IMG_0108Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be “that other mom?” You know the one.

The one who’s different from you.

Maybe she works,works from home, is a SAHM, home-schools, public schools or private schools her kids.  Maybe she’s organic right down to her shoes and makes her own laundry soap.  Maybe she’s got tattoos or purple hair. Maybe she is younger, or older than you were when you started the whole mothering thing. Maybe she’s an immigrant and English is her second language. Maybe, she’s Muslim, or Jewish or Christian. Maybe she struggles with a chronic illness, child with special needs-or has a different marital/family situation than you do.

I’ll be honest- I’ve done more than wondered what it would be like. I’ve made assumptions and judgments about what it must be like and  how and why she’s different from me.

I mean- my way of mothering is obviously the right way. That’s why I do it this way. Duh. So of course I judge. In order for my way to be right- her’s has to be wrong. Over time, I’ve let those judgments and assumptions build up into walls. Walls that keep “other” moms out of my life.

Over the past few years, God has been doing something interesting with those walls. He’s been tearing them down. Brick by judgmental brick. For the most part it hasn’t been in miraculous Jericho-like ways. There haven’t been horns or 3 day marches. Just- meetings. Accidental meetings where I take the time to get to know some “other” mom.

What I’ve discovered is this: a lot of my assumptions and judgments have been 100% wrong.

I think, I’m learning to love- the other. Here is [one of the ways] the Bible defines love…..

4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 1 Cor 13:4-7 NIV

I’ve been doing the opposite. My judgmental walls have been built on assumptions of impatience, unkind thoughts, envy (the grass is greener- over there…) pride- my way is the right way, dishonoring other mother’s unique callings and personalities, seeking to prove I’m right, anger over being judged by others and keeping a record of the “kinds” of others who’ve judged me, delighting when others fail- because it makes me feel like I’m succeeding, not really caring about the truth as much as assuming I already know it,  defending myself instead of protecting others, doubting instead of trusting, giving up that I can connect with others if they are different or if it’s hard, instead of persevering.

What started out as an accident- has become a passion. Those “accidental” meetings have become friendships- friendships that have changed both my me and my mind. For the better. I’m making fewer assumptions and asking more questions. Now that I’ve gotten to know some “other” moms, I know how much I’ve missed out on by keeping them out of my life. I’ve also learned that we never know if, when or how our circumstances will change. Being surrounded by women of all kinds and backgrounds- gives us a collective wisdom to depend on when they do. 

Settling for judgmental walls isn’t good enough anymore. I want to love more. I want to love better.

I can’t help but wonder what the world would be like- if women (and mothers) grew to know and respect each other instead of judging and assuming? What if we learned to love the other?

I think that instead of being threatened  by our differences and spending so much time defending ourselves- we’d be better- if we mothered together.

Even when we disagree-we need each other.

 As iron sharpens iron,
    so one person sharpens another. Proverbs 27:17 

I’m not naive. I know that differences can cause conflict. Have you ever seen the ironworking process? When iron sharpens iron- sparks fly- however-the results are worth the risk and the work.

They are worth the risk in relationships, too.

My questions for you- do you catch yourself judging others? Do you make assumptions based on moments you experience from the outside- as a grocery store voyeur- or mall maligner? I have.  Or,  do you take the time to try and get to know that “other” mom?

I’m ready to tear down the rest of my walls. I want to engage with and learn from: YOU. The other mother.

Who ever you are. Similar to me, or different.  I’ve had a taste… I want more. I need more.

So- I’m ready to walk some miles- in the shoes of others- when I can, so I can get to know by a bit of experience what your life is really like- next to you when I can’t walk in your shoe-by listening, to you who live there-  instead of judging.

It’s gonna be a grand adventure.

It already has been;) Besides- it involves shoes! Who doesn’t love shoes???? :)

I have a feeling that if we stopped all the judging, competing and assuming– the whole Mommy Wars thing? Would be over.

Which: I’m ready for. How bout you? Looking forward to sharing more of the journey:) Stay Tuned.

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I walked into Walmart a woman on a mission.  I was focused. I was ready. I strode confidently past end-cap, after end cap full of impulse purchase inducing swag. I chuckled at “the man’s” lame attempts to dissuade me from my goal.  “No, no way,not today Mr Marketer. I am not buying a bag of BBQ Rib flavored potato chips… or Shrek Oreos… Today it is about: ME and my panties.”

Today, I will buy: underwear without spiderman or a fly front!” I smiled in satisfaction at my Marine like, mission focus. I confidently strode toward the underwear aisle. And upon arrival, fell into a panty- induced stupor.

