Timeline of Grace

Journey through the Seasons

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That Mum

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I get wound up
When I hear them say
Look at her
She doesn’t even play
with her son
she’s on her phone
She doesn’t care
Shame

I get fed up
When they hover
over their playing child
over their exploring baby
So scared of being
judged for not seeing
their children
unable to just be
Normal

Would you like to trade lives
With that mum
who can’t face ‘inter-acting’
as you like to say
with her son
because she just needs to breathe
Home’s a depressive space
laundry and endless mess and countless jobs undone
She’s never learned to do.

Overwhelming
So she comes out
to get a break
to give her kid the chance to play
to make mistakes
to be accepted amongst the ranks

But he bites and hits
and oh look!
she doesn’t notice
or at times she overreacts.

Would you trade your life for her’s
Just for one day?
Would you spend one night in her house?
with a disinterested or non existent partner and all her fears and self doubt?

Give her a break
Let her finish her cup of tea
Look her in the eyes
when you ask her how he’s sleeping
or If she’s sleeping
let her vent
Assure her it’s normal
That yours did the same
even if they didn’t.

We get into our cars
She covers her pram
We feel the heat come on
it warms up our cosy space
while she walks up the hill
every single day

But we sigh when we hear him scream
We wonder what she could be thinking
He’s so out of control
She’s just on her phone
We forget as we sit in our comfort zone
That she feels so alone

Give her a break
She’s one of us
That Mum

 

Run from Grace

Running from Grace
Because I
know better
how to deal
with me
Running from Grace
terrified
preferring to hide
to inflict my own
punishment
on me
because it’s safer this way
no one has to know
Just me
as I scream
silently
trapped in a prison
I made myself
because I thought it would help me hide
from the shame
yet it seeps in
like floodwater
I’ll never really be free
Until I realize
Grace
has found me

 

Emotional Chocolate

It’s been a long time
Since I’ve indulged
in a weakness of heart
My resolve
dissolved
At the prospect
Of my heart
temporarily brought in from the cold
A warm fire
of flattery
A distant image of a dream
defrosting my frozen tears
of disappointment
Melting
In that moment
Alone with it,
not in a room
But in my heart.
Connecting
Always In a crowd
No words
Just that warm feeling

Exposed
As fraudulent
Known to be a lie
Distance is now kept
The truth at my side

But
There are days
In which I’m turned up side down
Less than, Worse than, Never going to be more than….
Frustration seething, Anger spilling
Lost in my own life.
And in that moment
It comes towards me…with a smile
And I see that chance
to find Respite
in Deception
Escapism
Knowing full well
How futile
Unreal
The illusion
Regret
Felling mental
then hopeless.

And So…
I look straight ahead,
Past
my Emotional
Chocolate.

 

 

Post natal Doula work, Judah, and Ann Voskamp.

My heart is full tonight.
Maybe it’s because I’ve just returned from a day doing what I realise I absolutely love.
Maybe because today I realised how much I don’t like telling people what to do….but how much I Love being a safe place for them to come for information and 100% support.
Maybe because I’m reminded of how precious that hard, difficult, soul destroying, sleep deprived, draining, time of life was when my little ones were babies.

It was an unusual dynamic tonight when I got home. Both Jon and I returning from “full days” of work. Iona was left with a friend for an impromptu sleepover and so I brought a disappointed Judah home with me. We decided we’d make up for it by letting him stay up with us a bit later and fall asleep on the couch next to us.

I look over at him. He’s got his sister’s pillow pet with him so he won’t miss her too much. His gaze is far away.  Sometimes his tenderness is enough to shred my heart.
How long has it been? since I’ve held him in my arms until he fell asleep?

Today I held a little baby boy, full of wind, rocking him and winding him for his exhausted mother, remembering it so well….remembering how it felt…willing them to drift off to sleep…desperate to put them down. Yet as I held this little one, I felt privileged.

My mind drifts back to Judah, and his most recent loss.  When he was told the facts, he didn’t really respond, it didn’t sink in. But the other day when we called in to see my mother in law, he took a few steps into the front room, and then just stopped…dead in his tracks, and just stood there with such a sad look on his face, staring at Granddad’s chair, empty. We asked him what was wrong and he just gave a bit of a whimper and turned around and buried his face in the furniture. There are just no words….he’s lost his mate…one of his biggest fans….Thank God for the hours spent on puzzles, connect four, and simply being together watching Micky Mouse on the telly. Time spend just the two of them. Time I am so glad he had…and so pray will be clear in his memories for the rest of his life.

