Loving Our Kids Takes Courage and Vulnerability

Emelda De Coteau
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Emelda De Coteau

Mother, wife, sister, friend, writer / blogger / creative organizer, budding photographer... These are just a few of the many hats I juggle each day. I believe creativity is oxygen for the soul. I created Live In Color blog to celebrate the beauty in every moment, from faith to inspiration and motherhood.And it is soon becoming Pray with Our Feet blog which will focus on the intersection of faith and activism. Follow the inspiration on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/praywithourfeetblog/
Emelda De Coteau
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Photo Credit: Kaboom Pics

“We cannot opt out of uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure that’s woven through our daily experiences. Life is vulnerable… These are the challenges of being alive, of being in a relationship, of being connected.” – Brene Brown

When our babies come to us after hours of excruciating pain, we immediately pronounce them as perfect – those symmetrical faces, joyous smiles and spontaneous squeals of delight bring boundless joy. Then, little by little, as the pint-sized stage, peppered with milestones, fades, we notice imperfections; once cute gestures are annoying, and we long for simpler days. I know I do, especially when Nai is consumed by a tantrum, and my patience is frayed.

All I want in that moment, Mamas, is perfection – instant calm and compliance. So unrealistic, and yet I crave the easier, predictable path. You know, like in a nanosecond, she will simply “get” how to control her emotions. Ludicrous, right?

But in this era of social media, where nearly everyone’s smiling at us through filtered photos, it’s hard to face anything remotely perceived as imperfection in ourselves, let alone our children. The reality, though, is our kids are mirrors, through their struggles and imperfections we see ourselves.

This is the vulnerability and courage of authentic love, it calls us to accept the range of humanity – the beauty of light and hope, and the struggle of impatience, anger, aggression, and selfishness. Each challenge we face, as parents, changes us and our children in profound ways. Gradually, I am learning to surrender to gentleness, and stop harsh self-criticism. Minute by minute. Hour by hour. Day by day.

The other morning, while reading through my daily devotional, How Deep A Mother’s Love…. A Mother’s Journey, I stumbled across a scripture passage (Isiah 43:18-19) which so deeply connects to this season of my life: “Do not remember past events, pay no attention to things of old. Look, I am about to do something new; even now it is coming. Do you not see it? Indeed, I will make a way in the wilderness, rivers in the dessert.”

Love, I am learning, is not a place of rest and complacency, but of trust and conscious bravery.  And, you know what, it grows not during times of ease or comfort, but struggle – those moments when your child is melting down in the mall, and somehow, you find the empathy to talk through it, or with a little one who faces daily physical, emotional or learning challenges.

When loving in these ways, you come to understand the core of love – no illusions, expectations, or prerequisites (e.g. if you present this way, I will love you).

You simply see with your heart.

Finding Faith In Chaos

Emelda De Coteau
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Emelda De Coteau

Mother, wife, sister, friend, writer / blogger / creative organizer, budding photographer... These are just a few of the many hats I juggle each day. I believe creativity is oxygen for the soul. I created Live In Color blog to celebrate the beauty in every moment, from faith to inspiration and motherhood.And it is soon becoming Pray with Our Feet blog which will focus on the intersection of faith and activism. Follow the inspiration on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/praywithourfeetblog/
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I wrote this a few years ago, but I am still grappling with these lessons, and the concept of “faith in chaos.” I wanted to share my thoughts again. We are all learning many of the same lessons in different ways.

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Photo Credit: Emelda De Coteau Live In Color Blog

Let go of your old narratives when they no longer serve you. Life changes constantly, and your story will, too.”– Tammy Strobel (Author/Blogger/Photographer)

Over a year ago, within two months, both of our cars were totaled.

Before my husband and I could sigh, we learned about our baby. My emotions vacillated from surprise and joy to the kind of wrenching terror novel responsibility bears. How would I bring forth a life as I still searched for myself?

