Thoughts on Mother’s Day

Yesterday was Mother’s Day.

An odd day.  Some people love it.  For others, it’s full of painful reminders.

Reminders of a mom who is no longer on this earth.

Reminders of a mom who could never quite be “mom” but who is still here.

Reminders of children never born to those who are moms in their heart and soul, but not in daily life.

Even for those who are moms and love all the maddening challenges of each day, it can be painful.

Moms are not perfect.

Moms do not fit cultural images and idols.

Moms are never able to do it on their own.
 

My dad (the itty bitty guy) and part of his family.  My grandparents are standing next to each other on the back row.
We need help.
We need our sisters.
We need our friends.
Moms who need help the most usually have it the least.

Single moms working minimum wage can’t afford good health care or child care.

Moms struggling through depression or mental illness often isolate themselves when they need people the most.

Moms who do everything they can yet still fall short show up at church to hear a sermon meant to be encouraging but that is often another version of, “You’re wonderful!  Keep up the good work!  You amaze us all!  We dads don’t know how you do it!  We couldn’t do anything without you!!” when what they want to hear is . . .

It’s hard, isn’t it?

Can I do your laundry for you?

I yelled at my children this morning too. 

or

It’ll be OK if you don’t do it all.   

My mom and her mom on Mama and Daddy’s wedding day.  June 19, 1962.

I learned about being a mom from lots of people. 

My mom and grandmother.

My dad.

Other adults in my life, both male and female.  Dortha Shirley.  Craig and Jan Jones.  Mona Lee Garner.  Rene’ Tucker.  Dr. William Sears. 

Friends.

My own children.

Mostly God. 

As a woman, it’s often hard to identify with the male images of God.  I treasure these verses, which are often overlooked but are much more like the God I know:

Hosea 11:3-4 
 “Yet it was I who taught Ephraim to walk, I who took them up in my arms; but they did not know that I healed them. I led them with cords of human kindness, with bands of love. I was to them like those who lift infants to their cheeks. I bent down to them and fed them.” 
Isaiah 66:13 
“As a mother comforts her child, so I will comfort you; you shall be comforted in Jerusalem.” 
Isaiah 49:15 
“Can a woman forget her nursing child, or show no compassion for the child of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you.” 
Isaiah 42:14 
 “For a long time I have held my peace, I have kept myself still and restrained myself; now I will cry out like a woman in labor, I will gasp and pant.” 
A God who creates and sustains.  A God who comforts.  A God who listens and shows compassion.  A God who rises to the occasion and does whatever is necessary for her children.  A God who gets down on the child’s level.
That’s the God I want to serve and the mom I want to be.  
This has been a hard year to be a mom.  I had to pull from reserves that I didn’t know that I had.  I could not have survived without my family, my friends, and acquaintances who stepped into the gap and quickly became friends.  
This has been a hard year to be a daughter too.  My mom has not been well and hard decisions had to be made and hard conversations had to be had.  She is better now, and I thank God for that.
Yesterday, I sat in church between my mom and my daughter.  As difficult as this has been for me, I was an observer.  A companion. I was not them and did not experience what they did.  Down the row, my other children. Even some who would rather not have been there, but who came out of respect.  That was a gift that no money could buy.
I was filled with tears for the women on either side of me.  For my grandmother who I will not see again in this lifetime.  For those whose hearts ache for children who were not born.  For single dads.  For single moms.  For spiritually single moms.
Truth be told, if I seem like a good mom, it’s because I have terrific kids.  I fall short on this mom thing every single day, but each day I will get up and do what I can.
I can listen.
I can encourage.  
And I can do whatever I can to keep them connected to the Creator and Life Source they came from to begin with, because as much as I’d love to take credit for how amazing they are, I can’t.  They belong to someone — something — much bigger and better than I will ever be.

Whoops, I did it again

Last night after church, we had our end-of-the-year Lads to Leaders dinner.  Once again, I honestly do not believe that I overate, but what I ate was very different from what I’ve grown accustomed to eating.  There was pasta and garlic bread and very sweet desserts.  Although I used some of my weekly points, I was still within the range of what I’m supposed to be able to eat.

And yet.

Thirty minutes later, I felt heavy.  No, that’s not it.  “Heavy,” for me,  is an emotional feeling and this was very physical.  I felt the carbs and their cheesy sauces sitting in my stomach for a long time.  Lean proteins and vegetables don’t do that.  Carbs just sit there and make me feel BLEH.

So, the scale on Wednesday will tell me whether the influx of carbs has made a difference.  I don’t really count last week’s weigh in because all that food from Wednesday was still just sitting there.  On the scales last Wednesday, I had bounced back up almost to what I’d weighed two weeks before.  Hopefully, this week will show another loss and show that last week’s gain really was just because of what I’d had for lunch and that heavy, carby feeling that I was dealing with.

This is also the week to resume exercise.  My friend Lara wants me to Zumba with her and Emily is ready to tackle the treadmill and leg presses again.  Zumba sounds both fun and hilarious. Fun because it’s Latin dances.  Hilarious because it’s ME trying to do it.

Here is my new inspiration.

No excuses!

Today

Today, I am thirty pounds lighter than I was on January 1.  I guess you can see it in these pictures.  They were taken on the day that Emily had prom and that we had the Regina spring formal. 

Yesterday, we had our monthly birthday party at work.  We had barbecue sandwiches, potato salad, vinegar cole slaw, deviled eggs, baked beans — just a good old country picnic lunch.  For dessert, there was chocolate cake, strawberries, ice cream, and hot fudge sauce.  Remember that my goal isn’t to be on a diet.  It’s to learn how to manage food.  I decided before lunch that I was going to eat, but not eat too much.  I had small portions of everything and even had some dessert.  When I left, I didn’t feel overly stuffed.  I thought I’d done well with managing food.

And maybe I did.  I don’t think I overate, but I ate foods that I’m not accustomed to eating these days and later, I knew it.  I haven’t had much sugar other than fruit and I’ve tried pretty hard to only eat whole grains rather than quick carbs.  The sugar and other quick carbs made me feel sluggish all evening.  I wasn’t hungry at all so didn’t have supper, even though we had people out and had a full spread of grilled meats and sides. 

So I’m more focused now to avoid processed, easy foods. I know they have to be part of life, but it’s hard for me to think about how much a part of my life they have been in the past.  Also, my physical reaction was really interesting.  Had I completely dulled myself to how it felt to eat too much? To eating less-than-healthy foods?  How are we as humans even capable of becoming so overweight when our bodies really do scream at us when we eat poorly?

There are still things I’m working on:  it’s still really difficult for me not to eat in social situations.  It’s hard not to be a clean-your-plate person or an eat-because-it’s-time-to person.  I haven’t been exercising regularly and if I really want to take care of my body, that has to be part of the equation. 

But that’s where I am today.