I Cannot Handle Your Marigolds.

“Mrs. Bennett! Wait one moment, Capely left her flowers yesterday, let me go grab them for you.” I smiled and waited, then panicked. Please don’t be real flowers, please don’t be real flowers, please don’t- “Here you go!” Crap. “Thanks!” I replied as I turned toward my car. Crap. CRAP CRAP CRAP CRAP CRAP. Real flowers. Real flowers that my daughter’s teacher helped plant, water, and keep alive. They really did have such a bright future. Until they were placed into my hands.

I put the small cup of newly growing Marigolds in my cup holder and drove home. Five of them. Five unsuspecting and innocent baby marigolds. Just staring at me. I should probably just throw them out the window and go on and get it over with now. I got home and did what I assume you’re supposed to do. Put it by the window. Maybe, just maybe, they will make it this time. Capely comes home later, sees her “flow-lers” and is thrilled she gets to watch them grow. Every time she goes to check on them, my heart drops a little more. This is not going to end well.

It has been a week. I have kept her “flow-lers” by the window. I have watered them when I remember. But slowly, and just as I expected, we are already down to just one. I think I can actually hear them crying. This is not supposed to be difficult. If my three year old could get them to live and grow in her class, her 31 year old mom should be able to do the same at home. But I cannot. I have finally accepted the fact that I am basically a Plant Hospice. I’m just here to keep them comfortable until they meet Jesus.

Meanwhile, my three year old is losing her mind. Her paper is wrinkled, I wouldn’t let her buckle herself, and now all of her precious flow-lers are dead. And all I can do is tell her I did my best. I tried. It doesn’t matter that my mom could take dead and dry plants and bring them back to life. Her Christmas cactus bloomed all year long. She was a Plant Whisperer. Apparently, this skips generations. Along with cooking. But that’s another post for another time.

Teachers, if you are reading this: for the LOVE, please stop sending real plants home with the children. It may be “fool-proof”, but not all of us parents got that memo. Some of us are struggling to understand why we put the milk in the pantry and a Bible in the refrigerator. We are not adult enough to handle your marigolds. Maybe 95% of your students have parents who are adultier adults and can handle their milk and Bibles AND your marigolds. But for the 5% of us who just CANNOT, please stop sending them home. After the third marigold flops over and starts shriveling up, my daughter stops believing me when I tell her “Oh, it’s just taking a nap.” Well. It never wakes back up. We didn’t do anything to deserve this, and our poor children have to deal with the consequences of our black thumbs. We didn’t choose the black thumbs, the black thumbs chose us.

 

Side note: If you could all please say a prayer for Mecaden’s cabbage. It is her fourth quarter science project, due next week and hers is the only one that doesn’t have a head on it. The struggle is real. Send help. And oreos. And milk, because mine was in the pantry.

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Socks and Big Girl Panties.

Yesterday I had a meeting with my oldest child’s school counselor and the county audiologist. It was slated to be a quick meeting, an annual review of her 504 plan. 504 plans are in place so that she gets preferential seating (and other similar things) in class in order to maximize her listening environment in class. We went over the routine questions, and confirmed that her ability to hear and learn in her classroom setting has gone extremely well this year. We continued on to discuss medical and safety plans. Suddenly, a quick annual review turned into a counseling and therapy session for me.

Most people who know me know that I’m pretty laid back. I enjoy being silly and have seemingly endless energy. But in regards to life and circumstances, I don’t get riled up easily. I don’t worry unnecessarily. I rarely worry at all. I was raised to take what life handed me and either do something with it or get over it. I was taught to be grateful for what I had, to not whine and complain, and if something didn’t go my way- TOUGH COOKIES. I also learned to do things myself. My grandmother had a saying, and that was to “pull up your socks and be somebody.” In other words, put your big girl panties on.

When Mecaden was born, I had less than a day of innocent newborn bliss. I remember her first night with me… I hadn’t slept the night before due to contractions, labored all day, had her late in the evening, and pushed for over an hour. It didn’t matter how exhausted I was. I gave birth to my (surprise) baby girl and all I could do was stare at her. I literally stayed up the entire night and stared at her. My 22 year old self was just in complete shock and awe at this incredibly breathtaking baby girl. All of God’s grace in one sweet little face. I didn’t care if I ever slept again.

