Thursday, 29 March 2012

The joys of motherhood

I have slowed down, God. 

Once again, I've had to cancel some things and change plans and it's actually been alright. 

Yesterday was one of those days where my heart goes out to a poorly little one as my Lizzie was ill with a tummy bug. She is usually so energetic, never still, always doing something, interested in everything, constantly on the go, but yesterday she just was.  Not like her at all. 

So she lay with her head in my lap, or Grandma's, and she dozed a little, but mostly she just lay. I stroked her hair and read her stories and held her when she was sick. I whispered to her, and kissed her and cuddled her. She's usually too fast moving to be much in favour of snuggles and so it was a treat, to be honest, to sit still with Elizabeth. She wanted Mummy, and that, too, was a treat after the debacle of the night before. 

My little girl was poorly and we spent a day together. I couldn't make her better and neither could the doctor - though we've had the palaver of getting a stool sample up to the surgery so that they can determine which evil little bug is making her sick. That was fun. The joys of motherhood. 

My poorly Elizabeth
Actually, the joy of motherhood is sitting with your little girl's head on your knee or on your shoulder on a bench in the garden on an unseasonably hot day in March. We read fairy stories and a bit of Enid Blyton (what a trip down memory lane that was) and we played I-Spy and we sat quietly. The night before I'd hit the bottom of the motherhood experience; the sense of utter failure and defeat, and then yesterday and today I got to claw it back a bit. Maybe make up a bit of ground. I'm not sure who needed who the most these last two days but I think it might have been a close thing. 

Today Liz was much improved though still a pale, thin-looking wraith with no appetite. We went to the supermarket this morning and she made my shopping list and ticked off items for me. We laughed that the list appeared to say, 'hairy-way' instead of 'hairspray'; for a six year old this was hilarious and I'm sure we haven't heard the last of this joke. And you know what? Every time she asks me if I need 'hairy-way' I will joke back. I promise. For as long as it makes her laugh, I will make the effort. To make her smile. It won't be long before she doesn't laugh at my jokes. That laugh is precious. 

In the shop a kind lady on a promotions desk gave Lizzie a tiny pot of ice-cream and she even grated a smudge of chocolate on it and added a strawberry when she heard that Liz was recuperating from a tummy upset. Elizabeth was tempted enough to eat it and declared it delicious. The most wonderful ice cream ever. 

Beautiful Lizzie
We bought a tub to bring home. A winner every time. 

Afterwards we went to the coffee shop for a drink and I'd have bought her cake if she'd wanted it. She was helpful and thoughtful and lovely company and it was good. I love her so much

Thankyou Father. Thankyou for healing after hurting. 

I'm not sure if I overlook Lizzie sometimes. She's the older one and the attention has been on Katy, I think. Katy is smaller, more affectionate, more vulnerable in some ways. Or maybe that's just how I see her because over the past twelve months she's had surgery twice and more appointments at the hospital than I could count. She's the one we're worried about all over again and we're psyching ourselves up for more appointments, blood tests, scans, treatments, surgery. Maybe Lizzie gets left out. I didn't think so but maybe she does. Maybe Katy is the baby and Lizzie the more self-contained older sister. I don't know, but I worry.

Oh dear. 

It's so hard, God. It's so hard to anticipate all these needs and respond to them when I'm so tired and when my head is full of so much stuff. I have two small people who depend on me for so much - physically and practically and emotionally and spiritually, and I have a horror of letting them down. What scars will I leave when I do let them down, which I'm certain to do. I let Elizabeth down the other day and she let me know about it. I feel that the last two days have been a gift to bring us closer again and I will always be grateful for that. 

But I'd rather have not got it so badly wrong in the first place. 

I am not a perfect Mummy, and neither are my girls perfect children either. I know that. They are so different from each other, and so different from me. They're not going to do everything the way I want them to, no matter how much I want them to. I don't want to try to make them into something that they're not. I just want them to grow up knowing that they are loved, that they are special. That they are capable and valued and unique and loved, just as they are. I can't do it on my own. Bryan and I can't do it between us. We all can't do it, all the family and friends and church together. We need you. 

You loaned me my two girls to look after for a while. They are your children. You don't have grandchildren - we are all your little girls and little boys. You think I can do this job, or you wouldn't have given these two beautiful little people into my care. You seem to think that I can do a good enough job. I doubt it sometimes, but whether I do or not, the job still needs doing.

Please give me again what I need to make sure that they grow up ok. Please heal them of any hurts that are planted in their little hearts. Don't let anything negative thrive in their minds, Lord. Cleanse the two of them of any ideas that might damage them in any ways. Protect them from doubt and insecurity and jealousy and fear. Lord God, who knew each one of them even before they were in my tummy, mould them the way you want them to be so that they won't have to unpick years of worry or confusion or rejection in the years to come before they can be all that they were made to be

Help me, Father. 
  • Prop me up when I don't have any more energy. 
  • Give me patience to stop the exasperated sigh when they spill their drinks or their cereal or the paint. 
  • Give me grace to smile when I feel like snarling. 
  • Give me self-control to keep back the cutting words when they're too silly for my grown up way of thinking and my sense of humour is AWOL. 
  • Lord of compassion, give me wisdom to find the right words when I need to correct them without crushing them. 
  • Prince of peace, show me how to break up a fight with justice when there's no earthly way of knowing who was in the wrong. 
  • Show me how to comfort a child who has been pinched, or pushed, or cheated out of the last biscuit. 
  • Help me to forgive, and show them how to do it too. They're going to need a lot of practice. 
  • Give me buckets and buckets of love so that when my tankful comes to an end I can run on your reserve supply. 
  • God of mercy, give me the grace to hug a child who's covered in vomit because they need a hug and it can't wait until they're bathed.
  • Show me how to bring joy and contentment into their lives instead of dissatisfaction and envy.
  • Creator God, help me to show them the wonder around them; to see you everywhere. To teach them that the world is a beautiful place, not a scary one.
  • When they wake in the night with unnamed fears or needs give me the grace to soothe them even when I'm desperate for sleep myself. Even when it's the fourth or fifth time that night.
  • When the world is too much for them, help me to help them cope. Show me how to build them up, not demolish them. How I long for my girls to have more confidence than I've had, to be comfortable with themselves. Not arrogant or boastful, but at peace
  • Give me understanding when I can't work out what is needed. 
  • Lord God, equip me to show my little girls the way to find you for themselves. I'll never ever do that when I shout and glare at them. Light of the world, help me to shine brightly, not bring darkness and shadows.
  • Help me to quiet the insistent, selfish little voice that constantly complains, 'But what about me?'
  • And anything else I need that I've left out. I could go on forever but I need to get to bed tonight. 
Above all, save me from thinking that I have to do all this on my own. 

The prayer of St Francis of Assisi

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith; 
Where there is despair; hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master, 
Grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console
To be understood as to understand;
To be loved as to love. 
For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. 

Amen. Oh yes, amen. 

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