I was greatly anticipating a trip to Portland last week because my list had grown long of reasons to go. My cousins were in town and after a couple years of missed connections, I was looking forward to time together. I was giddy to meet my college roommate’s new baby. After years of praying, complications, and losing their firstborn daughter, by God’s grace they have a little boy and I didn’t want to wait any longer to meet him. My other cousin was moving into a new house and I committed to spending a day and a half helping her get settled. I planned a morning of prayer with my aunt who does healing prayer ministry. I called up another close friend for an overnight and coffee on New Year’s Eve.
Sean and I decided it would be good for me to have time with Darla so I invited her to come with me. Then because of his work schedule, Sean suggested I take Haley so that he’d be flexible with just the boys.
It was a little crazy getting out early morning as Haley had been a flower girl the night before at a wedding Sean officiated and we were all a little wiped out. Regardless, we packed up, cranked up the music, and were on our way. I was slightly apprehensive because I’ve wondered if Haley might sometimes be getting carsick. Darla voiced the same concern and I assured her everything was fine.
Forty five minutes into our drive Darla said, “Haley’s coughing… Haley doesn’t look good… Haley’s throwing up! AHHH! MOM! Do something!”
The next exit miles away, I pulled over on the freeway. Haley was crying but it was Darla that was inconsolable. ”I knew this was going to happen! This is the worst day ever! Oh, gross. She lost her breakfast. That’s how they say it in my book instead of saying “throw up” and I think it sounds better. MOTHER! It smells!”
As I was hanging over the driver’s seat with baby wipes and garbage bags, listening to my daughter’s play by play, I remembered the words of Jean-Pierre de Caussade (fromA Guide to Prayer for All God’s People).
“You would be very ashamed if you knew what the experiences you call setbacks, upheavals, pointless disturbances, and tedious annoyances really are. You would realize that your complaints about them are nothing more nor less than blasphemies- though that never occurs to you. Nothing happens to you except by the will of God, and yet (God’s) beloved children curse it because they do not know it for what it is.”
I had read the quote to my sister over the phone a few weeks prior, feeling quite convicted that parenting often feels like a series of interruptions and I typically see them as that instead of the holy moments they are. I should’ve known that would be tested. I should’ve known my prayers over this would come back and bite me…
The three of us ended up roaming Wal-Mart for dramamine, more wipes, and anything else our situation might call for. In an instant, Darla was consumed with worry and anxiety. For a few months now I’ve been praying and working with Darla as she is vulnerable to anxiety and a little hypochondria. I’ve been praying equally as much for myself because I’m not especially compassionate toward these struggles (ask my husband).
There in Wal-Mart with one stinky girl and one worried girl I began praying; “Lord, I know I have my own agenda for this trip. I have in my head how I think you’re going to work and what you might accomplish in me. Your ideas might be different so please help me take what you’re giving me.”
Sadly, I turned the playlist I was excited about down in the car while Darla and I talked about enjoying the moment God graces us with instead of worrying about what ifs. ”Now relax, Darla- Haley will probably sleep a while.”
Nope. Haley didn’t sleep. At all. By the time we were in downtown Portland she was wound up, still stinking, and stir crazy. Perfect combination for a not baby proofed apartment. Needless to say, the evening with cousins was not the deep and meaningful conversations I was anticipating as much as it was damage control and attempting to convince Darla, “You can eat that and you won’t get sick. You aren’t sick. You will survive if you go to bed a little late.”
The next day went much the same. In a strange place Haley refused to nap and when she was up I was cringing over what might be knocked over or destroyed in her tired state. Darla was distracted from worry for moments of play and then it was back to praying and talking together to conquer whatever situation was next. Insight into her almost eight year old brain was constant and I kept asking God to keep it coming and with it wisdom to know how to equip her.
Our second morning we woke up in my cousin’s new house and I was confident it would be a good day. Opportunity for naps, boxes to unpack, a childproof room for play… we couldn’t miss. Darla was busy with her cousins so I sat down with mine and a hot cup of coffee to plan the day.
Minutes later Darla called, “Mom- Haley got into your purse.”
I walked around the corner and my two year old sheepishly looked up holding the bottle of dramamine; the now empty bottle of dramamine.
I began searching the floor, her mouth, the vent, my purse… and concluded she probably ingested 4 dramamine. Coffee time turned into a call to poison control which evolved into coffee to go as I packed her up and drove to the ER.
“We’re pretty sure she’ll be okay but she’s going to be loopy. There are some dangers we want to monitor. We won’t treat her unless we have to but we want to keep you here for observation until the medicine peaks- about three hours.”
I’d like to say my response as a ‘good mom’ was, “Whatever it takes, Doctor. Thank you for your careful watch.”
In actuality I wanted to respond with, “But this was supposed to be a fun day! Now my cousin is watching one daughter while I’m cooped up in this tiny florescent lighted room with the other- and did you know it’s a sunny day out there? Did you know it’s New Year’s Day and this year was supposed to start out fresh and somehow stronger? Now you expect me to restrain my two year old who is high as a kite while in a small room containing computers, wires, and other things she is not allowed to TOUCH?! Pretty sure I should be the one medicated here.”
I think I just nodded.
Then I prayed. ”Okay Lord… so this is what today is. Help me accept it and trust that this time with Haley can be a gift. Help me let go of my expectations.”
Later my cousin brought us lunch and we talked over the screams of the woman in the next room, cuddled a lethargic Haley, and tried to laugh at what our day turned into. Happy New Year.
By that night I was sincere in my thanks to the Lord that He provided a few days of intense parenting of my girls. It wasn’t what I expected and it certainly wasn’t what I wanted, but somehow I had realized it was what we needed.
The last morning my cousin kept my girls so I could have a refreshing drive to my aunt’s with the sun rising pink over Portland and a quiet morning of prayer and restoration.
After we all had lunch together, Haley had one of the most dramatic tantrums I can recall… my signal it was time to go home.
Our 5 hours home provided much opportunity for Darla to share what’s going on in her head, to pray together, to teach her Philippians 4:6,7. When I finally had some quiet to turn on my music and reflect, I realized that although it hadn’t looked like I had hoped, the Lord hadmightily used the week. He used prayer times with my aunt and with cousins to give me a deep peace I haven’t experienced in a long time. I laughed hard, cried hard, and went home with new revelations and a softer heart. He didn’t do that in spite of “interruptions”, He workedwithin “interruptions”. It was unexpected for me but not to Him.
I recalled another quote that has impacted my view of parenting from Ann Voskamp in One Thousand Gifts,
“These… kids lean hard into me all day to teach and raise and lead and I fail hard and there are real souls that are at stake and how long do I really have to figure out how to live full of grace, full of joy- before these… beautiful children fly the coop and my mothering days fold up quiet? How do you open the eyes to see how to take the daily, domestic, workday vortex and invert it into the dome of an everyday cathedral?”
Ultimately feeling refreshed and believing that God had accomplished the everyday cathedral even in the ER, inconveniences, and vomit, I came home ready for a new year.
I think that was three days ago… or two… or maybe it was yesterday… but I’ve lost track of the days, my sanity, and I’m sleep deprived because less than 24 hours after returning home Haley got the stomach flu.
Really, really bad.
Happy 2013 everyone.
Just throwing myself out there a bit...