Week Links

Words for Women

Ann Voskamp: Why Mother’s Day is for the Birds

Sarah Arthur: Are Women Really Saved Through Childbearing?

Ann Voskamp: For the Mother Who Fears Failure

Jen Hatmaker: Adoption Ethics, Part 1

Mental Health Awareness Month:

Sojourner’s (me): What Angelina Jolie’s Mastectomy Teaches Us About the Stigma of Mental Illness

NPR: The New DSM is Much Like the Old One

Mad Pride

Respect International

Food for Thought:

Sojourner’s: The racial/wealth divide

Margot Starbuck: Why I Won’t be Spending This Mother’s Day With My Children

Why We Cancelled Mother’s Day

Now that Mother’s Day has come and gone, my household can finally celebrate it.

(The official) Mother’s Day dawned bright and early in our house and quickly became a mad scramble to get 6 people out the door for brunch. Mad scramble + emotional overload (see below) caused me to have a migraine. Migraine + necessity of being present at my own brunch caused me to take slightly more migraine medicine than normal, which worked just a teensy bit too well: Andy asked me at one point if he should wear jeans or pants; I believe my response was “shorts.” So the baby and I stayed home while everyone else went to brunch.

I think this alone suffices to explain why we decided not to celebrate, so I will leave out the parts about tetherball injuries, last-minute school projects, tantruming 3-year-olds, missing church, and arguments over the perfect family photo. But really, this is all pretty normal stuff. I think the real reason that Mother’s Day weekend was a bust was the even heavier than normal emotional load that came with it this year.

On Friday I wrote a piece about my son, Jeremy. I wasn’t sure if I would actually post it or not, but I knew I had to write it. As my husband wisely said, “writing it is at least 50% of the importance.” But then I decided, after much prayer, to actually post what I had written. The outpouring of love and support in response was phenomenal. With this outpouring, my entire world shifted: it became larger, better, less lonely than it was before. This is a good thing, of course, but sometimes even good emotions can be… exhausting.

But time moves on, emotional tides recede, and mothers must be celebrated. So, this Sunday, we will try a redo. I expect presents, quiet time, and coffee. These things will, of course, have to be sandwiched between tuxedo shopping for prom and getting six people out the door for church, but I am so, so excited to do those things in a world with less sadness, less pain, and much, much more love.

2013.5 Mother's Day Take 2

2013.5 Mother's Day

My lovely babies and I just couldn’t get it quite right. But they are still cute. : )

My Son Jeremy

For seventeen years, I have been haunted by the seemingly innocent question, “How many kids do you have?”

I used to say two. Then I said one. Now I say three.

The math gets confusing.

Over the last few days, I’ve read a lot of articles about why Mother’s Day is terrible. Articles written by infertile women. Single women. Women who have miscarried time and time again. I understand. Sometimes the happiest of celebrations, the most innocuous of questions, the most common of conversation fillers can be… torture.

Cruel in the extreme.

Take-it-home-and-cry-in-the-shower painful.

Those of us who bear the pain write about it
or not.

Talk about it
or not.

But we always, always think it, feel it, live it.

My first child, a boy, was born in 1994. His name was Jeremy. When he was 7 ½ months old, he died of SIDS.

Five months later, I became pregnant with my second child, Collin. When my belly began to show during that pregnancy, the questions started.

In the beginning of the long years since, I answered honestly… “I have two children; my first son died.”

That was a tough line for others to hear, especially those like grocery baggers and sales clerks. What were they to do with that big, fat, ugly sentence? In what part of the mind does one put that for processing, and where does the conversation go from there?

Friends. Pregnant women. People who told me I was too young to be Collin’s mom. Conversations flagged. Women cried. Others became embarrassed at their gaffe.

So I lied.

At first I didn’t always lie. Just mostly. Let the dust settle a little on a friendship then dropped the bomb. Resolved to never bring out the truth for those with whom interactions were limited to an exchange of goods or services. It was a “need-to-know” kind of thing.

And then the sometimes lie became an always lie, even with my close mama friends.

Why bring it up? Why deal with the awkwardness, the “I’m so sorry-s?” The fear that clutched their throats for their little ones, or even worse: the questions. Questions borne of living in a society overrun with talk shows and tabloids and gossipmongers.

So. Not. Worth it.

Except that it is.

Over the last few years, since becoming pregnant a third and a fourth time, it has become worth it. Each time I’m asked “how many?” Or, “Is this your first (or second or third) child,” I die a little bit inside. I feel the lie eat away at me. I feel my son in Heaven wonder if I’m not his mama after all.

But I am. I breastfed, co-slept, sling-wore, and mourned, am still mourning, my child who would be 18 now.


I just want that to be…. known. I don’t need to discuss it. I don’t even want to discuss it. But when another mom is referencing her children, I want to be able to make my own reference. To Jeremy. To say, “Oh yes! I remember dealing with that after Jeremy was born,” and have it be okay.

My now-six-month-old son is the last child I will have. And in the time since that fully hit me, I have become fixated on the number that flashes on my mommy resume: 3. 3. 3. Mom of three.


And so over the last year, I have opened up a bit more. One online profile for me says “mom of four.” Another says of “mom of three.” At least one blog post references Jeremy. I’ve been opening the door a little more each day, and today I’m going all the way.

