When I walk into a new church, I immediately try and make visual contact with the pastor’s kids, and NOT for the reasons other congregants try and pick out the pastor’s kids. I try and find the pastor’s kids because I want to see their faces, take a mental pictures of them (in a non-stalker like way 😉 and begin to pray prayers of protection over them. I have the absolute biggest and most tender heart for pastor’s kids, because I am one.
Thirty three years of surviving tried and true “PK jokes” with predictions of my rebellion and scandal waiting at the punch line. It would just be best if no one ever told another “pastor’s kid” joke. EVER.
There are often deep waters of insecurity, panic and indifference pulsing through the hearts of a pastor’s kids. There are unspoken standards, many in the church, try and presume on the life of pastor’s kids. And when pastor’s kids are unprotected by their parents, from these pressures, lies begin to seep through to the inner chamber of their souls and take root.
Here is the SINGLE greatest lie pastors must silence for their kids, in an attempt to circle the wagons around their eternally, impressionable hearts.
Lie: The church and her members are more important than your mother and you.
My heart threatens to burst into a million pieces anytime I see pastor’s kids suffering from this despicable lie. Unfortunately, for many in full time ministry, this lie, in all actuality, is the truth being written in our pastor’s homes. Pastor’s kids are more damaged by the reality that their dad is having an affair with the church and all her alluring ways, then any other pseudo reasons one might want to derive. Pastors, YOUR GREATEST ministry is your marriage and your children!! The best sermon you will EVER preach is faithfully and passionately loving your wife. The kryptonite to bitter, broken, pastor’s kids who choose rebellion and scandal, is the CONSISTENT message in word and deed to them “YOU WIN! My ministry to you is more important then my ministry to the church and her members.”
Pastors, if your church, church members and church leadership do not value your marriage and your ministry to your children, ABOVE your ministry to the church; RUN, do not walk out of that church.
Church leaders, if you do not value your pastor’s marriage and your pastor’s ministry to his kids, ABOVE his ministry to you and the church, you are allowing a foot hold for the devil in the destruction of a family, and ultimately the destruction of a church body.
With tears streaming down my face, I have witnessed this destruction far too many times.
It doesn’t have to be this way!! By the grace of God, I am the daughter of a pastor who CHOSE ME! Who chose my mother, my siblings, and our family above the white noise of full time ministry. Pastor’s marriages and pastor’s kids hearts, do not have to be the collateral damage of seminary degrees and pastoral robes. When a pastor’s full time ministry is his marriage and children, the church will benefit from the sweet aroma of joy filling the pulpit and the pew.
Oh friends, we must be fierce in fighting to protect such sacred places and spaces. There are so many hearts at stake when this lie is allowed breathing room and false validation in our churches. The church is constantly under attack, and our pastors, their marriages, and their families are often the first victims Satan picks off.
I am card carrier of a unique club, “pastor’s kid; unscathed.” There is so much beauty and redemption when a pastor is given the freedom to pursue his first loves; his wife and children.
Now go on and be a voice seeking to cherish and protect such sweetness!!
~Sara, a pastor’s kid
I asked Mark to stop and get me some coffee on his way home from work yesterday, because my stash was running low. Me – coffee =’s a national security crisis. Coffee is one of my love languages. I’m not afraid to admit I’d give up food before I’d give up coffee. This is what he delivered.
There is a reason he didn’t pick up JUST one or two, but THREE packages of coffee. We are in the final stretch of school. The ninth hour, the ninth month, the ninth inning. However you want to label it, we are nearing the end. Four weeks, and the 6:15 AM alarm goes from green to gray, and the whole house shouts HALLELUJAH! If Lucy’s eyes were a downloading ticker, it would indicate she is 99% complete. When Lucy gets tired, she gets crazy delusional. Last week, she walked in the door from school, laid down on the ground with her back pack STILL on, and stared at the ceiling for an hour. God love her. I believe she is ready for the third grade train 🙂
We’ve been going to bed earlier and earlier, and waking up later and later, because our bodies are all, “I love this bed! I love this bed! I love this bed! I can’t get up! I can’t get up! I can’t get up! One more snooze! One more snooze! One more snooze!”
