A while back my good friend Katie asked me to share in a series she had on mothering without losing your mind. I wrote about persevering when the ball from left field comes time and again. http://www.poemapromise.blogspot.co.uk/2012/02/when-curve-balls-keep-coming-another.html
In this time of transition and waiting we now find ourselves learning to help our eldest son who is 3 navigate life and sleep when life throws him curve balls. We always planned to move back to the UK following Mark’s time of study at Regent. Our eldest was only 3 months when we moved to Regent and unbothered by it all. Now we have moved back and he is all too aware of the home, friends and life he has been asked to leave behind. His younger brother may be the one who gets to have a Canadian passport, but Vancouver was and as far as he is still concerned is his home.
There will no doubt be curve balls for us in this season too but we know to anticipate them, they won’t be from left field in the way they are for our son. What does it mean that all your toys are on a ship? We know that all being well we will be reunited with our belongings in a couple of months but when you are not even sure what tomorrow means, two months means they are gone forever. What does it mean when you know the days of the week by the activities of the week; home group at Carl’s house where Scoop lives, chapel childcare & soup lunch, bread day, preschool, mums group and Sunday school? What does it mean when the lights at pedestrian crossings are not as you know? When you travel by car to get places and not by bus where you had finally graduated from sitting in the stroller to being able to sit at the back of the bus and you know which bus to get where? The supermarket does not have car trolleys and everyone is excited to have ‘you home’ but your heart is saying ‘I want to go home’.
There is the bittersweet reminder for us in the midst of all of this from friends who either have moved their own children at similar ages or went through a similar move themselves at this young age and share that he will not remember Vancouver before too long. That while it may have been hard going in the moment it has not scarred them forever. This eases the fears of the night time questioning as I hold a child pleading to go home, but it also hurts to think that the friendships and life we have had as a family will be a lost memory to him. But I am thankful for the shaping and influence that the depth of friendships we have had and the love and care others have poured into him will not be lost but have a deep rippling effect that will go far further than we can imagine in God’s great work.
Just as we need to trust God when the curve balls come, and are called to walk by faith, we ask our son to do likewise. To trust us, to trust that we are listening to God for the next step for our family. To trust us that we will see our belongings again. That we will make new friends and have a new sense of home. And in that there is a deep lesson and challenge to us. Are we listening to God for the next steps or are we making our own plans? Do we believe that God has the best for us? That we are not merely puppets in a game. Are we walking this season in a tangible faith that our sons can grasp and take courage in? And I realise that the lessons I need to remember when the curve balls come my way are the same when helping to navigate our son when curve balls come his way.
And when I do that, I learn:
It is about staying in the moment, going further up and further in and remembering that we are being told our stories and not the full ins and outs of the stories of others, even our own children.
It is about trusting God right there and then and saying with open hands ‘your will, your grace, your mercy’.
It is about discerning safe places to be real about the moment, to ask for help, to receive help, to be honest, to not take life seriously, to change plans, and to let go of high ideals on how the house should be.
It is about recognising this as both a season that shall pass, but also as life in its fullest moment to be fully embraced and entered into.
It is about asking our children to follow us further in and further up. To reach back and offer a helping hand, to climb alongside them and in the midst of conversations about what it means for our belongings being on the ship and Thomas the tank engine; to read about Dogger and the Tiger who came to tea, and I want to go home, I don’t want to go to England, and can I have a cookie now as you hold hands singing ‘Deep and Wide’ and ‘Joy to the World’.
It is about trusting that God’s strength truly is sufficient for another night of little if any sleep and for the day that follows.
It is about not simply mumbling on my own, but for all of us to pray together as a family.
Then before you know it you have come through that dark stretch of path. Conversations and activities carry on but the backdrop is not quite so daunting and unknown. As I write this I realise that these are not just lessons for when curve balls come but for each moment of life lived out in faith and ones I need to keep coming back to through all moments of everyday family life.