the beauty of emptiness

One day last week, David’s tummy was hurting on and off for hours. GI pain is a common with his syndrome and he struggles with it daily. I worked through our list of remedies to soothe his pain and comfort his soul. I gave him Advil, held him, rubbed and patted his back and had him soak in a warm bath. Nothing worked, he continued to arch and scream. What began with confidence ended with discouragement. We reached the end of the list and the end of my energy, and I began to pray harder, “Lord help him, Lord help me.”  There seemed to be no answers, no solution and we were both exhausted. We laid down together and cried. Finally, he drifted off to sleep and I got up and made myself a cup of coffee. As a mother, I’d been there before—the excruciating place of feeling helpless. In that moment I couldn’t feel it, but as we walk this journey together, the outpouring of love, pain of emptiness and beauty of grace have come together to form a deep bond between us. Somehow, the struggle strengthens the bond. Our souls are connected.

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I’ve experienced this with both of my boys. Each one has their own needs and their own way of communicating. Each one, in some inexplainable way, has my whole heart. When I became a mother, my heart opened itself in a new way. The depth of love I felt for this new, tiny person, entrusted to my care was overwhelming and amazing and terrifying. The caring, listening, nurturing, feeding, worrying, comforting and constant guesswork of loving my child was and continues to be the most humbling and important work I do. Where I’ve found myself empty, I’ve also experienced the miracle of being renewed and beginning again. To my relief, there are new mercies every morning.

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Motherhood has no clear boundaries or end, it flows into every part of my life. My heart is always with my children, even when we are physically apart. I can’t help it, I want to give them my time, compassion and love. A whole heart, devoted to another is a beautiful, imperfect thing. The sacred sacrifice of motherhood is a high and humble calling. Pouring myself out means sometimes I will be empty, but in that place deep bonds are formed. It’s much more difficult and much more beautiful than I expected. I am so much better for it.

Have you experienced the beauty of emptiness as a mother or caregiver?

14 comments

  1. Dear Lisa, please message me with your address. We have a ministry to women going thru life altering situations so that we can encourage them. I would love to send your one of our PurSue Hope bags ? Actually any of the ladies here. Please feel free to read our story at http://www.pursuehope.com ? God bless you!!!
    Much love, sue swiger

  2. You have me in tears!!! My little Cornelia de Lange girl, Maya (maya papaya as we call her!) has left me feeling that way again! She is Gtube fed and we just cannot seem to get her blends right to save her from retching very violently at times. I feel like I’ve hit a wall and huge block in the road and not sure where to turn. I feel like nothing seems to help…nothing we can do to change it for her. It breaks my heart! But then I see her smile her cheesy smile and laugh at big sis and snore in her sleep and I cannot help but grin and thank God once again for choosing me. Cdls empties me daily~but my little Maya sure fills me back up! I am in love with your writings! Thank you from the depths of my soul!

  3. Being a mother is rewarding and beautiful and sometimes exhausting. I try to remember how blessed I am when I find myself on the cusp of feeling tired or lost. Your words and photos always inspire me to be a better mother. Thank you for sharing your story.

    For David, have you tried peppermint essential oil? I use peppermint with a carrier oil to help with upset tummies. I use Young Living essential oils.

  4. I very much know a similar story. I, too, have a son with special needs who has such severe stomach pain. We have gone to the hospital frequently and cry together. I often walk this journey that God has before me with gratitude. But on nights like tonight, the gratitude fades and frustration fills in the gaps it left. But always love is present and that is what propels us, isn’t it. I will pray for you and you pray for me.

  5. It is so difficult when a little one is in pain–especially when he doesn’t have the word to express how he feels.

  6. So so sorry and i feel your pain… as i am a young widow with three girls, i have no answers. I try to be upfront and honest with my answers because in all reality “i don’t know what to do” when i am at the end of my resources. The hours have grown into days and days into months and now a few years in my new role as a single mom and widow, I still have struggles. These struggles are real world struggles… when my middle girl, now 17, had a car accident with a Ford F-150, and rolled it! She walked away and praises to God for her safety with only staples to the back of her head. This happened two days before Christmas and wow, certainly puts things into perspective with “what really matters at Christmas.” I guess i wanted to say ((hugs)) for your not so easy days because you are truly not alone. I do feel alone most days because its the girls and I… and here comes a text to say my eldest swerved for a deer and missed the deer but her car ended up on its side, off road, in a creek! (yes, she is ok, but car is toast!) So yes, our days do need to be cried out at times, but I know I have never wavered in my faith that God is with me.. and will always make it right. Its unclear of the big “why” we must endure or even WHY this is our life but i know, speaking for myself, that i have read, researched and found a plethora of information as i try to maintain our desire to find the answers for our lives. Stay strong and cry when needed – i know it doesn’t give us answers, but maybe having a good cry is the answer. Blessings to you and your beautiful family!

  7. I cared for my Mama in the final months of her life. There were times I couldn’t believe we were facing her impending death because we would have such good talks….like never before. But time soon reminded me, and I watched her slip away from reality. I was there as she took her last breath, first fighting and then just accepting God’s call. Though those months were exhausting and emotional, I would do it all over again.

  8. I love your stories and I know just about how you feel!! I can relate to you very well. I have a daughter that is special needs. She was born with a chromosomal abnormality. We have countless doctors and checkups all the time. I am very fortunate that she is somewhat a very healthy child but she has major developmental & speech delays. For the most part she is a very happy child but there are some days I really wish I knew how she felt and what she really wanted to say or do!! That really breaks my heart. But from day one and till the end I will put everything in the Lords hands b/c after all he created her and he will help take care of her! Prayer works miracles!! God Bless You & Your Family!!!

    “I’m happy in the shoes I’m wearing”! This is my slogan that keeps me going some days!! 🙂

  9. I can’t tell you what a comfort your words are to me. My grandson is just 5 weeks old and although he hasn’t been diagnosed as of yet, I believe he has CdLS. It is so refreshing to see how David has flourished and how you love him and share him with the world. Thank you so much.

  10. That picture of your boys as babies, wow, that takes my breath away! They are such treasures. Poor David and his pain. It is SO hard as a mom when you can’t ease your children’s hurts. Been there. I’ve cried out to God as well, many times. You’re right though, your bond is unbreakable. Heaven rejoices 🙂

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