What a few months it’s been.
I’m writing this feeling weary and carrying heavy burdens; I’m praying Jesus will indeed refresh me.
It’s been a month of loss in our house. First the blue jay babies we watched hatch and grow, all fatally fell in separate turns from their nests in our back and front yards. We prayed for each them and then for their mourning parents who flew around aimlessly for days.
The two dogs we fostered from our local animal shelter were adopted before we ready to say goodbye. Again, we prayed for them and their new families, blessing each dog before loading them up in the back of my car.
Our own dog killed three of the four chickens we bought six weeks ago and have been dutifully raising every since. Evidently, not dutifully enough. We found ourselves around our kitchen table yet again, offering words of thanksgiving for the lives of the three chicks, asking for forgiveness of our negligence for allowing the dog access to the coop on our watch. Today, knowing that the one surviving chick shouldn’t live alone, we gave her to another family with a better chick to hen success rate. Another loss. Another prayer. Another burden.
We add to these personal losses the ongoing racist murders of Black adults and children, and the surge in COVID-19 cases and deaths. So much loss. Too much, really.
It’s been difficult to support our children in their grief because we as their parents are weighed down so much ourselves. I literally felt the pressure of grief yoked around my neck while walking last week, my shoulders slumped and feet dragging on the sidewalk.
I feel like you and I are more than passive readers of Grow Christians; I feel like we’ve grown into a community. So, during this horrible, no good, very bad season of life, I’m asking for your prayers and offering you mine. I’d like to share with you what we’re doing in our house, what I wish we were doing better, and hopefully hear how you are navigating life.
First, we’re acknowledging how hard this time is. We aren’t trying to make lemonade out of a month’s worth of lemons. We’re instead echoing our children’s eloquent words, ‘You’re right, this does suck. It feels like more than we can handle. I don’t know when it will feel better.’
We are hugging one another more than usual. We need this love and reassurance, and we are also simply craving human touch. It’s meant allowing my 11-year-old to sit in my lap while watching movies even though he’s entirely too big to comfortably fit there. It’s meant crying into the dog’s fur, even when we are mad at her contribution to the death surrounding us. Because as my daughter said through a muffled voice last night, ‘I still love you even though I don’t like what you did.’
We’re also giving each other space. Our son is spending most of his waking hours listening to audiobooks and building with Lego bricks in his room, while our daughter roams around the neighborhood independently on her bike (thanks to her Gizmo watch and tracker). My husband and I take turns hiding in dark rooms to pray, read, cry, or nap.
We are asking a lot of questions when the kids aren’t talking much.
You seem down today, will you tell me about it?
How does your heart feel? What feelings are in your stomach? How about your brain?
What are you worried about at this moment?
What are your questions for me?
I heard you say some really mean things to your sister, what’s upsetting you? How might you talk to her next time?
We’re sharing the many ways we are actively staying safe as a family. From wearing masks in public to worshiping at home on Sundays to abstaining from playdates and summer camps. Reminding the kids that we are playing a part in maintaining our own good health has been helpful.
We’re coming back to our YES LIST, finding activities that we can do during physical isolation rather than focusing all of our energy on what we cannot do.
We’re trying to model self-care. We’re exercising daily and sticking to bedtimes, knowing that we need even more sleep than we typically do. We’re taking a lot baths full of epsom salts and calming lavender bubbles. We’re spending time tending our garden, creating art, and baking.
I know deep down that this is not the time for parenting perfection, but I also know that I will always focus on the things I should be doing. I wish we were journaling more. I wish I was more patient when children wake me up in the middle of the night after bad dreams. I wish we were making more of an effort to set up FaceTime conversations for our son rather than leaving him alone for hours and hours every day. I wish I was monitoring our daughter’s sugar intake more closely. I wish I cared more about how much screen time they have in the afternoon. I wish I wasn’t keeping track of how many days and nights the four of us have spent together under this one roof without a break (116 days). I wish I was praying more with our kids, reminding them that God is big enough to hold all of our loss, anger, sadness, and fear.
We’re doing so much and yet hardly anything at all. This is the season of our life, what we’re doing and not doing.
What about you? What is it like in your home? How are you parenting during this time of great loss? What are your coping mechanisms? What are your own fears?
How many I pray for you?