Un-telling is the Hardest Part

“Mommy, why is the baby in trouble?”

I glanced in the rearview mirror at my three-year old daughter as we pulled out of the hospital parking lot.  Tears silently fell as I choked back stifled sobs.

A puzzled look fell over her face.  “Is the baby in trouble because it hurt you?” she whispered.

“Did daddy tell you the baby was having trouble?”

Kolby nodded yes.

It was a conversation I wasn’t equipped for.  How was I going to explain to Kolby that the baby brother (or sister) she wished for with a penny and a prayer in the fountain at Starbucks was gone? 

How do you translate an ectopic miscarriage to a toddler?

“Sweetheart, the baby isn’t in mommy’s tummy anymore.  Now he is in heaven.”

Kolby scrunched up her face and gulped.  “My baby is with Jesus in heaven? But that’s so far away and I won’t see him.”

“Someday you will.  Someday we’ll meet him.”

Kolby sighed in sadness and closed her eyes.  Within minutes she fell asleep.

I breathed a sigh of relief.  The first of many tough conversations was over.  It’s the un-telling I dread the most.  The reason we hide our pregnancies for the first three months is for this exact moment.

Because it freaking sucks to un-tell the good news we were just starting to tentatively share.

This isn’t my first miscarriage.  I’ve had six over the last fifteen years with one well into my second trimester.  And just because I pass a “pregnancy milestone,” I know there are no guarantees. 

Life is a gift and it is sacred.  My three children are miracles.

Death and loss are never easy.  It always hurts, always feels unnatural and it ALWAYS rips apart the fabric of a mother’s heart.

So when I un-tell…yet again, please give me a hug.  Grab my hand and don’t feel like you have to say anything of relevance.  I don’t need to hear a scripture verse or a platitude.  At this point, I’ve pretty much heard them all. 

Sometimes the comfort and solace of Christ is best experienced in the un-said.  It’s in the flowers sent, the bread on my door for PB & J’s, the notes and texts and fingers squeezed.  It’s the family picnic in my bedroom on a scary Saturday night where all five of us laughed and prayed and hoped for the best in the worst of times. 

So here is my un-tell…

I lost a baby.  It didn’t work out this time.  I’m a little raw.  I cry easily.  I might avoid you but only because I don’t trust myself yet to have a normal conversation.  I’m also feeling tremendously blessed and loved.  I’m sad and I’m happy.

And just so you know, the baby’s not in ANY trouble.  He’s at a party right now in heaven.

Preach the Gospel at all times… and when necessary, use words. – Saint Francis of Assisi

Bye Bye Tori and Dean

Actress Tori Spelling, during an interview

Image via Wikipedia

  A group of mommies stood around chatting, impatiently waiting for our sons to wrap up baseball practice as we shivered in the twilight.  A little girl prancing around her mom’s feet found an unconventional treasure…a hole in the grass that was about a foot and a half deep and a foot wide.  It was the type of hole that was perfectly deceptive because it wasn’t big enough for a body to fall in but just the right size to miss, step in and twist an ankle.  The tiny girl stood at the very edge peering into the hole.  She was transfixed and couldn’t take her eyes off it. 

Her mother suggested she stay away from the hole.  So the little girl backed up but kept her gaze steady on it.  As her mom returned to yapping with her friends, I saw the little girl back up and start running towards the hole.  With a great leap she jumped over it and laughed in delight.  Her mother watched in chagrin as over and over she ran to the hole and launched her little body over it.  The little girl thought she had discovered a loophole; she could obey her mom and yet still be near the dangerous hole. 

I chuckled to myself as I watched her, then picked up my son and headed home.  But, the image of the child continued to play in my mind long after I left the baseball field.

And then I it hit me, all too often I am the little girl who pranced around the hole, maybe not falling in per se, but delicately dancing around the temptation. 

My husband recently cut back on some of our satellite cable channels to save a few bucks each month (strangely enough ESPN was not one of them).  But a few of my favorite channels have been axed-Bravo, WE and the E Channel.  All my favorite dishy shows, Tori and Dean, The Real Housewives and E News Daily have disappeared into the land of non-subscriber channel land. 

When I scroll through the viewer bar, I can even see what I am missing.  It’s there, but I can’t access it.  Painful! My vicarious addiction to reality TV viewing has been interrupted and I am truly bummed out. Even though I know I should be rejoicing in cutting off my hand that sins (or eyes in this case), my spirit is reluctant and indignant.

I am always surprised at this constant tension of fleshly desires and faith battling in my inner psyche: One moment I am convicted and the next the princess of justification.  I tell myself it’s important to understand culture, while secretly knowing the lives of celebrities offer nothing of value for me to emulate. 

I empathize with Tori Spelling, a working mom just like me, and look for any redeeming characteristic in the show to somehow make it alright. Of course the one and only time I got my pastor husband to watch the program with me; Tori invited a witch doctor over to do a spiritual cleansing involving a mud bath and Tori in a bikini.  That didn’t go over so well.

Despite the best of intentions, and my sincere desire to always do the right thing, I am still prone to obsessing on the tantalizing holes in my life.  And even though I might not succumb to the temptation, my thoughts wage an internal battle untill I submit to the Spirit.  Like Paul said, I do what I don’t want to do.  And sometimes, if it’s an itty-bitty thing (like Tori and Dean), I simply do the bad thing and make excuses.  

So, I am both happy and sad I can no longer watch Kimora, Tori and Tamara, I will miss my glitzy and superficial friends. But I am also strangely excited to relinquish my little vice and find shows more honoring to God.

And maybe, just maybe, I can find some shows that are a little more Holy than hole-y.

No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. (1 Cor. 10:13 NIV)

The “Manceremony”

My son entered the holiday season yet a boy, but will return to school this New Year a man.  And so last night, we celebrated his coming of age with a “Manceremony.”

It was only a few days ago that my twelve-year-old son with the warbled voice, the distinct Jr. High aloofness, and all the awkwardness of a “boy of a certain age,” roamed the halls of our home.  Now, a man with a deep voice, facial hair and a buff physique has stolen my chubby cheeked angel. 

He turned and smiled at me last night, and in the dim light of the fire, I caught the distinct outline of a mustache on my baby, I mean man-child. 

He is almost a teen-ager now, though we have avoided that word in our home.  I have chosen to reject all the rebelliousness and disrespect that comes along with that verbiage.  My husband and I have decided to give the first-born instead, a “man” blessing, and skip the teen stage altogether.  Clearly this is an experiment, one that may or may not work, but we are hopeful, though possibly naïve, for the years to come.

So in honor of his impending need to shave, I pulled out the champagne glasses for the whole family, excluding the baby, filled them with apple juice, and we toasted to the end of one season and the beginning of the next.  With a nervous laugh, my son lifted his glass.  I could see his emotions ranging from uncomfortable to proud, but he was obviously appreciative that we recognized his maturation and took it seriously.

And so, I will store up the memories of his childhood deep within my heart; his incessant curiosity, the cherubic blond curls, and his chubby little arms reaching out for a hug.  It’s hard to let go of my tiny football player and embrace this new creature who wears cologne and attracts stares from women of all ages.

 I feel unprepared and truly inadequate for this next stage of motherhood.  We, both my son and I, stand at the edge of an uncertain future.  Like the cusp of a roller-coaster, just about to crest over the highest peak, either I choose to lift my arms up high and enjoy the ride or close my eyes and scream for dear life.

Today we worked out at the gym, lifting weights side by side.  And though I am teaching him proper form, he is pushing me on to new limits. Our relationship is changing, as I both embrace and simultaneously release my son into this dance of growing up.

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