The next afternoon, the nurse wheeled her squeaky bassinet back into my room from a nursery assessment. I was about to reach in and scoop up my darling girl when the nurse turned to leave and nonchalantly said over her shoulder, “She had her Hep B shot and she didn’t pass her hearing screening.” And the door swung closed behind her. I just froze. Hearing screening? What hearing screening? She didn’t pass? What does that mean? I literally don’t remember what happened from then until we were discharged the next day. Not one thing. Two weeks later, she didn’t pass an outpatient hearing screening. Ten weeks later she didn’t pass an ABR hearing test at UNC. Our baby was deaf.

I cried. I cried hard. Really hard. But after some wrestling with God and His peace settling into my heart, it wasn’t long before I was pulling up my socks and putting my big girl panties on. I couldn’t change the situation, but I was determined to do everything I could to ensure my daughter would have a normal life- hearing or not. She was fitted for teenie tiny hearing aids that same day of her “No Response ABR” test. From then on we dove head first into Auditory-Verbal Speech Therapy. Parent and child therapy sessions weekly that taught me how to teach her to speak through listening. The hearing aids didn’t help her at all, and the day before she turned one, she got her first cochlear implant. We continued speech therapy- the weekly sessions were just a drop in the bucket of all the speech therapy we did with her. For years I narrated everything. “Open the cabinet! Take the glass out. Put it on the counter. Open the fridge. Take the milk out. Take the lid off. Pour the milk. Put the lid on. Put the milk in the fridge. Close the door.” That was just to pour a cup of milk! Input. Emphasis. Input. Emphasis. Sing-song-y. Constantly. For everything. For years. There is no wonder why she never stops talking now.

At the park, I hovered. It was not in my personality to do so. But it wasn’t just any toddler who had to learn how to climb. It wasn’t just any child who falls and cries. If she fell and hit her head, she could easily damage her internal component of her cochlear implants, and we would be looking at another surgery. If the slide was too static-y it could wipe out her program channel and settings on her implants. Not to mention, I was still inputting. “Go up up up the stairs. Down the slide. Weeeeee!” Inputting sound was woven into every single thing. I never could go to the playground and just chat with other moms while we watched our kids play. I was the mom climbing up into the equipment and ignoring my mom friends.

Mecaden is almost nine now. I don’t have to narrate everything anymore. I don’t have to hover at the park. She scares the crap out of me with how she flips over the bars, hair and legs flying, sticking her landing as she lets go. My concern for her safety has left the playground and has found new fears. Emergencies. My friends giggle over this. I don’t blame them. It feels silly. I have a fear of her class evacuating for a fire, or running for cover inside the building during a tornado warning. I know they practice drills so everyone stays calm if it really happens. But my brain goes to the worst case scenario, and all I can think about is what if in the chaos, she gets bumped, her processors fall to the ground, she stops and looks for them… by the time she hopefully finds them not stepped on and broken, her class is gone. She doesn’t know where they went because the alarm is so loud and suddenly she is by herself. Or what if she can’t find her processors, or they get stepped on and broken, and she can’t hear instructions, or a comforting teacher’s words during a frightening event? I can’t tell you how many times my fears have pushed me to picking her up from school on days there are tornado watches. I can’t handle thinking about her disoriented, scared and confused, and not being able to hear.

I opened up and shared this at the 504 meeting today. I was a little nervous that the counselor was going to reprimand me for taking my kids out of school based on a silly fear that likely won’t ever come true. Instead, she and the audiologist both affirmed and encouraged me. Not to keep taking her out of school, but they validated my fears. They validated my desire to protect my little girl. They brought up how it is another stage of the grief cycle. It’s a different grief than when I first found out she was deaf. It’s a different fear than when she was put under for major surgery. It’s a different sadness than when she first cried about not being able to hear while she swam. But it is grief.