There was an aisle. Yes, I said aisle. An entire Walmart aisle of underwear. No wonder my confidence wavered. I was overwhelmed with underwear. And this was just the panty aisle.. I hadn’t even made it to the bra aisle.

Overwhelmed by underwear?  Why, Yes. Yes, I was. (more…)

1619611_10202154319992195_1174648787_nIn December- it seemed that everyone was posting pics of their beautiful Christmas cacti. I had cacti envy. While everyone else was posting beautiful blooms- I was looking at cat chewed leaves and a cactus I didn’t even like. (I never have. I prefer roses and carnations and violets and pansies.) Last Christmas, when I sent my husband for white poinsettias for the table- he bought me a Christmas Cactus.

Actually, I think he bought it for himself. I was just his excuse. His grandmother always had one- and it happened to live in the attic bedroom. The bedroom I shared with it for a year during college. We’ll chalk it up to nostalgia.

I still didn’t like it. My first thought? “If I wait, it will die. Like almost every other plant brought into this house that isn’t made of silk.” Except: it didn’t. It survived. It survived being knocked off the counter by the cat. It survived my neglect. It survived my Kervorkian like skills of plant care. It survived countless kitty nibbles on it’s leaves. (No worries- so did the cat.) It also survived my quiet wish that it would die. Let’s just say: I still wasn’t a fan. They aren’t exactly “pretty.”

In December- though- when people started posting pics of their blooming cacti? I had second thoughts. “The blooms are pretty. Why isn’t MINE blooming? It’s not dead. What am I doing wrong?”

I tried sticking it in the basement for a few days. No dice. I actually watered it. (Apparently plants, even cacti, need water, who knew?) I snapped off the pathetic leaves the cat had chewed like cacti bubblegum, in hopes that a little trim of dying leaves would revitalize it. Nope.

I briefly (Okay- I daily) considered throwing it in the trash. A reminder of your plant failing skills is not the most encouraging thing to see every morning while pouring your coffee. yet, some part of me held onto hope. A part buried so deep I didn’t even know it was there.(I think it was under my detest for that ugly thing.)

Until a few days ago. When I noticed something weird on the end of the leaves. By weird I mean: Buds. Flower buds.

“Maybe they’re tiny zombie alien pods. They can’t actually be flower buds- can they? It’s WAY past Christmas….” I considered taking a machete to it for my families protection. (Too much Walking Dead. Sorry about that. It’s an awful show, I know. I’m a bad example. I don’t pretend not to be.)

Instead, I waited.

Then this happened:

It bloomed!

Just when I’d given up hope. I have to admit- I cried. I’m not sure why. Maybe because I’m afraid it’s too late for me to bloom, too. Maybe, because I realized I would have missed something really beautiful if I’d given up too soon. Maybe, because I’d found beauty in something I hadn’t found beautiful before. Maybe because I thought of my time living in my husband’s grandma’s attic bedroom… pretending to be an adult during that first year of college.

Or maybe- late blooms are all the sweeter- because they are most anticipated and appreciated. (Even on an ugly Christmas Cactus.)

This one, sure is.

Dear Lord- When I’m ready to give up hope- help me to wait a little longer. When I’m only seeing cat chewed leaves- help me to wait for the blooms to come. When I feel like it’s too late to bloom- give me hope and courage to stretch and unfold. When I compare myself to others- remind me you have a time schedule just for me, When I only see ugly- help me find beauty- even when I have to wait for it….. I love you Lord- thank you for the reminder that you love me too- late blooms and all. Amen.

In honor of the Olympics:  A re-print from 2006-

Curious? George was. So is Noah.
I keep telling myself: he’s not bad…. he’s curious, creative, innovative, but, what I see at the moment is, he’s messy. Maximum mess. Messious Maximus.

Three guesses as to what the ooze is that Noah is sliding in…..

Is it:
1. Gorilla Glue? (Thankfully- Not.. I suppose it COULD have been worse…–although I wouldn’t have had to chase his stickiness through the kitchen, if it HAD been…He’d have been: stuck. permanently. Which sounds like a pretty good idea on occasion.)
2. A Bodily Fluid- either  animal or human? (Nope-not this time, that would have smelled much worse.)
3. An entire bottle of syrup poured onto my kitchen floor, creating Noah’s own Olympic Speed Skating rink? DING DING DING!- We have a winner!

Like most toddler mischief-it began, with two minutes of peace and quiet.

I should have known.

