You are NOT alone!
I watch her every day. She is hustling a handful of children, struggling to keep them in order, and quiet, as they make their way back to the preschool. She passes me, grins and then turns her attention back to the small team of children. We’ve had a couple conversations; I know she has a good drive to get here. Some days she smiles, and some days I can hear, by the tone of her voice, she’s fed up. If we weren’t in a church, things may look a little different at times!
We met by accident, literally- one of her children put her gigantic Ford 3500, 5500, 7500-(whatever it is a giant truck) into gear and it slowly rolled into the back end of my small SUV- crunching it as though it was going 75 miles per hour! She was overwhelmed that day and just kept saying, “I can’t believe I didn’t realize I was moving!” (ya she was in the car, with the children at the time,… don’t ask)
And I kept shaking my head thinking, “Really?” (and I’m sure, so are you)
As time went on and we saw each other daily, now with something in common, I realized I know where she is. I’ve been there- trying to maneuver my own four kids in sync with my schedule and my hectic life. This sweet lady and I are beautiful reflections of motherhood; for me, one that has past, for her, one that is just beginning.
We get overwhelmed- face it! Life happens, if you are one of those people who might pretend it is all under control and you aren’t sinking, go for it. For me and the other women that just swim along in hopes to come upon a life raft, we can’t hide behind a mask of ‘meticulous momma!’
I have raised four kids, two now married, one with two children. I’m a fairly young Nana- as I had my kids young. I’ve mastered one thing in parenting- and only one thing-praying!
I pray for each one, each occasion, every injury, every success, every heart and I pray for me! I pray for gentleness, kindness, compassion and I often pray to forgive, because kids, especially teenagers, can be nasty!
Whether we are hustling kids, or career, or household, we have to stop and take time to face our God and fall on our knees to say, “Lord, I need you!” We are children of an amazing Father, we are loved, and we are understood when we think no one else will understand!
It’s ok to scream “STOP!” once in a while. It’s ok to take that me time with friends, but I’d suggest some me time with God may be even more critical in maintaining your sanity. Pray..pray and never stop. Pray for them (any them that you encounter) and pray for you.
Don’t be so busy that you crash- in life, (or into someone’s car!). Thank God for everything He has so lovingly blessed you with! Even the chaos, because in that chaos you will find you’re safe without a mask, just be you and pray continually!
I recently had both my grandkids for four straight days. Their parents took an extended weekend getaway, and I agreed to be full time Nana! I was nervous at having them non-stop for the days ahead. I am also fairly sure that I mentally took myself into exhaustion before the weekend began.
Day one started as a bit of a failure, as I was late to work and never even made breakfast! Luckily, great granny was babysitting and handled breakfast! The thought that I had to leave work to pick up my two beautiful grandkids made me anxious. Can I manage two kids? Can I give each one enough attention? Get dinner done, bath time, play a game, read books and tuck them in?
How in the world did I do this with four kids? In my mind, ran thoughts of, “I must have been terrible at this.” I was sharing this with my oldest son, and he said, “Actually mom, you always had breakfast. Sometimes it was eggs, sometimes pancakes, sometimes cereal, but we always had a good breakfast.” Those words made me smile and give myself a tad bit of credit.
I worked full time. I’m certain breakfast dishes were NEVER done before school, laundry was NEVER completely done (except that one week my mom came and babysat while we took a late honeymoon to Hawaii). Clothes were often left on the bathroom floor after bath time. Shoes were found from one door to the next. When I asked everyone to gather their laundry, they often threw it in the hallway and said, “Here!”
While I tried to instill work/chore habits into my kids routine, much like it is today; routine isn’t a consistent thing in my household. I wanted help, but I failed to make sure I had it. My kids were capable of folding towels, but I was insanely picky about the way they were folded and therefore, did it myself! I created my own life of chaos when it came to managing my household. I wondered where my magic Betty Crocker, Martha Stewart, Mr. Clean gene went? I think I was treading the waters far more than I sat on the sandy beach relaxing. While I thought for sure I was about to sink at any time, my head remained above the tides!
I’ve thought about those days of parenting. I’ve come to the conclusion we are just lucky my kids made it through alive, and dressed! They are healthy and had food, they bathed often and brushed their teeth! I was no super mom- how I got through it all, I don’t know. I have no answers. I was never trying to get the award for best mom, most organized wife, cleanest house, or cleanest kid for that matter- I was trying to survive and just keep them breathing too. Though I can think of times people were there to remind me how bad I was doing, I also remember certain looks on my children’s faces as we enjoyed each other and our life.
