Motherhood. In my naivete’,I just knew that I’d have it covered. Puh-leeze! I could do this….after all I KNEW children. I took Child Development classes in high school. I babysat. I majored in special education in college and took myriad number of COLLEGE level courses on the child psyche. If anyone could do this it was me. Supermom at your service. For sure.
Then reality hit. When I say “hit” I mean kind of like a baseball bat. To the head. Ouch.
I had my son in May of 1995. Just 2 days after my 27th birthday. My pregnancy went well except for the 6 week stint of barfing. Morning sickness AND evening sickness. Brushing my teeth even made me gag, but I was a trooper. I was determined to be with child AND have a bright white smile and fresh breath. So, I carried on.
My son was born 2 1/2 weeks early according to the doctors. I blame it on the fact that the evening before he was born we had a tornado in Knoxville, Tennessee. The barometric pressure dropped and I think it messed with my uterus. I’m just sayin’. Except for being born with a little jaundice, which to be honest I thought looked like a nice tan, the delivery went well and my son was beautiful. Of course I had an epidural so there wasn’t much pain…just a lot of pushing. My husband was a big help and to give the man credit…he put up with a lot. (the fact that I had back labor before getting the epidural—well, that is another story.)
Now, at this point I was exhausted but happy. My son is a joy. I’m happy. He’s happy. My husband’s happy. We’re all happy. Then it hit. Reality. My epidural wore off and I was sore like I had never felt sore before. After several hours I decided I could get up and use the restroom. The nurse told me she would have to go with me. I told her I was a shy pee’er and I wouldn’t be able to go if she was in the bathroom. I tried to convince her I’d been peeing my whole life, and at 27 I had the procedure down pat. She told me I could pass out because of something to do with the epidural having worn off, blah..blah…. I told her that was silly. She finally agreed to stand at the other side of the door, with the door cracked open. I grudgingly agreed and went to sit down when, yes you guessed it, I started to black out. The nurse caught me just before I cracked my head on the bathroom floor. I vaguely remembered her yelling for ammonia…and my husband in a confused state asking why she wanted to clean the bathroom? This is my life. I should have known that I had just embarked on a journey that was NOT going to be a piece of cake. Only a few hours into motherhood and I was already passing out.
The next few years consisted of me listening to my little one struggle to breathe when he got bronchitis. Staying up all night and staring at his chest. Watching it heave up and down. Knowing that his tiny body was so fragile…yet, so resilient. After that scary time, it never happened again. Thank you Jesus. Then at 2 and 1/2 he was with his father, outside, when he decided that he’d get on the picnic table. He fell and cut his head on the seat of the table on the way down. Head wounds. Lots of blood. A father in panic mode. A trip to the doctors office. Stitches. I came home from work that day to find my handsome son looking like he had just took a few rounds in the boxing ring. Bruised with stitches marching just above his eyebrow. So attractive, and just in time for his preschool picture day! That following Easter we decorated Easter eggs. Fun stuff. I made the mistake of telling my toddler that we would eventually eat the hard boiled eggs. One evening he got into the fridge when I was on the phone and preceded to eat the egg with the shell still on it. He came into the living room a few minutes later. His face, teeth, tongue and hands, all a nice pastel shade of blue. I began to freak out thinking that my baby was exhibiting symptoms of some rare disease. Until, he informed me, “Mommy, the Easter egg is good.” At that, I burst into giggles and attempted to scrub my little Smurf back to his normal skin tone as I explained that egg shells are not the part of the egg that we eat, even if it did look pretty at the time.
Over the years there were the good times and the difficult times. Bedtime stories, hugs and sloppy kisses, birthday parties. Lots of laughter and tears. Family vacations, and him holding my hand. Church choir, camps, video games, and silliness. Those of you that have sons know what I’m talking about.
When my little boy was 4 his father, my husband, was diagnosed with an incurable heart disease. He died a mere year and four months later. You can imagine the sadness. We had only just started and it was over. Just like that. Standing at my husbands grave, that cold gray day in November 2000…I felt a little hand grab mine. A little voice coming out of the body of a 5 year old, but seeming so much older and wiser said, “Mommy, don’t cry. This is only Daddy’s body here. Daddy is in Heaven with God.” God spoke to me that day through my son. He wanted me to remember the promise of John 11:25 “I am the resurrection and the life. He that believes in Me, though he dies, yet shall he live.” That day I was reminded that out of the mouths of children can come great wisdom.
The next five years were filled with normal life kinds of things. Church, school, vacations out West, family get togethers, sleep overs at friends houses, spelling tests, and math homework, goofiness and seriousness. All of life in a big jumble. We were doing okay….me and my sidekick.
After 5 years of widowhood God brought another man into my life. A man that understood what I had gone through. Our experiences were similar. He had lost his wife a few years before. We were kindred spirits. No one wants to join The Widow/er Club, but death doesn’t ask if one wants membership. It just gives it to you.
We married in 2005. Along with this marriage I got another son and two daughters. Just as I thought I had the whole being a mom thing under control…. then reality hit. AGAIN. These children had lost their mother. My heart broke for them, just as it had for my own son at the loss of his Daddy. How does one be a mom #2? There is no manual for it. Believe me, if there were one I would have read it. A LOT. How does one mother the motherless? I wasn’t sure how this would happen. What do I say? How do I act? What if they don’t bond with me? What if they hate my guts? Then what? God, in His infinite wisdom spoke to my heart.
“LOVE THEM. ADOPT THEM IN YOUR HEART. THAT IS ALL YOU NEED TO DO. Dawn, you are my adopted child. I bought you for a price. You were redeemed and now you are mine. I love you because I choose too. Do the same for them.They need a mother’s love…not to take the place of the mother that they had….but, to show them that I am God and I will take care of them. I am their provider.”
You know what? God is good. All the time. Even in motherhood. Even in widowhood. Even in life. Even in death. Even in trauma. Even in calm. Through bloody noses, or skinned knees, through arguments, and “it’s not fair!”. Through hugs and kisses, school and projects. He remains good when I’m having a great day or when I’ve just been awarded “the worst mom of the year award.”
I like to believe that I am much wiser than I was back in my twenties. When I thought I had motherhood all figured out. When I had my own motherhood map all planned. Motherhood is messy, and chaotic, and fun, and sometimes broken. I am thankful in the midst of all my mom mess-ups that I am holding the hand of the One who promised me that He has a plan for me and a future with hope. A-men.