19 Feb 2014

In which I give you all a medal

I sit in bed late at night and tap these words out on a laptop propped up on a pillow on my bed. I’m usually in an old ratty T Shirt and raggedy sweatpants. The radio in Zoe’s room is playing songs I’m tired of hearing. Pete’s wrapping up his own emails.

While his daughter wraps him like so many blonde curls around her finger. Postponing bedtime like an artist.

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While the boys wind down. Loudly. Between battles at the bathroom sink, toothpaste flying bright blue in every direction.

Muscles flaunted. Bedtime stories begged.

Until they climb up the bunk bed ladder and give in to the exhaustion that their parents have been carrying for years.

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There’s this moment of exhale between the dishes and the rounds of breakfast tomorrow when I sit down to write. And often it feels like I write the same thing. The same thing I’ve written before, the same thing that many good writers before and after me will write about motherhood and its hard lows and aching highs.

But maybe we keep writing the same things because the same things need to be said over and over again.

Because tomorrow I need the same strength to make it through that I used up today.

Because by the end of today I’m spent and I need to know I’m going to be able to hike through tomorrow.

So at way-too-late pm I sit down with this computer and I wish I could reach through it and give you a medal.

You there on the other side of the screen. You who yelled at your kids in the minivan this morning after they wouldn’t cooperate in the mall, the doctor’s office, the playgroup.

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I like imagining you. I like meeting you. Because you look a lot like me and I feel more normal in my crazy when I hear from you.

I would give you a medal if I could.

I would give you a medal for sitting through all those hours of basketball practice.

I would give you a medal for sweating over that meal that everyone instantly declared “disgusting.”

You over there – you get a medal for keeping your cool while your kid raged the whole way through the grocery store.

You get a medal for remembering to buy milk. When you’d already checked out and unloaded all the groceries into the car. You get a medal for going back when it was the last thing you wanted to do.

You get a medal for making it through homework. Again.

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You single parents, you get a medal for faithfully showing up over and over again with no respite, no down time, no break. You get a medal for modeling heroic, anonymous sacrifice. For being the safe place, the chaser-away-of-bad-dreams as well as the coach, the make-up artist, the hairdresser and the Monday Night football guru.  For answering the hard questions that have no answers and looking truth in the eye and teaching your children by what they see in your eyes, your life, your nine to five that they’re going to be OK.

You working moms, you get a medal for the long hours you will commute before the rest of us get up. You get a medal for the courage it takes to keep home a place of food and warmth and security. You get a medal for bravely bundling sleepy kids up against cold and homesickness, for the trust it takes to share your children with someone else’s care. You get the hard won reward of trusting that the God who built our kids will parent them in our absence, will grow them in courage, and teach them over time that this is what love looks like – to lay down our wants for the needs of our families.

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You stay-at-home mamas, you get a medal for your over-touched, over-tugged, over-stimulated, over-worked, under-appreciated day in and day out of pouring out and answering the question, “what did you do today?” You get a medal for showing up at work 24/7 without a business card or a title or a bonus. For finding creative ways to respond when your husband’s colleagues, the pediatrician’s receptionist or the insurance salesman ask, “Do you work?” For never getting to go to the bathroom alone and forgetting when last you ate a meal hot.

You grandmas, you get a medal for loving from scratch again. For loving your children by encouraging their parenting, giving them room to fail, and even more room to succeed. For baby sitting, for arriving with chocolate chip cookies, for showing up because you heard the desperation in her voice. For loving those grand babies so hard it spills out of you and makes them irresistible again to their parents.

You dads, you get a medal for listening to the hundred thousand words that your women pour out after a day of dieting on kids and chaos, commutes and over commitments.

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You get a medal for listening even when you don’t understand, for loving even when you’re confused, for changing that diaper, taking the midnight shift, rubbing tired backs, muscles and whispering the words, “beautiful and beloved” into exhausted ears.

You family and friends, you kin and churches and support groups. You women who remember what it was like to live on four hours of sleep and don’t try and pretend it was pretty. You bakers and bringers-over of meals. You who know to leave when the baby falls asleep, to fold the laundry that’s sitting out, to stack the dishwasher while she’s stacking time-outs and bottles.

