Freedom · spiritual growth

Two Truths and a Lie

maxresdefaultWhen my children were teenagers they taught me a game. The name of the game was, “Two Truths and a Lie” and it was a great way to pass time while waiting for our food at a restaurant, when standing in line at an amusement park, or while riding in the minivan. The conversational game was as simple as its name. One person would list two things that were true and one thing that was a lie. The others players would then guess which two were the truths and which one was the lie.

Here’s an example:

  • A)  Before my mother was married she worked as a lingerie model.
  • B)  Since marrying my husband, we have lived in 14 different homes.
  • C)  I wrote the entire first draft of my fictional manuscript, Kimly’s Trade, in 7 weeks.

So, which are the truths? And which one is the lie?

The lie is “B”. Since marrying my husband we have actually lived in 15 different homes. #packingpro

I’ve come to realize that a lot of us play a more harmful variation of “Two Truths and a Lie” and when we do, we are overwhelmed with unnecessary shame and fear. What happens is we take two indisputable truths and while pondering them, we allow a lie to seep into the mix. Here’s an example of a version I’ve been struggling through over the last couple weeks.

  • A)  My very pregnant daughter needs help with her sick toddler.
  • B)  I live over 350 miles away.
  • C)  Because of my poor choices, I had to move away and now (once again) I have failed the ones I love the most.

So, which are the truths? And which one is the lie?

In this game the lie is easy for you to spot for a couple reasons. First, you love me…or you don’t, but either way, you want to believe there is something decent about me, or you wouldn’t be reading my blog. Because of that you want me to forgive myself and move on. You want me to start new and let the past stay in the past. The second reason you can see the obvious lie is because you are not emotionally attached to my situation. It doesn’t boil your blood, which allows you to see “C” as a lie.

But what happens when it is you? How can you spot the lie when the game is boiling your blood and you don’t even realize you’re playing “Two Truths and a Lie” because it feels like you’re playing “I’m the Biggest Loser Ever…and Here is My List of Reasons Why”

Well, you’ll certainly get no sideways glances from me for playing the second game; I’ve definitely played the “I’m the Biggest Loser Ever” game myself. However, in some of my more sane moments, I’ve come to recognize a couple things about “Two Truths and a Lie.”

First of all, the lie is bathed in judgment. Look at the items on your list and pull out the ones that have judgment attached to them. Chances are they are not indisputable truths. The things that we know about ourselves to be absolute truths will only lead us to a place of judgment if we need to change the way we are living. If we have overcome, if we are making steps to move towards a better way of living, if we are honestly trying to restore what was damaged—there is no room for judgment.

None. Judgment was necessary, but the work there is done and judgment has passed.

The second thing I have come to recognize about playing “Two Truths and a Lie” is that the lie always sneaks in super-duper close to the truths. (Yes, I said duper…that’s how close it is.) Remember the original lie in the first game. I said:

  • B)  Since marrying my husband, we have lived in 14 different homes.

The true answer of 15 different homes was super-duper close. It was almost accurate. Well, that’s the way the enemy gets us to fall for lies. The lie isn’t glaringly obvious. If I had said, “Since marrying my husband, we have lived in 3 different homes”, most of you would have been able to do a quick inventory of what you know about me and saw that as a lie.  An obvious lie is easy to spot. But, when it is almost accurate, it’s tougher to discern. In my second game, I said:

  • C)  Because of my poor choices, I had to move away and now (once again) I have failed the ones I love the most.

While the answer is riddled with judgment, it also holds some accuracy. I did make poor choices, and that did set off a chain reaction leading to our relocation. But, I am not failing the ones I love the most. There is the judgement. There is the lie.

By removing judgment, the statement loses it’s power over me. It turns “Two Truths and a Lie” into, “Three Parts of an Ongoing Story”

I’m not entirely sure why I felt led to share this game of “Two Truths and a Lie” with you. Lately, blogging is a conundrum in and of itself. While writing each post, I know two truths:

  • A) I have to do what I am called to do because that’s what gives me life.
  • B) I am called to write.

