The Importance of Being Understood

Have you ever felt the ache to be understood? As mothers, I think there is a strong desire to have our fellow mama’s understand us, our choices, and our life situations.

We want people to understand, not just tolerate, why we’re late to church again. We want the picture-perfect Target moms to get why we’ve got circles under our eyes, a double shot Venti latte in hand, and three uncombed children practically spilling out of the cart. I think we want to be seen for the mess we are and accepted with a hearty “I’ve been there, I understand” smile.

I know I do.

Lately, I’ve been longing to be understood. I want people to understand the ache in my heart when I’m scouring grocery store aisles for prune juice and probiotics. I want to be understood when I walk through Hobby Lobby with a darling son and equipment that won’t stop alarming. I crave the acceptance that only comes from similar experiences.

I know my heart’s cry is needy. Why do you need to be understood, Frannie? Just do you. Be you. But it isn’t that easy. Feeling alone in your situation, whatever season of life it is, can feel exhausting.

Imagine the pure joy I had when someone accepted, understood, us. We were cruising JoAnn Fabric’s aisles and I was starting to feel myself shrinking as Uriah’s ventilator kept alarming. It’s this loud, repetitive sound that occurs when he is breathing fast and, since he was so happy and excited to be out of the house, the whole store could hear us coming. 😉

And whenever you carry a child with loud medical equipment you tend to get sweet, kind, pity-filled looks or stares. And as well-meaning as those looks may be, you can’t help but wish to be normal, not pitied, and understood.

As I was cruising past one aisle and entering another, I turned and saw a 15-ish year old young man with Dwarfism looking Uriah over. And, without one ounce of pity or look of sorrow, he looked me in the eyes and said, “That is a cute kid.”

That is a cute kid. 

No “how can I pray for your son?” No awkward side-eyes. No bold stares. No pity-filled, lip quivering looks. Nothing but pure admiration for a little boy who is so much more than the trach sticking out of his neck or the machine beeping wildly beneath the stroller.

It was in that moment that I realized that young man understood us. No, I’m not saying he understands everything about our medical journey or difficulties. He probably has no experience with a trach or feeding tube.

But he did understand what it means to be different. He understood sticking out in a crowd. He understood the fear, the worry, the awkwardness of not being normal.

And in his innocent way, I felt embraced. I felt like he was part of the tribe I needed to find. I felt like Uriah was seen for who he was and accepted without question.

(I always worry when I share these posts that you, my amazing reader and friend, will worry that you’re making me feel uncomfortable, that you’re part of my complaint. I promise you, you aren’t. We have an amazing group of friends across this nation who have embraced us, given us courage, and love! I tend to only struggle with these feelings when I’m surrounded by folk who don’t know us.)

How about you, friend? Are you longing for someone to simply look at you and understand? Are you hoping to find a tribe who accepts you, your children, husband, home, and time schedule without question or judgement? You’re not alone, I promise. We’re all looking for friends who understand. 

The beautiful thing is that there is always one Who does understand and that is our Heavenly Father. He knows our hearts, knows why each tear falls, and invites us to cast every care on His Son, Jesus. He came to tend to the broken, the weary, and the hurting.

And after He works on us, we can find ways to understand and be there for others. 

Love, blessings, and coffee,

Frannie

Peace Is a Gift God Wants to Give Your Home

It’s been such a long time since my thoughts found there way to this beloved space. Life, life has kept me busy and when I’m not busy I’m tired. (Mom life, am I right?)

At the moment I’m sitting beneath our covered porch listening to the pounding spring rain and thunder. I’ve got a bathrobe, freshly showered hair, and iced coffee on the scene while my men sleep soundly inside.

Life is so good. Marriage is so good. Motherhood is so good. God is so good.

But good doesn’t mean easy.

This season of life has me learning. Worry tends to bog me down these days; fear, what-ifs, and unknowns can change my moods from naturally cheerful to fretful and irritable.

What if I’m not feeding Uriah well enough (since we’re still using formula as he struggles to tolerate blended meals)? What if I’m not loving him enough? What if he needs more surgical repair and I’m not advocating hard enough? What if he gets sick again?

I’ve worn my emotions and mind to a thread wondering if I’m doing enough.

And like God often does, He led me to some wisdom exactly when I was ready for it. I was on the verge of breaking down into an unusual fit of tears and found a book with words that spoke amazing life and peace into my hurting soul:

When we release our children into the Father’s hands and acknowledge that He is in control of their lives and ours, both we and our children will have greater peace. -Stormie Omartian

Ah, isn’t that good? Sweet friend, wherever you are in life I hope you can pursue trusting God’s care and letting go of worry. Whether you are a new mom, a special needs mom, or an older mom with a way-ward child, this peace-filled trust is meant for you and your children.

I know trust isn’t easy. We like to control life (at least I do). I like being in charge of my little kingdom, I crave responsibility.

But I can’t control health. I can’t control insurnace approvals. I can’t even control milestones.