Months passed; halfway through the pregnancy, one of our doctors solemnly cautioned something may be wrong with our daughter’s heart. Racing anxiety quickly yielded to determination and prayer. We stood in the hospital parking lot on a tepid spring day, my husband, mother and I, heads bowed. We remained calm. A few days later the test results were negative.

After a nearly three-day delivery in August, Naima entered the world at 11:11 a.m., healthy and whole. Only seconds earlier, she maneuvered to break free of the umbilical cord which locked itself around her neck twice; the first cries were an audible reminder that life, in all of its complexities, is a continuous marvel.

As I look into those eyes, pressing against the softness of her skin, my heart is imbued with unending joy. She is here, because we refused to give up on her, on the power of faith. For me faith is not the absence of doubt—it’s having the courage to wrestle with it, facing our vulnerabilities, one day, one moment at a time. As Iyanla Vanzant, teacher and author often remarks, “we must do our work.”

This inner work is constant and consistent. I believe God pushes us with each new challenge to trust more fully. Certainly, there are days when it all feels impractical to me, as if I am swimming against a current.

This autumn, while leaves fell, so too did my tears as I came to grips with a stark realization—a close family member now deals with a lifelong illness. There would be no retreat, only our resolve to cope.

It is during quiet times of reflection, as the bustle of life subsides momentarily, that I am reminded faith, ironically, is perhaps with us most strongly in chaos, when it’s easier to lose ourselves in despair and panic. We only have to remain willing to see promise and possibilities, not obstacles.

Two Life Lessons from my Toddler

Emelda De Coteau
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Emelda De Coteau

Mother, wife, sister, friend, writer / blogger / creative organizer, budding photographer... These are just a few of the many hats I juggle each day. I believe creativity is oxygen for the soul. I created Live In Color blog to celebrate the beauty in every moment, from faith to inspiration and motherhood.And it is soon becoming Pray with Our Feet blog which will focus on the intersection of faith and activism. Follow the inspiration on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/praywithourfeetblog/
Emelda De Coteau
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Naima De Coteau Photo Credit: Emelda De Coteau
Naima De Coteau
Photo Credit: Emelda De Coteau
Naima is an avid explorer. Even in the womb, this girl moved with agile determination. She enjoys a good swing or sliding board as much as the next toddler, but also likes walking through the park, picking up flowers, digging for rocks and climbing into trees.

A few weeks ago she layed down in the grass, gazed toward the placid indigo sky and smiled. Not a tepid smile either; one filled with the kind of innocence we see in children, before the world has convinced them to hold fast to reality and stop dreaming  Her quiet exuberance is contagious.

Oh, what lessons she taught me in 2 minutes:

1. Stop expecting and start experiencing.

Hitting the park together does not mean staying on the swings, or sliding board, Mom. There is a world beyond what I “should do,” and I intend to embrace it.

What kind of lives would you and I lead if we turned away from the “should” syndrome? This tendency towards compartmentalizing expectations for our kids goes beyond them and impacts other areas of life, too.

How often are we frustrated because partners, friends, or family members defy our expectations, choosing a path we do not approve? It’s difficult, this pulling back, but there is freedom in releasing the need to control. Every day, I am learning this lesson.

2. Slow down, and enjoy.

We live in the era of multitasking on speed. Everyone, everywhere is busy, all the time. Between floods of emails and navigating social media, our minds move incessantly. Being still is a lost art. It’s not lazy, this desire for tranquility, I promise you all, those times heal us in numerous ways.

In those few moments, lying next to Naima, I absorbed the natural beauty of birds, their rhythmic songs. Oh what lovely sounds.

While my pre-kid life included random meditation (when I could sit still! Ha! ) and walks around the track, headphones were never far away. Reflecting back on those days,  I missed so much.

When you and I are open, the lessons come to us in many forms. These days, mine are often taught by our spirited three-year-old who is determined to help Mommy see life with different eyes.

What lessons do your kids teach you?