Thoughtful Thursday – Children should be neither seen nor heard

Tonight’s post is going to be a little different.  It has really been a difficult couple of weeks for my family and I and I guess I need to decompress a bit.  Perhaps I’ll begin with some background.

My sweet cousin was getting married last October.  I was looking forward to seeing my grandparents and some aunts that live in Florida that I hadn’t seen for a while.  At the end of last summer, however, I found out they wouldn’t be coming up.  My grandparents, particularly my grandfather, did not feel up to the trip.  A year earlier, I had seen my grandparents, and my grandfather actually seemed great despite the fact that he had cancer.  He walked all around with us and didn’t seem to have trouble keeping up.  I missed my family, and although we couldn’t afford to, we made the decision to visit in January.  My husband also has family in Florida, so I didn’t feel quite as selfish, and we planned to spend time with both families.

We left at the end of January.  I was anxious about going on the airplane.  I do not have a fear of flying, I was nervous about having two little boys and everything that came with them.  You see, I used to be one of those people that dreaded being seated next to children and basically would try to avoid them at all costs.  You may have seen me before.  I was one of those people that rolled my eyes when the waiter seated you and your children at the table right next to my husband and I.

So, I know how (some of) those people felt.  I know how they felt as soon as we got to the airport.  They were hoping we weren’t on their flight.  The entire day of traveling, I was worried about their noise level, their smells, where their toys were and where their feet were.  Things that my kids do that I usually just let go became prohibited.

It didn’t end there.  Because we didn’t have access to a kitchen, we ate out for almost every meal.  I worried about them being a nuisance there.  Though most people were kind, I did see a few disapproving glances.

I worried that they would make too much noise in the hotel we stayed in, and I worried the people near us would complain and call the front desk.  I worried they would make a mess and the maids would hate us and leave snakes under our blankets.  I worried that the diapers in the trash would make them spit in our mouthwash.  (Mike just couldn’t understand why I would thoroughly clean the hotel room every morning when the maids were going to do it anyhow).

Then, the worst thing happened.  It made me think about how truly ridiculous my petty anxiety was.  It made me forget to double wrap the diapers before we put them in the trash and made me forget to bring toys to play with while we waited for our food at the restaurants.  My grandfather passed away.  He passed away a day before we had planned to travel to our next hotel, to stay near him.  I had no idea he was so sick.  It shook me.

It was a difficult time and one that I wasn’t quite prepared for as a mom.  Joe, my three year old, had known that my grandfather was sick before we left for the trip.  He had seen me cry for him.

One night before we left for Florida, I went out to pick up some things for the trip.  Mike was putting Joe to bed, when Joe asked him a question.  Mike didn’t understand, but after asking him several times to repeat himself, without getting any more clarity, he decided to just say, “yes.”  After that, Joe closed his eyes and folded his hands, and said, “Dear God, thank you for all you provide for us, and please help mom’s Grandpa to feel better soon.  Amen.”

I took time for myself after I heard the news.  Still, I wasn’t able to hide the tears from my boys.  Joe asked why I was sad, and I gave him the most truthful, yet kid-friendly answer I could give.  When we arrived at the hotel that was close to my grandparents, it was clear he didn’t understand.  He asked if I was going to tell my Grandpa that we had been praying for him and that we wanted him to feel better.

It was a difficult time.  I felt bad for my father and my aunts.  It was difficult for them.  I couldn’t imagine what my grandmother was going through.  As much as I felt I wanted and needed my husband and children with me for support through the wake, funeral, and grave site service, I knew it would be too much for the boys to be there for the entire time.  Also, I didn’t need a repeat of the anxiety I felt on the airplane.  I decided to have my boys present with me  during my father’s tribute to my grandfather.  (They love listening to Grandpa – and I thought maybe he could use the support)  My grandfather was a firefighter, and there was a section of the service that was outside with firetrucks and firefighters.  It was going to be such a respectful, honorable portion of the funeral, that I thought would be good for the boys to see. My grandfather also looked forward to showing the boys his fire station, so I thought he might like them to be there for that part.  I also knew it would be especially difficult for me, and having a shoulder there meant a great deal to me.  Mike and I had the understanding that the moment one of the boys makes a peep, he was to remove them.  He did a great job, and I am so thankful for him.