We don’t get handbooks when we become pregnant, and trying to read every book available won’t give you answers to the journey of parenting, though, perhaps, some good ideas that ‘might’ work for you family. Would my walk through the life of motherhood been easier had my household been completely in order? I’m not sure. I’ve seen perfectly well organized homes be more dysfunctional than anything I experienced. What you can take away from this small tidbit of Nana’s thoughts is this- there are no perfect parents! We are all just trying to survive, and, I believe, do the best we can!
How did my weekend go with the grandbabies? I ventured into public, they ate all meals and I had a wonderful time with the kiddos. On Sunday night, they had baths, curled up into my arms and each one fell asleep while watching “Frozen” on Nana’s lap! It was perfect!
Those days you feel you are sinking, always remember, you never will. God won’t let you. No matter how high the waves, your head will always remain above. So just keep breathing!
It was a year ago that we learned our little Miracle was going to enter this world a whopping 3 and half months early! Days were spent praying, crying, waiting, hoping and confused…
Fast forward one year later, and here I sit! In awe, amazed, overwhelmed, blessed, overjoyed, delighted, jubilant-are there enough words to describe what this heart feels! Our girl has grown, ever slowly, but grown! She has learned to crawl, stand and is slowly getting past her fear to take a step. She is beautiful, moves about jibber jabbering, wanting to eat everything and enjoying her little one year old self! We couldn’t be more excited to celebrate a life that has made it through, against the odds. After a year, HarleeRae can now go to church, play outside, and it feels like the veil of caution can be slightly lifted.
It was a long road. It wasn’t only a year of growth for HarleeRae, but a year of growth for me. Far down, from somewhere I didn’t know existed, I was able to find a strength and a deeper understanding of faith than I thought possible. People looked at me with eyes of defeat, and I had to shine eyes of triumph right back! I refused to believe that this little miracle would do anything other than survive! I knew without a shadow of a doubt, that she was being cared for by the best medical staff, but carried by the greatest Healer ever!
We are made to shine His light outward for others to see. We are made to be the vessels by which His love flows. We are made to fall on our knees, and cry out to Him! He desires us to want and need him in ways that we can’t comprehend, until the day we’ve reached that place, when we know, there is no one else, nothing else, no place else but the arms, the heart of only one- our God. It is a surrender that comes within a growing relationship with Jesus Christ. Just when you think it is deeper than ever, that’s when you find, you’ve got so much more road to travel, a road that never ends, because there is always another level to the relationship, another climb, another depth to God’s everlasting presence in our lives.
I have always explained my Salvation as a journey. It began with a decision; it carries on day to day, step by step and moment to moment. It is a journey of change, of desire, of dependence, of acceptance, of disappointments that lead to successes and successes that lead to a humble understanding. Salvation is my gift from above- that keeps on giving, teaching, and loving. It is a state of being saved or protected; a treasure that I hold very dear. It represents my ever changing relationship with my Savior……. I pray you are on such a journey, and that you are overwhelmed as I, each step of the way..
To be continued……
While I am still young and active and always on the go, I realize that 40 is around the corner, and with 40 comes many things...I feel some distant part of life will be behind me. Am I wiser? More organized(no), prettier, uglier, fatter, thinner, shorter (yes)..I read an article the other day that said women my age have to stop doing a few things and start doing a few other things..like don't wear eyeliner and mascara on the bottom of your eye. So, I tried it. I thought I looked dead and half my eye looked like it was missing. It says that as we age, we can no longer pull off the straight, long, silky hair..My hair has been layered forever- was that a 40 and over thing?? Did I miss the boat on age appropriateness living? When did they start dictating the how to's of aging??
We age indeed, we look up and down in the mirror. Somethings look down and keep looking down, hello gravity! When I was younger, I desperately wished I could afford plastic surgery, here and there, and back then, I thought every where! Bigger boobs, smaller nose, trimmer tummy! I learned a while ago, bigger boobs are a pain and make the rest of me look bigger too! If only I could..if only..if only.. I thought I needed this and a little of that..
Never satisfied, I think we miss so much along the way..
I am now a Nana!! Nanny..Nana-Bell..Zaiden calls, and I hear his sweet, tender voice say I love you, and I melt. None of those issues matter. Soon, Harlee Rae will be hollaring "Nanny, come and get me..." and I will tell her- Ok, see you Saturday!! I will load Zaiden in one seat and Harlee Rae in the other, and they will come spend the night. Demanding to be outside, read books, get a sippy, take a bath, color, watch Mickey..and we all just do whatever their little minds think up!
