Mom-ish

There were three things I wanted to be when I was a kid. Well, two that I thought I wanted to be and one that I knew for sure. I thought I wanted to be a singer and a veterinarian. And I knew I wanted to be a mom. For as long as I can remember, those things were pretty set in my mind. So fast forward a hundred years and I am currently zero out of three. The veterinarian dream killed itself during a particularly boring day of high school biology, the singer dream occasionally comes to life, but is resting quietly at the moment. But the mom dream… that’s the one that cuts me. Because that has always been the number one dream. If I had ever been told that I could only have one, there would have been no hesitation, no question that motherhood is what I would have chosen.

But the chance to make that choice never materialized, so… here I am.  And a little while ago I talked about the evening when I was faced with the horrific prospect of my teen-mom cousin becoming a grandmother before I was a mother. I was on my way to Connect Group that night, but had to take a few minutes to cry in public and grapple with my faith and the feeling of being cheated. And then I pulled myself together and continued on my way. But the story didn’t end there. Due to the aforementioned crying and grappling, I was a few minutes late to connect group, so a few of the girls had arrived before me and when I walked in that night, one of the girls looked at me and announced “Mom’s here!” and for the next few moments everyone greeted me with “Hi Mom!” and as I was hugging and smiling on the outside, on the inside I was telling God “Oh hell no. This is NOT what I want.” Because it wasn’t.

I can imagine the darkest timeline, the one where I never have children and I can see how it could totally happen, but if it does… I will feel cheated. And that’s real. So in that moment, it felt like God was trying to trick me into accepting a consolation prize.  Like He’s been trying to trick me for years. Because people have been calling me “Mom” for years. And it’s never bothered me, I’ve never taken it as a bad thing, if anything, I’ve taken it as a compliment. But that night was the first time I completely rejected it on the inside. I felt like, If you’re not going to give me this the way I want it, then I’m not going to walk in it at all. So I didn’t say anything to anyone else, but I said to myself (and God), “No. I will not be the mom here.”

But no one knew any of that was going on. And it was a beautiful day outside, so we decided to move our bible study to a nearby park. We set ourselves up at one of the bench tables and everything was fine. At first. But New York is a funny place. It is full of characters and even though we’re all brushing up against each other all the time, we still keep our distance for the most part. So when worlds do collide, it’s always memorable. And on this night, our world collided with a cray-cray lady in the park. We had been chatting for a few minutes when she deliberately wandered over with her dog and asked if she could join us.  And these are the moments when being a Christian is tough. When you can pretty quickly tell that someone is not all there, but when you ask yourself “WWJD?” you’re pretty sure the answer is not Chase her and her dog away with a stick. So you say “Yes, of course — please join us.” So she sat down with us.

And the next ten minutes were spent trying to keep her, her mystical mumbo-jumbo stories and her general off-ness from dominating the conversation. At one point I remember snapping my fingers at her and saying “Look at me, you can stay, but you have to be quiet and listen. Do you understand?” (Which is not at all something a mom would say.)  And she did settle down a teeny-tiny bit, but after a few more minutes it was clear that she was too disruptive. And that somebody needed to do something about it.  But I didn’t want to. Because I was not trying to lose this particular battle of wills with God.  So I tried to hold out, but she was making everyone too uncomfortable and I loved those girls too much to let it continue. So I took back the mom mantle and took one for the team. I took our new friend aside so she could tell me everything she wanted to say and my connect group could continue safely and sanely.

And I don’t remember anything that lady told me, I know there was a lot of crying and hugging and zero reading of social cues, but it didn’t matter, she was mostly harmless and I was busy accepting my fate. If this is the kind of mom I am right now, so be it. It’s not enough forever. But it’s what I have for now.

So I started making peace with the idea of being that kind of mom, instead of rejecting it out of that old suspicion that my acceptance of it would encourage God to withhold what I really wanted.

And what I didn’t know that day was that almost exactly a month later, I would be starting this blog. And even though I started it with total focus on single women age 27+, over the past few months, I’ve recognized more and more the importance of speaking honestly about this walk, not just for our sake, but for the sake of the women right behind us.  To hopefully spare them some of the mistakes and better prepare them for the challenges. And to not pass on the same fears and hindrances that have stumbled so many of us.  And to ease the way and open as many doors as possible. And even I have to admit, that sounds pretty Mom-ish.

So if I never have children and I someday say “It’s okay, I don’t even mind anymore.” I want you to know that I’ll be lying. 100%… 103%. But I’m not going to let the fear of that make me hold back now. So to those of you who do let me “mom” you on occasion, thank you. It’s good practice. (And sometimes a helpful deterrent). And to the women like me who are still waiting for “the real thing,” for whatever reason, don’t lose heart. And don’t give up hope. That’s not what a mom does.

Slaying Me

Slaying Me

At this point in my life I am used to pretty much every other person younger than me getting engaged/married. However, God must be testing me on a new level with the engagement of my nephew. As his aunt, I am extremely happy that he has found someone amazing to share this life with. As a 34 year old single woman… I changed his diapers… So yeah.

Recent Facebook status of a friend.

Back in the earlier half of the year, Jen, one of the teenage girls that my mom has been mentoring for a few years went through a sneaking-out-at-night-and-not-going-to-school-during-the-day phase. And not too long after that, she announced that she was pregnant. Ah well. Such is life. Anyway, fast forward a few weeks to a Tuesday night. It was a beautiful spring evening and everything was fine. I know it was a Tuesday because I was on my way to connect group. I had just picked up some snacks and I was on track to be right on time. All was well. And then I got a text. It was from my mom and it said “Aarg! First Jen and now Ben.” Which said to me that Ben, my teenage cousin, had gotten someone pregnant. And that thought basically ended my life.

