motherhood

The Desert Sky, Flowers, and the 4th Trimester

I smile at Heidi who smiles at me with her whole face. I love how she talks with such gusto, concentration, and effort.

taken in the first 6 weeks of Heidi’s life, not quite in the deep thick of it, but still in the very messy stages. this is pre-bloom. WE ARE BLOOMING NOW😍

I walk by the flower bed filled up with the wildflowers and zinnias we planted the weekend before her birth. Heidi is 3 months old now and it feels as though the garden is clapping for the joy of it. I can’t believe how special and poetic it feels to see these flowers bloom. . .these which once were seeds and planted mere days before her birth. Of course it would thrill my heart to watch life unfold like this before my eyes.

Heidi is growing with the flowers.

The sunflowers across the way tower into slow and steady giants. These were planted soon after her birthday and I love seeing time move in this way. I am not afraid of it. How I love the gifts God gives within it!

If I could describe my daughter in the few months I’ve known her earth-side, I’d say she is the desert sky at night. I can still see the Mojave night sky dotted with lovely stars. These stars are like joyful pin-pricks, like participants in something grand while just being happy to be stars.

Heidi Letta is just happy to be her and to enjoy fully whatever skills she has at present. She especially loves to talk and be talked to. She is vibrant, full of life, and radiant as she interacts with it. The desert sky at night! The fourth trimester has been a myriad of emotions, growing pains, and wonder.

I struggled through those early postpartum weeks, praying earnestly for help. . .that the fog would lift, that I wouldn’t spiral, that I would see past the feelings of sadness and overwhelm. I felt like I could have cried for a whole day. And God, I love this life you’ve given me and my children, but tonight it feels too much for me. Carry me until I see everything I know. And then, please keep holding me.

Though it felt long, the intensity was short-lived. And one day in the garden while Shasta played and Heidi lay against my chest . . .the fog lifted. There was a lightness spreading within. The intensity subsided. The cat was curled up in my lap. There was an April breeze. Spring was afoot. Heidi’s colorful quilt an ode to such a deeply good and hard season. My laughter. A 60 second video recorded to remember the life I was surrounded in though it had often felt like TOO MUCH. But there we were. And there I was too.

Some days after I would thank God for an ordinary, BEAUTIFUL morning with my kids. For all the roses blooming in the garden. . .for life that felt like LIFE again.

And then soon after that I would be asking God for help as the demands of motherhood overwhelmed! me. This would be followed by many more prayers falling between feelings of joy, difficulty, strength, weakness, laughter, sadness. . .etc. . .

While the intensity of postpartum has eased and the initial pressing heaviness was short-lived, my prayers still sound much the same! Thanksgiving and cries for help! Joy and sadness. Honesty. Confiding myself in God.

In the 4th trimester, I struggled, but also grinned, laughed, and was submerged in life. God was ever present. His provision carried me through! Sometimes, I look at my kids and I think HOW DO I HAVE TWO KIDS?! HOW ARE THEY REAL?! But they are. And I love it.

Early on Sunday morning, before the rest of the house woke up, Heidi and I slipped outside to water the garden. She was still in her pj’s just lounging while I made puddles around the the plants with our garden hose. We’d share big smiles. She’d watch the water. I’d talk to her here and there. I love being in her company. I love being her mother. I love sharing the garden with her.

Those early postpartum weeks were deep and heavy, but here we are. Here we are! In the garden smiling and watering the plants together on a summer Sunday morning.

And rather than deep like drowning, the depth is found in living. l am deeper in my motherhood, deeper in my fellowship with God, deeper in my love for my children, deeper in my commitment to the life & tasks at hand, for the day in front of me. There is a lightness of foot and a lightness of heart I did not know I’d know again. Postpartum can be like that. But it’s not (and shouldn’t!) be like that forever.

And while the garden claps for joy, I clap too.

For so many reasons.

For Heidi’s powerful birth. For who Heidi is. For fog lifting. For flowers growing. And me too. For my motherhood breaking out of its cocoon. For laughter. For tears that needed falling. And every prayer heard. For mornings in the garden. For the Mojave night sky I still get to see every day. (What a gift you are, Heidi!) For time moving. For babies that don’t keep. And my not staying the woman I used to be. For God’s presence in it all and that He will be present in all the days to come. And in the minutes too. Because, sometimes, motherhood is done by the minute, or more truly, by the second! God is with us!

So, I’m clapping too. For the sheer life of it all.

motherhood · Poetry

To Moms of Tiny Artists

Art in the Thick of It, Poem🎨💓

“I don’t make art anymore.”

But I watched her for a day.

November 2021 in the garden with my eldest, my firstborn, my boy!!

She smiled at the morning and then paved a way. She made room for their messes, imaginations soar. She helped them make sense of their huge world and her own such a blur.

She cheered for the funnest dreams. . .yes, the United States could use a queen! She pointed to leaves falling, can you hear the rustling? She filled up cups with water for stubby stems and weeds. She picks out mundane magic hidden inside of everything.

And when the magic ran all out. …her arms gathered up their growing pains. Her voice, “this is how a deep breath goes.” And her heart, “I’m here with you, and I love you very much.” Their eyes, “mom! our best nightlight, our knight in shining armor!” We are big and safe. We are strong and brave. We are loved and happy.”

Still she held back tears, sighed, “I don’t make art anymore.” But how can this be true?

She painted life by living, and like colors on a canvas, her art filled up her children. and greater still, where are the children standing next to her? Because all I really see are artists standing tall who just can’t wait to emulate
the wild art of living, of painting like their Mother.

-S.V.F.

a note // please do make some art if you can & enjoy those hobbies & pastimes but for the seasons and/or days which are all consuming & demanding DO NOT LOSE HEART! Tiny artists in your care!!💓

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.