Holidays

Mother’s Day… I don’t deserve

This week I wrestled with grief.  Especially Tuesday, May 8th, a day that marked exactly 172 weeks (or 29 months) since Enoch was born.  The 8th coming on a Tuesday and in the same week of Mother’s Day was especially hard.  I canceled all my meetings, laid in bed and did very little besides eating my feelings.  

I’m hiding away on this Mother’s day, my third since he was born and 4th since finding out I was pregnant.  I needed a vacation. Plus it’s Tim and I’s 18th anniversary.  So we are away, and I’m reflecting on this day that celebrates being a mom.  

Believe me when I say there is still plenty of eating my feelings and a heavy heart as being a mom looks different than I anticipated.  Especially today as I am remembering how it was exactly three years ago when Tim and I just found out we were pregnant and were picking names for this little baby to come.  We decided on the name Trinity if it were a girl, and the boys name was still up for debate, despite Tim’s vote being “Tim Beck Two.”  

Today I’ve gone through a lot of emotions and a lot of heaviness, but I have also tried to realize the gifts in it all too.   I have learned that at times I want to sit and say things like “I deserve.”  “I deserve to be a mom.” “I deserve to have a 2 year old.”  “I deserve to have a good Mother’s Day.”  Amongst others.  

Sometimes I forget to say “I don’t deserve…”

I got a text from my friend Jenna who reminded me of the impact Enoch had on so many people’s lives.   I have gotten countless texts and messages over the years from people who’s lives were impacted by my son, who never even breathed a breath on Earth.  I prayed so much, every night in fact, while pregnant that God would use his life for God’s glory, and he did!  I remember after he was born thinking he’s had a larger impact in Akron for Jesus that I had in 15 years.  I didn’t deserve a son with such impact. God didn’t owe me that.

And I for sure didn’t deserve to meet our son and hold him for 11 hours.  And I didn’t deserve a husband who let me hold him the majority of those hours.  

In addition I have had the privilege and opportunity to mom so many who I didn’t give birth to.

Joe who was the first to live with us, over 10 years ago. I’m still so grateful to have relationship with his wife and three kids.

Brea who lived with us almost a year and I still get to mom!

Davi who lives with us during the week now, and I get the joy of small things like driving her to school.

Also I mom many students at First Glance, whether they want me to or not 😉. And other students do call me mom like Dee & TiTi.

One of my most unconventional opportunities is My dearest friend Alicia, although she’s only 6 years younger and typically we bike and have crazy adventures together.  Other times I function as her mom, I care for her when she’s sick, drive her to doctor appointments and buy her socks… because that’s what I think moms do, buy socks.  

I don’t deserve to get to mom all these individuals.  I really don’t, and yet on a day like today I’m more apt to say “I do deserve…”, instead of “I don’t deserve…”

God is good and gracious. And as much as I want to say I deserve so many things, honestly God owes me nothing.  I don’t deserve a son at all. Let alone one who impacts the kingdom still!  I don’t deserve the way God reminds me of Enoch’s impact through those around me, and I don’t deserve the many creative ways God lets me love and mom so many!!    

I don’t deserve, and tonight I’m very aware of that truth. 

Space but not power

Grief continues to be a journey, a journey I’m probably less patient with than most of those watching me go through it.

I have been thinking a lot about grief in the sense of giving it space, but not giving it power.

Recently several friends from church have had babies. Every Sunday morning there are so many of these itty bitty new born babies all around. I have to admit the maternal part of me wants to hold all of them. For the last two years, I haven’t held new born babies. It’s not been out of a lack of desire. In fact, it’s the opposite. Everything in my being wants to hold, cuddle, and care for a little baby. My body and mind got ready for 40 weeks to do just that, but I didn’t. I couldn’t. But that desire never changed. It’s why I would lay on the grave, or sleep with his blanket. I so desperately desire to love, care, and be close to my son who was so far away. And two years later the desire remains almost as strong.

What kept me from holding the babies the past two years is that I gave grief power. Mainly it came in the form of fear: fear that holding a baby would trigger my memories of Enoch, fear that it would be too sad, fear that the baby I was holding would die, and fear that I would make Tim and friends sad by seeing me hold a little baby. There are a lot these thoughts and honestly they continue to role around in my head.

But several weeks ago on a Sunday morning I decided I didn’t want grief to have power. I didn’t want it to keep me from holding babies or engaging my friends who were pregnant. So I didn’t let it. I turned around to the little baby sitting behind me in church and held him this whole time! He was cute and sweet, and it was healing. Healing for me, and also his mom, who happens to call me mom. She was so excited I held him, that she posted on FB how “Grandma” was holding the little guy.

