Friday, September 02, 2016

HANDS FULL, HEART FULLER

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#HandsFullHeartFuller - it's been my common refrain on Instagram, mainly since bringing home the twins.  Much of my identity has been wrapped up in "Motherhood" for many years now.  This word summons so many emotions and realities and truths in my world.  It's given me some of the greatest joys in my life and introduced me to so many more chances for sorrow and grief and pain and confusion.  When I signed up for it, over eight years ago, I knew it would change and mark me forever.

And it has.

I have almost always had a strong sense of myself, my likes/dislikes, my strengths/weaknesses.  As I became an adult, I had hopes for what my life would look like, and because of God's great grace, so many of those dreams have come true.  I became a mother, not just once, but four times.  The axis of my world shifted towards each of these children as they entered my life.  The dreams that I had for my own life morphed into hopes that I held for theirs.

My time changed dramatically.  No longer was it my own - instead, eight little hands clamored for it while their mouths laughed and cried and sang and whined and chatted the hours away.  There is always more work to make our family work.  The cycles of food and dishes and laundry march on as certain as the rising and setting sun.  Papers need to be signed, clothes need to be purchased, parties want to be planned and lessons need to be learned.

With my children now all in school, my mind has felt in a mild state of shock.  The past 7 years, and especially the last 3, have flown by in a blur of beauty and busy and banal and breathtaking.  My days have been so full of them that the time for other pursuits has been so slim.  So has the brain space.

3 weeks into this new life, and I am starting to get my sea legs.  A little.  My identity feels not quite as solid, because my hands aren't as full during the days.  It's funny the way that you start to define yourself by the ways that everyone else does.  I was the lady with the four kids, three of them mostly with me.  Everywhere I went, people commented on this.  (As a double bonus, two of the children are not the same color as me, so we got extra looks.)  Now, I glide throughout the grocery store without a second glance from strangers.

Don't get me wrong.  I don't miss the comments.  I miss the children.

I miss them at lunch, while I eat my quiet salad without anyone asking for any.  I miss them in my mornings that are now so simple and adult.  I miss them when I glance into their empty carseats and wonder how their days are progressing.  Do they like their food?  Have they talked with any friendly friends today?

And I don't miss my children, if I'm honest.  I love how easy it is to run errands.  I love being able to get things done efficiently.  I love taking showers without an audience.  I love being able to do the adult things that I haven't for the last bit of my life.  I love having new vistas and possibilities and dreams open to me as I seek the Lord and am able to see more clearly the paths that he has for me to walk in right now.  I love finding a new identity as a mother with children in school and thus more time on her hands.

My daily routine has shifted so dramatically. Now our afternoons are this fast and furious time of all-togetherness and activities and homework and hugs.  My hands are still full in the evenings, and I'm coming to see that my heart will always be the fullest.  Because even if I don't have four children with me all of the time, they still circle and claim my heart.  There are so many years still in front of us to be together - though I now understand that I will blink, and they will be heading off to college or whatever else God has for them.

This is my post of gratitude for where God has us and for the identity that he always gives me as his child.  Even when I feel so many other parts of my identity shifting, that always stays solid.  He's shaping us all, and I'm so thankful to be along for the ride, even if I don't always know what it will look like.

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