Tag Archives: motherhood

Mothers’ Day in Costa Rica

Standard

Today is Mothers’ Day in Costa Rica.  We’ve lived in 3 different countries with 3 different dates for Mothers’ Day, so I think I should get 3 presents one on each holiday!  What do you think?

Today, in honor of Costa Rican Mothers’ Day, I’m going to post a tribute to my mother.

This is the last family picture we have from when we came back to Minnesota for Christmas last year.

Seventeen and pregnant, that’s a common story now days.  But in 1974 it meant you felt the full weight of your decisions.  You wouldn’t graduate with your high school class. You wouldn’t wear a white wedding dress or be married in a church.  No college for you.  Your future darkened with ominous storm clouds.  Your family would be furious with you and zealous for their reputation.  Did you wonder how they would react, or did you already know?

You heard whispers behind your back.  Did someone suggest an abortion?  That would have been an easy out.  How would that decision impact the future?  You couldn’t know.  Making the tough choice for ME required sacrifices for YOU.  The ripples of your decision to keep me still flow outward from that point in 1974.  Taylor, Emma and Lucy.

What kind of jobs could teenage parents get in 1974, you would soon find out.  You couldn’t make enough money to pay the bills.  After their anger cooled, your parents set you guys up in a starter home.  Pulling the cord to start the engine of adult life required several good yanks.  But soon that engine purred and the two of you began to move along the up-and-down road of life.  There were joys.  There were tears.  There were stubborn refusals to thrown in the towel and quit.  There were straight spines and stiff upper lips.  There was happiness and laughter.  Two became Three.

A blue-eyed baby was born into the world of 8-track stereos and bell bottom jeans, Chef Boyardee and Pontiacs without seat belts.  My memories are like sunbeams with particles of dust floating through them.  Dusty and vague, cheery and warm.

None of your friends had kids yet, but you took me along with you anyways.  I remember falling asleep in a pile of coats in the corner while adult conversations drifted from the table.  I remember your 21st birthday.  I remember what gifts we gave you.   I remember camping and canoeing, bike rides to the public library, picnics on a blanket under the trees, the kiddie pool in the back yard.  I remember Rocket Park and Brown-Zipper-Buckle-Boots.  I remember late nights sleeping in the back of the car, waiting to pick up Dad after work.  “Why do birds suddenly appear” and “Rain drops keep falling on my head”.  I remember footie pajamas sliding on vinyl seats.  I remember you playing Winnie-the-Pooh on the piano for me.  I remember your soft humming voice in contrast to Dad’s rowdy, roaring, chasing voice.  I remember you.

When I held MY first baby, suddenly I knew you.  I heard your echo in my soul, and I understood you for the first time.  I cried.  Thank you for my life.  I love you Mom!

My Parents now.

Peeling myself apart from my children

Standard

When my son Taylor was little I used to rock him to sleep for both naps and bedtime.  (That was when I only had one child.)  I remember one hot summer afternoon in Minnesota when I was rocking my diaper clad little one on my lap.  As I readjusted his weight on my legs our sweaty, hot skin stuck together.  “Oh, you’re sticking to me, Taylor.”  I commented.

He smiled and repeated, “I’m a sticker.”  Man, he was a cute little… sticker.

When our kids are young, they act like they are a part of you, like a second skin.  And if you’re doing parenting right, someday you’ll have to pull that “sticker” off of you and let it be a separate thing.  After all, our goal in parenting is to raise them and release them.

But shortly after the first kid came along I found myself losing my personality to the identity of my child.  Suddenly I was just a mom, like a million other moms out there.  I think a lot of moms go through that.  I didn’t give up much of a career to become a parent, but I did give up something that I valued even more than that.  I gave up my privacy and my creative space.  I quit painting and drawing.  I just didn’t have the time or energy or creativity or the space to work anymore.  I found other outlets for my creativity (like quilting and gardening), but it wasn’t the same.

For over 10 years, I didn’t do any art.  Then one day when we were in Language School in Costa Rica, we decided to go to the children’s museum with our neighbors.  San Jose has a pretty cool children’s museum.  We all enjoyed our time wandering from room to room touching and experimenting with everything.  Soon we stumbled upon the art room.  They had child-sized easels set up around the room and prints of famous masterpieces mounted on wooden “canvases”.  The idea was that the children would try to copy the masterpieces.  None of our kids had any interest in this room, but as I picked up one masterpiece print, the whole world slowed for me.

As I starred at the Van Gogh in my hands, the stream of time slowed around me and I was aware… wholly and completely aware… of my soul.  I was UNaware of the world around me, but my soul and this work of art locked together.  It was like recognizing an old friend across a crowded room.  I felt a quiet, closed door in my soul creak open.  A lost room was found again.  And then I knew.  I knew that I had neglected my soul when I set aside my art.  It was time to peel myself apart from the children and find myself again.

Searching for “the zone”. It’s the time when my soul opens up and the world around me fades away. When I AM and I CREATE.

It took me several years after that experience to finally pick up a paint brush again.  Language learning, international moves, health issues and cancer all blocked my best intentions.  But I knew it was something I needed to do.  In the same way that you peel off the hot, sweaty clothes before you climb into a cool shower, I needed to peel myself apart from my identity as a mom.  I needed to refresh myself.

This required other kinds of peeling as well.  I had to peel myself off the couch and go buy some new art supplies.  I had to peel myself away from the internet to engage in my real life and cast about for ideas to paint.  I had to peel myself off of the day and to decompress- setting aside work, laundry, chores, and lesson planning.  And finally, I had to peel the onion around my feelings and get to the essence of who I am and why I want to… no, NEED to paint.

I love my kids, no doubt.  So it took me years of peeling away the layers of guilt, and exhaustion, and good intentions that crusted over my unfulfilled plans to find the time and the place to say MY TURN!  “You kids have had enough of my attention all day long, now it’s MY TIME.”  I peel them off of me in order to find me again, just me.  And though they take a layer or two of me when they peel away, I think my kids will one day thank me for peeling myself apart from them… and freeing them.

One of my most recent paintings… Poppies.

Letting go of Mommy Guilt

Standard

One of my favorite scripture verses is Isaiah 40:11 “He tends his flock like a shepherd: he gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.”

For me, this verse speaks about seasons of life.  As a mom it’s really easy to pile guilt on myself because I’m not spiritual enough, or I’m not having my devotions on a consistent basis.  But frankly, the last time I was in the bathroom alone was probably last Tuesday, so I’m pretty sure that God understands that there’s not much time to myself in my day.  He sees that I crave quite time with him simply because the word “quiet” is in the phrase.  But quiet is not part of my reality at this phase in my life.  And he knows that.

So here’s what that verse says to me.  I am the sheep with young lambs.  God, being the Good Shepherd that his is, knows that he has to slow his pace to accommodate us Mommas who move only as fast as our youngest child.  He knows and he is tender and gentle with me.  He’s not demanding that I keep up a strenuous pace with the rest of the flock.  It’s OK if I lag behind with my toddler.  He’s walking with me… at my pace.

And he loves my little lambs too!  He holds them in his arms and hugs them close to his heart.  See that?  My little lambs are not a liability, not a hinderance, not a burden… my little lambs are close to His heart!!  So you see, God is the Good Shepherd.  He knows what we need at each phase in our life, and he’s not making demands that I can’t deliver.  He’s not putting a heavy burden on me, and he’s not guilting me for being in this phase of life.  He knows what’s going on with me, and he’s here to walk slowly with me as I care for my young.  He is the Good Shepherd.