I cried. I cried hard. I opened up and shared that I have had a lot of hard things in my life. (Actually, I told them I have been through a lot of crap.) I shared that I’m not used to worrying. I’m not used to giving into fear. I’m used to sucking it up and moving on. I’m used to taking whatever hand I am dealt, and making the most of it. I’m used to being strong. I’m used to pulling up my socks and putting my big girl panties on. The counselor gently said, “It sounds like you have a lot of baggage. You’re used to being so strong- for you and for other people. And being in control of your emotions and not letting things get to you. It seems like you let all of your fears and worries come through in this one area- Mecaden’s hearing loss and safety. It’s like it’s the one place you’ll allow yourself to express it.” I cried and admitted, “Sometimes I’m just tired of pulling my socks up.” And I cried hard.

I wiped my eyes, and cleared my throat, and said “I don’t like to whine or complain. I am so blessed. I have so much to be thankful for.” The counselor gently offered again, “Yes. But no matter how much we are thankful for, we all experience hard things. And it’s okay for it to be hard. It’s okay to hurt. You need to give yourself grace and let your socks sag sometimes.” I cried again.

I cannot tell you how much weight was lifted from my shoulders. She helped me pull layers back on issues I didn’t realize I had. Here I am, seeing how so many others go through hard times and I try to do everything in my power to encourage them to give themselves grace. I tell people all the time that sometimes life sucks, and it’s okay to hurt. It’s okay to cry, and to cry hard. I didn’t realize all this time I have been bottling up my emotions about so many circumstances. I mean, I’m not made of stone. I typically cry hard initially… but then I read and speak Truth into my circumstances, and I pull up my socks and move on. I suppose all this time, I felt like once I pull my socks up, they have to stay up. No use in crying over spilled milk, right?

Wrong.

Sometimes its okay to cry over spilt milk. No, you can’t un-spill it. It is already done. But you know what? It stinks that you spilled it. It stinks that it is wasted. And don’t get me started on crying over spilled breastmilk (not sorry, fellas. not sorry.).  So much work, down the drain. Or on the floor. Or all over the fridge.

I’m pretty sure I could speak in strictly idioms, being from the south and all. I digress. I just wanted to share what has been going on in my trench. And I really want to encourage you to give yourself grace. There are really, really hard things in life. Remember: the reason these things are so hard is because we were never meant to experience them. It is okay to cry. It is okay to cry hard. It is okay to wrestle with God over it. It is okay to wish these things were not happening. Even Jesus cried out to God in the Garden of Gethsemane, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me” (Matthew 26:39). He was referring to his upcoming brutal death on the cross. He knew it was coming, He knew it would hurt. He knew the only way to bring salvation to man was if He died for and instead of us. He understands your pain. He understands your fears. And do you know that He collects every tear of yours that falls (Psalm 56:8)? He is there. Even when no one else is. He is there, and knows ours prayers even when we cannot form them (Romans 8:26). It’s okay to let your socks sag. You don’t have to have it all together, all the time.

And when the time is right, you can pull your socks up and put your big girl panties on. But do so in the strength and grace of the Lord. When life hands you lemons, you can make lemonade. But unless you have water and sugar, your lemonade is going to suck. You can wipe your face and toughen up and move on when life is hard… but unless you face it with help from the Lord, you’re going to take a beating from life again before you know it. Don’t misunderstand me- just because you do things in the Lord’s strength doesn’t mean you’re going to perfect it and it will be easy. You’re human, and you will get knocked down again. But if you’re walking with the Lord through life, His grace will catch you when you fall.

From my trench to yours,

Emily

 

Photo Credit: allthe2048.com

 

Bedtime.

Most evenings, we have a version of World War III in our house. Somehow it is a surprise every night that we have to walk up the stairs to get ready for bed. It is a surprise every night that we don’t need to take the stapler and sharpies upstairs with us. It is a surprise every night that we change into pjs. It is a surprise every night that we use the potty and brush our teeth.

