Monday, November 30, 2015

The Balm

Despite the general sense of calm I've had about this late-in-life pregnancy, I do still wonder about my ability to do it all over again. Not the pregnancy itself, but the parenting and the sacrifice, and of course, 2nd grade math. I don't want to phone it in with this little one, even though after more than 10 years of having kids in school full-time and plenty of very quiet time by myself at work and at home, it will be an adjustment. Am I ready for Hot Wheels and Thomas the Train?

Will I be able to adapt to having a little sidekick again?

And it's such a weird time to be having a baby, when I FINALLY feel I have found my true calling through writing and speaking engagements. Sharing stories and life with others, examining the ideas of loss, resilience, and radical trust are a sweet spot for me, and I've been hoping to do much more of this as Margaret grows more independent. I love speaking to churches, universities, and at conferences.  I feel there may well be another book or two in me. So, after years of NOT knowing what I wanted to do when I grew up, I now KNOW, and it feels right, but I wonder how it will play out with a tiny person to care for.

I haven't mentioned this inner conflict to many people, because I don't want to seem to be taking our baby miracle for granted. But I'm human, and I wonder. It seemed like it was time for me to blossom beyond the four walls of our house by connecting with others and their stories, but being pregnant  seems to steer me right back toward the protective walls of home.

My husband Tim, who is a man of few words, said the kindest thing to me last week. I know I have used this space in the past to share some of his foibles with you-- not full-on husband bashing I
hope--but  anecdotes here and there to illustrate our different takes on...just about everything. And as I told him years and years ago, if he wants to write about me and my annoying habits, he should feel free to start his own darn blog.

Anyway, out of the blue in the kitchen last week he said, "I think what you do is more important than what I do, because you are helping people every day. I want to find a way to help you after the baby comes so that you don't have to quit doing it."

I don't know what he meant, specifically, but I tear up thinking about it.

His job is the one that brings in the vast majority of our income, and it is something that he does well. For him to notice, really notice, that what I do somehow makes a difference made me feel seen and acknowledged. We don't talk much, but in 20+ years he has witnessed that my default mode is to put my desires on the back burner for the family, to push up my sleeves and let the years roll by without considering if something else might also beckon. Now that I've heard such a beckoning louder and more clearly than ever before, I do not want to ignore it, and his words emboldened me to consider that following the call might still be possible, even if the idea overwhelms me. Truly, those words were a balm.

This post is not about making money, or staying home versus working outside of it. It feels different than that. Instead, I think it's about yesterday's patterns not having to dictate tomorrow's. It's about rethinking roles and the way things have always been. Jack's death has taught us that almost everything is subject to change, but even with that unsought-after knowledge, I am still sometimes reluctant to see beyond how I am living right here, right now, and be open-hearted to other possibilities.

26 comments:

Susie - Recovering Church Lady said...

Yes, those words would definitely be best described as a balm. Wow, super sweet and aware! You guys will find a way to do both, since your hubs has shown that he sees the need and you will not be automatically slipping into the background again. Yay for team work.

Terri Jackson said...

I love this so much. You have such a way with words, so honest and true. I am honored to have met you this summer and grateful to be learning from your journey. Love the line "yesterday's patterns no having to dictate tomorrow's - a lot there to unpack. Thank you for sharing your heart. Wishing you gentle moments this season.

Amanda said...

I think you will be able to do both the parenting and the writing, speaking, etc. Tim's kind word are letting you know he understands your concerns and will support you. It might get harried at times, but surrounding your family with others who also support what you feel led to do will make it happen. Showing your children the example of passionately doing what you enjoy and feel called to do is a very powerful gift.
I'm glad he validated your work and you as a person. It seem men are usually the ones needing validation and respect but women need it too!

Emily m said...

Wow. I love the idea and possibility of old patterns changing. Love that.

Laura at Ms. Smartie Pants said...

Do you read or follow Elizabeth Gilbert? She has just written a book called Big Magic, and she talks about this very thing, feeding our desire to create both families and art. She has some great podcast you should listen to as well. I totally get what you are saying. I loved being a mama and I gladly put my wants on the back burner. I did it cheerfully at the time but now as I've gotten older I see the other things I could have taught my children, that what I want in life I make time for, that I believe in myself, that I had a dream and I followed it. Maybe you can have it all, I sure would give it a try! Seriously check into her podcast and Fb page, it's exactly what you are struggling with!

Cheri said...

I love how the Lord is giving you the next X amount of years to do active mothering. No matter what else comes your way in speaking and writing, you and your husband will always have the needs of your child to ground you and bring you together.

Stuart said...

This just caused a giant smile!

Anonymous said...

There are many ways to parent, alot with good reaults. My cousin noted that she felt critical of a fellow teacher who left her child in daycare afyer her day ended and went to do other things. Then my cousin laughed at herself when she realized she had been a dedicated stay at home mom, yet her 17 yo son went to jail for 5 yrs. Hmmm. We are not always right.

Suburban Correspondent said...

You will definitely NOT be the same sort of parent you were for Margaret and Jack, but that doesn't mean you will be "phoning it in." You are a different person now, with a different perspective and at a different point in your life. This baby's family will not be the same one his older siblings grew up in, but that is okay.

I had my first baby at age 28 and my last at age 42. We often joke that the youngest is raised more like a grandchild. Her life is NOTHING like her eldest siblings' lives at the same age.

Erika said...

