Being in the hospital with Coleman was a mixed blessing. Of course, my heart desired that we not be there at all, but since he was sick, it was exactly where we needed to be, and if I could choose a place, this one would have been the one. Those nurses were angels. Even the cleaning staff was amazing! But my other babies were at home, and since they were so young, they couldn’t visit us. And one of them has autism, remember? At this point in our autistic life, there weren’t many people I trusted to know what was best for Gillian. There was only one, my mom, and even she wasn’t always sure of what to do, which Gillian could sense. They were so anxious to have their non-pregnant mommy back that it tore me apart to be away from them. The first day or two, I worried. Adam was there with me most of the time, while my parents, Adam’s parents, and my sister-in-law took turns taking care of them, but as much as my family loved my girls, they weren’t their momma. Those of you that know me know that I take my motherhood job very seriously. I read books, I pray, and I seek advice from veteran moms. I stay home, and I now homeschool them, and I grew up with a mom that didn’t allow anything to trump her role as our mom. Of course, the only way I could be a good mom to them was the be the one there taking care of them. Or so I thought…
It seems that while God had me there, having already read the three books I bought and pumping every few hours to try and keep up my milk supply while supplementing the formula feeding required to restore his weight, He had some things to share with me. I felt much support while there, with daily visits from church members and staff and a pretty good rotation between both our sets of parents, but I felt helpless. I couldn’t help my sick baby boy. I couldn’t make sure Gillian was okay. I couldn’t love on my youngest, who had now been made a middle kid of sorts, and make sure she still felt love. I couldn’t assure my oldest that she was still just as special (though, she is the best at understand that of them all). I couldn’t do it all. Do you hear the commonality here? I, I, I, I… And do you remember what my friends told me just three years ago when I was pleasantly surprised by my sweet Gillian? I wasn’t going to be able to do it all without relying on God to get me through. I was not Superwoman. Now, I knew my parents, Adam’s parents, and my sweet sister-in-law loved my kids, and I knew that they would do their best to get them through this tough time. But I kept saying to myself, “It’s supposed to be me. I’m supposed to be taking care of them.”
This is where the whole “God can use tough times, tragic events, difficult happenings for good” comes in. I didn’t want my kid to be sick, and I don’t think God “wanted” that either, but while we were there, He wasn’t going to let it be in vain. He showed me, reminded me, that I can’t do it all. I can rely on other people to care for my kids and they can actually do a good job of it. I learned that it isn’t all on me, and that truly, my kids are better off when I make room for that village. We live in a world that is so self-centered. Life is about what “I” want, what “I” am going to get out of something, and what’s in it for “me”. Which can turn into, “I” am the only one who can do this job, “I” am the only one who knows what they need, and “I” must learn to survive this situation without asking anyone else for help. That’s not the way God intended it to be. He gave us community, family, friends to hold each other up. How can we do that if we hide from each other or close ourselves off from one another? We are so afraid of someone “finding out” about us that we don’t welcome those people that He has offered to us. OR, we are so busy trying to do it ourselves that we don’t see the needs of those very people in a time where we might be of help to them.
It’s funny to look back at this, thinking I had truly learned my lesson because somewhere along the way, I forgot it. I don’t like to ask for help. I’m afraid of the rejection (isn’t everybody?) and the resentment. Somewhere, I got it in my head that people think “You had all these kids, you figure out how to take care of them all.” Maybe it’s because I’ve heard it said about others with much fewer kids than me. Sure, some people may feel that way, but they may also love Jesus enough to let that feeling be trumped by His calling to be His hands and feet. It took a surprise phone call the other day to remind me that He sometimes gives us other people to get us through. You see, we are supposed to be His hands and feet. What did He do with His hands and feet, and what does that mean for us? He walked through towns full of people who ridiculed and persecuted Him just to heal someone. He used His hands to wash the feet of His disciples. He marched up the hill at Calvary, carrying His cross, His death sentence, on His shoulder with His hands. He bore the nails in His hands and feet, so that we could one day realize that we don’t have to rely on our own hands and feet to get it all done, but also so that we may use our hands and feet to wash the feet of others, to blow their leaves out of their yard, to make a casserole, to wrap them around a child whose momma is in the hospital with their new baby brother who is sick. I’m so thankful for those hands and feet during that time. The ones that cared for my babies, the ones that walked to the elevator and down the hall to the room with the tiny baby across from the nurses’ station, the ones that cleaned my room, the ones that took care of my sweet little boy. I saw Jesus in each and every one of them, even if they didn’t realize that it was what they were doing. I knew He was there, and I knew that I couldn’t do it all, but He could. And He did.