I give you a medal too.

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I give you thanks and gratitude. I give you a standing ovation and a whispered hallelujah chorus. I give you our tired hearts and our humble appreciation. I give you our sense of humor restored and our ability to get out of bed tomorrow.

You.

You all who build with people, patience and the cement of faithfully showing up.

I give you a medal.

You and you and you. Each one. An invisible essential medal.

That you can see when the light’s just right, reflected in miniature eyes.

All photos of our family in this post by the incredibly talented Mallory MacDonald.

Comments

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  1. 1

    I will take that medal gladly. I need it after the week I’ve had. And those pictures? OH they are glorious. The one with your hubby and Zoe, pure love and joy. You get a medal for saying the things we need to hear because we forget them so easily when life takes over.

  2. 2

    You are awesome, Lisa-Jo Baker. Thank you for the beautiful words.

  3. 3

    Thank you for this. I am hoping to see you at the Raising Generations Today conference.. but if I don’t, give yourself a hug and a high five for taking the time to say the words that needed to be heard by those of us in the depths.

  4. 4

    You’ve done it again, Lisa. Touched me right. where. it. counts. I can relate to the woes of that working mother…and even more now the woes of the stay-at-home-mom. I just about laughed out loud (but dare not wake up my kids) when you talked about your little girl putting off bed time and battles waging at the bathroom sink. YES! That’s my house. And YES, I feel under appreciated. And I love your last line…the reflection in my babies eyes is what keeps me going. Right? That’s what matters. What they see from me. And so I get up and beg more Grace for another day to be the mother I can’t be on my own, but by the Grace of God, will get to try again.

  5. 5

    Lisa, Thank you for extending the medal giving to all moms (and dads). So often it seems the working outside the home moms and the stay at home working moms are pitted against each other. We tussle of who has the harder path to walk when really we all do. Any time you let your heart be held by the gaze of those little eyes it gets hard. Our souls becouse torn in so many different directions. Thank you for the reminder that we need each other. We need to love, support, cheer on and recongize our sisters.

  6. 6

    Lisa-Jo, I just love this post, and I loved the conversation we had last night about these same things. And just let me say – yes, yes, yes, we need to hear the same encouragements over and over because motherhood moments both glorious and challenging repeat themselves over and over, and we need to know we are not alone on a daily basis. It was lovely meeting you in person – an unexpected blessing. <3

  7. 7

    Thank you for the medal :)

  8. 8

    Thanks for reminding us– His mercies are NEW every morning– and with them comes fresh grace, for the little souls we lead.

  9. 9
    Lillian Machir says:

    Thank you for writing!! You hit the nail on the head everyday, and give me encouragement when I didn’t know I needed it. You make me laugh so hard and cry so hard. Being a single mom looking for a job reading your words help soo much on the days I am wondering what? Thank you for writing and knowing what is in our hearts!!
    Sincerely
    Lillian Machir

  10. 10

    Perfect. I cried through the whole thing. I’m a newly divorced single mommy and I’m….really. really trying.

  11. 14

    And we give you a medal.

    We — me, and the hundreds of hundreds who have been blessed to hear your voice.

    Your voice as you bled about learning to like your son as well as love him.

    Your voice as you shared the grief of grieving for your mother long before she saw you become one.

    We give you a medal for still getting onto that laptop and taking that 5, 10, 20 or more minutes to write hope for strangers struggling with their lives after you’re exhausted from yours.

    We give you a medal for faithfully giving your raw thoughts for five minutes every friday, long after many have gone to bed, and encouraging others to write raw so that even those who had laid down their muses for dead might pick up the pen and write again.

    We give you a medal for courageously doing the thing no one wants to do, ask for money, a lot of money, because that’s what a mother does for her children that are needy and hungry and thirsty, even when those children are being carried on the hips of other women a half a world away.

    We give you a medal for taking up the call of encourager for the Encourager, to remind us that THIS is how your Creator sees you and loves you, and don’t you dare listen to the voices of the demons, whether they be in your mind or in the air.