So tonight Jon and I sit in our front room, with our little lad snuggled on the couch. We’re not hurrying him off to bed…we’re not rushing through a story, we’re unashamedly spoiling him with as much fun as we can muster on a Friday night when we’re both exhausted.

Before I left the new mother today we had a chat about parenting styles……I said “you will never ever regret the time you spent cuddling…no matter how hard it was….when I look back, I am more likely to feel sad over the times I rushed things, and where I wasn’t fully present, never the times when I spent that extra time…just being with them”

Judah is breathing deeply now…fast asleep…..having drifted off after spending time with his dad….hearing stories about Hobbits, and watching images of Hobbits on Youtube along with the gorgeous soundtrack. (Jon has been telling the kids his own version of the Hobbit every night at bedtime)

I pray he remembers….

“Judah what should we get daddy for Christmas”
Judah: “I want to get him a picture of his dad”

At the moment I’m reading a lot of Ann Voskamp’s blog.….her big thing is thankfulness…..Many years ago now I was told Gratefulness was the secret to surviving a hot sticky summer sleeping on the hard floor in a remote village in India….I didn’t get it then…

The weight of Judah’s raw emotions touches me deep inside. I remember his high pitched scream as a young toddler, before he could speak. He has never been shy about expressing what he feels and now that he’s talking, he’s scarily articulate about his likes and dislikes. You always know how he’s feeling…and most of the time…he seems to be overflowing with

Joy

Judah: “thank you God for trains, thank you God for cars, Thank you God for planes, thank you God for food…..and thank you God for Granddad….Amen……and with all my heart….Amen”

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Judah’s name means praise….

I’m starting to get it.

 

 

 

Advent, Day 19

author’s note: When it comes to anyone’s life, all those who knew the person have a story to tell. I fully appreciate my story is completely different from someone else’s, and is in not the whole story. My story is a snapshot, nothing more. There will be those that knew the person for many years before I did, and knew them much deeper and were closer, and I welcome their own stories. 

Advent is a season of waiting.

Today I spent a portion of the day in waiting…
Yesterday morning the phone went off in the early hours of the morning and my first thought was as I lay there dreading getting out of bed, was “ugh, it’s the LLL helpline and I’m getting too many phone calls because it’s the Christmas season and everyone’s taking a break” However ten minutes later my mobile phone went off and it was Jon’s brother. It was that phone call, the one you never think you’ll actually ever get. It was Jon’s dad. It sounded serious, an ambulance was coming.

Several years of staying on top of cancer, keeping it at bay, fighting it, treating it, living with it, experiencing a good quality of life despite it…..that’s all I’d ever really known of Brian having met him five years after his initial diagnosis. Despite him being weak, not 100%, etc, he was always still very much here, real, and alive.

I made breakfast for Iona and Judah, and simply explained that Granddad was in the hospital, and that he might be going to heaven soon. As we drove to school, Iona said “mummy….I just heard a voice just now in the porch, saying “thank you Iona” what could it mean?? I heard it at school as well earlier this week”

Iona Grace…the one who’s arrival caused Brian’s face to turn from pale to shinning in a mere few moments of meeting her for the very first time. The Grandchild he thought he’d never have, let alone see. There she was, perfection laying there asleep in that hospital cot bed. Her birth was a blessing that he could have never earned, worked for, or made happen in his own good will or strength. The life event that caused him to perhaps consider the fact that maybe there really was a God….who had the capacity to not only make the world, but who cared about the little things….the little beautiful miraculous miracles that happen to us. And so began his journey….late in life, a life well lived, a solid marriage built on love and respect, generosity, and peace, a life that prioritised family, hard work, and wisdom and diligence. Some would argue he didn’t “need” anything else….but something about her birth challenged that notion, and he began his faith journey…something we all watched unfold over the next seven years.

Years which saw him say goodbye to his precious little girl as her parents took her to South Africa for a year. Years in which his wife battled and fought her own battle with cancer, and in which he was able to be her source of strength. A second grandchild arrived, a boy…….and then the beautiful miracle of seeing his second son and daughter in law become parents to two beautiful twin girls. “We are so blessed” was something he repeated many many times upon being with the family.