When suddenly,I remembered that: Quiet is not good. I called out: “Noah!?  Where are you?”  No answer.

No answer? Also: not good.

3 steps into the kitchen, my feet felt funny.

5 steps in,  I saw what you see,in the picture above.

6 steps in, I decided I had to kill him….

Then, I saw his shirt. “GEORGE” It said in bright white letters across his back.

I stopped cold (and sticky) in my tracks. I was reminded of where we went just yesterday.

We went to see “Curious George”.  I giggled through the whole movie through because Curious George- is so like my Noah.

George is like any normal preschooler. Curious.

So is Noah. Not only curious, but also uninhibited. If the sticky syrup feels good- they slide in it. Our whole family saw Noah in the movie- we laughed on the way home… thinking of the little moments- where Noah has gotten himself into scrapes.

Don’t get me wrong…

20 oz. of maple syrup, (Okay high fructose corn syrup with caramel coloring and maple falling .. at least it was the cheap stuff.) spread across my floor, does NOT make me happy. It makes me furious. But- in the instant that I saw his shirt, I was reminded of Curious George and Curious Noah. In the same instant God ( I know it was God, because the woman in my head?  She was heading for her executioner’s hood!) reminded me: “George isn’t BAD, he’s CURIOUS. So is Noah.”

Truth is— I could have ranted and raved. (I have before) But, the floor would have still been a mess, the syrup would have been covering him… and I’d have felt awful. Instead, in a moment of lucidity, that also could only have been God, I calmly said…

Noah? What did you do? ” to which he replied ” I skating. I go Olympics!”

I told him: “Syrup is for waffles, not skating.”  I then had to figure out how to clean up the mess- before the dog went into a maple sugar induced coma….AND I had to keep them both from spreading invisible sticky footprints all thru the house. I decided on stripping the preschooler to his drawers and making him stand on a towel, while I mopped up what I could…. before putting him in the tub. (Noah, alone in a tub while I’m MOPPING-would be a bad thing…actually, preschoolers, alone in a tub is ALWAYS a bad thing!)

Noah must have sensed how close to death he came today- because he managed to stand (wiggle and sit ) on that towel, without leaving it for 10 minutes. A herculean feat for a wriggly boy.

We all survived, thanks to Curious George and Jesus.

FYI: When faced with a “Curious” problem like this of your own…. prior to the actual mopping up of the syrup— I recommend you use a spatula to scrape as much up as possible. This will eliminate the creation of “mop doom”…(you don’t want to know) and will enhance your cleaning experience. (These are the kind f cleaning tips you can’t find in parenting books. But, should.)

Dear Lord, I love you- and this child (all three!) that you gave me, please help me to always see them as your wonderful creation. Please, give me wisdom, to discipline them, and patience to guide them. And Lord- thanks for not letting me kill them. amen.

I looked up from my quiet -room service -sunday breakfast- before my flight home- as soon as I heard the hotel room door open. Just open. No knock. No call of “Housekeeping!”  Nothing. Just a guy. Walking into my room. In a royal blue polo shirt with the hotel logo on it. No name tag. And not how I’d seen anyone else dressed during my 5 day stay.

Which is when the “quiet” ended.

“EXCUSE ME?” I yelled. Fully prepared to take off my heels and wield them like ninja stars by flinging them at the “intruders'” head. (See? Heels are a travel must. they double as a weapon when necessary. I could totally have put an eye out. justsayin.)

The gentleman kept saying “I’m sorry” as he backed out of the room and closed the door. Dude could not be luckier that I was still on Michigan time and trying to make my morning less chaotic by being dressed and ready early. (In a lot of ways- seeing my spanx-less could have caused brain damage. Or caused his face to melt off like that scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark. Had I not been dressed- or out of bed….I’d have gone ninja psycho mom on him in a heart beat. (It was 9:00 am.) Clothes felt like I at least had that extra instant of protection. ( I may sleep fully dressed in hotels in the future.)

In the past, I’ve thought it’s lame and paranoid to flip those door latches latches or chains. I always put them on at night so that I can travel without making my husband nuts. Not so much during the day. I will now.

Chances are it was just an honest mistake. He could have thought I’d checked out already…. or just walked into the wrong room. Security is investigating. After a talk with the hotel manager- they comped my entire stay. From the points I used for the room, to the meals I ordered from room service and parking.