It was a difficult service.  I don’t think I saw a dry eye.  I also realized some people were not happy to see children there.  It was not my intention to upset anyone in such a time of grief.  I am not a perfect mother or person, in fact, I am far from it.  I try to make good decisions, but I don’t always.  I made the decision that I believed to be the right one at the time, and I am sincerely sorry if it wasn’t.  I really wish I could make it up to those that I upset, but I can’t.  Hopefully someday they can forgive me.

After the services, we really only had time to take a quick swim, pack up, and head home.  I wish we had had more time to spend with the rest of my family.  It was great to see them and I love them.  Hopefully we will get down again soon.  We are already in debt from this trip, what’s a little more debt?

The plan ride home wasn’t too bad.  I think my worries were just replaced with a bit of indifference.  Matthew attempted to make noise, but every time he did, we gave him another snack to keep him quiet.  Eventually, he dozed off in Mike’s arms.  It was very sweet.  He woke up shortly before we landed.  Poor Mike’s arms had fallen asleep, so I took Matthew.  He fussed for a second, then vomited all of those extra snacks right onto me, covering my shirt and lap.

It was gross, but I think it was kind of representative of how he felt.

The trip was full of “don’ts.”

The trip was full of “ssshhhh’s.”  I think both boys just wanted to let it all out.

When we opened the door to our house, it was late.  Joe’s first words were, “I just want to play.”

“I know,” I said.  He’s a little boy.  He wanted to be a little boy again.

I wouldn’t have skipped this trip for anything.  There were really fantastic parts and great things that we did.  I know I painted a picture of a very bleak adventure, but there were many shining lights.

It felt good to be home though, and I could feel the boys’ relief.

It was almost as strong as my own.

*but Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.”

Matthew 19:14

 

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5 responses to “Thoughtful Thursday – Children should be neither seen nor heard

  1. Jess, in 1967 Your great grampa MacWha passed. I can’t wait to tell the boys about him. He is always my hero. I want to be buried in Keene near him (no diss on my Dad…couldn’t have better than him). Kids change brain gears very quickly. I do recall being told not to disturb Grampa because he wasn’t feeling well. One morning September 24, 1967, I went into the kitchen at Highview St. and my mom said “Grampa’s in heaven”. I knew he wasn’t coming back. My regret is not seeing him just before he passed. I think in retrospect, Mom and Dad wanted my memories of him to be all good. You’re a wonderful Mom.

  2. Wow- I cannot imagine how you got through that trip! What an amazing mom and woman and granddaughter you are! I took Elijah to my mom’s friends funeral (well he and I had flown in and went directly there so we caught the end of it). He was 14 months old and had no idea what was going on, so at the end as my friends and their parents left they came up and tickled him and laughed and played. I talked with my friend and apologized for his disruption and she was thrilled, stating her mom would have loved it as she had loved little ones. Honestly I think Elijah probably ministered to some people that day, even while some people didn’t approve. God uses children in special ways to minister to people that we may not even know about. I will be praying for comfort for you as you continue to mourn your grandfather! Thank you for sharing such a person but impacting story!

  3. Jess, you’re an amazing mom and don’t feel bad about having your two well behaved sons on a plane, at a restaurant, or anywhere. I think people are too quick to judge sometimes when they see younger children and I have been out with all of you and they both behave better than any other children I have seen at a restaurant. I think sometimes people forget that we were all kids once upon a time. It is hard for children to understand everything that is happening, but I think it is so sweet that Joey knew you were upset and why and said a prayer for you. He is such a great kid. I think that it was nice that you were able to be down there during this time for everyone in your family and I know that we appreciated the updates from you.

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