Stitches and thread

Reid and I were out walking along the edge of the sea, on the uneven ground of the headland where walkers over the years have worn a natural path. It was hot but the walk was not particularly strenuous so when I noticed the stitch in my chest I decided I was simply unfit, more reason to press on.

It was there again, the stitch like pain, when I woke in the morning and again when Sam went for blood tests later that day. The sharp edge of the needle entered my chest close to where my heart is. I saw the needle make a loop to form a neat little stitch like my mum showed me once, when first I had shown interest in embroidery.

The stitch pulled tight and I felt a gentle ripple flutter inside me as the long loose strand cascaded down, causing butterflies in my tummy as well. ‘It is a stitch!’ I thought to myself but this has nothing to do with fitness. This tight thread is the pull that every mother feels when something is up with her children. It isn’t left to hang there, the thread. It has purpose. Another tug and it is wound tightly around our navel.

Is this is the female journey, the strain of motherhood, the agony that none of us can escape? This thin invisible cord, entwining our hearts that are overloaded with emotions, throbbing with dreams and magnificent plans for their futures; it weaves around our navel, our belly, our core. We feel the sting of the tug, the weight of the agony of hope. It fills the space where they were once physically connected; the space they grew in and though many years have past since their birth; its still here that we carry them.

I hear the voice of the girl at the gym. She is young, beautiful, and patient. “Navel to spine,” she instructs, “make it work for you. Navel to spine.”

Its not just the physical cut of three caesareans that makes the sit-ups difficult. It’s not just the scar tissue the doctors found and cut away each time they performed another delivery, warning me that a fourth child wasn’t an option. Its not the numbness of the surrounding area or the outer layers of fat nor the way they roll together on full exertion that prevents me from gaining a flat stomach. The truth is I sense my core. I don’t need to find it by tilting my spin with a gentle rock. My core is tight but not in the Pilates sense of the word. My core is tight because the cord of motherhood is looped around it. Heart to navel not navel to spine.

It’s a gift to be a mother, to care as much as we do. But its hard to not let the weight of their stuff overwhelm us, whether its sickness, or relationships, or their grades at school.

The surgeon who’s removing the thyroid explained that one of the risks in the procedure to remove it, is the chance that they’ll damage her calcium levels. He explained that calcium is stored in our bodies in little grains like rice; four grains in fact and they attach themselves to the thyroid much like shells attach themselves to a rock, or barnacles do to the bottom of a boat. He said that they would find them and try to gently push them out of the way but sometimes in the process they are completely destroyed and the patient needs calcium for the rest of their life.

It reminds me of the path of mothering. All the times we try to coax our children towards independence, to stand alone, to rely less on us and fend for themselves. It’s a gradual process and throughout the years sometimes there is a moment of returning. They are attached to us like that calcium attaches to the thyroid. They cling to our nurture enjoying the ride. They swing from that invisible cord that links our heart and our navel. They glide down like children with rubber tubes on a water slide weighing us down in the pit of our bellies every time they land. They enjoy the stability we provide, the taut thread is immovable. They don’t think about us. They don’t see if it hurts us, the pulling of the thread how it stretches us inside.

What they do know is that we are the constant. The place of safe returning. I pray my children will continue to come back; that they will always find comfort and feel safe in my arms. I cannot promise to be perfect. Like the rock where the shells lodge I am rough from the tides and the swells of the sea. I want them to move on, to settle somewhere else but in the process I hope I don’t damage them.

For my daughters I want them to know, first hand, that invisible tug that reaches from their hearts to their navels, that they will have children of their own. There is so much that I want for my daughters and son. Sometimes the weight rises from the pit of me where hope is stored. The dreams for them to live fully and cultivate the land.

Deuteronomy 6:1-3
“These are the commands, decrees and laws the LORD your God directed me to teach you to observe in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess, so that you, your children and their children after them may fear the LORD your God as long as you live by keeping all his decrees and commands that I give you, and so that you may enjoy long life. Hear, O Israel, and be careful to obey so that it may go well with you and that you may increase greatly in a land flowing with milk and honey, just as the LORD, the God of your fathers, promised you.”

