Yes, lovely ladies and awesome gents, I do not only provide a village for others and preach a village for the blog readers but I do in fact have one myself. I am so blessed.
Are you the type of person, like me, who sees needs and fills them when she is not really thinking of returns? Like, unless I'm feeling bitter or something, I rarely sing< "what have you done for me lately?" (see Janet Jackson from the eighties, you young'uns) I really do get joy and other positive emotions from just being around for people when I can. I have not given much thought to where my village is at, though I know I have one.
When I write this blog, though I know I am going to post it on social media, I really don't think of specific people. I feel much safer writing this to "internet mom." That way I don't judge my thoughts too harshly. See if I thought of that-really-awesome-put-together-mom from church or radical-barely-parenting-mom-of-boys from co-op, well I would spend far too much time thinking about how they will take what I am saying. Yup! that's me! I struggle with people pleasing.
Ok, rabbit trail has criss-crossed over itself and now back to the tribe I was talking about. I wrote the last post thinking of Internet Mom and not my "inner-net" moms. Yes, I made that up. But seriously, I was not thinking of people I know seeing my post to moms who are struggling to make ends meet and really not imagining them checking to see how I am doing. But my tribe did. I had offers for rides and grocery money and help with my daycare room set up and more and more. My tribe, though not living in my village, rose up to care for me. I was astonished at the gifts from people who I know have also struggled. I especially benefited from the stories of God's grace. This person was paying it forward from a time when she was living with her family in the in-laws house. Another, had rewards from Costco and how things transpired so that she could use it to bless me. The way things lined up for these other moms really showed me how God has not abandoned us but is keenly aware of every little thing we need.
I saw my tribe and where I also contribute to my tribe in encouraging words and stories. That is worth so much in growing my faith. I am learning through all these situations, how very much our Lord has grown me. It used to be that I would panic if we could not meet bills or eat what we were accustomed to but slowly I think, that is not truth but God will meet all my needs. For my own sake, though I hate to admit it, He usually waits til the very....last......minute! Don't ya just, argh!
Yes, I do not just say over and over, "get a tribe." I am living it out. And how did I get this tribe? I prayed and asked God and then I got to work, peeking out of my introvert shell and reaching out of it to help someone. I did not do this expecting any return. I didn't say to myself or anyone,"I helped you, now when the time comes, I'm going to need a favor." (No Godfather tactics here). I just did what I could do to be a friend, to listen to a hurting acquaintance, to agree with a new mom who could barely make it to church that this stuff is hard. Proverbs 18:24 says that a person must show himself friendly to make friends. I have seen the dividends and often not from those I have invested the most in. I have clearly seen my tribe, my people and my sisters. One fellow tribes-mom told me that she read that post and gave me the Katniss salute. That in itself showed me that being real is what God has in mind for this blog, if one mom hears me and can go on another hour? Mission accomplished. Thanks for being there tribe. Unmanicured, dirty fingernails, Katniss salute to you all. Back into the fray!
I have been really busy. I am getting ready to launch family childcare in my home. I had been praying about this for a while. Then, my family's one and only car died and I thought I will get the playroom (see pic) ready (since I am not going anywhere). I thought, I will build it and see if they come. While it is not a field of dreams it is a dream of mine to spend more time at home while still ministering to other children and families. So I prepared my space with the things I have and some donations from friends. While I have been home though, I have been without income. I have a little side Etsy store, and my husband works intermittently in entertainment, but these do not even begin to cover most of the bills. So while we will not be evicted we are living very tightly right now. I was thinking about this today as I shopped with coupons and the lowest budget ever: I wonder if there are any moms reading this that have found themselves with too much month and not enough money on a frequent basis.
So you have a newborn or a toddler and the stress that that can bring to daily life, you have your own doubts and insecurities and then you have the added pressure of how you are going to eat or pay car insurance or put gas in the tank. I also noticed, there are very few mom you-tubers who are showing you this side of life. You could look for someone to give you mom advice and end up thinking, she has good thoughts but she really doesn't understand me on her pretty couch with perfectly placed art on the walls. I just want to say,
“I SEE YOU.”
