Daytona, thoroughly enjoying ourselves and Ryan's parents in the sun and sand. It was thankfully MUCH cooler in Florida than it has been in Georgia recently so we were cured, at least temporarily of our 105+-degree temp-induced cabin fever.
However, though we had a blast and really enjoyed spending time together as a family, I did learn (or re-learn) that mothers of young children absolutely do NOT go on vacation. Or at least a vacation is not really a vacation for the mother. Murphy's Law for Charlie's young life is that he is always sick when we take vacation or go on trips. It's been this way since he was about 3 months old. And when he's sick, he wants me. End of discussion. Crying, whining, tired, and desperate for mom. That pretty much defines Charlie when he's not feeling well. And add to that the uncertainty and newness of a strange condo, and well, that spells not much time off for this mom. Ryan was nice enough to man the battle stations for a few hours so that I could enjoy some beachside reading time but much of the time, I was on Charlie duty, reading on our balcony while he slept. Thankfully we had a beautiful 9th-floor balcony facing the ocean...it really was quite a pleasant spot for reading and thinking and such. I finished reading Honey for a Child's Heart (GREAT book, by the way) and delved into Bringing Up Boys by James Dobson, which is exactly what I needed to be reading. I think that Charlie is the kind of kid Dr. Dobson had in mind when he wrote this book: "all afterburner and no rudder." Charlie also proves his point that "one of the scariest aspects of raising boys is their tendency to risk and limb for no good reason. It begins very early. If a toddler can climb on it, he will jump off it. He careens out of control towards tables, tubs, pools, steps, trees and streets...his mom has to watch him every minute to keep him from killing himself." That defines Charlie to a T. As several close friends and family members have said, "he's just making up for lost time." Sometimes I just cannot believe that this is the same kid who couldn't sit up a mere 6/7 months ago! I literally save him from injury or death multiple times a day. Anyway, all this to say that combined with Charlie's sickness and just being Charlie, I was struck with the reality that a vacation is not a vacation for me. Sure it's a break from the usual routine and a nice change of scenery...some quality time with friends and family and a lot of good food. But a "vacation" in the normal sense of the word? NO WAY.
And I have to admit: I was not OK with that several times during the course of the week. As I fed my sick little boy his lunch and wiped his nose for the hundredth time, I was secretly pouting and feeling sorry for myself that I was not enjoying my "vacation." And then would come the guilt over even entertaining such a thought. And then more self-pity for the guilt. It was a never-ending cycle. And I realized that God was dealing with me...using Charlie's neediness to show me the ugly parts of my heart, the parts still in need of refining. And so I repented and begged for JOY and PEACE in serving my family, for the ability to give up my FAVORITE things for them (which, incidentally, could be reading by the beach or pool :)). This was my issue du jour of last week, turmoil going on inside my heart: thankful for the privilege of mothering Charlie, ashamed for my selfishness and sin and oh-so-thankful for the forgiveness and healing that can be found in Christ. Without Ryan and Charlie, I would probably still be thinking that I'm overall a pretty good person...hard worker, honest, faithful friend, etc. But because and through them, I'm able to really see myself, and as a result of God's grace in my life, become a more peaceful, unselfish and giving person. And I've been able to taste and see God more in all of this - this IS his plan for my sanctification, not just some accidental issue I have stumbled upon. God is really doing some business in my heart, and further proof is what I read just yesterday, in the chapter on mothers and sons in Bringing Up Boys...
"Your task as a mother, in conjunction with your husband, is to build a man out of the raw materials available in this delightful little boy, stone upon stone upon stone. Never assume for a moment that you can "do your own thing" without serious consequences to him. I believe this task must be your highest priority for a period of time. It will not always be required of you. Before you know it, that child at your feet will become a young man who will pack his bags and take his first halting steps in to the adult world. And then it will be your turn. By all expectations, you should have decades of health and vigor left to invest in whatever God calls you to do. But for now, there is a higher calling. I feel obligated to tell you this, whether my words are popular or not. Raising children who have been loaned to us for a brief moment outranks every other responsibility. Besides, living by that priority when kids are small will produce the greatest rewards at maturity."
So there you have it. I felt an overwhelming sense of peace and joy when I read these words, knowing that the sacrifices required by motherhood are truly for the best; best for me and my sanctification, best for Charlie and his life, worth it in the end for all of us and most importantly, designed and mandated by the One who created all of this.