So much has been stolen but God promises to return what the locust devoured.
Joel 2:23-27
“Be glad, O people of Zion, rejoice in the LORD your God, for he has given you the autumn rains in righteousness. He sends you abundant showers, both autumn and spring rains, as before. The threshing floors will be filled with grain; the vats will overflow with new wine and oil. “I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten—the great locust and the young locust, the other locusts and the locust swarm —
my great army that I sent among you. You will have plenty to eat, until you are full, and you will praise the name of the LORD your God, who has worked wonders for you; never again will my people be shamed. Then you will know that I am in Israel, that I am the LORD your God, and that there is no other; never again will my people be shamed.

The heart though powerful and strong can become unreliable with emotion. Like Mary we can ponder what we observe about our children, what others say, what gifts they have.

Luke 2: 16-19 “So they went with haste and [by searching] found Mary and Joseph, and the Baby lying in a manger. And when they saw it, they made known what had been told them concerning this Child, And all who heard it were astounded and marveled at what the shepherds told them. But Mary was keeping within herself all these things (sayings), weighing and pondering them in her heart.”

Like Proverbs 22:6 suggests we can lead them in the path they should go. Yet when the strain on the thread is more than we can bear, its our thoughts we must take captive bringing them into obedience with Christ. Reminding ourselves that we are only mothers on borrowed time. It is for His good pleasure they were created and it is in His hands they ultimately belong.

Ephesians 2:10 
For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

The cord should never be so tight that we are crippled in pain. It is then that He wants to hold us. To let them go and trust Him completely. The path of pilgrimage is often unsafe and not always predictable. Like the path on the headland the way has been worn by those who have gone before us but over the years the grasses and trees have grown back in places. Its up to us to forge a new path. To take risks, to be brave.

For Sam there are risks with the surgery. Risks for the calcium levels, risks for the larynx, risks of infection. These risks pull on my heart now, they pull on my core but our lives are in His hands. He gives us grace for the journey.

Did we think that by following Christ we had chosen a safe path? A path of abundance and prosperity. Yes, sometimes it is so but we must remember that the greatest thing is to be in the will of God. To know his voice, to feel his hands gently supporting us, loosing the strain of the load. ‘The safest place to be is in the will of God,’ but this isn’t safety as we know it, hardships come and He gives us grace to endure.

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23 Comments

Filed under Life

23 responses to “Stitches and thread

  1. Wendy Gilbert

    How true. I remember someone once said to me, “You love them so much it hurts”. I can’t even imagine how much it has hurt over this year, for you.

    You described it so beautifully as the “thin invisible cord”. It is God’s perfect design, so that we never let go, or give up for them. We can’t stop loving & believing. Which certainly have done so beautifully and with so much dignity. Will be on guard for you all tomorrow. Love Wendy

  2. Bronte Waller

    Beautiful Clare ~ all my love as you head towards Sam’s operation. He IS love. That is truly not fathomable really. I love you. XXXX

  3. Penny Dalton

    Yes, the female journey…the protective tug of a mothers love.
    Thank you for describing so beautifully the gift of nurture that God has put within us as women.
    It is a powerful thing & you have searched it to depths that I can’t imagine.
    Sending love & prayers for tomorrow.
    xpenn

  4. Oh beautiful Clare. So much to write. I shall email.
    I love you.
    xx

  5. You can write Clare, no doubt about it.

  6. Jane Grover

    Motherhood…….easy in theory, but so often we are challenged when applying the theory in the practical realm!!!!! but we all do our best, just like the mothers before us and those to come, utimately mothering is a great privilege one God designed us women for xx
    I have fine chocolate for you from San Francisco thought it might just help a little!!!!
    I’ll be praying tomorrow with the rest of the mighty mothers surrounding you for Sam’s surgery and your mother stitch xx

  7. you are letting go and letting GOD. I love you Clare xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

  8. Bronte Waller

    You are bringing back the treasures of darkness…
    you teach me much.
    Thank you for all you share.
    You are a wonderful Mum.
    XXXX

  9. Angela Callebaut

    Beautiful you are and faithful is He…standing with and upholding your family today……….xxxxx

  10. David newton

    Sam always gets the first and most attentive prayers I can offer. Today is no different!