But after the post has published, I usually hear a lie. It doesn’t take long before I question the validity of everything I wrote. By the end of the day I have heaped scores of judgment on myself for all that I have publicly shared through blogging. I see a list of people making huge strides to make the world a better place, and I’m not on that list. The moment after the moment I blog is pretty much a nightmare.

Thus, I make a new choice…Today, I refuse to play “Two Truths and a Lie.” I choose instead to look for a third truth, and I choose to see it all as part of an ongoing story.

Grief · spiritual growth

Confessions of a Flawed Mommy

I have a confession to make: I was a flawed Mommy. There is probably a litany of stories to prove it, but I saw something online today, and it prompted the memory of two specific events that occurred during my flawed Mommy years. The incidents I am about to share took place over the course of two days in 1995:

  • On the night of January 30th, 1995 I put my 19-month-old daughter to bed without sheets or bumper pads in her crib.
  • On the morning of January 31st, 1995 I used a baby blanket to prop up a bottle for my 8-month-old son when he woke at 5:30AM.

There it is. Two shameful and embarrassing truths about the kind of Mommy I was twenty years ago.

It might seem odd to some that I remember these specific incidents, but because of the events that occurred through that night and into the morning, I have lived a long time knowing that following my instincts with these two shameful things placed me and my daughter in our destined places in the wee hours of the morning on January 31st.

Let’s back-up to earlier in the day on January 30th. It starts when I placed my daughter’s bunny rabbit bedding in the washing machine in the garage. After tossing her sheets and her bumper pads in the machine, I went about the business of being a Mommy to my 5-year-old daughter, my 4-year-old son, my toddler daughter, and my baby boy who was just 10 and a half months behind his sister in age. (Yes, you read that correctly.) I guess you could say my hands were full.

KH-If-You-Think-My-Hands-Are-Full-300x300

FullSizeRender(22)Back then, my husband and I spent a lot of time on the floor. Playing with Barbies and “toy guys”, wrestling and reading, helping someone put on their shoes, or changing a diaper. We lived in a modest three bedroom home, and each of the kids’ rooms held one bed and one crib. The boy’s room was a primary colored den of Legos and Hot Wheels, while the girl’s room was a pastel princess palace with patchwork quilts and bunny rabbits.

When evening came, we went through the bedtime rituals and everything was status quo, until I saw my daughter’s unmade crib. Remembering that her bedding was wet in the washing machine, but desperate for a few hours of grown up time with my husband, I placed a blanket on the mattress and put my toddler in her crib.

A few hours later my toddler daughter started to fuss. Now, there is nothing unusual about a fussy child at bedtime—but for this toddler—it was unheard of. The toddler was Molly, and she was born prematurely at 35 weeks with a brain malformation called Dandy Walker. What that means in simple terms is that the back section of her brain, the cerebellum, did not form. Where the cerebellum would have been there was extra cerebral spinal fluid.

Diagnosed in-utero, Molly was greeted by a family ready to love her, which was only about the easiest task any of us ever had to face. She was agreeable, charming, and stunningly beautiful. She would eat whatever she was offered, play easily with her siblings or alone, and she had a smile that would stop strangers. Despite the lack of a cerebellum, her gross and fine motor skills developed with only a slight delay.

Because Molly was born prematurely, she had a preference for sleeping; even as an infant she preferred sleeping to eating. It’s very common among premies. When I first brought her home from the hospital I would set an alarm and wake her for feedings to ensure that she was getting the necessary calories to thrive. As she grew stronger, her love of sleep never subsided. That’s what made her restless behavior unusual; my child who had always been a great sleeper was uncomfortable and shifting in her crib.

I remember the shame I felt about her shuffling around in a crib with no sheets and no bumper pads. I remember believing that the absence of those items made me slightly unfit as her Mommy. I remember being concerned that Molly’s fussing might wake her sister, who had to be well rested for Kindergarten the next morning; I remember judging myself for not having more money. I remember silently belittling myself and my husband for not making more money so that we could have a bigger home and babies and grade school children would not have to share rooms.