However- for that instant, when I first made eye contact with the “intruder” I wasn’t sure what was happening. My instincts and body immediately responded with: “You’re under attack!”  I could’t run. He was blocking (and by blocking I mean- standing) in the doorway. Real or perceived, I felt danger. I’m glad I yelled. The truth is you never know how you’ll respond to this kind of thing until it happens to you. Now, I know: I don’t freeze in panic. I reach for heels and imagine them as ninja weapons. Good to know. (I think. Unless theres another mistake and I put somebody’s eye out. I’d feel awful.)

Fortunately- all is well. No one lost any eyes. (More importantly- I didn’t lose any shoes out the door.) I’m fine. And now… the next time I stay in a hotel- I’ll  flip that latch and keep it flipped. Even after room service brings breakfast. Cause..(apparently)  you just never know when a random man might walk into your room at 9:00 am.

And hopefully, you will too.

PS: always pack heels. Sharp pointy, high ones. (Just don’t wear them in the airport, been there, blistered that.) Consider sleeping in them. Just in case.

The end.

Any weird scary hotel staying stories? Post them away in the comments…. hoping I’m not the only slacker to forget the latch thing….

 

 

 


  1. 6f72d9c1bb2806053f0ef0b54f998344

     
  2. John 15:4
    Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.

    John 15:3-5 

  3. 1 John 2:24
    [ Let Truth Abide in You ] Therefore let that abide in you which you heard from the beginning. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, you also will abide in the Son and in the Father.
  4. John 15:7
    If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.

    John 15:6-8 (in Context) 

  5. John 15:10
    If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.

    John 15:9-11 (in Context) 

  6. 1 John 4:16
    And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he whoabides in love abides in God, and God in him.

    1 John 4:15-17 (in Context) 

  7. 1 Corinthians 13:13
    And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

    1 Corinthians 13:12-13 (in Context)

  8. 1 John 4:15

    Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.

    1 John 4:14-16 (in Context) 

  9. Proverbs 15:31
    The ear that hears the rebukes of life Will abide among the wise.

    Proverbs 15:30-32 (in Context) 

  10. 1 John 2:6
    He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.

    1 John 2:5-7 (in Context)

  11. Joel 3:20
    But Judah shall abide forever, And Jerusalem from generation to generation.

    Joel 3:19-21 (in Context) 

  12. 2 John 1:2
    because of the truth which abides in us and will be with us forever:

    2 John 1:1-3 (in Context) 

  13. John 6:56John 6:55-57 (in Context) 
  14. 2 John 1:9
    Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son.

    2 John 1:8-10 (in Context) 

  15. 1 John 3:24
    [ The Spirit of Truth and the Spirit of Error ] Now he who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him. And by this we know that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us.

    1 John 3:23-24 (in Context) 

  16. Psalm 61:7
    He shall abide before God forever. Oh, prepare mercy and truth, which may preserve him!

    Psalm 61:6-8 (in Context) 

  17. Psalm 119:90
    Your faithfulness endures to all generations; You established the earth, and it abides.

    Psalm 119:89-91 (in Context) 

  18. 1 John 2:17
    And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.

    1 John 2:16-18 (in Context) 

  19. 1 John 4:13
    By this we know that we abide in Him, and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit.

    1 John 4:12-14 (in Context) 

  20. 1 John 3:6
    Whoever abides in Him does not sin. Whoever sins has neither seen Him nor known Him.

    1 John 3:5-7 (in Context)

  21. John 12:46
    I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in Me should not abide in darkness.

    John 12:45-47 (in Context) 

  22. Psalm 61:4
    I will abide in Your tabernacle forever; I will trust in the shelter of Your wings. Selah

    Psalm 61:3-5 (in Context) 

  23. John 14:16
    And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever—

    John 14:15-17 (in Context) 

  24. Job 24:13
    “There are those who rebel against the light; They do not know its ways Nor abide in its paths.

    Job 24:12-14 (in Context) 

  25. 1 John 2:10
    He who loves his brother abides in the light, and there is no cause for stumbling in him.

    1 John 2:9-11 (in Context)

 

I didn’t feel cheer. I started to think there was something wrong with my vision. What should have been merry and bright 1441273_10201627269256256_1776938028_nwas either dimmed and greyed or harsh and painful. Even a little vulgar. I felt a sting at others joy, and longed to share in it.

What should have been joyous preparations, felt like struggling to survive.  I scavenged for joy. I mechanically did the “things” I had to do. I cooked. I cleaned. I sought out fellow survivors. some, with fear… their survival stories often inspired grief as and confirmation of already felt fear as they did hope.

There were no zombies…. well.. except for maybe, me. There was no nuclear war. It wasn’t global warming, or a pandemic. But it was a post apocalyptic Christmas.