Based on rough estimations, I have made and packed 360 lunches and 480 water bottles. At the conclusion of this school year, I hope to pass Kindergarten for the 5th time, 2nd grade for the 4th time, 3rd grade for 3rd time and 6th grade for the 2nd time. I have relearned so much this year; I am a complete wizard with my multiplication math facts. ‘Go Dog Go’ is STILL a really long book for a new reader. I have totally enjoyed reading Harry Potter through the eyes of my daughter. I increased my historical knowledge of Chinese Emperors. And seriously, I can do a mean Brachiosaurus impression (yes, I had to Google the correct spelling!) I’ve learned A LOT, and so have my cherubs. But like Lucy, my brain is full, my body is tired and we’re all ready for a small fast from school.
But all the the teachers, who feel the exact same way, respond in unison, ” DON’T QUIT YET, THERE ARE STILL FOUR WEEKS LEFT!”
While our brains have broken the standard rule, “all things in moderation”, and we are teetering on obesity of knowledge; we press on. In between dodging the “can you check us out early?” requests, and “do we have to go?” pleas, I’ve decided these final weeks of school are SO MAJOR in the lives of our kids.
Major, not because the bulk of their educational foundation is being laid in these final days, or the climax of passing their current grade is at hand, but because their character will be solidified in pushing through the uncomfortable.
Littlejohns don’t quit!
So much of life is bearing down and holding on in the uncomfortable. Leaning hard and heavy until the work is done. Be it physical work, spiritual work, martial work, parental work, or just work-work. We don’t have the luxury or the permission to walk away when life gets complicated and messy. In real life, you don’t get a summer vacation.
My kids are incredibly blessed to watch their dad live out a life of faithful, hard work. Every morning, rain or shine, spring or summer, cold or hot, tired or awake, encouraged or discouraged, excited or bored, bank holiday or not; Mark shows his love to our family by consistently showing up to work. This writes perseverance on the story of our children’s hearts.
“Finish well” I’ve whispered to sleepy, after school eyes.
Or some days, when you turn an olive oil bottle into a weed vase, it’s just “Finish, my love! Finish.”
Y’all we can do this!
Cheers! *and all the olive oil bottles clank*
Lucy just walked out of the house in purple shorts, a red and white striped shirt, and fake camo Toms. Julia left with her “boy” tennis shoes on that she insisted she get for the school year. Not caring one lick they came from the boys section of the shoe department. Neither one, pausing at all with insecurity and doubt about their wardrobe choices.
I shook my head as my little women exited. I love how incredibly diverse, unique and JUST SO THEM, they have grown to be. I decided a million years ago, that clothing was not going to be battle I fought with my girls (or my son). Obviously, if it was inappropriate or outrageous, we’d have to go to the mattresses, but other than that, ‘Shake It Off’ mom, ‘Shake It Off”……
I have struggled my whole life with reading, spelling and math. I had to receive significant help from a tutor just to pass the second grade. School was never just ‘natural’ for me. Every grade, every course I had to work my bootie off. Therefore, my heart is INCREDIBLY tender to anyone who struggles with these areas. I want my children to champion these subjects because pain was stirred into the paint can of that canvas for me. I want confidence and victory to be their paint brush.
Spelling and reading out loud, has not come as naturally for my Julia, as it has for my other two girls. Every week, we spend hours, HOURS, working on spelling words. I know that my motivation to help Julia conquer every spelling list, oozes out of my own insecurity.
So often, the nudge we give to the rudder of our children’s lives, comes from the very deep waters of our own weaknesses, strengths, failures, hurts, victories, challenges and experiences.
You were an athlete and benefited from kind coaches, the physical challenge and the comradery of being on a team. Therefore, there is a high emphasis on sports in your home.
Athletes were cruel and unkind to you. You were cut from the basketball team in the 7th grade, and have loathed all things sports since that day. Therefore, you do whatever it takes to steer your children in the opposite direction of sports.
You quit piano at age 11, and have regretted it everyday since then. Therefore, all of our children are enrolled in piano lessons somewhere….. And BY GOLLY, they aren’t quitting 🙂
The stress of performing a piano piece in front someone, almost sent you to an early grave. Therefore, you are completely ok if your children NEVER play the piano.
You were a complete book worm, and spent your childhood traveling from adventure to adventure between the covers of a book. Therefore, books are valued and encouraged in your home.
You struggled with reading and were laughed at when you read out-loud. You never received a stupid Book-It prize from Pizza Hut, and never once attended an AR party. You could care less if your kids love books.