I didn’t give grief power.

But there still has to be space for grief. I didn’t know the next week would be hard with different kinds of loss (not death), but it felt like grief and triggered memories of Enoch so intensely. The exact following Sunday, Easter, was too much for me to bear. Between my week of the grief trigger, all the cute plaid shirts on the kids running around church, and the countless Easter photos, I hit a grief wall I haven’t hit since his birthday in December.

It resulted in an unsuspecting friend getting a decent dose of crying as she was in my path coming back from the restroom during church. It caused us to leave Easter dinner a little earlier than we normally would have. And the rest of the day ended with me in my bed and the phone off. I gave grief space, and I had to. I had to give myself some time to process my grief and miss Enoch.

Grief needs space, but it doesn’t need power. And this is me trying to figure out the two.

Here is my Easter picture with the little baby, his mom, and his sisters that I held the week before.

My Second Mother’s Day

Mother’s day is tricky.  It’s tricky for me, as the loss of Enoch continues to be at the forefront of my mind.  All week I have been wearing my “E” necklace with his birth stone my friends gave to me when he was born.  I have been wearing it as a reminder that I am Enoch’s mom.  That meeting him, holding & cuddling his little body really was such a gift!  I still deeply long to continue to do so, but for now am so very grateful for those 11 hours with him (and the 40 weeks leading up).

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This is how I spent the brunt of that night… holding his little body close to mine.

On this day I am equally so very grateful for the opportunities God has given me to mom others in my life!  God has allowed me to mother in little ways where I get to love, care and nurture those around me.  It’s those moments when making “family dinner” for those who live with us and function as our family, when Andrew comes over and asks if I’ll make him Lasagna, or when I take Alicia all the supplies she needs when she’s sick and needs cared for.  Over the years I’ve had the opportunity in greater ways such as when Joe and Brea each lived with us.  Tim & I  functioned as “mom and dad” while they were in our home and they have been a huge parts of our lives ever since.  And fairly regularly I get to mom the teenagers who walk through the doors of First Glance.  Some call me mom and others don’t, but I get to give them all a hug and drill them about the boy they have been dating.

I often think about a conversation with my own mom years ago when she said, “Everyone just wants their mom.”  I know that to be true.  I know that as I have had the opportunity to love and mom others, I understand I cannot replace their mom and don’t pretend I can.  And they don’t want me to.  I simply am so very grateful for a God who redeems and allows for some of these relationships in my life.  It really is such a gift!!!  As I reflect on this day, it continues to challenge me to use my desire to nurture and mom those who do desire a little momming.

Mother’s day is tricky… for those who have lost a child and others who have lost or have a broken relationship with their mom.  There’s not many “happily ever afters” when it comes to this day, not many that I know of anyhow.  But today I’m choosing to embrace the joy of the day: grateful for my own mom, grateful for the people God has allowed me to mom over the years, and so very thankful for those moments with my little baby boy.

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Balloons on the grave

Every year for the last three years my friend’s son has asked to have his birthday party at my house.  It’s always simple, he mainly just wants a bon fire and to roast hot dogs and “smarshmallows.”  There were moments of joy as the close group of friends gathered to enjoy an evening together.   I couldn’t help but smile as Xavier’s buddy come running to give him his gift… so excited as he pulled three rocks out of his pocket.

I also can’t pretend that there weren’t moments of sadness realizing Enoch will never have a 5 year old birthday party.  Those twinges of sadness came in between moments of joy celebrating the life of this little boy.  The heart wrenching sadness came a couple days later when I went to visit Enoch’s grave.  You see, the little baby next to his grave also had a birthday and there were balloons flying in the wind.  Suddenly I realized that’s how I will celebrate Enoch’s 5th birthday.  Not only his fifth birthday, but all of his birthdays will look the same.  All of them at the gravesite.  No party’s, no bon fires, no little kids running up to give them their gifts.  Just a visit to the grave with some balloons and a broken heart.

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Father’s Day

Father’s day has been a little rough for a few years.  We knew we couldn’t have kids and so the day has always a little tricky.  We navigated it alright… typically avoiding church, having one small conversation about the day being hard and moving on.

Last year was different.  We celebrated!  I was pregnant!  I was past the danger zone, or so we thought, and I celebrated the anticipation of Tim becoming a father.  I went out and bought him the smallest fishing pole I could find.  I knew weather it was a boy or a girl Tim would teach our kid to fish.  Even though I think it’s the most boring sport on the planet, which I’m fairly certain I told him when I gave it to him 🙂  He was excited, for the pole but more so the anticipation of teaching our kid to fish.

