While on a run this morning, a tiny spotted fawn crossed in front of me. It leaped over potholes in the road, its backdrop a bright blue sky and newly colorful leaves. I followed it with my eyes as it raced into the trees, but I couldn’t place its mama anywhere. All I could see was the fawn and the immense beauty of the world in almost autumn – the orange sun, clear horizon, lush forest – picture perfect setting.
But I feared for the baby- alone in the forest. What would come of it?
The appearance of the fawn was meaningful for me, because as I was running I was thinking about my own children. I was feeling the weight of being a mama in a time like now, when it seems more likely that the sun will suddenly melt and shower the world with lemonade than there ever being peace from all of the unrest. Evaluating the world in its current state through the lens of a mother has evoked in me the heaviest emotions I’ve ever felt.
I’m an empath. A walking emotion, I’ve been called. This season has taken the (inedible) cake for me. I’m overloaded with emotion – others’ and my own. I wonder if other moms are experiencing this lately.
Typically, when I feel too much, I write it out. My novels all started as heavy feels; I wrote them more for the catharsis than for others to read, but these days, I don’t write much at all. My heart is perhaps squeezed too tight to release any of the anxiety or sadness. My head is too polluted with the most recent catastrophic finding or event.
And how it will eventually affect my daughters’ lives.
My hands have been clenched in worry and in prayer. I’ve spent way too much time reading a gazillion opposing articles on all aspects of Covid-19, the U.S. Constitution and my rights as an American, child-trafficking, racial injustice… The list goes on. I try to balance the news I hear, to weed out the agenda and somehow isolate truth with which I can make good decisions about school and health issues and finances.
Decisions that will directly affect my daughters’ lives.
I bite my lip and pray some more as they head off to school, “masked up” and armed with what we’ve taught them at home, knowing that a virus is the least of their concerns when they walk into a classroom full of peers who they worry might judge their outfit or their words or perhaps exclude them. I trust that all of their teachers truly care about them as individuals, but I still wonder what happens inside their classrooms. I reach out weekly to school administrators with research on current practices for schools, hoping that other parents are doing the same and that my voice will make a difference in their decisions.
Decisions that affect the physical and mental health and well-being of my daughters.
These days, I find myself fighting. Often. Against the culture. Against perceived norms. Against the tide, it seems. And, I think to myself – I was not made for this. I am not a fighter. I was made to write inspiring words, not to research and report and be ready with an answer about every issue under the 2020 sun.
And I’m so dang tired.
And I feel like the weight of my children’s world is on my shoulders.
My. Children’s. World.
It’s a lot of weight. And it’s important
And sitting back and writing a story about heaviness is not enough right now. Some call it Instinct, some say it’s God’s voice, but it tells me that now is the season to race into the forest and protect my babies, even when they push back. Even at the risk of being judged, of losing friends. Even though I’m not a fighter, I have to fight for what’s right. For them.
For their world.
For their future.
So if I seem like I’m not quite myself lately, it’s because I’m not. If my smile doesn’t quite reach my eyes, it’s because I’m drowning, and it’s hard to smile when you feel like you can’t breathe.
The weight of my children’s world is on my shoulders.
I carry it into every battle, even though the fight exhausts me. Even when the forest is on fire, I sprint through the burn, the world on my back, trying to shield my babies. I can’t just stand still and fake a smile. Flames of slander and isolation can lick at my flesh, but I won’t stop.
It hurts. But - I can’t stop!
And I can’t let go of the weight!
Because I’m a mother.
And the weight of my children’s world is on my shoulders.
It’s heavy. It’s crumbling. It’s a beautiful disaster, and it’s the world they’re going to inherit.
And, if I’m honest with myself, there may be nothing I can do to make it better.
But I can’t lay it down.
This evening, as the sun was sinking and the sky bled orange and pink, my oldest daughter was driving home. She’s a new driver, and she was practicing while I coached from the passenger seat. My other two girls were in the back, arguing over the window being down, the music being too loud, whose turn it was to talk. I was distracted, trying to still them when suddenly a deer jumped into the road in front of our car.
My typically frenetic daughter calmly pressed on the brake.
The car went quiet.
We were safe.
And the safety wasn’t my doing at all.
I looked at my baby, her hands on the wheel, her cheeks pink, and I exhaled.
“It’s okay,” she said.
For a moment, the heaviness of 2020 life dissipated.
I’d let go, but God hadn’t. He’d covered us- with safety, with light, with control.
And, later that night, when I lay my head onto the pillow, knowing full well that sleep would not come easy, I reminded myself that no matter how much I try to control a situation, it’s ultimately God’s will that prevails.
Do I trust him?
Does that change the fact that every day when I send my kids out the door, “masked up,” and ready, that it feels like I’m sending them into a flaming forest?
Because I’m still a slave to my emotions when it comes to my kids. They are perhaps my idol, I’m ashamed to admit. I continue to see the collapse of normalcy around me and fear for their futures, even though my middle daughter reminds me that their futures are sealed for them already and that I need not worry. In my head, I know she’s right, but the heart is a big fat liar.
Does trusting God change anything then?
Because after the girls are on their respective buses and I sit down in the stillness with only God for company, I can sift through what is important and what is not. Unlike the unreliable news that squawks into my kitchen from the TV and contaminates the feed on my social media platforms, God doesn’t change. He’s there offering the same things He’s been offering my whole life.
Grace. Comfort. Rest. Wisdom. Sureness.
A moment to breathe.
And so many more gifts.
All I have to do is carve out the time to accept them.
So, does God’s presence squelch my urge to fight?
Because although I know this world is not the end-all, be-all for me or for my children, that it is only our temporary home, it was still created for us. And I believe it is still worth fighting for.
The weight of my children’s world is still on my shoulders.
Because I’m a mother.
But my children are God's children first.
We have a Father who strengthens us for battle. I wear His full armor.
And, despite the flames of hate and evil that seem to be engulfing the world my children and I stand on, I am confident that, under His wings, we will not burn.