Having a son is a stretch for me.
The day I met my doula at the hospital, she looked into my eyes and said, “You aren’t ready to have this baby yet, you’re too afraid. You need to collect your things, go have lunch with your husband and work this through with God. When you’ve done that, I’ll meet you back here.”
She was right.
I grew up without a male presence in my home, what do I know about raising boys. Fear of the unknown grips every tendon in my body. My heart pounds harder with echoed words from well meaning mothers about the challenges of raising boys. Of bouncing off walls, smelly socks and urine soaked bathroom floors.
How does a girl living in the quiet home of single mothering, who doesn’t like to get her hands dirty, raise a boy?
The Lord has given me a strong warning not to think like everyone else does . . . He is the one who should make you tremble, he is the one you should fear. ~Isaiah 8:11&13a
And just like all the other moments that make me tremble – saying “I do”, publishing, public speaking – He hands me an unexpected gift of understanding. That saying yes, to what feels beyond me, it’s His way to fill up the sighing holes of the soul.
Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see. ~Hebrews 11:1
Harrison’s favorite chocolate cake sits plastic wrapped on the counter, air soft guns and Camo bags pile ready at the door. We’re celebrating his birthday with a carload of testosterone on a piece of remote beauty under an expanse of blue sky. Where wild turkeys roam, beavers carry trees like pencils and bare feet sink into wet earth.
And if I had known that day thirteen years ago, how the joy of my son would help me understand that God created me just the way I am to be his mother, that not all boys fit into the same mold, I wouldn’t have had to leave the hospital.
I came back to hear the nurses say he was the cutest baby they’d ever seen. I’m still nodding yes.
What has God used in your life to stretch you?
So beautiful written, Shelly!! Wow, I felt the same about having a girl and would have felt the same about a boy, too. I just KNEW that I was not cut out for motherhood. It’s not what I had signed up for and I struggled intensely with it. But GOD knew! And just last night I had the pure pleasure of talking late into the night, tete-a-tete, heart-to-heart with our beautiful nearly twenty-year-old daughter. In spite of me, she has turned out, so to speak, so beautifuilly. How grateful I am to God that He gave me the courage to say yes to motherhood. I still bear stretchmarks from Sheridan’s birth, but mostly, they are stretchmarks on my heart, where God stretched it open wide, giving me the capacity to love largely and deeply in ways where, left to my own devices, all my heart would have done was shrink over the years. It sounds like God stretched your heart widely too–wide enough to accommodate a beautiful son named Harrison with a generosity of spirit and love. He is oh so fortunate to call you mother. I hope he has a wonderful birthday!
I’m often surprised by His unwavering faith in me to do things when I feel completely inept. So thankful for the way He nudges me gently to step into the wild unknown. It’s where I’ve found the most fulfillment. Glad to know we share the same sentiments about motherhood. You’re good company Lynn.
Your words are always so gracious, Shelly. Thank you! Yes, when we take that step into the unknown, I think there is the most fulfillment there, because, of course, that is when we are most dependent on God and draw closest to Him. May Harrison have a “wild unknown” b/day filled with the wonders of exploration, as only boys can enjoy!
lynn, you wrote a beautiful 5 minute friday post right here…I love stretchmarks on my heart…
Ro, you are simply an *amazing* encourager! Thank you!!! And how I love reading your thoughts!!
Beautiful post Shelly – the wisdom of your doula was amazing! I also experienced the stretch of becoming a mother to boys. I think the biggest one was accepting that playing at war is just a part of who they are and perhaps is God’s way of showing us His ever unfolding story of good conquering evil.
My doula happens to be a pastors wife. She was such a blessing to me. Harrison’s labor and delivery were so much better than my first. Easy, that’s how he’s been ever since he slid into the world. Thanks for stopping over Andrea, love connecting with you today.
What a great post Shelly! It reminds me that God gives us what we need for the job He’s given us.
Amen Laura, that’s exactly what I was trying to communicate.
I love this story. Beautiful. I think of my friends and their sweet baby boys (some now grown) and the joys amidst pain. All worth it. I always wanted to marry, especially to have kids but when those doors didn’t open, I’ve fought the lies of “why”… knowing i secretly feared having a boy after all the tragedy that surrounded my brother and how that affected our family and wondering if that was one of the “whys.”. (I’ve always wanted a daughter.) But I know that for the lie it is. And God keeps showing us how it isn’t about us, but about what He can do in us, doesn’t He? I know He has made you a blessing to your children as their mom – just who they needed.
