Saturday, September 6, 2008

Building with Love

Sometimes dealing with daily family life can be a series of reactions, done not so much out of love as out of efficiency and necessity and an attempt to maintain appearances.

Things had been going pretty well with our newest addition in Texas. I had ventured out with the three boys several times, taken a trip to our alma mater, managed to cobble together relatively healthy meals, attended a slew of doctors appointments for the kids with Mr. Incredible only taking 5 days off. I laid all three boys down of the floor of the nursery at the same time, changed three diapers and three sets of clothes in one fell swoop. I even commented to someone that, "it must just get easier every time." Boys were fed, clothed and had active play. I was getting the job done.

But that isn't what motherhood (or this blog) is about, right? Building Cathedrals is more than just throwing stone upon stone and hoping it will look good from a distance. Sometimes we need to pay attention to details that no one sees, we need to put in more than the minimum effort to get the job done. We need do accomplish our daily tasks in a recollected manner and with love.

Which brings me to 2am last Thursday. I limped to our computer and did a search for "Appendicitis, symptoms."

It wasn't looking good.

At noon, my husband took me and the baby to the ER where they gave me a bracelet and told me optimistically it could be kidney stones. No such luck. 4 hours later I was in surgery to have my appendix removed, loaded up with drugs, while my mother-in-law was at our house with the big boys getting frozen breastmilk out to defrost.

Sometimes you need to go under the knife 4 weeks postpartum to remind you that your reliance on God is total, that, ultimately, we are not the ones in control, and that nothing is more important than the effort put into building up our little cathedrals...that this motherhood thing is about more than simply making it through the day and checking things off a list.

One week later and one organ less, I hope to remember this lesson. So last night with Mr. Incredible out of town, as I made a dinner of banana pancakes, plain pasta and tuna from a can while Incredibaby slept in the baby carrier that was rubbing the incision sites from surgery for which I can't take pain medication because he stubbornly insists on eating every few hours, I remembered to smile at my big boys, to speak cheerfully and to serve our eclectic dinner with love. We all laughed as Jack-Jack dipped tuna into syrup. Was it a 5 star meal? No. Did I do it with love? Yes.

And then, even more out of character, I asked for help. Grandma came over after dinner to hold the baby while I gave the big boys baths and put them down to bed. May God bless us all as we strive to do our many daily tasks not just to get them done, but with love.


Rory said...

Oh my goodness. My heart goes out to you. What a tough situation. Good for you for asking for help. I would come babysit for you if I lived anywhere near Texas.

You really got me with the baby carrier/incision site detail. I'm cringing to think of it. I wish you a speedy recovery and hope that someone will bring you a casserole tonight.

Gail said...

Wow, so sorry you had to go through that. Thank God that you are recovering, and doing so with grace.

Elizabeth M said...

Sometimes we do get some really strong reminders of who's really in charge, don't we?

I hope you have a swift, smooth recovery. I had a similar 3 am trip to the ER years ago, but that was before I was a mom. I was unexpectedly in the hospital last year and although dh is wonderful, it was hard being away from the kids -- and mine are older than yours.

And, hey, dinners don't have to be 5-star, picture perfect plates! Kids love the unexpected and mixed up meals sometimes.

Jennifer in MN said...

I had a similar situation, and I know how tough it is. After our 6th was born, I had 2 gall bladder attacks within about a week of each other. Murderous pain, worse than labor/birth!! Within a few weeks I was having surgery, baby M was 3 months old. I, too, had to call for help (MIL), which ended up not being all that helpful, but what can you do? I was up and about right away, because I had to be, but felt exhausted for here's my advice--try to get some rest so you can heal, continue to ask for help, paper plates--lots of paper plates, easy meals, oh--and get some more rest!!!

God bless!

Mary Alice said...

Funny that the theme of calling your mother in law for help really resonates. My husband called in mine as I sat crying on the stairs one day begging him not to go to work. The lion was 6 weeks old, and 3 year old John had bronchitis and was taking medication that made him hyper -- he was literally bouncing of the walls! Well, Grammy cancelled all her appointments and hopped on the train, and by the time she arrived the baby was sick too, and I was exhausted, and we wound up in the hospital the next morning. She cooked and did countless loads of laundry and stayed around for a week so that I was totally free to nurse my baby back to health, and we were all so thankful.

For me, needing help has been one of the greatest blessings of motherhood, and it is amazing how my relationships have changed when I have had people help me.

A big part of it is also accepting that it doesn't all need to be done your own way all the time, so the meals Grandma makes might be different, but Grandma's put a generous helping of love into all that they do, and that really impacts the kids, so it is a blessing for them when Grandma is around -- in moderation, of course, because they always need to get back to the reality based routine of mom's way of doing things, too!

Right Said Red said...

Texas Mommy,

We have been praying for you to make a full recovery! Life is difficult enough with a newborn, but a newborn and appendicitis?

We will continue to pray. I'm impressed that you are even preparing meals, I would order pizza ;-)

Elena said...

Texas Mommy,

We had all been wondering where you were and now the question is answered. I only wish that you had been on a tropical vacation instead of a trip to the OR. God bless you. I know how difficult it is to ask for help especially from mothers-in-law who don't always understand their daughters-in-law and what makes them tick. I know my my MIL is definitely a part of my growth in holiness. Hey, maybe the builders would like to blog on MILs as DIL-MIL relationships can be so terribly fragile at times.

Kat said...

TM, please ask for help more often! :) I'm sure that Grandma Incredible is just dying to help, especially when she knows that you're in pain, and she knows what it's like to care for small children with a busy husband! I'm definitely guilty of not asking for help because I don't want to be a burden to others, as ET often likes to point out, but I'm reminded of the "Servant Song" that we sing at church (one of my very favorites!):

"Will you let me be your servant?/Let me be as Christ to you?/Pray that I may have the strength/To let you be my servant to"

Let us ALL remember that when we ask others for help, we are giving them a chance to participate more fully in our lives, as well as giving them a chance to serve Christ as they serve us!

Gail said...

I recently read the book 90 Minutes in Heaven and in it the author was talking about how he refused to let people help him during his recovery until a friend told him that he HAD to start letting them because it was as healing for them to help as it was for him to accept help. That really resonated with me, and it's easy to see that it's true. We love to help each other, and (usually) don't feel burdened whenever we are asked. I bet most of our mother's in law are just dying for us to ask them to come hold our babies more often!

texas mommy said...

Thanks for everyone's well wishes!

None of the builders have had a c-section, but I can't imagine how difficult it is to take care of a newborn after that surgery. I've been offering up my discomfort for post c-section moms!

I have accepted several offers for meals this week. Ordinarily I would have told a homeschooling mom of 5 and a mom with two little kids that I appreciated the offer, but we'd be ok b/c I was worried about inconveniencing them, but this time I said, "what day is good for you". As Kat mentioned and red has blogged about before, accepting help is a Christian thing to do!

I think setting expectations can be important as far as grandparents go. I was shocked when my 3 year old knew who spongebob was b/c he had seen it at grandma's. We are so strict about what, if anything the boys watch, but never really communicated that to grandparents.

But my mother-in-law came over 15 minutes after we called her and said we needed to go to the ER and my parents were on the next flight they could take and stayed for the weekend without a second thought to their own plans. Thank God for grandparents!!

B-Mama said...

TM, God bless you, dear sister, for your wonderful outlook amidst life craziness! Your post was such a great reminder of the love I need to continue to shower on my children, despite feeling overwhelmed at times. Thank you!!! Prayers for your continued recovery and positive perspective!!! From mutual 3-boy land with love!