Being a mother is hard– concern, guilt and anxiety seem to be hiding just under the surface. My kiddos are now 29, 27and 22. But when my son was born I was afraid he would be cold–I bundled that kid up with so many layers he broke out in a heat rash, at least that’s what the doctor said. When my Maybaby was born she would carry on hacking and coughing on breast milk. I thought for sure she was choking to death. She had low muscle tone, common in children diagnosed with Down’s Syndrome–at least that’s what the doctor said. And after Naomi, my angel-baby was diagnosed, in utero, with anencephaly and she lived just 10 hours, I felt… afraid, broken, unable to have healthy children. Through prayer, a little faith and a very supportive husband I had one more –Jobird. I did not want her to be tainted by this cynical world so I held her close– at least that’s what my family said.
I don’t envy moms raising kids today with information coming at them like a freight train. How do they decide if the information they read is true, fake, harmful, a hoax? Will they be judged if they give their children gluten, non-organic applesauce, or high fructose corn syrup! Stop! Don’t eat that! Check the label! Has that popcorn been genetically modified? Immunizations? Don’t even go there! Everyone has an opinion and the louder, longer and angrier that opinion is stated the more likely it is perceived as truth and if you are brave enough to have an alternating view, hang on for you will be judged as inadequate and unfit to parent.
When my children were infants their father and I stood in front of our church and dedicated our babies to God stating that they were his and we would raise them to love Him and his Word. As our children grew we taught them to “trust in the Lord with all my heart,(Provebs 3:5)” “be anxious for nothing(Philippians 4:6) ,” “The Lord is on my side; I will not fear. Psalm 118:6)” and to look both ways before crossing the street (Sesame Street 1966). And yet… we worried we wouldn’t get parenting right.
When my kiddos were 13, 11 and 6 my life took a sharp u-turn. Their father, my Randy, died suddenly. How could God let this happen? I had been faithful through the surprise birth of Maybaby and her diagnosis of Down’s Syndrome, I had held Naomi in my arms as she breathed her last breath, and now my husband, gone, just like that his heart stopped beating. Oh, you can bet I grabbed on to my kiddos and declared “You can’t have these!” “You’ve taken enough!” “These three are mine!”
…….. and fear set in. If I was away from them very long, I would panic. I needed to get back to them and protect them. I was full of anxiety. I was on edge. I worried how was I going to keep them safe. The fear was like a weight on my chest getting heavier and heavier by the moment. Then one day, Myboy and I were out running errands and I had an anxiety attack. I had to get back to the girls to make sure they were safe. I couldn’t get there fast enough. Speeding and weaving in an out of traffic, I was breathing heavy and near tears when I pulled into the driveway only to find my girls happily watching a movie with their grandma. At that moment I knew I could not go on living in fear.
I went to my room alone and frightened crying out to God. “I cannot not live in fear! I cannot worry over my children day and night. I cannot protect them from every danger. I give them to you Lord, they are yours.” There in my messy room I did the most difficult yet freeing thing I have ever done, I gave my children back to God. “Whatever Lord, I will trust you. Whatever Lord, I will believe you. Whatever Lord, I will love you. I give my children back to you.” At that moment a ‘peace that transcends all understanding(Philippians 4:7)’ washed over me.
In the past 16 years all my children have traveled all over the world. They have seen and done amazing things without their Momma holding their hand. This year MyMan and I traveled to Australia for 3 weeks leaving Maybaby and Jobird at home to fend for themselves, and bless their hearts the house was clean when we returned.
I shudder to think what my children’s life would look like if I chose to live in worry and fear. Their lives would be small, dependent and unhappy. I shutter to think who I would be today if I chose to live in fear.
If I can leave you with anything I leave you with this:
“Cast your burdens to the Lord, and he will take care of you.(Psalm 55:22)”