Tuesday, January 26, 2016
The Worry Club.
Hi. My name is Jill.
And I am a recovering worryaholic.
It's been said that when a child is born, so is a mother.
If that's true, then when a mother is born, so is a worrier.
When we finally had our first baby after seven years of trying hard, so many things felt like a dream. She was angelic and beautiful and had a head full of black hair that looked like a perfect little baby toupee. She was gentle and patient, almost passive and apologetic in her hunger, squeaking instead of yelling. So dainty and feminine. Cuddly and warm, I would wake up and she was laying in her baby wonder, staring at my face so curiously and sweet. Seven pounds and nine ounces of love, physically perfect from head to toe. All her doctors and nurses adored her and gave her a clean bill of health right away.
But like most first time moms, I worried anyway.
Is she TOO quiet?
Is something wrong with her hearing? I don't think she's crying enough.
Why doesn't she blink? Shouldn't she blink if I get my finger close to her eye?
I didn't boil that bottle. DO NOT USE THAT BOTTLE, ROD! I only hand washed it.
Why isn't she pooping more? Is she constipated? SHE IS GOING TO EXPLODE IF SHE DOESN'T GO POOP!
Is 98.9 a fever? She was 98.5 earlier. She's getting too warm. She's practically a volcano right now.
We dropped her pacifier on the floor of Walmart. Throw it away.
DID THAT CHILD WITH THE CONSTANT GREEN SNOT IN THE NURSERY JUST BREATHE ON MY BABY? I will never leave her in the nursery again. Ever. Even though I am in charge of the nursery. My baby is too good for this planet.
In my mommy naivety, I would think that if I could just make it through the infancy stage, toddlerhood wouldn't be as scary. And then, one day, I came out of the bathroom and the front door was standing open and my toddler was nowhere to be found. I screamed at the top of my lungs for what felt like minutes, and I finally heard her two year old voice from what seemed like miles away.
"I'm going to Chickaway," she yelled as she ran around the corner of our street, headed to waffle fries and nuggets in only her diaper while it was 43 degrees.
I lost my mind, yelled and screamed, and after fetching her, sat her on the steps and lectured her on child abductions and strangers and how I would miss her if she was gone and how she could never leave the house again without me- not even until she turned 30. When I finished shaking and talking and crying in front of my little angel girl, I said, "Do you want to say anything to Mommy?"
"Yes," she said. "Can we go get chicken now?"
I. Can't. Even.
Then, it was, "If I can just get her through toddler years, she will be ok, right? We will send her to school and all will be well." Until the day she came home, humiliated by a teacher in front of her friends. She said she was so embarrassed, she just stared down at her shoes until everyone stopped looking at her.
Scratch the elementary years off the list of worry-free days.
Entering puberty wasn't a joke either. Her social life slowly beginning, I've wondered many times if we've told her enough how much she cannot trust people she doesn't know. Don't go to a bathroom by yourself. Never let anyone take your phone away. If you feel weird about something, don't do it. WHY DID YOU NOT ANSWER THE PHONE WHEN I CALLED YOU? Do you need me to come pick you up? And if not, why don't you want to come home? Sigh.
It's just so hard, y'all.
I heard my dad say once that he was leaving to go on a ministry trip in the dark early morning hours one day. As he drove away from the house, he said, "Thank you, Lord, for taking care of my family while I am gone." He said as sweetly and as plainly as could be, he heard this rebuttal from Jesus...
"Who do you think takes care of them while you're here?" Ouch.
And yes, Sir.
I had to make a choice not to worry. I think it's ultimately a choice we ALL have to make.
Like every emotion, worry is optional. We don't have to let it take root in our hearts just because we feel it. Is the world a scary place? Yes. Are our children vulnerable? Yes. Do bad things happen sometimes? Yes. But you know what? Most of the time, they don't. And most of the time, we get sucked into a news story and fall into a hole of fear that is nearly impossible to climb out alone.
Every single night of my children's lives, I walk back into their rooms after they've fallen asleep. I sit at each of their beds and comb through the day in my mind.
Did I yell too much?
Did I say I love you enough?
Did we play at all? Did they feel validated and seen?
Did I give them a reason to believe I am for them? Did I make them feel insignificant and small?
Did I make sure they were full before bed, both their tummies and their souls?
Did I treat them like items on my list of things to tend to today? Did we laugh enough?
Are these kids going to end up in therapy because of me one day? Will they always want to come home to me?
Don't get me wrong. I don't sit worrying for endless amounts of time each night. But if you're a mom, only you will understand what I mean when I say that all of those thoughts fly through my mind in a second as I kiss their cheeks while they sleep. I study their faces every night. I stop and breathe them in. Abi's beautiful jaw line and Walker's luscious eyelashes. I sniff for just a trace of that baby smell and convince myself they both still have it at 12 and 4. And sometimes, I imagine it's the night before their wedding-- a big finish line of our lives, and I am kissing my baby for the last time before they belong to someone else.
In that moment, by their beds every single night, Jesus meets me there. And in my simple prayer, He hears my heart and all I can and cannot say.
"Thank you, Jesus, for my baby."
I ask Him for the wisdom to see what He wants me to see.
I ask Him that I will feel the nudges He wants me to feel.
I have to make a decision once again to parent tomorrow out of the faith that He sees us and not out of the fear that He doesn't.
You know what? Even when my heart feels heavy because of daily circumstances and the wear and tear of raising a teenager and a preschooler at the same time, I go to sleep lighter when I think of how His eye is on them. And as long as my eyes are on Him, we're going to be ok.
He's what I should be looking at all the time anyway, isn't He?