With these “surprises” come frustrations and attitudes (not just the kids, hello). My kids who, at 7:29, are running around like banshees and jumping from the coffee table to the couch and act like they have Red Bull running through their veins suddenly drop like flies at 7:30 when we announce that it’s time for bed. Their legs are BROKEN. They absolutely cannot walk up those godforsaken stairs that are only rivaled by scaling Mount Everest. After running a marathon. Once we reach the summit (insert spanking warnings here. And maybe three other times before here.) we approach the agonizing task of changing clothes. I have one kid who is the people-pleaser and has been changed, used the toilet and brushed her teeth already. So she’s busying herself picking out clothes for the next day. While she’s doing that, I’m trying to understand why my son still has one sneaker on that should have come off three hours prior when we walked in the door from the park. Just one sneaker. And he is falling apart because he cannot find his pjs, they have disappeared. “Levi, take your shoe off.” “I don’t know where my pjs are!” “I’ll find them, just take your shoe off.” “Where are my Pokemon cards?” “Levi, they are downstairs. Put your pjs on- -“ “I CAN’T FIND THEM!!!!!! I’VE LOOKED EVERYWHERE!!!!!” “Okay, chill out. I will find them. Take your shoe off.” Then I suddenly realize I’m being called “Mom. Mom. Mom. Mom. Moooom. Mom. Mom. MOOOM. MOOOMMMM!!!” “YES?!” “What is the temperature for tomorrow?” “I have no idea. Levi take your shoe off!” “But I need to know what the temperature will be. I want to know if I can wear a dress or shorts or – -“ “Mom! Where are my pokemon cards?” “—or if I need to wear leggings or if I should wear sandals or- “ “Levi PUT YOUR PJS ON!” “- or boots or my Chucks.” “I CAN’T FIND MY PJS!!!!!!!!!!” And I am currently hog-tying my three year old to brush her teeth on the floor while she is screaming so loud that the neighborhood Chihuahuas, Henry and Willie, are freaking out across the street. “OH MY GOSH just get NEW PJS before I lose my mind!” “Mom, whats the temperature for tomorrow?”

It is an absolute wonder how I am able to function after this point. Somehow we make it through the pjs and the toothbrushing and the potty-ing. I go tuck in the baby, and by “tuck in” I mean: turn her sound machine on, her lights off, snuggle her with her paci and bunny, lay her down and walk out the door. (Parents of babies- enjoy. Your time is coming.) I come back to sing and read to Capely, but she’s nowhere to be found. Turns out she is in the refrigerator surrounded by wrappers from processed cheese slices and using a spoon to drink tea out of the pitcher. After weeping and gnashing of teeth, I return her to her bed to tuck her in. Mid “Jesus Loves Me” she starts singing, “Yes, Jesus loves poo poo face!” and falls into a heap of giggles as I try to keep composed and redirect her words by not making a big deal out of her choice of words. But she knows how to get me to crack and then we just have to stop singing completely because of all the poo-poo singing. We pray and and I walk out, ready to enter the grand finale of bedtime wars in the next room.

Normally, walking into my big kids’ room, I sigh upon entering. Some nights I walk in and it’s a complete free for all- legos, dinosaurs, crafts, clothes, books- everywhere. Some nights I walk in breaking up fights over Pokemon cards (seriously, why did those not die with the 90s?). Some nights the only way I can tuck them in is if I remove blankets and sheets and pillows and clothes strung across every corner of the room for their clubhouse fort. And some nights I walk into art work hung from every piece of furniture and every wall by Ninja Turtle and Frozen bandaids. The little white tabs littering the floor. Did I mention that my house has been on the market for three weeks?

Tonight, I walked into my kids’ room, ready to huff and puff and blow their clubhouse down. But instead of walking into a mess, I walked in to see both of them with their Bibles opened, reading out loud to each other from 2 Thessalonians.

To be honest, it wrecked me. It has been one of those days (more like weeks) where my mothering has been sub-par at  best. I have felt entirely inadequate to parent and disciple my children, coupled with the exhaustion of showing our home seven billion times. I haven’t had the energy to even want to attempt patience. I feel like I have done a complete disservice to my children lately as their mother. Walking in to see my children reading God’s Word together, on their own accord, made me want to simultaneously weep for my own inadequacies and praise God for His faithfulness and grace despite my shortcomings.

Y’all. God is good. He reminded me tonight that I can do everything in my power and might to love my children well and have all the come-to-Jesus talks and I will often times not see fruit from it. And other times, I fail miserably at pointing my children to Christ (by words OR actions) and see God working in their hearts without any help from me. Parenting is a weighty, weighty calling. I’m so thankful that where I am weak, He is strong and his power is made perfect in my weakness. I’m thankful that He doesn’t give me a baby and tell me “good luck”, but loves and parents my children both when I am intentionally faithful or I miserably fall short.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go take a shoe off of my sleeping son.