motherhood

A Mother in Warfare

My son kept looking back at me. A grin that reached his young soul. “Do you see this too, Mom? Do you see it? A whole lake! That boy over there could be my friend!”

I do see, son.

In this minute, like you, I only see the lake, the good things coming. I wish I only ever saw the lake. It is magnificent. I breathe for real. A deep one long held in.

But I see more.

How could I not? Headlines crush. Tragedies feel like tally marks. And that’s tragedy in itself. Again. Again. Again. And is it condolences, really? Or just everyone’s hot take? I look away. Not to stick my head in the stand. And maybe I do want my head in the sand when it comes to everyone’s opinions, everyone’s thoughts and prayers. . .

I’m praying too.

But my soul can’t take the noise. It wasn’t meant to. The burden is enough, and it’s too much. Was I meant to know it? I pray to God for healing, redemption. I surrender all I cannot carry. Which is all.

And I look at the lake.

Lean into life. . .this life from God.

My son grins. Laughs. He can’t get enough. Neither can I. I see God’s goodness here. I believe Him.

My daughter sleeps peacefully. I take in the beauty. Their dog runs. They hold their babies and walk into the water. And my own splashes in yellow boots. Waves from boats crash in. Not all waves mean storms.

Still I have no words for the world. I grieve it. And sometimes I don’t grieve as I should or weep with those who weep. God forgive me!

Life here is brutal.

But I look at the lake.

Because there is still life here too.

And I pray as though it’s an act of war. It is.

“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 6:12

I lean into all that is good and right, lovely and well. That’s war too.

“Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good; Blessed is the man who trusts in Him!” Psalm 34:8

And I live. There are things to do. This is war.

“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:10

And I write. Because I need a Lullaby in all this madness.

Even Mothers, Even Here

I’m a beggar

and a mother,

interchangeable.

spare these hearts of mine!

spare these hearts of mine!

these hearts outside of me,

spare them please!

but I know it,

have lived it.

they won’t escape

pain, tragedies

by the tens or hundreds.

but let them be,

let them breathe,

let them laugh and love,

be healed, be held,

be fearlessly here

for all the days of their life.

and bear them up

when they grieve,

or ask questions like,

“but where was God when. . .?”

and give them peace

to face, endure

whatever will hollow

their hearts.

and help them laugh again,

themselves freely to it

when happiness

lifts their spirit.

and God, let us know,

let the mothers know!

even when

they aren’t safe here,

even when

they can’t escape,

our children

. . .our very heartbeats,

are ever safe with You.

but we are weeping, asking for

spines tall, strong with hope,

minds built in the truth,

eyes fixed on You.

and here You remind us

we can fall apart,

we can fracture, shatter

because even mothers,

even here,

are safe with You

too.

I grin back at my son.

It reaches my soul. And there the grin finds my soul well.

I look at the lake.

I see it, son.

I do.

motherhood · Poetry

Birth Is Not Only for the Strong

Like many women who struggle during pregnancy, this one has been hard for me. It has been a mental labor and a physical struggle all throughout. It’s wild to see the way people talk about birth and pregnancy online. All the advice, natural things, do this, not that. On and on. I don’t get caught up in it and am very protective of where I go for information and the stories I read.

halfway!

But I’ll be honest, I’m approaching this birth “weak” as far as “they” are concerned.

I am not at all where I “should” be, and I can imagine many women are like me.

But I’m not intimidated by where I find myself at 39 weeks. Carrying my daughter has been a labor of love.

third trimester! (28 weeks)

And I’ve done it imperfectly.

There has been pain, fraility, struggle, anxiety, calm, anemia, long-lasting sickness, discouragement, excitement. . .

35 weeks! almost there!

As I approach her birthday, Psalm 71:6 is my anthem. “Upon you I have leaned from before my birth; you are he (God) who took me from my mother’s womb. My praise is continually of you.”

And that verse is the driving force behind this poem which says everything I want to say so much better and more succinctly than a long post could articulate.

This poem is to all pregnant women. But especially to those who have struggled and labored in love without the strength to do “everything just right.” To those who have been sick and weak for most, or all, of these last 9 months. To us who cannot and do not meet the expectations and ideals laid out.

Do not let the echoes of should demoralize your spirit.

Weak bodies dance.

Birth is not only for the strong.


Where Weak Bodies Dance

my body is not strong
like all the books
and my peers, professionals
say I should have been,
should be by now.

but when I’m asked to
deliver you,
I know I’ll do it strong.
without the shoulds,
with a weaker body,
with a zeal and spirit
only God could give.

and while my body works
relentlessly
after working hard
so fully and unwell,
so imperfectly
these last 9 months
for you,
my soul will be fully well,
right where it should be,
full resting.

for it is God
who brought me
from my mother’s womb
and it is God
who will bring you
forth from mine.

both our bodies
human, fragile
from labor
and deliverance.
from beginning,
heart and lungs
earthside.
from learning how to be
mother and child
in a world
where brokenness
and beauty,
shoulds and withouts,
meet safety and strength
in God.

and all the books
and voices,
though loud and long
and sharp,
can’t hold back the story
where weak bodies
dance and sing, rejoice
labor and deliver,
inhale, exhale,
the miracle!
over and over
us wholly here
half ready
all in
giving and receiving
life.

-S.V.F.

Poetry

For Young Mothers

people say so many things. . .
like you’re in a game you cannot win,
like your life has all but ended.
but maybe motherhood is a mosaic,
a hard wrought, stained glass window
where tears and laughter collide,
where wounds reopen in the working
and glisten if light filters through.

I am cut, reshaped, pieced back. . .
and I feel like I could shatter.

photo credit: Hannah A.R. Stories

“so what if you do?”
whispers the mother
beside me and beyond me.
“light will always poke itself through.”

her gentle words feel as balm
against the skin of my heart.
she holds an armful of sun,
scars from stained glass on her hands,
laughline wrinkles where
the window should hang,

but she wasn’t a game
or a life left for dead.

she was a stained glass story,
with no window to show for it.
and she held all the good things
all the people never say.
she broke and breathed,
stood long, and loved. . .
letting every inch of light
be every part of her.
she was a woman,
not a perfect stained glass
window.

and so I broke.
then shattered.
and breathed.

-S.V.F.