A Time to Embrace, A Time to Refrain

For me, the onset of motherhood came suddenly.

It was a Friday – Valentine’s Day💗, actually. I sent a letter home to each of my students’ families, letting them know that the long-term sub would be stepping in after Spring Break. I started to visualize nesting, putting a nursery together, baby showers💭. I took pictures of my students as they played holiday-themed party games, and chatted with parents at the Valentine’s Day celebration.  I left school that day feeling excited, optimistic, orderly✔️.

What I never could have expected was that I wouldn’t be returning.

***
Earlier that week, I had requested a meeting with my school principal to discuss maternity leave.

“The High-Risk doctor thinks I should stop working around 30 weeks,” I said nervously😬, “but Spring Break falls around Week 32, so I’ll start my maternity leave then.” Our principal was an approachable, thoughtful, and family-first kind of guy, but my Type A mindset had me stuck in a place of not wanting to be an inconvenience to anyone – even in pregnancy.

His response was one that I will never forget:
“No problem,” he said, “And if you need to be done earlier than that, that’s ok too. The long-term sub will be here to step in whenever she’s needed.”

“Thank you,” I sighed, visibly relieved. “Please know that I’ll make sure sub plans are organized, and…”
“…And if they’re not,” he cut in, “then she’ll figure it out.”

Wait…really? I was blown away🙃.
It was exactly what I needed to hear – I just didn’t know it yet🙄.

***
The placental abruption happened one week later.  

There were never any sub plans.
***

To become a parent is to explore new depths of vulnerability. The first lesson I learned as a mom was perhaps the toughest:

I am not in control😧.

I may keep the ship moving and direct the sails, but someone else is at the helm⚓️. To have a child is to give he or she over to God’s plan for their life, and that sure can be tough🙏🏼.

As moms, we do everything in our power to ensure our children know, and feel, our love. We safeguard them to the best of our abilities – physically, mentally, and emotionally💪🏻 – but when it comes to really protecting them, only God can do that.

My husband and I were thrust into a parenting world of fragile procedures and dire statistics- one that gave us little choice but to pray, trust, and wait for what was coming next🙏🏼. It was discouraging, disheartening, and, at times, infuriating😔.

It was exactly what we needed💕.  

You see, the problem with control is that it inherently lacks trust. By holding tight to the reins, we can’t leave room for a wiser, more experienced handler🐎.

Our experience taught us that relying on Him isn’t always easy, but it is always worth it. This truth presents itself in so many ways – big and small – when it comes to parenting. We trust Him with the physical well-being of our children, day in and day out, and as they get older we pray that He’ll help guide their hearts while they forge a path toward independence🙏🏼. We provide a foundation to the best of our abilities, then we do our best to direct them down the path that He intends ➡️ – in much the same way He guides us, His children.

***
Had my orderly little rug not been ripped right out from under me 3 ½ years ago, I don’t know that I would have ever truly understood the freedom of “letting Go, and letting God.” That’s not to say it isn’t a conscious decision we have to make as parents – over, and over, and over again – especially when the path He’s chosen for our children isn’t the one we would have chosen for them ourselves, when it’s painful, or uncertain😕.
.
When Owen was 3 months old, his brain bleeds required permanent intervention to keep the cerebral spinal fluid flowing🧠. His Neurosurgeon– the head of the entire department at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital – performed a typical VP shunt insertion; but what is usually a 3-4 hour procedure, turned into a 9 hour surgery⏱👀.  

They tried, over and over again, to insert an additional catheter into our little guy’s 4th ventricle at the base of his cerebellum – the greatest source of his cerebral swelling – but to no avail. Eventually, they called it, and decided the only option would be to try again when he was older. At the time, we were frustrated to hear part of the procedure had been unsuccessful, and disappointed at the prospect of another surgery down the road😔.  

Fast forward three years, and the Neurosurgery team felt the time was right. We scheduled a shunt revision surgery, and the 4th ventricle catheter was successfully inserted – no issue🙌🏻.

