It’s Halloween here in the United State Of America. Happy ‘Boo Day’ to you! We don’t do much to celebrate it here in our house. I’m just lamenting the take down of all of these fall decorations. And dusting. And reorganizing. Maybe tomorrow when I come out of my sugar coma…
Begger’s Night was last night. That’s how we do it in the Midwest. It was SO MUCH more fun as my sisters Molly and Erin and Molly’s boyfriend, Tucker, got to join us (dressed as giant M&M’s). They have never been home for this festive occasion. It rocked our night. Made it. I’m from Minnesota where we did things a little differently, but here in Iowa they call it Begger’s Night and do this candy thing the night before Halloween. So Begger’s Night is where we go and beg for candy, tell jokes, and dress up as cute things, scary things, and everything in between. I have been eating G’s candy, doing laundry, and drinking coffee all day. It’s quite disgusting. I really need to stop. I’m blaming Karey. 4Gotten Treasures wasn’t open today (smile). We never buy candy in this house. My kids aren’t used to having it around or eating it. So here I am. Doing it for them. I mean, we all have to make sacrifices for our children, right? (smile)
My youngest LOVES Halloween. He always has. The first few years of his life he would cry — literally cry — when I took down the Halloween decorations (more like fallish décor with a few cute spiders and ghosts from Hallmark) — so we would put pumpkins on our Christmas tree — just to make the transition easier for him. We have kept this tradition to this day — G puts his “puntins” on our tree. It’s his thing. I hope it’s always his thing. I adore it. His favorite movies are all Tim Burton cartoons — his first being “Coraline” when he was all of two. It scared the crap out of my oldest. And he’s watched “The Nightmare Before Christmas” like “a fousand” times. He has a Jack blanket — all black and skeletonny — with his name embroidered on it — from the Disney store — that he snuggles with. He loves Jack. And “The Book Of Life” that just came out not that long ago. He found it fantastical. The entire story is about death and All Saints Day. He will tell everyone I cried at the end. I thought it was fantastical too. Maybe you think I should be worried about this little nugget of mine. I’m not. Here’s why…
G loves all of this stuff because it is straight up magical to him. And he will tell you so. It’s not scary. It’s pure authentic uniqueness. Halloween is a time to be other things. To express sides of yourself that you may have been too scared to try on before. And some of them might just be a little dark (this is the most loving and cuddliest and most empathetic kid you will ever meet in your lifetime — besides his older brother — smile). And we all have those sides to us too. And Tim Burton’s films champion the creative underdog who isn’t just like everyone else. He or she is the black sheep, the ridiculed misfit — who always comes to the conclusion that being themselves is the best way of doing things — despite what anyone else thinks or says. And G loves all of this. That, and his favorite color is orange. The candy he’s not into so much. I mean, his mom eats it all for goodness sakes. I love my kid for this. For all of it. So yes, we have pumpkins on our Christmas tree. And it’s pretty amazing.
My oldest is more of a Christmas kind of kid. Both of my kids were scared to death of Santa Clause until they were too old for it to be cool to get pictures with the big guy. I mean really, what is scarier — jack o lanterns or a giant guy with a long white beard in a red suite with ginormous black boots that says “HO HO HO” in a booming deep voice?!?!?!?!? Smile. Max loves that the world was saved on this day. All of us. A tiny, unassuming little baby — in the most unholy places — came to rescue us. The Great I Am started as a small baby boy, in a manger, in a stable — and that the most awesome stories can have the most humble beginnings. We talk about that so often in this house. God’s great purpose for us all. No matter how small we may feel or others may try to tell us we are, his divine purpose reigns. And this great rescue, this freedom, this incredible and specific to us purpose all started with one baby boy — who was both man and God. It’s rather mind and heart and soul blowing. So yes, we crank up “A Baby Changes Everything” at least ten times a day during the Christmas season — not just for Max. It’s one of my favorites too.
It’s pretty clear I love these two boys. And that they have pretty big hearts. It may appear they are very much alike, yet these two children of mine could not be any more different in their natures — which makes for some fun times in our house — some go to separate corners of the house times in our house — to Mommy has no more patience time in our house. I have often joked that they are my yin and my yang. They literally couldn’t be any more different. Perhaps they are mirrors of their Mom and Dad. Perhaps they are just who God made them to be…
However different they may be, they share a few similarities… Along with big, beautiful hearts, they share anxiety. I openly struggle with this myself. I don’t think there is any reason for us to hide who we are. I am who I am. And I’m not ashamed of it. Hiding and denying and covering things ups is what is ailing this world and making it even sicker. I want my boys to understand that who I am, who everyone is, is exactly who they are meant to be. There is good to be had, there are struggles to work through, and there is a mighty, mighty purpose for all of us. We don’t have to stay stuck or sick — we are empowered in faith to be courageous and always move forward. But broken is really okay. As Leanard Cohen writes in his song, Anthem, “There is a crack in everything, That’s how the light gets in”. And we are all a work in process. The key is doing the work and admitting to the broken and owning who you are. That all takes brave. That all takes honesty. That all takes giant, deep breaths and so much encouragement that we gain from each other and the Holy Sprit. We are all meant for great things. We are all amazing master pieces. And this includes ALL of our pieces laid in the hands of the master.
Of course, I lamented that their anxiety issues were all.my.fault and manifested all.because.of.me. I hadn’t done a good enough job of letting them see that life goes on, being chill and relaxed, I had hovered too much, I had made them feel like they had to be perfect, I hadn’t prayed with them enough, read the Bible enough, let them know Jesus loved them enough, I hadn’t done ‘all the things enough’ to make them feel whole enough. Because if I had, then they wouldn’t feel this monster. It was all because of me. That was my anxiety talking . That was my fear, and fear is the biggest liar.
