The Only Lullaby

I was recently watching the movie Philomena, when I felt it. The sadness boiling up again, threatening to spill over and burn every part of me.

In the movie (spoiler alert), Philomena’s 3 year old son is taken away from her, against her will. She watches as he is crying and fighting and driving away with his new family.

I couldn’t stop the tears. Although I have never had to watch my child being adopted out to someone else, I have experienced the raw grief of having a child taken from me against my will. Her child was taken from the monastery where she lived; mine was taken from my womb.

I have recently started going to counseling (highly recommend it). Between the loss of Salem, the shooting an murder of our neighbors, and a couple of other huge things that have happened this past year, it seemed it would be foolish not to seek some outside help. Praise Jesus for professional counselors. Anyway, at one of my recent sessions, we talked about the loss of Salem for the first time. My therapist pointed out how my body was physically responding as we spoke. That I looked like my body was trying to pull itself into fetal position, but I kept fighting it.

A year and a half has passed, and to most of the world he has probably been forgotten. The world, after all, never got the chance to know him. I never got the chance to know him, although I have been changed by him.

Sometimes when I’m holding Copeland, I think of Salem. Copeland has my blue eyes, light hair, and fair skin. What would Salem have looked like? Copeland has my laid back nature and shares my love for sleep. What would Salem be like, as a 4 month old? Would he be a good sleeper or would I be up with him all night? Would he be laid back like his mama and his brother, or more proactive and ambitious like his father and his sister?

And sometimes I feel guilty, thinking of Salem while I’m holding Copeland. After all, if Salem had lived, Copeland would have never been born. It’s such a tricky thing and you just cannot follow all the feelings down their own paths to sort it all out. It’s just messy and mucky and it doesn’t fit together in a tidy way that can be explained. I wish I didn’t lose Salem. I wish he was here with me right now. I also cannot imagine my life without Copeland. And I want him with me right now too. They are both mine and both loved.

But I’ve started to notice that thinking of Salem while I hold Copeland doesn’t take away from the sweetness of the moment. On the contrary, it makes me realize just how much of a gift my little rainbow baby is. My appreciation for Copeland is even richer and deeper, because of his brother who I never got to hold.

In this time in our Western world society, we don’t know what to do with grief. We treat it as something we need to just eventually get over. A hurdle that we are meant to get over. Something that eventually has to move into our past, as a faint memory. That is so sad to me, and so wrong.

No, grief is not an obstacle. It is an end in itself. It is not something we must get over, but a pure and beautiful expression of love.

So I want to embrace the grief that will remain with me for the rest of my life. It may feel different as each year passes, but it is a part of my life from now until eternity. It is my love for my son. The ache and cry of my heart is the song I sing to him. The only lullaby that will exist between us.

This is a painting given to us by dear friends, that made them think of "peace" - the meaning of Salem's name.

This is a painting given to us by dear friends, that made them think of “peace” – the meaning of Salem’s name.


In Defense of the iPhone Mom

Earlier today, I saw something going around Facebook called something like “Dear Mom on the iPhone.” If you haven’t seen it, I’m sure you’ve at least seen or read something similar at some point. It goes something like this:

“Dear Mom on the iPhone…Your little girl is spinning round and round, making her dress twirl. She is such a little beauty queen already, the sun shining behind her long hair. She keeps glancing your way to see if you are watching her.

You aren’t.

Your little boy keeps shouting, ‘Mom, MOM watch this!’ I see you acknowledge him, barely glancing his way.

He sees that too. His shoulders slump, but only for a moment, as he finds the next cool thing to do.”

OK I get it, I really do. We live in an age that is so technology obsessed, that we are at risk of missing out on real life. We suffer with the tyranny of the urgent, which often causes us to miss out on the important. Just as iPhones make it easier to stay connected to social networks and emails, they also make it easier to miss what is happening right in front of our noses. Push notifications make us feel needed and important, and as if we never have to miss out on anything. They can sometimes demand and own all of our attention. I agree that this can be a legitimate concern for our culture. It can threaten our relationships with our friends, our spouse, and of course, our children. And at times I have felt convicted that I need to stay offline while Riley is awake and on some days I do a really good job at it! (and other days, not so great).