Anna,
Since you announced your pregnancy, I have had a strong feeling that this baby will guide you MORE into your chosen ministry of speaking and writing - specifically, that this baby will lead you to another book full of insights of love and parenting after loss. I was not surprised when you cut into the cake and saw blue - it felt like some sort of cosmic nod from Jack and the Universe (God).

I'm not saying (obviously) that the baby will be ANY kind of replacement for Jack - don't misunderstand me, please. I just think that with the new life, new insights will emerge that are going to tap into your creativity and open it wide once again.

I have been reading your blog since that September - and have felt a kinship to you (I know I'm not the only one who feels this way, as weird as it is to say!) Reading your blog and then Rare Bird - my own winding walk with grief has so many similarities to parts of your story - strange coincidences that happened to me after the stillbirth of my identical twin daughters. And then there are also other striking similarities, which I will not go into here - just really close and miraculous "God nods" - that I would tell you over coffee if we ever met.

But we don't have to meet for me to know where your heart is leading with this. I also feel called into something big for me - and after putting myself on the backburner for so long, it has been a juggle/struggle to put my needs first...and balance the needs of my children (especially my now 10 month old baby).

You'll see - this new baby will fit right in and for the time you're short on - you'll make up for with the new insights this baby will bring to you.

Grief changes you - and it's quite beautiful to see how grief transforms a soul (in a good way) after the acute period has ended. I am 7 years out from the stillbirths of my daughters - I am still grieving, for sure - it's just different. I would do anything to have my daughters back - and then I also know well the gifts that grief has brought me. I can't exchange those gifts - so I will do my best to steward them and share them with the world in an uplifting way... I can't wait to see what's next for you!!! :-)

Lots of love,
Erika

(urthmama.com)



Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing your journey with us. For me the parenthood-career life feels like a wildly tipping tea cup with the contents always sloshing (too much work one week and feeling neglectful of home and then swinging the other way the following week) but I wouldn't have it any other way. Having a supportive spouse goes a long way. Best, Mary from PA

Lesley UK said...

.I am absolutely certain that your new son will not restrict your writing or your influence in any way. In fact, his 'being' will make you feel so differently about things, and you will inspire so many women, those who have lost a child, and those that have a late pregnancy. I truly believe that Jack is watching and guiding you. When the time comes all will be well. Blessings

Joyce said...

God will make a way! :) xo

Denise said...

Anna,
I too have a husband who is "a man of few words", but I've learned over the years that while he doesn't say it often, he loves me deeply and is my biggest advocate. And when he does speak, especially on important matters, he's very insightful and a very true judge of character. It sounds like you have that same partnership with Tim. You will both navigate this beautiful next chapter with grace. I look forward to tagging along.

Sharon said...

I think that since God blessed you with this baby he will make sure you have the support to keep blessing others through your important work and to also take good care of yourself.

Arnebya Herndon said...

I adore what Tim said, and that it did for you what you needed. I think with the support you have, everything you want to do is attainable.

Anonymous said...

I can't wait to see how your vocation, your calling, evolves.

Anonymous said...

I think it would be very special if you wrote a book one day about this pregnancy and having a child after a death of a child.

Maybe Tim could work less hours or you could get a babysitter or part time nanny to allow you to still travel and write with the new little one.

Anonymous said...

Thinking of you Anna! I loved this post. I can visualize this little boy giving you soooo much more to write about......stories to share and how they correlate with your other 2 children... oh so much to write about. Remember that God has gone ahead of you and you don't need to worry, that's for sure. It's okay to wonder, though. Who wouldn't!? I can't wait to read your blog after the baby is born (and, yes, you'll have time to update your blog) and read that new book you'll be writing (while the baby is sleeping or Tim or Margaret are playing with this new child.) The blog and book are both going to be very very good:) Merry Christmas to you, Anna. Love and hugs always. Cindy

Anonymous said...

I love this post, Anna. As a 40 something mother who has fleeting thoughts of having another child, I can relate to how you must be feeling. It seems that fear is the best and worst of our emotions. It pushes our boundaries and can deliver us into unexpected joy and happiness. I have absolutely no doubt that the moment you set eyes on your sweet baby, your fears and uncertainties will melt away. It's all part of His plans. As always, I will keep space for you in my heart. XX

Ann-Marie Johnson said...

As another woman married many decades, I totally get how Tim's words were and are a welcome balm in your life. He spoke the words of true love. Few things are better.

So glad to hear great news about your pregnancy!

Anonymous said...

So well put. Our circumstances are very different, but I can relate to so much in this post.

julie gardner said...

This is so beautiful and the title?
Perfect.

Jennie Goutet said...

I love what Tim said, and that he is there for you in that way.

And I love that you're getting to continue on this amazing speaking-writing path WITH a dimpled sidekick.

Julie said...

I know exactly what you mean. Each stage of life certainly has its benefits & downsides. I only had 1 child & always wanted another so I'm jealous of your opportunity, but I'm also enjoying my "freedom" (my daughter is 16). It would be hard to go back thru that parenting littles stage. However, I think you will absolutely FLOURISH whether your days look more like a stay-at-home mom or a motivational speaker, who also happens to be mom to a baby. It is very sweet that Tim recognizes how much value you give others & is willing to put forth that extra effort to help you continue if that's what you end up wanting to do. Remember, HE has your life all planned out, & I have no doubt you will be amazing!

Elaine Alguire said...

So beautiful, all the possibilities... and the support from Tim is just the icing on the cake. I believe y'all will make it work. The baby is just an extra blessing on top of all the other good stuff.