HEB Parking Lot
I’m in the HEB parking lot near Parmer and McNeil, sitting at the drivers seat with both of my hands on the wheel, for the first time in my life I’m panicking. How could I have done this? What was I thinking? How can I ever go back? I was still in a lot of pain as I slowly made my way into the store. I wondered if everyone in there could tell I had just had a baby. It seemed like every eye was on me. They knew how I felt and what I was there to buy. Pads.
Tears streamed down my face as I walked through each aisle looking for these miserable items I was to purchase. I felt all alone, embarrased, fearful that my stitches might pop at any second, and sick to my stomach.
This is not the typical story you hear when someone shares about their first experience of having a baby. But not all women grew up dreaming of their wedding and eventually their motherhood. I grew up afraid of commitment. I had learned holding on meant having to let go.
There was a couple in the aisle looking at condoms — as if I already wasn’t pissed enough, or embarassed enough. I wanted to say, “NEVER HAVE SEX.” But I knew that wasn’t right — so I looked around aimlessly at the millions of options of pads instead. I decided on the box with the most colors — in an attempt to make myself feel better. I looked for a check out lane manned by a woman, hunched over, I walked slowly back to my car. I cried a deep cry of regret and loss. It’s the same thought that has been running through my head these past twenty one months. “I have lost my life — I am no longer ‘me’.” That evening in the parking lot of HEB I began to mourn all that I thought I was and would become.
As the months went on this idea plagued me, that I was no longer ‘me.’ I would ask Kevan to watch baby so that I could go do some things that I always thought would make me feel whole again. I never did. I never do.
It was May 10th, just this past week. I was so nervous — for the first time in a very long time — I was unsure of myself. I walked into the Texas State Capitol knowing I was there to advocate for refugees. That meant I would need to speak with Representatives and Senators from my district. I did not know what to say. There is something powerful about walking into a place of government. You feel empowered — that maybe your voice will be the voice of change. But instead of feeling those things — I felt weak. My tongue felt like someone else’s. The words that usually flow so free were just stuck inside my throat.
There is a room full of well dressed folks, all talking around round tables. I know no one. I stand in the corner for a few minutes thinking, I shouldn’t be here. I’m not smart enough. No one wants to hear from a stay-at-home-mom. But I stay. I find a friendly looking woman to sit next to, arrange my things and settle in. Soon another woman in a suit sits next to me. She is diplomatic, wearing heels, and has a job title I always thought I would. She is just lovely. And I feel small.
I left the Capitol that day feeling good about some bills that did not pass the house — but really confused at who I had become and not become. I cried on the way home. The thoughts crept back in — I am wasting my life. I am not fighting each and everyday for the forgotten. I should be that woman, I should be well dressed, more diplomatic, more make-up, more someone else. I begged God for answers — why He wasn’t using me in the ways I always thought He would. There was silence. As I got home — I sat in my car in the garage and said, “please, God, I need to hear you.” Got out and went inside.
I told Kevan over dinner how angry I was that I did not have a meaningful career, but also how thankful I was to be able to stay home with my sweet boy. It’s that pull almost all mothers feel — between who they once were and who they are now. The next day I went about my business, taking Malakai on playdates and to the park. I love taking him to see ya zi (ducks) and song su (squirrels). He took a good nap that day so I am able to read through a plant book that I got at the library. After he wakes I meet a friend for a walk — near the end she tells me she is going to go to the gym that night, “Do you want to come?” I said, “sure, I haven’t run yet today. Text me a time.” She said, “ok cool.” A few hours later she let me know she couldn’t go afterall. So I decided to maybe go for a run just around my neighborhood. I was so tired though, so after having put on my running clothes, I changed back into my pajamas. But something in me kept saying, go running, go running. So I changed back into my running clothes.
I kissed Kevan and headed out. I swore to myself I would run two miles at a pace under ten minutes per mile. My mind was focused on not dying. Running through the beautiful tree lined streets I just kept counting three breaths in, three breaths out. Don’t die. Keep breathing. A few weeks ago I had downloaded the newish Coldplay song, Something Just Like This. I had been working out to that song for sometime now never really paying much attention to the words — it just has a good beat for running. My mind was focused on the run when…I heard God.
“Listen to the words.”
I’m not looking for someone with super human gifts.
Some fairytale bliss.
Just something I can turn to.
The song repeated these lines over and over again multiple times. Now you have to understand, I don’t believe in sacred verses secular. I believe God made all words — He owns them all. If He wants to grab my attention with Chris Martin’s words — He can. And He did. I do realize this is a romantic song. But based on what I know from reading the Bible, I know that what I heard from Him more fully aligns with what is true about me — not the lies I had been believing since the HEB parking lot. I realized in that moment all that had to happen to receive this gift of words. My friend had to cancel, I had to change my clothes again, I had to get out of the door, I had to choose that song. I am reminded that this is how my God has always worked. Relentless to love me. Relentless to speak.
“Holly, I am not looking for you to have superhuman gifts. You do not have to be a superhero. You do not have to have a fairytale life, where you are successful and wearing a suit. I want someone faithful — someone I can turn to.” I’m used to not hearing from God. Most of us are. If you are a non-christian reading this — newsflash. We, who ask to hear Him, do not always hear Him. I can count the times on one hand that I have felt I heard God directly speak to me. This is one of those cherished, beloved, and life changing times. He heard me in my car on Wednesday. He heard my pain at HEB months and months ago. He always hears me. To all of you moms, want to be moms, dying to be moms, beautiful adoptive moms — He hears you too.
Yesterday my sweet boy was asleep in the car and I pulled up outside our house to transfer him for a nap. I opened the door to his seat and just stared at him while he slept. Tears came down my face and I thanked God above for this gift, my son, the one who helped me to see — I never really belonged to me anyway.
Happy Mother’s Day.