As a family, we’ve survived several post apocalyptic Christmas.’ I’m guessing you have too. (Fortunately, we’ve had many more with out cataclysms.) But the holidays, even with all their wrappings and trappings- do not bubble wrap protect us from pain.

One year- the apocalypse was an accident that made everything difficult and painful. Some years there were financial apocalypses. One year it was cataclysmic grief.  One year severe pain. Another- a cancer diagnosis and on going treatment.

So what do you do when you’re trying to survive (and maybe still try to celebrate) your own post apocalyptic Christmas?

Here’s what I’ve learned from ours:

1) Acknowledge the crazy that is joy and pain tossed like a salad and throw onto the table of your life. There’s no denying it. You can’t pretend it away or try to make everything “normal.” Post apocalyptic Christmas’ are different. It would take a psychotic break with reality to make them not be. It’s okay.

2) Acknowledge and allow that the joy of others may sting when you are hurting. Allow them joy- and allow yourself grief. It’s ok. Your grief (struggle) needn’t be hidden. But it’s also okay to engage in the joy of others. It can be good for your heart- if you can get past the very normal feeling of jealousy or denial.

3) Grieve what and when you need to grieve. Rejoice and enjoy what and when you need to. There is no need to feel guilty for moments of joy found in grief. They can be precious gifts.

4) Take time for some “normal.”  Even in zombie and other post apocalyptic movies-  humans relish in the moments of normal. You probably can’t do EVERYTHING you’d typically do- nor would that be healthy…. but choose a few things that are most precious- maybe a ride to look a lights, or a family tradition of watching a movie…..something simple but that speaks “holiday” to you- and endeavor to enjoy it. It’s okay if tears or fears randomly well up. Just let them. and carry on with the tradition.

5) Find some quiet. Find some heart to worship. Find some beauty. You might have to look hard. Pain, sickness, loss, hardships all make these things hard to see and find… but not impossible. To find quiet I sometimes have to get up really early- or stay up late. Which works- because apparently most apocalyptic experiences drew up my ability to sleep. I use those as my quiet moments. I’ve also been known to grab my camera and just go for a walk… somehow getting behind the lens helps me find beauty, even in some of the ugliest times and places. Or, I grab a book- and read beautiful words. Sometimes- I take a few minutes to create something beautiful… I like to knit (major understatement, there- I’m addicted to it.) But creating something  beautiful in the middle of pain helps me cope. When I don’t FEEL like worshipping- sometimes I just put on some music and see if it changes… (It usually does- but not always. Sometime my worship is just an offering of being still.)

Finally- know that you are not alone. Cataclysms of personal and other kinds are not respecters of season or tradition. Chances are someone else you know is hurting too. Reach out. Don’t make a meal or try fix it- your own apocalypse will limit your resources- of energy, time etc. However- sharing in each others pain is precious. (Actually- I believe it’s a holy experience . When a few pain filled people come together to love each other beyond and through their own pain…. it can be amazing.)

It also- gets better- loss, pain, sickness diagnosis’ that suck….. while they may or may not improve- will not make every holiday for the rest of your life feel  zombie like. It’s over 2 years since my husband’s cancer diagnosis- and while there are moments when the tears well up, and odd times when the fear threatens to overwhelm….like most apocalyptic survivors we’ve reached a new (uncomfortable, messy, imperfect) normal. The pain from our loss’s during the holidays become less stabbing with pain and more sweet with memories of those lost. Cancer is being fought with everything we have.

We fear, we grieve and we rejoice.

In a way it must be a bit like that very first Christmas….. When shepherds quaked, Israel wept for their sons and the world rejoiced over the birth of a savior. 

Dear Lord- Most of us at one time or another face  what feels like a post apocalyptic holiday. Our hearts long for a joyous one- but they feel bipolar with grief and joy. Help us survive, Lord. Help us find beauty. Help us find quiet. help us accept and acknowledge the crazy mix of it all. Help us to share our grief and our joy. Help us find the joy we can and find hope that grief and fear and pain can change over time. Be with us. Comfort us. Remind us that Christmas from the very beginning was a mix of rejoicing, fear and grief….. Remind us that it’s ok not to be “happy “all the time.  Most of all lord remind us of your love- even here- in our post apocalyptic Christmas’ I love you Lord- and trust you-mostly.  amen. 

If you’re experiencing a post apocalyptic or apocalyptic Christmas of your own….. I’d love to pray for and with you. Please let me know- either in the comments of via email….. You matter- so does your pain- to me and to God. Even here.