To this day, some twenty years later, I don’t know which feeling led me to go in and get her out of that crib and bring her into my bed. Was it shame or guilt?

When I went in to check on Molly, one of her arms had slid between the bars of the crib and her head was pressed against the hard rails. I pulled her up and out and brought her into bed with her Daddy and me. It was a long and restless night as Molly continued to fuss. I turned on the light, and when I looked in her eyes, I knew something was off. I told my husband we needed to take her to the doctor in the morning. The decision to wait until morning would haunt me for years. Even as I type this I wonder how many people are whispering, “Why didn’t you go right then? Why did you wait?”

At 5:30AM, Molly’s little brother woke in his crib. When I heard him, I turned my head toward my husband’s side of the bed to wake him. I planned on asking him to make a bottle for our 8-month-old son, but my husband was gone. He had moved out to the couch to give us some room. I carried Molly out to where my husband lay sleeping and woke him enough to hand her over, and then I went into the kitchen and made a bottle for my baby son. I took the bottle into the primary colored room and, without hesitation, I used one of his blankets to prop his bottle. I watched as his chubby little hands settled around it and held it in place.

Yes, I was tired. No, it wasn’t the first time. But it is the time I remember, because it is the time that I not only wanted to get back into bed, but I wanted to get my daughter back into my arms.

And again, twenty years beyond that morning, I don’t know completely why I chose to prop my baby boy’s bottle. Was it exhaustion or fear? Or was it the Spirit of God, alive in me and prompting me to pull Molly closer to my heart in her final hours?

All I know for certain is that because of the choices made by this flawed Mommy, the morning that my daughter died, she was lying in my arms. At around 6:30 AM, Molly’s labored breathing ceased. No longer fighting for sleep, she was eased her into her next life. My little girl went directly from the arms of her Mommy to the arms of her Savior.

Should I have taken her to the hospital in the middle of the night? It was a haunting thought. Months later that question led me back to the hospital where Molly had been taken by ambulance and pronounced dead. I met with the nurse who had been working the morning Molly had died, and she walked me through what would have happened had we come to the hospital during the night. The nurse told me that arriving earlier wouldn’t have stopped what was already happening. The weight of a cerebral fluid cyst had settled on Molly’s brain stem, if she had been brought to the hospital in the night, Molly would have been placed on life support. By the time they would have diagnosed what was happening, it would have been too late. My husband and I would have had to decide whether or not we should keep her on life support.

Molly was leaving on the morning of January 31st whether she was lying in a hospital bed, in her crib surrounded by the coziest bunny bedding on earth, or nestled securely on her Mommy’s chest. I am thankful that due to my “failures” as a parent, it was the latter.

This morning my friend, who is a Mommy to three littles, shared this post on Facebook:

It takes guts and confidence to stare the possibility of people looking down on you in the face and do what’s best for your family sometimes. Especially in the mommy world! Today I was reminded that the most important thing my kids need is simply ME. Everything else is secondary. I am their first impression of how God loves them and if I am distracted by the long list of people’s opinions on what is best for my children then I’m stressed. When I am stressed, I am less available to my kids. -Candice Hernandez

Amid the comments of encouragement to my friend, I read about the movement, End Mommy Wars, started by Similac.

  • Think before you speak. Better yet, say nothing.
  • Check your eye roll. And the raised eyebrow.
  • Respect the mom. Even if you’re a different kind of mom.

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I desire this for all the Mommies. Even though I am no longer a Mommy, my daughter is raising my granddaughter, and I know that she has days where she feels like a flawed Mommy. But I know some things that she may not have learned yet. I know that most Mommies are too hard on themselves, and I’ve lived long enough to see “bad” choices turned into something beautiful. What feels like a failure may be a gift, and sometimes the greatest blessing comes to us because of a load of wet bedding in the washer.

I believe that we are all called to love one another, but eye rolling and raised eyebrows are the opposite of love. My daughter means more to me than life itself, so the idea of ending Mommy-bullying is dearer to me than ever.

#EndMommyWars