Hot Water and Wool

Have you ever shrunk something 100% wool? I just did a few weeks ago. I put a beautiful sandy colored sweater with fun wooden buttons in with the regular laundry. Now it’s about the right size for a teddy bear. It’s familiar – I recognize the pattern of the knit, but it’s different, and it doesn’t fit.

My kids feel like that way to me sometimes. After an especially distracting couple of weeks, my role as mother has taken a back seat to my role as wife, friend, and hostess. I’ve been with them day in and day out all summer, but in these last weeks, my heart has been else wear. They seem familiar to me, but in other ways, I feel disconnected from them.

Coming out of a haze of “more important duties,” like trips and coming back from trips, losing Bob, establishing our Plan B, hosting friends in town for the funeral… suddenly these very important ones feel unfamiliar and scratchy, like my shrunken wool sweater.

This moving back towards them, back into my role as mother more fully, always feels difficult. I feel suddenly overwhelmed with the reality of parenting them. I’m so discouraged by what they are growing through (like for goodness sake can we please learn to pee in the potty and not talk over each other at the table) that I can’t see any way to move forward. The prospect of shaping them into people who can function in society seems impossible, let alone seeing them desire Jesus. I just can not get this sweater back on.

I know it will fit again. I know I’ll soon feel the familiar rhythm of a day where we all get each other. I’ll lean into their little lives with the quiet warmth of contentment and hope. Their personalities will seem inviting and captivating. Their gifts limitless and company satisfying like nothing else. I think that’s a few days away though.

Today, I’m looking at the shrunken sweater with a twinge of melancholy.

Lord, make being a mother fit me again.

3 thoughts on “Hot Water and Wool

  1. Jess, you were so loving your kids by letting them watch you love and serve others. Life has seasons, this has been a difficult one for you and Ben. I’m just thankful that you want to check back in, instead of checking out.

    I’m praying friend, the Lord knew you would be here now… You need a jammie day. Love and reconnect with your sweet faces. Turn off the phone, make a fort, and rest , read and play. And nap… laundry will still be there tomorrow.

  2. Megan says:

    Oh Jess, you have such a beautiful way of expressing yourself here. I’ve meant to come here many times and communicate I’m sorry for the loss of Bob Vanzante. I’ve never met him, but know his legacy will live on for a long time. I know you’ve ministered to a lot of people through your gifts of time and intentionality. I hope you are also being ministered to in this way. Your kids, they need to see you walk through this. You will fit each other again.

    But if you’ve found a miracle way to make a shrunken woolen sweater fit again, you will be my new best friend. Oh wait, you already are. *giggle*

  3. what a great analogy….I feel it.

    It’s a bizarre thing about ministry life that you are always wondering what part of your life can be thrown to the lions so that you can do other “important stuff.” It’s not a hierarchy of priorities, but a big game of whack-a-mole.

    My kids are a little bigger than yours, but I started early to just tell them how I was feeling, in a really simplified way. I tried to make it clear that if Mommy snapped at them, it wasn’t because them….it was me being really distracted with a bunch of things. It helped them to know why I was acting so nuts and it helped me to feel like we were all on the same team.

    Of course, I try to never burden them, but just the other night, I sat them down at the table and told them that I hadn’t had an etsy sale in a while and I was a little nervous about how to pay for their school supplies. I told them that I fully expected God to take care of us, but that it would be good if we all talked with Him about it and told Him that we were trusting Him. Mattie and Vin prayed precious and simple prayers….and within hours, we had an order, which they were very excited to praise God for. It made me feel so warm to the kids too. That we’re all in this together.

    Do something chill for yourself. A good mommy is a sane mommy.

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