But here’s what I don’t get: why are there always so many negative posts and chastisements toward mothers when it comes to parenting, but very little positive reinforcements and encouragement? Why are there so many articles, blog posts, open letters gone viral, etc. that fuel mom guilt? Other mothers out there know what I mean when I say “mom guilt.” It seems to be something we naturally, instinctively have and wrestle with the minute our first child is born. We don’t really need condemning articles and opinions on discipline, being a working mother, daycare, domesticity, creative parenting, and technology use to get our guilty conscience to kick into gear. Even if they are written in the name of godly conviction.

A guilty reminder that we might miss a moment with our child is honestly not what we need. It is not going to be the grace-fueled motivation we need to pursue godly parenting.

Let’s say this hypothetical iPhone mom is a SAHM (stay at home mom). Let me tell you something about her, that I know from experience:

Know what she has a lot of? Sweet moments watching her children do things like spinning around in their dresses or watching them show off or watching as they bring you something they just discovered. Moments to play with her baby on the floor, read a book over and over again with excited inflections, moments of teaching them the sounds that animals make and about the clouds that our Creator designed. Moments of laughter and tickle fights and hugs and kisses. And for this reason, she is thankful that she has the opportunity to stay at home full time with her child(ren).

But do you know what she doesn’t have a lot of? Time to herself. Time to respond to an email. Time to read the News or thought provoking articles on culturally relevant and important topics.

So let’s just say that after a long day (or string of days) of playing “hide-and-go-seek” and dress up and Legos, and fort building and teaching shapes and sounds and singing, “The Itsy Bitsy Spider,” she takes her kids to the park so that they can play by themselves, exercising their imaginations, twirling in their dresses, climbing the monkey bars, and swing while she breathes in some fresh air, sits down by herself, and browses some articles and catches up on some emails. I say good for her. Because you know what? She needs a break. For the love, just give her one! Stop judging her parenting for one mili-second.

And if she’s on Facebook and Twitter or Instagram? Well let me tell you something else about SAHM on her iPhone. She doesn’t have co-workers that she can complain about her boss with or laugh at the ironic typo in the memo that was just sent out to the whole office. She doesn’t have a peer in the cubicle beside her to have an adult conversation or relatable moment with. So if, while her child(ren) are playing joyfully at the park, she checks her networks for a sigh of relief that there are other mom’s out there she knows whose child just pooped in the bath or who have only had 2 hours of sleep and find themselves putting the milk in the pantry and the cereal in the fridge, I say good for her. Because you know what? She needs that.

Give a sister a break.

Where are the blog posts and articles and open letters that say things like, “Hey mom that is singing a song out loud in public with your child, you’re doing a good job!” or “Hey mom that is working and putting your child in daycare trying to provide for your family, you’re doing a good job!” or even “Hey mom who is about to lose it because you’ve been up to your neck in laundry and dishes and tantrums and teething and spilled milk and poopy diapers, for crying out loud put your kids in front of the TV for a few minutes, take a hot shower, brush your hair and check your email BECAUSE THAT IS OK!!!”

I’m just saying I’d like to read those posts.

Because as much as our kids do need our undivided attention and affection, they don’t need the entire universe to revolve around them. Because as much as they need moms to teach them and listen and be a part of their day, they also need to learn how to entertain themselves, and play with other kids and siblings. Because moms need to eat, and pee, and talk to a friend or have time with their spouse and the kids need to learn that they don’t have the trump card at all times to interrupt and demand everyone’s full attention.

And because sometimes you just need to grab your iPhone to send a text like this, so you don’t feel alone:


Rant over.

I feel better. 🙂