OR…. You are hell bent on every single one of them living on Pizza Hut pizza for the rest of their lives, and you read like ninny to them every day.
You see, our children can become the sum of our own, personal equations, unless we are VERY, VERY careful.
I’ve not been a Mama for long, but I feel like 12 years and 4 children later, I have a better understanding, a clearer viewpoint. It is SO incredibly important to know in your gut your personal equation. Walking THROUGH and not AROUND your own childhood, will enable you to sift through why certain things light you up more than others.
In my insecurity about spelling, there are times I have pushed and pushed Julia, and sometimes I’ve gone too far. If I didn’t know WHY I did that, it would be VERY difficult for me to back off and see the harm I could be causing. Even more important, I might create a whole different can of pain for Julia, by being blinded to my motivation for her success. Julia is NOT ME! Julia is apart of a whole new equation that does not have to be tainted and stained by my own.
On the flip side, there are BEAUTIFUL and DELICIOUS lessons we can pass on to our kiddos because of our own equations. Finding this balance is the journey of parenthood.
One such delightful moment happened for me last week. I am kind of in love with words, and have made no bones about passing down my love to my children. They have heard me say countless times, “UGH! Find a different word, that one is so tired!” Now, altogether, we roll our eyes when any Duggar uses the word ‘surreal’, because they’ve said it like 345,755 times…. (More money to the counseling fund!)
Any way, Lucy wrote us a song. I love when my kids write anything…. But a song. I used to write songs when I was little. There are many of you who had to suffer through my songs, I’m just so.sorry. But suffer we did not, when Lucy sang this piece for us. I did not take a video, but I have one in my head. And maybe someday she’ll sing it for me again. In the meantime, here are the precious, precious words my SEVEN year old penned.
What Happened To This World?
By Lucy Littlejohn
What happened to this world, or did I become evil?
What happened to this world, but did you know that I’m ashamed?
Did you know that I’m loved.
Did you know that I’m saved.
I trust you Lord, I trust you Lord, I trust you Lord.
What happened to this world, or did I die?
You gave me yours, I gave you mine.
You’re my God, You’re my God, You’re my God.
I trust you!
I trust you!
I trust you!
You’re my God!
I don’t know your sweet equation. I don’t know you child’s sweet equation. But I know everyday, we have an opportunity to evaluate our equations, learn from them, decipher where errors were made, and write and rewrite until a more tender and gracious balance is reached.
All 16 of us waited in a room just beyond the sanctuary. Together, we were all going to enter the celebration of Mama’s life. Together, we had walked the long road of Alzheimer’s. Together, we would now walk the long aisle of goodbye. I clutched Mark’s hand as the ushers pulled open the sanctuary doors. My legs shaking, my heart aching, and my mind unsure I could take another step. The congregation rose, daddy took the first step down the aisle and we followed his lead, like we always had done.
Stars, ya’ll! S.T.A.R.S!!
Confession, the title is a bit deceptive in that there hasn’t just been ‘A’ time that I have yelled at my children (pick up your jaws) there are many timeS (daily) in my nearly 12 years of motherhood, that I have lost my stuff and spewed on them. Just so we are all on the same page here…. 🙂
The enormous amount of words required to parent four children baffles me at times. If a courtroom recorder followed me around all day, I think we would all stand in shock at the amount of times I repeat myself like a dementia patient, “Do you have your glasses? Have you brushed your teeth, because EW? Do you have your lunch? Your water bottle? Your homework? Your permission slip? Please turn off your bedroom light (OK, I NEVER say this, but Mark (my little energy conservationist) has said it a bagillion times!:) Please clean up the wet towels (stepping on wet towels makes me cuss), please clear your dishes, please pick up your dirty clothes, please put your back up in your room, please put your lunchbox and water bottle in their home, please refill the toilet paper roll, please empty your trash, please take a shower, please go to bed…. And let me tell you something….sometimes it’s too much and I stop saying please and just start pointing and yelling, “TEETH! TRASH! WATER BOTTLES! HOMEWORK! GLASSES! TOWELS! DIRTY CLOTHES! ENERGY! BED! SHOWER! SLEEP!