So after an emotional day of not knowing quite what was happening, whether or not he’d “rally” or not, we found out this morning that we had……hours.

We notified, we summoned, we gathered…..and we waited. Jon, Matt, and Barbara all sat around his bed. I closed my eyes, I prayed, I hummed a worship song…..too quiet to make out, but I knew his spirit could hear it. We waited until it was time to let him go….and we sensed the presence of angels…and of Jesus. Death is so spiritual. It’s a passing from one world to another. It’s not just about the body shutting down…it’s about letting go….and it’s not easy. Brian sank into a deep and peaceful sleep….and I heard a voice in my head saying “We have him” and I looked up, and i knew he was gone…..

Later I had to go pick Iona up from school. We sang Christmas carols in the main hall and heard the Christmas story. It was beautifully simple.  I told the headmaster, and he told me that apparently Iona had announced in Assembly today that her Granddad was very poorly and would probably die today. Yet as much as we’d prepared her, she still burst into tears when I told her. We talked about the seven years he got to be a Granddad, we talked about the voice she heard, whether it was her hearing his thoughts, or maybe an Angel sending her a message….but we agreed Granddad had said goodbye to her.

“It’s going to be the worst Christmas ever” she cried out at one point. Yes, it’s going to be sad….but it’s because of Christmas that we know we’ll see him again. It’s because of Jesus….coming as a baby….that death no longer holds any real victory over us. Yes it’s going to be sad….I feel the heaviness of this loss sink in. I’m worried for my mother in law, I’m wondering how we’re going to cope with all that needs to be done…

When I began this month, the Advent, this is the last thing I counted on happening.
I’m not waiting so much now to celebrate something that’s already happened…but settling into the waiting, the waiting for the ultimate beautiful ending…when he comes again, ending this bleak midwinter sadness.

“All of us travellers
Through a given time
Who can know what tomorrow holds
But over the horizon
Surely you and I will find
Emmanuel….God with us”
– Emmanuel God with us, by Amy Grant  

Advent, day 10…7 years of mothering

For My Seven Year old Daughter

This day should be about you…
But I sometimes struggle
To draw the line..between where you start and where I end

Seven years ago you were born
But Seven years ago..I became a mother
Seven years ago, I woke up to this new life
Never to fall too deeply asleep again

The cord was cut, quickly
Letting go was slower….my first instinct was to try and control
To manage, to overcome, to get through it
But you wouldn’t let me….you taught me…it was safe to let go
To survive on instinct.

Seven years I’ve been learning,
Lactating-
I’ve been with other women birthing
You’ve been becoming, growing, being, finding your feet in this life

I’ve been facing up to issues
Dealing with this anger deep inside me
Dealing with the hurts, the insecurities
The vulnerabilities that you don’t let me hide from

I’ve worried over you as you’ve gone to school
Wondering if it’s right for you
I’ve been at a loss as you’re growing up in a world
advanced in years and miles from my own childhood

You sound different than I did, you use different words
Your have a little brother
You go to school
You have grandparents who you see every week and who know you well

Yet I give you church every Sunday, bible club, and baking with a kitchen aid.
Bits of my own childhood that span the differences between us
We’ve found Narnia,  like I did with my own mom
and this summer we swam in a midwestern lake.

 I can’t imagine what’s going on in your mind
-You are allowed to have secrets-
We are close but somedays we’re strangers
And that’s ok

Seven years into this…

Seven years of life,  of being  a daughter, four years of being a sister
South Africa that you won’t remember
Yet it shaped you profoundly
(barefoot in the church quad in the middle of winter)

Here we go……another year…..another snow, spring, and summer….
another harvest moon
Let’s fill it up with memories
with dreams, Let’s make more room
For you to grow…..your story to develop…
As I take another step back…
and continue to let go

 

 