Harlee Rae is now 7 months old. The time has flown by. Though she remains in a struggle to gain weight, she only weighs 10 pounds, she is a delight, and doing well. She talks with coos and laughs, she is even beginning to make it clear she wants you to pick her up! She is our little Miracle! I can't believe that she once was 1 pound and I could see through her delicate, paper thin skin. She couldn't use a bottle, or cry. She was given such low odds of survival, and yet, here she is, the biggest survivor! How blessed we are to have her in our lives and watch as she defies the odds and sets the scene for her dramatic, adventure filled life to come! Zaiden loves his sister, and I relish every minute. I know, that in just a few short months, the fighting will begin. The tug of war between toys and blankets. My apples are my life, my life is about my family.
So as 40 approaches, I let go of thoughts of gravity and that it's truly not just a major motion picture! I let go of image issues, and desires of buying the better me. Today, on this very day, I just focus on my family and being here for them and being love, in whatever capacity is appropriate at the time. My son is engaged, and thinking of buying his first home. How did I get here? Where did 40 years go? I wonder where did my life go? I realize, it is right here. This world I am surrounded in- of kids growing up, grandbabies being born, marriage making it through...it's about family in the end. My life has been spent loving and sharing..fighting, compromising, shaking my head, laughing so hard I pee my pants (something that is becoming a little to frequent lately) and crying.. My life hasnt been dictated by numbers in age, or height or bra size, not even by IQ- because I've learned, common sense doesn't come with a number and love can't be love with conditions..emotions rise and fall with the tides, happiness comes and goes.
I am sitting here today waiting..for what, I wont share right now. I am thinking of so many things, but the best thoughts are just that I love life, I love the laughs, the memories-all of them, good or bad. I love my family. I know that 40 is just another new decade to enjoy a whole new set of circumstances, moments and miracles!!
As the day's turned to weeks, and weeks to months, we all patiently awaited the day that our little girl would come home. Two days after her original due date, Harlee Rae Miracle was finally given the all clear. It wasn't easy. There was a debate among the nurses that her eating skills had not progressed enough for her to thrive at home. They removed her feeding tube, then put it back after only 24 hours. I knew, with all my heart, that she was ready. I felt that certain care takers just weren't being as patient with our girl as they needed to be.
I happened to be there when the doctors were doing rounds, and I was given the opportunity to sit on "report" and also ask any questions I might have. (Worst thing you can do when I'm ready to go to battle with you is...give me the floor..and so it began...
"We are able to get her to eat the full 2 oz in one feeding, it takes about an hour, is this acceptable." The nurses said-no..doctor said-yes. "She has different cues then most babies, she starts squirming and lets out small cries, more of a soft whine, isnt that considered a cue though?" Nurses said-no..doctors said-yes. "I was told that she is not normal because she "NEVER" cries. My experience as a mother and as a nana tells me that every single baby is different, shouldn't we be taking her individual personality into consideration when it comes to her social cues?" Nurses-EVERY baby cries and shows obvious cues at feeding time...doctor-absolutely! Every baby should be considered as an individual and therefore, be given the opportunity to express their cues as they do, she may cry now, or start in a couple weeks. And as he stood next to me, out came a little cry from our Harlee Rae and the doctor witnessed that she indeed was cuing for her meal, cuing for her diaper change and showing that she had some attitude and wanted her food, NOW! Feeding tube was removed, Harlee Rae was released the next day.
Don't get me wrong, I am so grateful for all the nurses did to help my Harlee Rae truly become our miracle. The love was obvious, their patience tremendous..but they forgot one thing, Ashley was still her mother, and I am still her Nana. I honestly don't know how they do it, care for a baby for months, then say goodbye that quickly..it must be hard. However, the goal is to say goodbye and let us do our job.
Harlee Rae came home on oxygen, her eyes were doing great, and she slowly learned to eat enough. We are now a month out from her home coming and each week, she reports to the pediatrician for a "weigh in" and each week we hold our breath, because if she loses a fraction of an ounce (literally) she is back in the hospital. She is diagnosed with failure to thrive. Could it possibly be that our girl is a little, tiny peanut? She is petite..she is alert, kicking her legs, throwing her arms, and wait for it...wait for it...she has the LOUDEST scream I've ever heard from a baby so small. She now weighs 8 lbs, and is 20 inches long. She is 4 and half months and only weighs 8 lbs!!!! Today, she smiled the biggest smile I have seen so far! Failure to thrive? Or just a baby being her own individual self, growing at her own individual pace, but having the most precious personality I've ever seen!
And so....it begins!