Many times I wondered, how can I even get to the “household hacks” when I feel like a hack at life. I have been there. I want to tell you that I don't even have a happy ending for you. I really like Brady-Bunch-perfectly-wrapped-up endings with lessons learned and tousling of bowl haircuts. But I am still in it. I have stepped out in faith,changing focus again. Though it is not a change of gears, my purpose is still and probably will always be, God willing, to care for moms and babies. But it seems that God in His goodness and sovereignty has chosen to start me on this new focus. I did not get a sign from the sky, unless being stuck on the side of the road with a dead car is a sign. Possibly so. But I used 2 weeks to turn my storage-y basement into a playroom and then my dining room into an arts and crafts studio. I am trying to make lemonade out of my lemon of a car situation. (see what I did there, lol).
Are you struggling? What focus have you had to change? Please remember that even though these situations are stressful, it does not make you less. My Christian counselor always encourages me that, “you have nothing to earn and nothing to prove.” You may wonder why God allowed this situation and I really cannot say. I am not God. I DO know, God is not surprised by the situation you are in and He is saddened by your suffering too. He also will not leave you there. He promised to use these things for your good. You cannot tell now what that will be. He also promises to use it for his glory. How in the world God will be glorified in me not having a car for 3 weeks and therefore not being able to babysit in the homes I have been working in? HMMMM, that remains to be seen. But I am trusting. Well, mostly trusting, most minutes, sometimes I am ugly crying and yelling but I am also telling my emotions to trust Him. Emotions are more of a temperature gauge. Like when you touch a hot stove, nerve endings tell you get your hand off that! Emotions tell you, something is wrong here! Emotions are not the truth though (or so I am told). The truth is you might have a burn or you might have moved away in time. You say, "ouch", maybe more than ouch and now you have to deal with the truth. After you feel your emotions you can ask, "What does this situation tell you about your heart?"
Lastly, why am I dealing with this on a mom blog? Tough situations make you look to your foundation. Is it strong? If you are busy mentally with finances, housing, food supply, you will have trouble focusing on the children's other needs because these basic needs are so urgent. It's ok because God made them resilient and especially newborns have few needs, wear them so they can feel you close. The hormones given off by touch will also bring YOU some relief. Same if you are nursing, its good for both mom and baby. If you have a toddler, try to take a break and cuddle them on your lap, read a story. If you have an older child, talk to them about what's going on. PS they already know something is stressing you out, might as well tell them. Explain that you are trusting God with this but it is hard to do. You can help them to get it now so they can live it as they deal with things as an adult. I also find that though it is frustrating, my teens are starting to understand how good they have it even if it is different from what friends have, especially because our church is mission minded. The girls are seeing the big picture in a hard place and I think it is drawing them nearer to God. This is what we want. In the moment though, I want to cry because we are having beans and rice again and not take-out or restaurant food that the girls prefer. But I have a new sliding scale after being in Uganda and seeing what they do not have but the joy they do have. We come to realize though, as I have said before, these things we use to compare are not the things we need. As we zoom out, we see that people need, truly NEED, is care and love and support. All of which are free. We can join in the centuries of humans who have lived in hard times and survived. Even we have lived through hard situations and got closer to a God who loves us. There is your strong foundation. Look at the big picture when you can, study the word, especially old testament mothers who show us perseverance because they knew that the current hard time is not the end of the story.
My very humbling grocery trip today still makes me glad. I have food for us and though it was some of my very last dollars, I know there is provision for those who love Him. He is pleased to give us the kingdom. That He will, if I see it here in this valley or not.
PS: I am currently working on providing in home childcare but I am still available for postpartum work if you are a local reader. After I get my feet on the ground with the childcare I will also be offering online consulting during certain office hours and I will also still be blogging. You cannot get rid of me so easily as that. I may even be Vlogging in the future. So keep coming back. Blessings, Paula
Paula is a single mother of 3. Follow along on her journeys of motherhood and her fulfilling work as a postpartum doula