    Cheers

    • Clare Froggatt

      Thankyou Dave, I know that you know the agony of sickness first hand. Thankyou for making Sam a priority. Your prayers have been heard and answered time and again. Much love Clare

  11. Simone Stewart

    Hey Clare, am reading this blog the day after my baby Pip started daycare. A milestone for us as a family. I am working one day a week so all my babies will be cared for by others on that day. Even though my Pip is so capable and independant I still had to make that phone call during the day, he was not far from my mind whilst working and I picked him up at 2. My mum used to tell me their would always be an invisible unbilical cord between us, it used to bother me that tie now I understand it. I love your wise words Clare. My prayers are with you, Sam and the fam today. Biggest Love Simmiexxxx

    • Clare Froggatt

      I remember when my baby Jack started daycare. I was very sad because I had no choice but to return to teaching when he was only 8 months. It was only a couple of days a week but it tore at my heart strings then too. I was blessed that he could go to a daycare centre on site at PLC in Burwood, in Melbourne where I taught. Every recess and lunch and at 4 in the afternoon (exactly) I went over to feed him. After a few months the staff told me that he began to crawl to the door to look for me at just the time I was due to come. The invisible bond is so precious, its a thread of life and joy. We are so blessed to experience motherhood.

  12. Lucy East

    Dear Clare, your words are like art….they can make the invisible visible. I can be glad ( just finished reading Pollyanna Grows Up) that you have had the time to describe the indescribable! love and prayers all morning to you and Sam. Lucy

    • Clare Froggatt

      Coming for my artist friend that means so much. Thankyou for helping me appreciate visual art over the years. Embedded in my memory are those ping pong balls suspended on invisible thread that you took me to see at the gallery. Your excitement when you turned on the fan so we could watch them reverberate was contagious. I am so grateful, so glad for you!

  13. Meredith Harvey

    I am not a mother yet Clare, but you have explained so beautifully the preciousness of having children and what it is like to truly love them. You are a great example of a mother and one who is admired by many. Your children are incredibly blessed to have you as their mother – you are an amazing woman of God.
    Much love and prayers for Sam, yourself and the family today xxx

    • Clare Froggatt

      Ha ha… you are going to love being a mum when the day comes. Thankyou for all your words of encouragement. I’m so excited to be coming back to school. I hope our classes are buddies again. It’s strange how our friendship has grown in my absence from school. God really is a magnificent connector of people. Thanks Mez x

  14. Honeybee

    So proud of you Clare, you are like a mother lioness fighting fierce for her cubs. Love, prayers, strength & support to you, Sam & family.

    • Clare Froggatt

      We feel your support in so many ways. Thankyou for last week too for Jack and all the special camping moments. You are like family to us. we love you so very much.

  15. Rhona Scotter

    Clare, you continue to amaze and inspire me with your beautiful writing depicting your positive approach to the ongoing challenges Sam and you all face. You are an inspiration to us all and you have definitely proved to be the solid, stable rock Sam needs to cling to for safety and comfort.
    Your recent entry of “Stitiches and Thread” is exquisitely written – so beautiful and so perceptive. As a mother I can relate to those times my children have caused those threads to pull tight and I am aware that they will continue to do so at every emotional turn. Yet my experiences pale into insignificance when I compare them with all you are going through.
    My love and thoughts are with you as you are faced with yet another challenge.
    The tapestry of my life continues to be enriched and strengthened by the honesty, beauty and wisdom you share with us in your expression of your life. Thank you Clare.

    • Clare Froggatt

      Thankyou Rhona. All of our tapestries and embroideries turn out better when they are spread out on a frame and fixed firm. I am one of the lucky ones to have been surrounded by a circle of people who have held me tight even when I have been stretched beyond what I ever thought possible to endure. Thankyou for your part in that framework. I am so delighted we reconnected. Many years ago you were part of that frame for me at Jemima as well. I am glad that the tapestry is inspiring from above. There are many knots and loose threads beneath but that I guess, is the beauty of life; the frailty of the human spirit. It reminds us we cannot journey alone or we will indeed unravel.
      Much love Clare

  16. We didn’t choose the easy path we chose the eternal path.

    “aim at heaven and you will get earth thrown in; aim at earth and you will get neither” – c.s. Lewis

    • Clare Froggatt

      Precious Emma, in two lines you say what it takes me pages to express. You are a gifted wordsmith. As Grandad says “Blessed are he short winded, for they shall be invited back.”

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