Yesterday, I had spent the entire afternoon swallowed whole in the winter/spring clothes exchange. It is a MULTI day affair. Tub after tub that has to be sorted, sized, and exchanged….TIMES FOUR! The house becomes tornadic, because the tubs clutter all the open spaces, and the breathing room is shut out because there are piles stacked to the moon. It is a tedious process that sometimes causes much tension and lunacy in my soul, “This is RIDICULOUS! No child needs this much clothing! No one human can wear all these clothes in a single season! These kids are excessively, spoiled little beings. I am NEVER buying another single stitch of clothing!” Like I said, lunacy.
Enter, 3 unknowing girls, who have each had a day of their own. If you only have boys, let me tell you how my girls debrief after school; they walk me through the ENTIRE 8 hours we were apart, minute.by.minute. I get it all. Who ate what for lunch, who had drama, who got in trouble, who said what about who, who was absent, who got sick, who was sad, who was cranky, who was nice, who was silly….Like, play by play. A lot of words, a lot of details! Please don’t hear what I’m not saying, I don’t want my kids coming home to anyone else! I *mostly* cherish the insane debrief and grieve the day it ceases. And yes, I know it will different with Anderson.
Any the who, we had an event we needed to be at, at 615, which meant we needed to leave at 6. Mark gets home from work at 535, and being on time is the sixth love language in my book. As the kids and I sat down early to have dinner, I said “right after dinner we are all going to go outside and clean up the yard, it looks like trailer trash out there!” (It’s a joke, laugh 🙂 The evening before, the 3 youngest kids had pulled out every bike, helmet and scooter we own and left them in the yard. Which was fine, except it was scheduled to rain last night.
I cleared my plate, stood up and said, “Ok, time to pick up the yard!’ I walked outside and started moving bikes. NO.ONE.MOVED! My blood pressure rose as I walked the first bike to storage. As I was coming back for the second muddy bike, I thought about walking up to the back door and firing off a snotty, guilt ridden exhortation for them to get off their booties and move it. I didn’t. Something came over me, I admit it was rare and not of myself. Something I long for, desire and beg God to give me took over, “Help me to not be a reactionary parent. Help me to be reasonable and intentional in my responses.”
On trip number three, while 2 scooters which were clanking against my ankles, threatening to cut my Achilles in half, the Lord spoke to my heart, “Sara, they will know ME by YOUR love! This whole world can testify to your patience and love, but if your husband and kids cannot; you are nothing. If others outside your home can claim your tender and gentle ways, but if your husband and kids cannot; you are nothing! If you would sacrifice for a friend, but not your family; you are nothing! If friends can see your love for Me, but Mark, Katie, Julia, Lucy and Anderson cannot; you are nothing! Love means making 10 round trips with scooters beating your ankles, without losing your stuff!”
Ask me what my greatest hope is and I will tell you, “I want my husband and children to know from their head, through their heart, and down to their toes the love of our stunning God!” I want this so much for them I would die for that truth to better cemented in their core. And…that’s exactly what I’m called to do. Die to myself, my selfishness, my anger, my bitterness, my spewing, my schedule, my wants and whims, my lusts and desires, and all my disgusting places. Die to live. The greatest calling on our lives.
And in all that dying, a resurrected Savior lives.
He is the deflection of my spewing.
He is the calm in my calamity.
He is the tender in my tense.
He is the patient in my pain.
He is the faithful in my failure.
He is the kind in my cranky.
He is the love in my loss.
And HE is the life in my death!
Here is to a day of dying and finally living!!
The changing seasons seem to always tap into my “missing mama” chambers. My mom came alive in the spring. Winter was hard for her, but she faithfully stood in the watch tower announcing every sign of life, “SPRING IS COMING!”
Maybe it was the changing seasons, maybe it was the thought of spending spring break cooped up in the double-wide during unending rain and gloom, maybe I just needed to see my dad and family, maybe the 10 day forecast in Kansas was sunny and 70… Regardless, I made the decision at 3pm the Friday before spring break that was I going home to Kansas in stealth mode. In all my years of traveling, this was the first time I would ever take a stealth trip. It was also the fastest packing I’ve ever done. Usually, I prep for an entire week leading up to a trip. Saturday morning, when I pulled out of the driveway at 6 am, I just made sure I had all 4 kids my cell phone, my contacts and glasses. Everything else was replaceable.