Why? Because of the stirrings and conviction in my heart. Each day I think about it more and more and MORE and some days it’s all I think about. And now with Mother’s Day on Sunday, and the inundation of articles on how infertile women, single women, and women who have miscarried time and time again suffer through Mother’s Day, I felt the time was right to share my story as they have shared theirs.

I may never post this. It would make things awkward. It would open up questions. It would make my friends feel pressured to say the right thing. Question if they should introduce me to a new mama friend as a mother of three or a mother of four. Honestly, I don’t know how they, or even I, should handle that last question.

But I am, and always will be, a mother of four. To not say so ignores so much, I don’t know if I can continue with it any longer. But to say so seems…. attention seeking. Dramatic. But I can’t pick and choose anymore. It’s either/or not neither/nor.

If this ends up on the internet, I guess I’ll have my answer.

Jeremy.  May 13, 1995

May 13, 1995
October 10, 1994–May 22, 1995

Lessons from a Rocking Chair

When my mom got back from Arkansas a few weeks ago, she brought my sister’s hand-me-downs with her. Toys, mostly (she left the box of clothes in Arkansas on accident, darn it), but she also brought a rocking chair.

We have one already—3, actually—but my mom decided we needed a better rocking chair since we are fairly infamous for our “rocking chair fiascos,” in which my husband manages to break or otherwise damage perfectly good furniture. To his credit, this is because he is a good daddy and spends a lot of time rocking his babies in the middle of the night.

The Rocking Chair Fiasco

The Great Rocking Chair Fiasco of 2011

Anyway, the chairs (a grand total of 4 over the last 4 years, one of which I’d had for 17 years until my husband got a hold of it) are decent-enough Target-quality chairs. Fairly comfy, NOT easily breakable despite evidence to the contrary, and they fulfill their role. But this rocking chair my mom brought back… let me tell you, it’s a whole other level of chair. It cost about 1/3 of our mortgage (remember, it’s a hand-me-down!), and it has the comfort and durability to prove it. I still hate getting up at 2am (and 3am, and 5am, etc.), but at least now I’m really comfy in my misery. Sometimes I even nod off in the chair. Aaron likes it better, too, and so the times I need to walk him endlessly across his 12 x 12 room have decreased significantly.

Yeah, baby. It may not look like much, but let me assure you: it is.

Yeah, baby. It may not look like much, but let me assure you: it is.

This got me thinking: How much easier is life when we have these little comforts? There is no way Andy and I would spend 1/3 of a mortgage payment on a rocking chair but we, thankfully, have been given one of this quality. And it makes our lives better.

When Collin was only a few months old, a friend who had also recently had a baby stopped by so we could compare kiddos. As I sat with her baby and began to rock, my friend shouted “Stop rocking!” She’s lucky I didn’t drop the baby, I was so surprised. She went on to explain that she didn’t have a rocking chair, couldn’t afford a rocking chair, and had no hopes of being given a rocking chair. So, she didn’t want her daughter to get used to the motion.

As poor as I was at the time (and trust me, I was) this was not a dilemma I had ever thought about and I felt really sad for my friend. When I was pregnant with my first child, my mom gave me a rocking chair. Now, having just had (who better be!) my last child, my mom gave me another rocking chair (we’ve had a couple in between, but I’m ignoring that for the sake of symmetry). This will, of course, be filed under “First World Problems,” because really? A rocking chair? There are mamas out there who don’t have food or water for themselves or their babies, let alone a fancy chair complete with foot-propping ottoman.

This led me to think about how Aaron and Rachel can’t sleep when it’s hot out (no one in the Bay Area has air conditioning), and how this is true even though they have never known the comfort of an air conditioner. All they know is that they are hot, uncomfortable, and want to scream incoherent things at us in the middle of the night. Thankfully, where we live the hot days don’t last long. But to make those few hot days more bearable, we put ceiling fans in all the bedrooms. How fortunate we are to have this ability! Nonetheless, we complain, and curse the heat, and think we’ll never sleep again.

But we have such comfort. This isn’t a new thought, or a deep one. It’s the truth of the world we live in, discussed daily by those whose hearts break for those without even basic necessities. But with Mother’s Day drawing near, and with all the blogging and talking and praying and whining I do about being a mom, and with all the strength and endurance our society attributes to moms, even comfy ones, I think: what must other moms go through? What must they whine about? What the heck am I thinking to complain that my baby can’t sleep in the heat and that I should have bought a 3-speed ceiling fan instead of a 2-speed one because it was $20 cheaper? Or that Aaron’s Pottery Barn bedding is too scratchy so we have to buy yet another bed set?

I love my rocking chair. I’m keeping it, and I highly recommend it to anyone who wants a good chair in which to spend approximately 87% of their non-sleeping hours. But while I’m sitting in it, enjoying the breeze from the fan, I better give some long, hard, thought- and prayer time to those mamas who certainly won’t be getting Hallmark cards and chocolates this weekend. And maybe when I get my rear end out of that chair and out of the chaos of this particular life season, I will actually do something to bring a little more comfort into those moms’ lives.

happy mother's day!

A few days early. You know, just in case.