Four days later, the doctors were stumped🤔. Owen’s shunt system appeared to be shutting down. He was rushed back into surgery to address shunt malfunction🤕. When the Neurosurgeon emerged hours later, he explained that Owen’s situation was one he had never seen before, and truly couldn’t explain. They were required to rework the entire shunt system in a totally new way, and if it wasn’t successful, we would be looking at months in the hospital while they devised a new plan📆.

But it worked – I’m not sure who was more pleasantly surprised.😀🙌🏻
We went home three days later.

Ironically, enough, we did end up back at the hospital🏥. A risk with any major surgery is infection, and Owen developed a pretty significant one: staph🤒. The entire shunt system was removed, replaced, and externalized outside of his body. We spent a month in the hospital while his body was slowly flushed of the toxins😷; the shunt system was reestablished.

Looking back, I am overwhelmed by the suffering my baby had to endure😢, but I’m also blown away by God’s timing, and His evident plan🙏🏼.

Had the 4th ventricle insertion been successful when Owen was only 3 months old, his little body could have never endured all that it did at age 3. God’s been with us every step of the way🙏🏼. He’s answered our prayers, though not always in the way we might have anticipated. We’ve had to trust, and trust, and then trust some more💙💙.


I’ve spent the last three years being my son’s advocate, his cheerleader, and his voice👍🏻. I’ve been convinced that God gave me more than I could handle on more than one occasion – after all, I’m Mom to two boys👨‍❤️‍👨, not just one. But He continues to provide, and He continues to teach me how to let go.

This year the boys started preschool. Owen has a 1:1 aide, and a whole host of people on his school team who love my little guy as much as I do. He’s grown in every sense of the word.

At our most recent therapy session, I had both boys with me. Owen was beside himself😭, upset at the prospect of hard work that his physical therapist was dangling before him. Meanwhile, his brother had decided that listening to directions was optional that day🤦‍♀️.
We were a hot mess🤷‍♀️.
I left that morning with a whole host of apologies, and a fresh dose of humility😕.

We’re not meant to have all the control, Mamas.

We’re just meant to do the best we can in the moment, and then leave the rest up to Him. I’m learning to trust that – which might just be the greatest way I can show my love and faithfulness to a God who loves me, His child, as much as I love mine💞.

There’s beauty in embracing everything motherhood has to offer, but I hope you find that the letting go can be pretty magical too.


💙 Jen

 

Soaking In the Truth

Scripture to encourage you:

  • “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: A time to embrace, and a time to refrain” (Ecclesiastes 3:1,5b).
  • “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayers and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).
  • “Ask and it will be given to you, seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you” (Matthew 7: 7).
  • “Surely, as I have planned, so it will be, and as I have purposed, so it will stand” (Isaiah 14:24).
  • “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11).

Music to inspire you:

Readings and Resources to come alongside of you:

Related posts on Texting the Truth:

Living Out the Truth

Ideas to try:

  • Start small. The balance between holding on and letting go can be a very fine line. Try to pick your battles, and take advantage of “teachable moments.” Let your children learn and experience, while also knowing that you’re there to guide them.
  • Embrace a family motto. We’ve been giving it a try recently, and I’ve found personal comfort in knowing that my kids have an easy reminder of what’s most important to “carry” with them wherever they go. In our family it’s, “Do your best, and give God the rest.”
  • Try a daily devotional with your kids, or a collection of Bible stories to share at bedtime. Check out some of our favorites in the Treasured Product lists below.

Treasured products we love:

{These suggestions are ideas from novice moms. Sometimes our life situations need more.  In that case, seeking out professional help is the right call.}

2 thoughts on “A Time to Embrace, A Time to Refrain

    1. Hi Katrina,
      Thank you so much for reading! I have to admit, now that we’ve given it a try I’ve really loved the idea/experience of having our own family motto as well. I’d definitely recommend it. 🙂

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