But I can trust that God is in control and I can enjoy the amazing peace filling my heart when I do.

The sweet thing is that peace is a gift God wants to give your family. Your Creator God longs to fill your home with peace that passes all understanding. A calm, restful attitude doesn’t have to come forced, wrestled into submission. It’s a gift, free to His people who choose to simply rest in God’s great love and power.

Here’s to hoping my worry-filled days can point you in a better direction. Here’s to wishing you may know the “blessed assurance” that Jesus will meet your needs.

With love, blessings, and coffee,

Frannie

He Won’t Be Little Forever

Just a snapshot of my little hot mess. I promise, he didn’t fall off the ottoman during this process. 😀

Dear mom of young kids,

I know, I know. One more blog post addressed to you, the coffee-driven, alone-time-missing, mass. You who are in the middle of post-Christmas cleanup and credit card statements out the wazoo. Yes, hello, you.

I’m with you. I haven’t a dozen of young children but I do have one. A precious, darling one year old. Sometimes I think he counts for at least two since he currently requires specials cares which involve me dragging around his ventilator, priming his feeding pump, and eye-balling the tiny fists which LOVE to pull out his trach because it is oh, so, fun to make mom get her cardio in. 😉

But really, I understand. Moms are tired. We’re worn down. Even on the amazing, good, organized, low-key days we’ve still got a million things weighing on our mommy brains. It’s exhausting, I get it.

I mean, I’m currently speed writing this. I’m still in my nightgown and it’s 2 p.m. I’m in the middle of trying to keep Uriah entertained while I get the house organized and sanitized since Christmas and a 4 day pneumonia-related hospital admission has me playing catch up.

But there is more to this momhood than busyness, and diapers, and weariness.

Just this afternoon I paused my bleaching and washing to prepare Uriah’s lunchtime meal. When I came close he lifted his darling, chubby arms. Hold me, Mommy. I picked him up and gently laid his tummy against my chest and swayed that little boy who loves to practice tummy time in my arms.

And in those 3 minutes I caught a vision of what might be in the next 30 years …

I imagined laying my head on my 31 year old son’s shoulder; we’re dancing at his wedding. It’s a special day. My son, my Uriah, is grown, tall, and beginning his own life. And there I am nearly 60 years old. I’m probably shorter and fatter than ever but my son doesn’t see that. All he sees is his momma. The woman who loved him.

In the 3 minutes it took to pick up my baby, dance with him on my chest, and let my shoulder get soaked through with snot, I saw what could be. 

One day, our children will be grown. One day, we won’t have littles little enough to embrace on our shoulders. They’ll be bigger, independent, and moving away from the homes we desperately keep for them. 

Dear, tired, worn, frazzled momma. Cherish these moments with me. Cherish the little person you’ve been given because, in the blink of an eye, they will be grown and gone. We’ll never be able to hold them to our shoulders like we can now. I know it’s hard to slow down. I know you have a million-and-one things on your to-do list.

But while you strive to do your best keeping up with life, rememeber to appreciate and enjoy the people in it. <3

Love, blessings, and coffee,

Frannie

Breaking Up with Self Pity

It’s taken me ten months to admit the truth to myself — I am drowning in self pity. I haven’t been dipping my toes or gingerly wading in the pools of self pity. No, I have been diving in deep, pouring buckets over my head, in self pity.

I did not mean to end up here; it just sort of happened. Somewhere around month 5 of our NICU stay I began to shower my hurts and shattered dreams and fears with heavy doses of self pity. I would nurse my angry, irrational feelings. After all, I have had a difficult pregnancy. Who wouldn’t feel a little sorry for themselves in this situation? These tiny, seemingly harmless excuses would flutter through my raging brain and heart and without knowing it I was soon bathing in a sea of self pity.

Now, almost three months post- NICU life, I’m still wallowing in it. Why do we have to be the ones to work so hard? Why us? Why me? Why Uriah? The whys and the whines and the wishes eat up hours of time, energy, and emotions. I didn’t really know the extent of my wallowing until this week when Uriah got his (awesome, amazing, incredible) stander and specialized chair.

In one sense I was thrilled to receive equipment that would help his posture and muscle tone but, in a far more honest sense, I looked at my son strapped in the contraption and wanted to cry. Cry in rage because it feels so unfair that we have to go through this. Cry at the injustice of my baby boy not being able to do what others are doing at his age. Cry in frustration over (get this) having another (awesome, amazing, incredible) piece of equipment fill my house and take up precious space. Cry in, I admit, exhaustion because what if I’m not doing enough therapy to help him catch up?

I know my feelings are to be expected; after all, I am only human. But being human isn’t an excuse for living in self pity.

I want to share 5 ways I plan to overcome my habit of wallowing in self pity. This will not be an overnight experience; choosing thanksgiving over pity and joy over grief takes time and practice.

  1. Admit and repent of choosing self pity instead of rejoicing in the Lord always

Humbling myself and agreeing that I have been focusing more on myself and what makes me feel good (pity partying) is the first step to breaking the habit of self pity. Plus, my LORD promises to help those who humble themselves and give grace when in need.