We each walk is a unique path with its own challenges and joys. And when I put my eyes on that of another and compare myself, I am reminded of that I’m not called to walk the path of another, just the one He gave me. Thanks for being here Pam. Hope you have a great weekend. I’m off to the farm with a full van.
Oh the words you can shed in the crack of dawn ; )
my favorite: the sighing holes of the soul.
Fill me, Lord….
Happiest of birthdays (belated), Harrison! God sure knew what He was doing when He blessed you with the woman you know as mom….
His birthday is actually on Sunday. We’re celebrating a bit early with his friends. Getting in the van in just a few minutes, praying they have lots of fun.
Oh each child stretched my heart…and to be honest…for me it is a never ending process…as they grow…and walk new paths…I am still becoming the mother I need to be with them through all these phases of life.
I feel the same way Ro. Still becoming.
That was beautiful Shelly. I knew I was having a boy from the moment I found out I was pregnant. So much so that when the ultrasound nurse told me that I was having a boy, I didn’t have any emotion. She said, “What you aren’t happy about that?” I said, “Oh yeah, I’m happy, I’m just not surprised.” I suppose I would have had your anxiety if I was having a girl. Even though I don’t fit into the boy mold, and definitely didn’t see myself in the girl mode of playing with barbies, I too say that God created me to be just the mom my son needed.
I knew with each of my children too. It still didn’t take the fear away knowing, unfortunately. I have one of each and feel so blessed.
This was so exquisitely told, Shelly. I found myself feeling the fear with you and then feeling the joy too. I can relate a little – I was so worried about having a baby and not thinking I had the ‘mothering gene’ or would be any ‘good’ as a mother. And I have found such freedom in mothering my boy, and it has been easy to love him. I get a real sense of freedom from reading this post too.
Lovely to catch up with you on a Friday again! Much love x
Love connecting with you too Tanya. I hope you have a great weekend my friend.
Oh Shelly. I love this so much. Though I had a very strong male presence in my home (my Dad) I too felt completely il-equipped when we found out our first would be a boy. I’m as girly as they come and I simply didnt know what I would do with a little boy. And then when we found out we were having another boy, I fretted more. Now, my boys bless me in ways I NEVER imagined. And now, I’m learning how to mother them respectfully, and tenderly, while urging them on to manhood. All by God’s strength and mercy! I just appreciate your heart here so much… thank you for this lovely insight.
I echo all that you said Kris. They surprise us don’t they? It’s not as difficult to parent a boy as I imagined. At least not my boy.
Oh, I’m a mom of one handsome, talented little man. I’m convinced, down to my toes, I was created to be a MOB, his mommy. But, it has stretched me farther than I ever expected.
Love post, my friend!
Yes, you are. Love the way you write about the blessing that he is.
Gosh, this made me smile. I guess sometimes (most times!) it’s good to know what we don’t know.
Keeps us leaning on Him. Shelly, you are blessed.
WE are blessed Jody, so blessed.
Happy Birthday to Harrison. Shelly, this is a beautiful piece. love your words here for so very many reasons. Our mother’s hearts must be synching, as I wrote about one of my boys today too.
Thanks Elizabeth, its actually on Sunday but we’re excited to celebrate with his friends over the weekend and get an early start. Good minds think alike.
The Lord has given me a strong warning not to think like everyone else does…
This scripture from Isaiah must be my theme song. He stretched me when he instructed me to have my youngest daughter at home instead of going to the hospital. In fact, it was 17 years ago this month, August, when I was walking down the street under the avenue of crepe myrtles at midnight, about to give birth, my midwife walking by my side and saying, “Let me know when it’s time.” It felt so right to let God be in absolute control of the birthing experience.
I love how you weave parts of you into one big story for us.
Beautiful 5 minute write! I had 3 daughter’s, so when I had a grandson it was especially fascinating for me, rather like watching some wonderful alien life form! 🙂
Beautiful response to this prompt, Shelly. Lovely.
The sighing holes of the soul. Sigh…
We did NOT want a boy when we went through our second adoption process. We were not boy people. Even my husband. We made it quite clear to the agency that we wanted a newborn girl. Maybe you know the story (I wrote about it some time back.) We ended up with a 6-month-old boy already pre-named with the name we’d chosen (that nobody knew), the only boy’s name we could think of that we held in the recesses of our minds–just in case.
The Isaiah verse? That one right there? THAT was what I was supposed to hear today. Thank you for your faithfulness!
Sweetness. That’s my comment for a post about raising a boy! God know what we need and when we need it. Amen. And your doula was amazingly blunt and insightful. We need people like that in our lives.