Christmas in Kansas was so wonderful, but I hardly had time to see my dad. Typically, when I go home, I kid you not, I take an excel spreadsheet to keep up with all the different friends/family we want to see. Maintaining relationships with people far away is like one of my core values, it’s incredibly important to me! But this trip I needed to see my family.
I stayed at my dad’s house, which is the first time I had spent the night in his home since July 2011. Which also means it was the first time I had spent the night in his home since Mama died. Obviously, when we lived in KS from July of 2011 to July of 2013, we had no real need to spend the night, and since moving back to MS we have stayed at my sister’s house when visiting. The inn at Dad’s had been full 😉 I was not really prepared for the flood of emotions that accompanied staying there. It was SO sweet and SO right, but harder than I expected. Mama was every where! It was purging for my heart to be in the space where memories of her abounded. It was good to run my hands over her clothes, and pull them up to my nose to see if I could smell her. I took time to flip through scrap books she made and see reminders of her face and her love every where I turned. I wandered through the basement opening random boxes and seeing her handwriting on endless cards and recipes, and I kneeled at her old book shelf and pulled off books of hers that she had underlined and highlighted to death. As I sat by her book shelf, I heard my kids and their cousins storming through the upstairs giggling and yelling, “Poppo, WHERE ARE YOU!? Pops, Pops, POPS?!” And dad could only respond with deep belly laughs and, “I’m out here grilling your food!” My throat tighten, “Oh mom, I so wish you were here! You would LOVE these moments!”
Katie has been on a Jr Beta Club Convention trip this week (for those outside of the south, Beta Club is an academic club) she was competing in the speech category. The first round of speeches was yesterday, and she was allowed one person in the room to support her. She and I discussed at length if she wanted me there for the first round, I left the decision up to her. Of course, I would travel ANYWHERE she needed me to go! However, this time we agreed that she would have a teacher come with her to round one, and if she made it to the final round, AJ and I would make the trip to come hear her compete.
I won’t tell you how many times I have thought about her since she climbed up on that bus. I won’t tell you how many times my eyes (and maybe Mark’s 🙂 have blinked back tears, reeling over the fact how grown and fiercely independent she has become (I think some of Mark’s tears were tears of remembrance and apprehension regarding his former Jr. Beta Club trips!;) I woke up yesterday scanning my bible, trying to pick the perfect verse to send her right before she was due to give her speech. I didn’t want to make her more nervous by sending a bunch of public speaking advice, but I wanted her to know that we were so proud of her and we stood behind her!
It was a loooonnnnngggggg three hour wait before we finally heard from her. I cleaned like a mad woman while waiting. Half way through, Mark called to see if I had heard anything, I hadn’t. He said, “make sure you let me know when you do!” Finally, her text tone pierced through the double-wide we chatted back and forth and then this happened…..
It hit me like a ton of bricks. I had spent all morning thinking about her, closing my eyes and envisioning her doing her speech. Let’s be honest, I had heard the speech so often, I too had memorized it! I had covered her in prayer and sent my most powerful cheers 82 miles north up the Trace. I was WITH her in every way I could be, while physically still in French Camp. When that text came through, “Wish you could have been there!” the plea resounded so familiar in my gut, I walked to the bathroom and fell to pieces. I cannot tell you how many times my lips have whispered that EXACT request over the last 28 months, “Mom, I wish you could have been here!” And for the first time, I feel like I got a small glimpse into my mama’s answer, “Oh Sara, I was there! Small pieces of me are all over you. Wherever you go, I GO! And love, for as long as I lived on that earth, and now dwell in Glory, I’m covering every inch of your life in prayer!” I spent the rest of the day feeling like I had received a small gift of clarity. I knew EXACTLY how Katie was feeling, and for the first time I felt like I understood a little bit better how my mom might be feeling.
And as with most life stories, it came so easy for me to connect this concept to the Eternal. How many moments the darkness have found me begging the Lord, “I wish you were. I wish you were IN THIS!” And then the urgency I felt yesterday, He too feels, but he does it perfectly, without the boundaries of space and time and humanity…He really, TRULY, is always here. Not just in spirit or prayer, but THERE! Ever abiding, ever so close….