2. Stop repeating the same story over and over and over and over again

It’s so basic. To stop wallowing in self pity I need to stop talking bout what makes me want pity. Instead of focusing on my woes it would be healing to focus on what’s current in my life. Like, instead of telling a friend my horrific birth story, I should spend the time talking about the great milestones Uriah is accomplishing or the hilarious joke Dalton told me or a  yummy recipe I just found.

3. Serve others by becoming interested in their needs and stories

I have become so self-absorbed. Self pity does that. To break my habit I will become more involved in others than in myself. I will ask about their stories. I will take time to pray for their hurts and grievances. I will be active in meeting needs when I am able.

4.  Get a fresh perspective of my situation and find the blessings in every storm

Instead of focusing on how far behind Uriah is I will start focusing on the amazing gains and milestones he has accomplished, the incredible joy he brings us, and the awesome blessings our situation surprises us with every day. Sometimes to break the habit of self pity we have to take a step back, get fresh perspective, and enjoy the blessings that every storm brings.

5. Start over every day

To really conquer the habit of self pity I have to start new every day. I will feel down, I will fall back into self pity, and it’s very possible that I will grouch and grump and whine and complain. But I will start over every day. I will rely on my Lord’s present grace to overcome my habit of focusing on myself.

And I’ll print this powerful (adorable freebie) and place it where I can read its truth every day.

Have you ever experienced a time of self pity? How did you overcome it? And if you are currently in a wallowing season of life would you like some prayer? Leave us a comment below and I’ll do my best to respond and bring it to the Lord in prayer!

Also, follow this Dropbox link to get your own 8.5×11 copy of the cutie above. 🙂

With lots of love, blessing, and coffee,

Frannie

Parenting is Hard and Holy Work

We’ve officially been home from the NICU for 74 days. Having Uriah safe and in our own little nest has been more exciting and more fun than ever expected. I love having him to kiss and hold and read to at any moment of the day. I love watching his developing milestones take place on my own living room floor. And I adore the moments I catch him smiling because he’s happy in his home.

But motherhood is a lot more than I ever thought it would be. About once a week I find myself having a mini-anxiety session where I ponder the question all mothers do … am I doing enough? On top of that, I fancy having a child who requires special cares multiplies our fear that we are failing our little people.

Eventually, that worry snowballs into a once a month cry-fest where I turn to my husband’s strong chest and sob tears that have to come out. Stuttering cries fill our small bedroom because what if Uriah doesn’t develop properly because of me? Because, as all special need parents know, playtime isn’t just playtime any more; it’s physical and occupational therapy. Eating isn’t about getting your baby to latch or getting them to like all their food groups; it’s about watching for silent aspiration and pneumonia. And every time you run out of the house for thirty seconds to drop the garbage into the bin you run back in because what if your baby’s ventilator disconnected from the trach. It’s rereading the Resuscitation Instructions once a week so you’re as prepared as possible for something to go wrong with your medically complex child. It’s greedily counting the medical supplies shipped to your home once a month and then going to the store to buy all the regular things your ordinary yet not so ordinary baby needs.

It’s so much and sometimes I feel like I don’t measure up.

Mom, if you ever feel this way, I know. I feel all the feels with you. Parenting is responsibility. And special cares or not, it is hard.

The beautiful thing is that this hard thing we’re doing? It’s a God thing. Children are gifts from God; they’re not add-ons to your already full life. They’re not the next step in life. And they are never mistakes. God’s Word makes it clear that our babies are fearfully and wonderfully made and rewards. And if God is in it it is holy. And all that hardness? It’s meant to make you more holy.

So, that baby who is fussing, or that toddler who is out of control, or that teenager who lives a busy and sometimes wildly confusing life, they’re all God things. (He’s also there for all the one’s taking care of an ailing spouse or family member.) It’s holy, hard work but that means God will be in it.

I cannot tell you the times I have seen God come in an lift my weary heart. He did it from the very beginning, during my misdiagnosed miscarriage, through the very scary first trimester, when my water broke at 24 weeks, during my 63 days on hospitalized bed rest, and during the 7 months Uriah lived in the NICU. God showed up and personally walked us through the hardest season we have endured.

And He’s here. God is still walking me through the nights when I feel like I simply didn’t measure up. He’s here, ready to bear my burden and give me grace, on the days when I’m afraid I didn’t do enough.

He’s here and He is more than enough. 

Sweet friend, I know. I know that this blog post isn’t going to fix the anxiety-filled nights or worried-filled days. I know that you can enter the morning feeling like Wonder Woman and go to bed feeling like a stinking pile of failure.

Despite how you feel, I want to encourage you to embrace the truth — that this hard work you’re doing? God will walk you through it if you let Him. And He will let the hard work be holy work if we let Him work in us.

I’d love to hear about your experiences of parenthood? Tell me your stories! I love hearing from you? 

Love, blessings, and coffee,

Frannie