And I didn’t understand it. My anxiety, OCD, PTSD and all of the other labels that I had ever had, stemmed from horrific things. My boys did not have these occurrences in their little lives. I had made damn sure that they were not ever exposed to any of that ugliness. Maybe I had made sure too much? Maybe I loved them to smothering-ly? And my brain got back on the anxiety wheel again — obsessing over every thing I may have done wrong as a mother. How in God’s name do hamsters find those freaking wheels fun?
But this wasn’t about me, it was about them. It was about now. And what do we do? Because this world is going to be FULL of crap that isn’t right or good or just — that is going to freak your brain out and put you on that obsessive seizure wheel time and time again. And my boys are sensitive enough to pick up on all of it. ALL.OF.IT. And while behavior disorders like oppositional defiance and other very real and hard things are easier for some people to understand and maybe even deal with rationally — anxiety is often met with a glib “just get over it” and “toughen up and just deal with it” attitude — without ever realizing the very real physical conditions and emotional roller coasters it is putting your child through. Things like abdominal migraines and panic attacks are super fun. Breathing issues, not wanting to go to school, being painfully shy, being afraid of germs, obsessing about certain things (that change from one thing to the next at any given moment), etc. It’s exhausting for everyone. But please, just.get.over.it. If only. Yet we can tolerate and give ginormous breath and width to so many other things — so much room. But anxiety and sensitivity in boys? Not so much. Being loud and aggressive is more easily understood. I’m so very thankful to the amazing teachers who have given my boys the time and heart it takes to get to know and understand them. You are absolutely incredible and we truly love you. They grow and learn so much because of you. You are all PHENOMENAL! I am also so very thankful to my boys for teaching me so much as I see this in so many of my four year olds. It takes time to deal with anxiety. It takes such a great deal of time. It takes all of two seconds to be dismissive and label someone as weird or ‘a baby’. We don’t all work the same way. And it’s absolutely outrageous to me that this is still having to be explained to grown ups.
We talk a great deal in this house — about everything — because communication is power. The more we know, the more we understand — about each other and the world around us. And we NEVER, EVER stop learning. It’s important for my boys to know that their dad and I don’t know everything (I’m pretty sure they get this by now — smile). And, more over, adults don’t know everything and aren’t always right. That they can trust themselves and their feelings and what they know too. They are capable. They are smart. They can trust themselves and God — they are mighty. They are not insignificant just because they are children. And I firmly believe when YOU feel significant, you treat others in the same manner. It’s all about respect. We can discuss ANYTHING they feel may be wrong or they have strange or unsure feelings about. We don’t hide things. We are honest and truthful about all of it. I don’t know that I would be like this if it weren’t for my anxiety or things I’ve been through. Sufficed to say, my kids are quite verbal. So I often call this anxiety of ours our super power. Because for all of it’s frustrations, it gives us many positive attributes too. There is always something we can be thankful for in everything — even anxiety (smile)…
For one thing, we are more empathetic towards others. The boys are the best at making cards, sticking up for people, putting themselves bravely in the way of bullies, loving and being kind — and may I just say one of my boys is thirteen (smile). We don’t ever want anyone else to feel the way we do inside when that anxiety monster is attacking. We want others to feel comfortable, loved, cared for, and just plain good. It grows your heart. You want to give. In my boy’s case, all the time. They are the.most.thoughtful. They are so concerned for all of those around them. Our prayers at night are so lengthy because they pray for everyone. When we say “I’ll pray for you,” — sister, brother — we are praying for you! That anxiety, which may manifest itself in worry at times — then translates over to a closeness with God in prayer. And THAT is all good. We take it to the Lord. Lay it at his feet. And we try our very best to leave it there.
It makes us brave. This sounds like an oxymoron, doesn’t it? But anxiety helps us to be brave every single day — because, quite frankly, everything scares you. So, we have to push through discomfort and muster brave and courage every waking morning to do the next right thing (thanks, Glennon– love you). This may require more energy than the next person who doesn’t even have to think about being brave when they get out of bed every day and just thinks about how tired they are — but it puts us right in the moment, it connects us to the present, and it makes us focus. Be brave. Be courageous. Because that’s what it takes. Every.single.day. Just to be. And some people may look on that as a negative. But wow, that can be one positive brain punch too.
Because it’s all on how you look at it. And we chose to look at it as God made us pretty amazingly. He made us to shine like stars in the universe. And we’ll just go ahead and praise him for it. And it really doesn’t matter if no one else understands us or gets us. Because he does. And we’ll keep talking about it at home. And this momma bear will keep fighting for her kids and your kids. Because I believe we are all pretty awesome. And it’s different perceptions and ways of seeing (and yes, even feeling) things that make this world the freaking amazing wonderland that it is. And it’s when we lose those eyes of wonder that the magic is lost — the essence of who we are becomes convoluted. We are all beautiful. Because we are made in his image. That’s not lost on this girl. Ever. I see him in my boys. I see him every single day in their hearts. Even in the anxious times. Even in the times people roll their eyes, whisper, say rude things, are mean, bitter, and nasty because they don’t understand. Oh, I see him. And I smile and I know that what he created is so divine and good and we will continue to shine and love each other and everyone else around us. And how very, very blessed we are. And that makes this girl so crazy brave.
Love and peace and light.
And so much courage. ❤
Go rock your brave.