Because Ben is actually my second cousin, his mother who is a year younger than me and had him as a teen, is my first cousin. So at that moment in time, I was face to face with the prospect of my younger cousin becoming a grandmother before I was even a mother. And I cannot even describe the soul crushing despair that crashed down on me. And I literally had to stop and sit down.

At some point, if you live in New York, you are going to see someone crying in public. And if you live here long enough, you are going to be that someone. And on that Tuesday night, that very public bell tolled for me. I texted my mom back to ask for clarification that my life of trying to do the right thing was indeed God’s most long standing practical joke, but for whatever reason, it took her eight minutes to get back to me. And seven of those eight minutes were the realest and darkest minutes I’ve had in this single journey thus far.

Because I felt cheated. I felt like God wasn’t faithful. And there was no reward for trying to do the right thing. I felt like God was no different from the rest of the world where “the squeaky wheel gets the grease”, and that good behavior was clearly the best way to be overlooked, passed by and forgotten. I felt tricked. I felt like Jeremiah 20:7** was the verse written over my life. And that not only did God not care about anything that I wanted but that He was actively going out of His way to make it clear how much He could not possibly care less. And I felt stupid. Because I knew there was nothing I could do about it, because I was (and am) basically trapped. Because you don’t get this far down the road and then just turn around. You can’t just throw off everything you have hoped and believed thus far and… what? Just stop hoping? Stop believing? I can’t.

Though He slay me.

Because make no mistake, that’s what’s happening. This is slaying me. He is slaying me. And I don’t know why.  I have all sorts of things I tell myself on the days when I’m really feeling the sting, but honestly – I don’t know. And I don’t really expect to know until the end of the story. So until then… there’s nothing I can do about it. And that’s the realization I “comforted” myself with in minute seven. Because I may be stupid for hoping and believing for this long, but even more than that, I’m stubborn. So if God wants to wrestle and keep on wrestling, well… so be it. I’m in.

So I was already back on my feet and back on my way (with a definite limp on the inside) when my mom finally texted back to clarify that no my younger cousin was not going to be a grandmother. Not just yet. But the possibility does exist. And that’s horrific. But… such is life. And I can’t do anything about anything that I can’t do anything about. So… I’ll just keep on keepin’ on in the things I can do something about.  Like this blog. Which I am grateful for because I am grateful for you. And your stories and you sharing them with me, because we really aren’t alone. I’m not alone. And it really helps to know that while I’m navigating those swings from not-even-thinking-about-it to can’t-think-of-anything-else. 

And I’m not even sure why I’m telling this story today because I’m currently in one of those phases where it’s all good. My situation is what it is and for whatever reason, it’s not slaying me at the moment. Maybe because George Clooney is getting married this weekend. And he’s marrying one of us. And by all accounts they weren’t even dating yet at this time last year. So if someone had tapped Amal Alamuddin on the shoulder a year ago and told her everything that was about to happen, I don’t know that she would have believed it. And I don’t know that you or I would believe it if we were told what’s in store for us. But my hope is that we wouldn’t. Because it is all so beyond what we imagine is possible. Because it has to be. To make up for all the slaying.



* You deceived me, LORD, and I was deceived; you overpowered me and prevailed.
I am ridiculed all day long; everyone mocks me. Jeremiah 20:7

** Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him… Job 13:15

 

Why Space?

Why Space?

I’m fascinated with the idea of space lately. Not in a “Star Trek” kind of way; it’s a Why-do-I-feel-this-way? kind of way. I’ve been reading the Creation account in Genesis and focusing on how much space God created before He filled it. The sky. The Oceans. Land. He created them empty and then He filled them. And I think He does the same thing with us.

I left an event the other night and as I was walking to the train I suddenly felt profoundly lonely. It was like I crossed 5th Avenue directly into the Swamps of Sadness. So I tried to rally some of my hang-out regulars, but no one was available. So with no one else to talk to, I had to settle for talking with God. Which is annoying because He could fix this, He could fill this space with someone, but He hasn’t.

So I told Him how I felt and then we walked up and down the aisles of Rite Aid looking for something to sadness eat. And then I went home and watched part of “Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs 2”. And life went on.

But don’t worry; this is not the part where I say how I realized that God wants to be the one to fill all the empty spaces in my life. And that He’s all that I need, Hallelujah.  Because I don’t think that’s true. Not in the way we typically “encourage” single people to believe. How often have we heard “God wants you to be fully satisfied in Him first and then…” or some variation of that? As if God is the insecure If-I-can’t-have-you-no-one-else-can type. But He’s not.

In Genesis 2:18, before the fall, when all was literally right with the world and everything was good, God said it was NOT good for man to be alone. Even though man had Him. God knew there was space there. Because He put it there. He could have wired humanity to need nothing but Him, and then He and Adam could have had the best bromance ever for all of eternity. But He didn’t. He left space for relationship. And then He filled it – with someone else. So does He want to fill the space Himself? Yes. But not always WITH Himself. In the same way He didn’t create the sky to just sit in it Himself, there are spaces He’s left in our lives for things other than just Him.

So that emptiness we sometimes feel, that space where we’re like “God, I do love you, but I still feel like something’s missing.” That’s not a bad thing. It sucks, but I think it’s actually a good sign. God doesn’t make space to leave it empty. So if there’s space, it’s there to be filled. And He will fill it.

It’s not a question of if, it’s just a matter of how and when.