I was laying in bed the other night, wide awake in the wee hours of the morning. Insomnia is not my typical M.O. when I’m struggling with something. I love my sleep and everyone in my life can vouch for that fact. However, the other night I was plagued with a tour of restlessness. Why is it that we think we should solve all the world’s problems at 2am?! I mean, I can solve some mean problems at 9am with a cup of java in hand.
2am is too, two-ish.
But…. I’ve learned, some pretty big thoughts cross my mental radar when no one is talking to me or needing me. It dawned on me, this May will mark my NINTH year of living in Mississippi. Obviously, not nine consecutive years, but nine years when added up altogether. Next to Kansas, Mississippi is the longest lasting home for me. That is SOOOOOO bizarre-O to me. In all the writing I did as a little girl, never ONCE did my mid-west heart land in the south, let alone, Mississippi. Never once, did I title a chapter “Southern Living!” Never once, did any of my imaginary characters have southern accents. And I definitely never penned my personal biography to include four-wheelers, deep freezes, camouflage, double-wides, grand front porches for sittin’, pick-up trucks for spittin’, bonfires, doilies, monograms, (not to be confused with mammograms) and red lip stick.
I was the BIGGEST home body growing up. I told everyone I was going to live with my parents forever.. I was 16 not 6, when I said this. I hated sleepovers and summer camp. I almost failed 1/2 day Kindergarten, because I was absent so often. I could not imagine why people wanted to leave home as badly as they did. When I dreamed about my future, I was going to be a Kansas girl forever. I was going to graduate from JUCO then KU. I was going to marry a local flavor, be a junior high history teacher and coach, and send my kids to KCCS. I had a brilliant plan.
Then, at 16 (just weeks after swearing I was never leaving home) a series of miraculous events took place and I packed my bags for French Camp, Mississippi. I cried the entire 12 hour trip here. 17 years ago this May, my little, size 7 foot, encountered its first ever Mississippi mud. And the rest is history, or is it? That’s just it, French Camp, MS is as much as my history now as it is my unwritten future, and I feel like I still don’t know her the way I should. Oh, I’ve been learned in MANY Mississippi traditions since then, but my heart is still a bit resistant to the reality she is my home. Lord willing, she will be home for a very long time, because this Mama cannot stomach the thought of moving. EVER.AGAIN (this kind of statement usually initiates the heavenly realm to start rearranging my grand plans for a glorious kind of laughter to erupt! 😉
Today, Anderson and I were studying the map and he said, “Mama, where IS Mississippi?!”
And the idea bloomed.
I’ve learned that the kryptonite to bitterness is story. In order for my heart to grow in admiration and respect for something, I need to know its story. Not just its cover on “Southern Living”, but the deeply-rooted, untold story underneath.
SOOOOO…. I’m starting a new, little project. It’s called #findingFrenchCamp!! In the upcoming weeks and months, I’m putting my blogger hat on to uncover this little space of land we call home. I think it will cause my love for her to deepen, my admiration for her to grow, and for some of the BEST stories to be told.
I need your help!
First, using the hashtage #findingFrenchCamp I would love for you to join in on the project. One of my amazing best friends inspired this idea (thanks, Jess) You can follow me on Twitter @saraslittlejohn. Instagram @saralj4. And FB @ Mark Sara Littlejohn.
Second, I need your stories. I’ve lived here for like .8 seconds and have only a portion of experiences to share. I’d LOVE to meet with you, sip java with you, and just LISTEN to your endless stories. Contact me @ firstname.lastname@example.org, swing by the doublewide and sit on my porch, or honk at me at Leonard’s… I’ll find you, and I’ll find the stories!!
Come on, get excited! This is fuuuunnnn. And everyone needs a little fun in their fire!