Advent Day 8…Birthday Party Day

It feels like I can never quite think much about Christmas until Iona’s party is behind me. I think one of my favourite things about being a mom is throwing kid’s parities. However I do stress trying to plan them, and there is a huge relief when they are over, as well as a sense though of satisfaction. I’m probably a bit like my mom when it comes to this stuff. My creativity just runs away with me and I suppose it’s one of the ways I express my love and appreciation to my kids for who they are. There is the juggling act though of making sure it doesn’t cost a fortune, and that I don’t overspend and that I somehow manage to be creative and make a really special party without going over the top. So the theme for today’s party was BRAVE…which is one of my favourite Disney movies. I love the Scottish theme, the fiery Merida, the adorable little brothers, the mother character, the fact that it’s a story about mums and daughters, and the highs and lows that come with that relationship. My relationship with Iona is nearly 7 years on now….and some days it feels like 17, while other days, she’s still my little baby. So today we celebrated with

Bear Shaped Sandwiches

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Bear Shaped Crisps

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Whisp Cookies, and Jammie Dodgers which remind me of the change your fate cake :)

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we assembled and decorated Scottish looking biscuits. DSCN0291 DSCN0292 DSCN0293

made little whisps

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Played Pass the parcel and included forfeits, like having to act like a bear.

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Whisps were hung from the ceiling.

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We made magnets to take home the reminded us that we are BRAVEDSCN0326

And we Feasted

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and now it’s all over. My back is aching, I twisted my foot hanging up the whisps, I stepped on a push pin at one point…but as always, I’m glad we did it :) I even missed church this morning as did not want to be screaming at everyone for the two hours between church and the party. I never miss church. I’m one of those people…you know I grew up going to church ever Sunday morning and although I’ve moved on from my legalistic upbringing….it still feels totally wrong to not be in church on a Sunday morning. I had to run to Tesco for a few last minute things and I just felt so sad….seeing all the people…not in church. It’s not that they’re missing out on just whatever happens to be going on…but many are missing out on Him….knowing Him….knowing that He is with us. Emmanuel. :)

 

 

 

 

Advent Day 2

Day 2 of Advent.

Iona has enjoyed her Jaquline Lawson Advent Calendar so far, a present from Granny. It’s a  sort of interactive Downton Abbey (Pre WW1) does Christmas with a bit of an upstairs downstairs theme.

Mondays are actually great days for me because I love my Monday Morning Bible Study group. I love doing the studies, but I also take huge delight in seeing other people enjoying them too. I have to admit though, it’s a group that touches on my insecurities and vulnerabilities still. I cringe every time I hear my phone go off on a Monday morning…usually someone texting me to tell me they won’t be there. In my head I can totally get that people have legitimate reasons for not being there…but there is this little voice inside me that says  “they are rejecting you….you are not good enough for them” even though I do my best to make the group not about me by including as many people who are willing in it’s leadership and deflecting as much of the actual teaching as I can….paving the way for others to take it over should anything happen to me. Yet despite all this….there is something raw that get’s prodded every Monday morning. There have been times I’ve set out the tables and chairs in total despair wondering why I bother…but always…by the end of it….I’m lifted somehow..and it’s nothing to do with how many people turn up. I wish I had a more creative way of just stating the obvious…God’s word is powerful, and it lifts me out of my self, and puts my mind straight and adjusts my wonky self centred perspective.

Ann Voskamp writes today about creation….about the hugeness of God….and His love. She challenges us to show love today by making something for someone, and identifying people who are hard to love.

So tonight I made the cupcakes for Iona’s 7th Birthday party on Sunday. I’ll put them in the freezer and frost them at the weekend.

Who’s hard to love? Just today I feel slightly tested in this area. It’s easy to say we love people, but it’s a lot harder to show it, especially when we don’t feel it. Christmas is about Love….and love that was undeserved, not based on anything we did. This is hard for me to swallow.
It’s a pleasure to make cup cakes for my precious gorgeous daughter’s party….but do I feel like being kind to someone who’s deceived me and lied to me? Ugh.

More Love needed already…and it’s only day 2!!

 

 

Starting Advent

Advent is here. I’m already feeling tired, and drained.  I remember growing up only hearing the word “advent” in relation to our advent calendar. I had the old kind with the little pictures, and I used to love it.

And so it begins. We’ve been looking at the Advent Conspiracy in life group, which is good food for thought. The themes of Worship Fully, Spend Less, Give More, Love All all seem to be resonating with people. Interestingly one of the charities being promoted through the Advent Conspiracy is one that brings clean water to impoverished underdeveloped villages around the world.  So it felt very fitting that many of us woke up today to no water! There was a damaged water pipe on our estate so that of course made leaving the house interesting.