    We give you a medal for sharing yourself, for sharing hope, for sharing God with all of us.

    We give you a medal, and we thank you, and we ask God that He continues to bless you, yours, and the work of your hands Mightily.

  12. 18

    Oh yes, and thank you. And, yes, we write it again because we need to hear it, to say it again and again through each and every one of our angles, let truth speak like light through a prism.
    I wrote this post last week, a spoof on the Olympics when I’d had one too many snow days and two-hour-delays and trips carrying toddlers back and forth over icy roads, I hope it makes you smile: http://afieldofwildflowers-kellys.blogspot.com/2014/02/the-maternal-winter-olympics-happening.html .

  13. 19

    thank you lisa-jo….i am missing all those “little” times all 3 of my girls are teenagers now…while they are pretty wonderful young ladies…their struggles are so much harder….tougher to help with…my hubby and I are really struggling right now with our oldest…she has made some pretty bad choices recently and I am having a hard time not blaming myself for pushing her in this direction…playing that terrible “what if” game and while i am constantly praying to God and trying to be patient as i wait for another dr return phone call cant help but wonder what am i supposed to be learning from this…what is God expecting me to do here…how else can i help my child who is in pain but refuses help…..or hoping that the credit card isnt quite maxed out so it can pay for THIS dr visit..who will hopefully help bring my daughter back to me…..

    • 20
      AineMistig says:

      I have no answers for you Kelly, but I want you to know I said a prayer. I think sometimes the only thing we can do is what the father of the prodigal son did: he was there, available for when the son came home. We don’t know what he did while the son was out losing his inheritance (I’m assuming lots of prayer), all we know is that he came running to his child with open arms when the son came home, and reminded his siblings to love him too. It sounds like you and your husband are already doing that. Keep doing what you’re doing. I’m sorry I don’t have anything more practical or insightful than that. I don’t have any answers for you Kelly. But I want you to know I said a prayer for your family.

  14. 21

    And then, like a fairy godmother, I’d so like to come and dust each medal with a bit of dust that would help you trust that you earned and are deserving of that award even when you are struggling.

    Beautiful.

  15. 22

    Amazingly encouraging! Thank u

  16. 23

    Thank you!! I was typing a blog post just today about how my daughter copies everything I do, and thinking that I was just copying what other writers have said before. Your words were exactly the encouragement I needed to keep writing, because it’s what God put in my heart and wants me to share. Your words are beautiful, and I love how you included every person that is involved in a child’s life. Lovely.

  17. 24

    Thank you Lisa-Jo! and a big medal for you as you choose to write even when all you want to do is sleep/rest – but you write so hundreds of us on the other side of the world can stay up and feel the warmth and encouragement from your written word.

    Rest! In his provision
    Funmi

  18. 25

    There are so many times when I blog about motherhood that I feel like my posts are playing a broken record, trying to encourage with the same words a million different ways, over and over and over. But you are so right. We keep needing to talk about it because we are all living it, day in and day out. I needed to read this today because I was that mom in the grocery store while my child yelled at the top of his lungs and jumped up and down, over and over and over, just Saturday. So that line made me smile. Thank you so much for this post.

Trackbacks

  1. […] In which I give you all a medal by Lisa-Jo Baker […]

  2. […] In Which I Give You All A Medal […]

  3. […] In Which I Give You All A Medal – Lisa Jo Baker […]

  4. […] You will not. And allow me to spare you months, if not years, of guilt. Listen, the first few years of parenting are cripplingly exhausting and leave you feeling like you’ve been operating heavy machinery under water without enough oxygen. Ask anyone in a high pressure job if they enjoy every second of it. Of course not. And parenting is the ultimate 24-7 job without breaks or raises or annual leave. If you haven’t yet, stop now and click here to watch this description of the World’s Toughest Job. That’s the one you just signed up for. And some of you didn’t mean to sign up, you got recruited accidentally. So it’s OK to feel overwhelmed and it’s OK to feel like some days you just want to quit. That’s normal. You’re phenomenal. I’ve never understood why there aren’t more parades in your honor. What you do is mind-blowing and if you click over here I’d like to give you all a medal. […]

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