Now Father’s day has come around again. I couldn’t tell you where that fishing pole is now. In some ways I’m glad I don’t know.  What do you do with such things?  Do we keep it?  Do we get rid of it?  Where do we even put it?  I have a whole room with so many things begging those same questions.   No options seems like the right one.

And now for this year.  I don’t know what to do.  There’s a random father’s day mug floating around our office.  A wife had a mug made for her husband with pictures all over it of him and his kid.  It’s a reminder that Father’s Day is coming and a reminder that I can’t make one of those.  In fact, I’ll never be able to make one of those for Tim.

What do I do?  Do I get him a gift?  If so what?   Do we celebrate the day knowing it just reminds us that our baby died?  Do I say things like “you’re a great dad,” when he hasn’t gotten to live out his parenting?

I will say, I am so grateful for Tim and his love for our son, it’s just not what we anticipated.  So my heart is broken, more for him that for me on this day.   It all feels confusing, tricky and much more difficult to navigate than any other Father’s Day.

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A different kind of parenting

I have the privilege and opportunity to be the Director at First Glance.  I love it.  I loved it on day one, and fifteen years later, I still love it!  If you don’t know anything about First Glance check out our website.

Part of what I get to do at First Glance is spend time with and love teenagers.  It’s really the best part!  As I walked into and out of Mother’s Day it was not lost on me that God has given me many parenting opportunities over the years.  There are countless students I’ve gotten to “mom” in both large and small ways, so many that if I tried to name them all I wouldn’t be able to.

A few that stand out are:
I taught Amber how to drive and was the one pacing in the waiting room as she took her test.  I seriously was so nervous.

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I’ve been to many graduations, standing with flowers and a hug at the end of them (here are a couple I had pictures of).
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Attending baptisms and taking them out to lunch afterwards.22518947121_7c6a1c4093_o.jpg10190422064_e50f61fa3f_k.jpg
These are a few that are larger scale and ones I happen to have pictures of, but there are many other smaller ways too.  Several call me mom. Others simply call me in moments of tragedy and joy, and most girls are nervous to introduce me to their boyfriend knowing the questions I will ask them.  Mere minutes of so many of my days that I get to “mom them.”

In addition, a handful of students have lived with Tim and I over the years.  Brea lived with us while she was 17.  To her we are mom and dad, and to her kids we are grandma Noelle and grandpa Tim.

I remember meeting Brea for the first time; she was 15.  One of my other girls was having a birthday party at the lake, and I was invited.  Of course at some point these teenage girls thought it would be great to drag me into the lake, which they successfully did.  Brea was one of them.  She then asked me for a ride home 🙂

Brea began to attend First Glance and then our Teen Moms program, and when she was 17 she called our house home.  We had several fun adventures while she lived there.  Brea moved out about seven months later.  It has been eight years since then, and Brea & her girls continue to be part of our life and family.  Obviously Brea no longer needs the same parenting at 25, but I still take my opportunities when I can!

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Brea now is an amazing young woman who works hard to raise her two daughters as a single mom, and we are so very proud of her!26069276571_4cc6893a49_o.jpg
Mother’s day was painfully hard this year without Enoch – so different than anticipated. But I can’t tell you how blessed I feel by the opportunity to love and care for so many around me.  God owes me nothing, it’s all a gift!  As much as I grieved the loss of Enoch and being a mom in a more traditional way, I recognize I am a mom to him, to Brea and to others around me.  God didn’t have to allow me these opportunities.  But he has, and I am so very grateful!

 

A permanent reminder

As mentioned in my last post I wasn’t looking forward to Mother’s Day, but I wanted it to be redemptive.  I needed it to be more than only a horrible day I wanted to get through.

I have been wanting to get my first ever tattoo for a while.  After Enoch died, I knew I wanted one in honor of my son.  So on Mother’s Day, I got it.

I got his name on my hand for a couple reasons.

The first reason is this verse, which was introduced to me months ago by my friend and mentor Gail Benn.  “Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you. Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are continually before me.” – Isaiah 49:15-16 ESV     (I wanted the tattoo in my palm, but it wears away there, so I put it on the side of my hand).

The second reason is that all of last year I would write on my palms “palms up” as  reminder that I was open handed, surrendering everything to God and trusting He was in control.  I wrote about this idea earlier this year.

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And so now I have a regular reminder… Of the son I will never forget, and that I surrender everything in my life to God.

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