I’ve also decided to do read Ann Voskamp’s “The Greatest Gift” which takes a look at the genealogy of Christ. Today she talked about the Root Of Jesse…Jesus as the tender shoot that sprung up out of a stump of a tree long chopped down. In what way do I feel like a chopped down tree? Well, I suppose I and been looking forward to a birth this Christmas, due the 25th of December actually, and I am no longer. It’s for reasons entirely out of my hands and I am thankful for this baby’s safe arrival and health of the mother, but from the standpoint of my role, of my job, of this “calling” to be a doula, I feel slightly winded. I don’t know what God has in store in the new year for me and this job. Right now it does feel very tender, very vulnerable, and that it could go either way.

It’s the 1st of December, and I’m already tired. Ann talks about Jesus as being this gift to us….this is one gift I truly do need.

Christmas Presents: 
For me: The Greatest Gift by Ann Voskamp
For one of my darling Nieces: Pj’s from Tiny Ted and Farmyard Friends, a local shop run by a lovely friend of mine, selling quality ethical, fair trade, organic, British, etc children’s clothing.

 

Coming out of this parenting small children phase…..

This morning I called in to visit a friend. A newcomer to our church. A mother of a little 10 month old baby girl, and I was struck at how far removed I am now from “that world”.

The world of changing nappies and having your wriggly little one flip over so you had to quickly wipe the poo before their bum cheeks squished it, and they toddled off.

The world of unsettled teething, where nothing seems to satisfy. Where you go to feed them and they arch their back and you’re at a bit of a loss of what to do.

The world of toddler groups. Of sitting having coffee while little ones played. Eating homemade cake, singing songs in church halls and forging new friendships.

The world of wandering around pushing a pram, or wearing the little one in a sling, looking over the top, hoping to see those eyes closed out of a deep hope they’d sleep for a bit that day.

The world of being tired and frustrated and not sure if you’re doing the right thing “giving in” to your baby at night, wondering if you’ve done it all wrong, wondering if it’s time to “let them cry” because you just. need. to sleep. but then being afraid that if you do that you’ll damage them. That feeling where you really wonder if you’ll ever sleep through the whole night again.

The world of having to find your own way. Of feeling judged no matter what you did. The moment when you started to feel more sure of yourself and the opinions of others didn’t matter so much. That journey.

The world of being woken up every day by a little one crawling into your bed.

It went by so fast. Everyone says that. Judah’s now in preschool every morning, and next year it will be school. I had sort of felt “done” with the whole toddler group scene, having made some good friends and preferring to spend the time relaxing at home chilling out or getting things done with a more independent toddler in the next room.  Yet now it feels like a distant world I’ll never get to visit again.

I hit the halfway point between Astbury School and New Life Nursery the other day, making my way around the round a bout, around the new Tesco, and I realised that time is running out. These days are draining away one by one and I’m going to really be….done. Done with the “parenting young children” phase. A phase that I was only really just coming to grips with and getting my head around.

So to parents who are still there. I won’t tell you to “enjoy it because it goes by quickly” like so many others do….I just want you to know now that I look back, from this point…..I can now see that those were irreplaceable beautiful days. Not because I am good at enjoying my children and getting on the floor and playing with them (because I’m rubbish at that) But because when I look back, I now see that I wasn’t “just” going to play groups and hanging out with other mothers. I wasn’t just “surviving” in a haze of exhaustion. I wasn’t just fumbling through my days just trying to make it to bedtime.  I was growing, changing, and developing, right alongside my little ones. I was becoming a huge part of who I am today.

I am not the same person who left my full time job as a youth worker seven years ago to go have my first baby.

I did not “lose myself” when I become a mother.
I found more of myself.
I grew up……a lot.
I found the friendship I’d been so desperate for in other mothers.
I learned the value of community.
I learned the power of vulnerability.
I learned to avoid the pitfalls of comparison.
I learned how isolating it can feel when you feel alone in your choices, and how healing it can feel to know you’re not alone.

I didn’t spend the time desperately trying to claw back and get back to “my old self” or “who I was before I had kids”. I guess I moved on.

Just like our children go from a few cells to fully developed people with personalities in a matter of months. I grew as well…only I hope that as they continue to grow, that  I can keep on growing and learning and changing alongside them.

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