My son, Blaine, ran away last night after dinner. And I don’t mean the cute kind. You know, when your four year old packs his Spiderman mini backpack with three pairs of underwear, a Lightening McQueen car, and a stick of gum, and then sits on the front porch for six minutes before giving up and deciding home is pretty great. I mean, after some really upsetting and basically unprovoked behavior (which details I will not share, out of respect to my son), he packed a garbage sack full of warm pajamas, his winter coat, a bunch of money, and some snacks, grabbed his comforter, and took off down the street. Thankfully, even in a rage, I knew he wouldn’t go very far. Even full of angry, hormonal poison, his brain is too logical for that. I suspected he would just go to the park, and I was right (and later we learned that he fully, legitimately planned to sleep there). This episode came on the heels of a full day of housework, several fights over Legos, and not one single child finishing dinner. It was the kind of day that could easily have sent me to my closet in tears to drown my woes in frozen chocolate chips and Netflix .
I’ve had an adjusted perspective lately. Although I find parenting incredibly challenging, and have said to several friends lately, “isn’t this so much harder than you ever thought it would be?” and even though I still blow up at my family far more often than I would like to admit, I am coming to a place where I can just be grateful to be here, navigating life with my family.
And here’s why.
Last week Minted contacted me about working together to promote their line with Every Mother Counts, an organization dedicated to raise awareness and funds to make childbirth safer for women. At first I thought I would politely decline, because life has been a little bit nuts lately (see above). But then I started reading some of the statistics on the EMC website and changed my mind.
“303,000 women die every year as a result of complications during pregnancy and childbirth. That’s one every two minutes.”
Could this be true? I sat in my warm, large home, surrounded by photos of my five children that I had birthed easily in ideal settings and felt slightly incredulous at such numbers. (Not incredulous at their truthfulness in reporting statistics, but in shock that such tragedies, in this modern age, are still so numerous.)
I kept reading, “For each of these deaths, an average of four orphans are left behind. These women are not only the caretakers, they are often the teachers, the health care providers, the community leaders. The ones who ensure children get food, education, and clean water.”
As you might expect, 99% of these deaths occur in the developing world. How easy it is to be comfortable and naive. How easy to schlep kids around to school and activities in my minivan, cook them a dinner full of fresh vegetables, bathe them in warm, clean water, and tuck them into their plush, cozy beds at night, all the while thinking about how hard my life is. And it is. Parenting is hard. Relationships are hard. Trying to figure out why my son is so angry all the time is hard! But then, really, in comparison? There are mothers in this world traversing significantly more difficult paths. If they even survive to do so.
Right now Minted is partnering with Every Mother Counts and donating 20% from this collaborative line to its cause. I love this. While I’m here in Oregon, with my circus in tow, feeling like I don’t know how I can possibly affect these suffering women beyond offering prayers on their behalf, it feels like something tangible I can do. I’m still awaiting my package, but when I hang Move Me by Mya Bessette (pictured above) on my wall, I will have a reminder every single day that it is a privilege and a blessing to hold, read to, feed, clean up after, and play with my children. My gosh, it’s even a blessing to argue with them or to want to pull my hair out because I feel like such a nag or to feel devastated when they hurt. It’s a blessing just to exist with them. Just to have the chance to breathe and be a part of their lives.
Blaine’s little siblings were rife with worry and fear when he ran away and so relieved when he came home. (He’d discovered that the park wasn’t quite empty yet, so he camped out on the back patio furniture before finally coming in and making his peace.) We tucked the others in bed and his father held him (tall, lanky almost ten year old that he is) while we both talked to him late in into the evening. We listened as he tried to understand and explain his feelings, make sense of his rage, and apologize for losing control. We laughed. We taught. We forgave. We loved. And, even though I wouldn’t particularly like to relive the evening’s earlier events, I think I will always remember last night–a night filled with teaching and compassion and unity–as one of the best experiences I’ve ever had as a mother.