We bundled up under layers of clothes and sat on our front porch. The snow whispered “hush” over the darkness of our tiny little town. Even in the darkness, everything was brighter with a layer of snow reflecting its purity. Everything was quieter with a layer of snow to dampen the miscellaneous noise. That’s what captivated me, the quiet. Since moving back to French Camp 19 months ago, I have had to reintroduce myself to quiet. I’ve seen more glimpses of her in the last 19 months, than in all of my life previous. Quiet hasn’t been a regular visitor in my life. Growing up in a bustling home constantly full of people, (WHICH I ADORED!) I didn’t know I even needed quiet. I left my parents house and moved in with my delectable groom, Mark, and the silence unnerved me. I often thought, “Why is it so quiet? Are we doing something wrong? Where are all the people? Aren’t we suppose to be hosting a party right now?” We had a small chapter of quiet while living in the Love Shack at Twin Lakes. Although, I never allowed myself to enjoy the quiet. I fought against it and turned on the TV, radio, or talked on the phone. Quiet meant empty for me, for a long, long time. Then we started making babies, and all hope of quiet exited stage left for the last 11+ years. After moving to French Camp, all the girls started attending brick and mortar school, and we all know the immediate silence that fell over my house. It’s not completely silent, my little man is a fine little chatty Cathy, and Kindergarten has kept us busy. Nonetheless, (nonethemore) there have been pockets of quiet that have called my name, and for the first time in my life, I sprint with passion toward it. I let it wash over me, I taste it and I crave more of it.
Two months ago, sitting in our cozy little living room, I peeled a vulnerable layer back in my heart and asked Mark to come in and see what was taking root there. It was December, and I felt it rushing toward me….CHANGE. Enormous CHANGE. Anderson goes to first grade in the fall, and so for the first time in TWELVE YEARS (or really my whole life) this woman right here is facing something I’ve never faced before in my life; utter silence.
I began to weep as I described how emotional I was feeling, “anyone who walks away from doing something they have LOVED for 12 straight years, will naturally grieve this major loss.” When I was young and people asked me what I wanted to do when I grew up, I always said, “I want to be a mom!” In my mind, I could only wrap my brain around the mom part that included this season of always having someone at home. That season, for now, is coming to a close. Since that day in December, I cannot talk about August without bursting into tears.
I am VERY aware that my role as Mama is NOT ending. Trust me, everyday from 3pm-9pm, I am reminded how much my children (and their homework) need me. I call it the 6 hours of triage. I KNOW in all reality, their need for my presence in their daily lives will be at an all time high. Every other day, when the sweet secretary calls me from school, asking me to bring the left behind item, or pick up a sick kiddo, or volunteer for an event or activity; I know my calendar will not be bare come August, but y’all it hurts. For a second, I feel lost. I feel without. I feel that silent emptiness creeping into my world.
People are already asking, “So, what ARE you going to do come August?!” My palms begin to sweat, I feel like I have to quickly justify my answer before them. Or create some grand plan of success of how I’m going to fill 8-3, M-F and shout “BOO-YA” when I conclude. Some deep lie in me feels like I have to prove my worth, validate my cause and track the hours my children are gone on some time sheet for all to evaluate and approve. LIES.
Mark is so brilliant in his love for me! He is so gentle and kind as we face this major force of change. I feel him eagerly watching and waiting WITH me, helping me paint a melody of hope. No pressure, no demands, no rules. He quietly stands next to me, holding my hand in his and whispering, “let’s go sit on the quiet, front porch!” No pushing and prodding for me to start bringing home monetary proof that I’m valuable or have a voice. He has ALWAYS valued my zero dollar contributions to the bank account, and elevated my million minutes of investments into the hearts of our children, by being present in our home.
One of my best friends Amy, whose life has eerily mimicked mine in motherhood, just walked through this season, and she gave me the BEST advice a friend could give.
“What you are doing to do next year is this; tell the whole world that you just swam across the ocean of raising four babies into semi-normal little people. You nearly drowned in gold fish, sleeplessness, baby vomit and diapers on a daily basis for 12 years. You have made it to the shore of survival, a shore you swore would never come. And now you are going to sit on the darn beach, drink a few margaritas, reclaim some missing brain cells….. and everyone can just deal!” (Paraphrased)
The silence tripped me up last night, it got so silent I was forced to think long and hard about what is coming next for me, for us, for our family. Whenever my innards begin to panic and my mind begins to spin out of control with thoughts like, “maybe we should have more kids, maybe we should be adopting to fill the silence (a very bad reason to do either!) maybe I should go back to work, maybe I should go back to college, maybe…maybe..maybe” I stop and exhale, and I envision myself sitting on the beach of survival, catching my breath, running after silence and embracing the major change headed our way.
I do not know what is next. We have some ideas floating around the double wide, floating around our hearts, but nothing seems concrete, fathomable, or attainable. This restlessness will bloom into an idea and the idea will birth a story that will just HAVE to be told. Reminds me of a November night in 2002, when I told Mark I had this idea….”let’s have a baby!”