are not the first to walk this path. That mayonnaise may stink when you put it in your hair for 2 hours but really is a great conditioner that provides piece of mind from the sympathy itches you are feeling. (If you don't understand why that's in here, your child has obviously has not yet had lice). I firmly believe that the words written in James 5: 16 were not just written about sins. They were written to show the depth of the power of sharing the ugliest parts of our lives with each other. If you are willing to share the things that we have actually done wrong with someone in order to receive healing, then maybe in sharing things outside of our control----our secret shames----we will find that we have no need to be ashamed at all!

 "Therefore, confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective." James 5:16

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

"My Friend" and "My Sister"

Today while dropping Josef and Julia off at school I needed to change Beatrice's diaper. Josef's teachers invited me to use the changing table in the bathroom of his classroom so we entered. Josef proudly introduced Beatrice. His teachers asked him, "Is this your little sister?". He replied, "No, she is a baby!". This only further confirms my belief that Josef has a disconnect in the relationship world. While we had been in New York he would introduce Beatrice to passerbys stating, "This is my friend, Beatrice! That is my sister, Julia!". Apparently Beatrice is his friend and is a baby. Julia is his sister. I wonder if he realizes that Beatrice is going to be living in the family forever?!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Going Home

Going home. You always miss home most when you are unable to go home. Home just doesn't feel right when someone you love is not going to be there. When someone you love passes away and you know that they have gone home you can't help but desire to be with them. Home has shifted again. Home can feel somewhat elussive. Julia said today, "Charleston was fun, but home is the funnest! After all, home is where your heart is. So home can be a house, a building, or a manger!" I still call Maryland home though I've not held official residence there since highschool. After visiting "home" for a long period of time I always feel so happy to be back in my actual home. But then I find myself sitting here in my dining room in the early hours of Christmas Eve, staring into the living room being sad because I'm not "home" for Christmas. We hold on to things when we don't want to let go. Memories of "home". Holding on makes it hard. I'm sure that there is a message in the fact that God chose to send Jesus to us in a manger...a borrowed bed in a borrowed home. This world was never meant to be His home. We would not have salvation if He held on to things of this world. This world is not meant to be our home. So when a dear loved one passes from this world on to His eternal home I think He uses that to remind us of what our desire to be with HIM should be! A strong desire to be HOME with HIM. And any holding on to visions of what is or isn't right about the place we are currently calling our home might just be preventing us from placing our full attention on the GLORY of the Saviour who came to us in a borrowed home.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

the sky

Do you ever notice that when you travel from some place full of hills and mountains to some place that is generally flat and full of open space how much bigger the sky appears? This phenomenon happens when you are in a plane as well. In fact, it is even exaggerated as from the bird’s eye view within a plane looking down, those hills and mountains appear as small as ant hills. It dawned on me today as I sat in a chair in our bedroom, looking out the window at our steep hill of a back yard trying to see the sky above the tree line that my own ability to view a wide open relationship with God is often like living in the hills and mountains. So often I strain my neck looking high to the heavens asking, “Are you up there somewhere?” because all around me are hills of problems, mountains blocking a clear view of what I should do, and pathways to trod down that I am often uncertain of when the reality is that the sky is not smaller or larger based on topography, but the same size. Unchanging. HUGE! BEAUTIFUL! Full of sunrises, sunsets, shooting stars, and gorgeous cloud formations. And it is by choice that I can make my home in the holler of a mountain (for those WV folks who might be reading this), or in the open plains of God’s grandeur. The bottom line is that I need not strain my neck to see the sky. I pray that I might teach my children to have a bird’s eye view of their world and to soar in the open sky of God.

Sunday, July 10, 2011


For a special family treat, we decided to go to Hibachi for Josef and Beatrice's first Japanese steakhouse experience. This is a dining experience that most adults enjoy, but through the eyes of children becomes an even more thrilling experience. The anticipation built while watching the chefs prepare the food at other tables while patiently waiting for our own show. Josef liked drinking the soup straight out of the bowl. Julia enjoyed using her chopsticks to eat salad. Beatrice enjoyed playing with the Japanese spoons. Finally it was our turn. Our chef pulled out all of the tricks and jokes in the book. He even built an onion castle that then became a smoldering volcano. It was of course the big flame that caused the most excitement. To which Josef exclaimed, "Fireworks!"

Friday, July 8, 2011

Cow appreciation day

my own personal love of Chick-fil-A is now shared by my family. In honor of cow appreciation day and in order to earn a free meal Julia and I had fun making matching shirts and ears for all of us to wear. I think our efforts turned out pretty cute!

Beatrice is taking a stand...

...AND pulling herself up. Not bad for 7 1/2 months old!