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.

Inspired Reading – Simplicity: Essays by The Minimalists

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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Between home schooling our 3-year-old daughter, plus the gazillion other things I do all day, reading books, at times, seems like a distant fantasy. You know, one of those glorious activities in my pre-kid life.

Well I am stubborn. I couldn’t abandon my life-long love of words for Elmo and Abby, so I became more realistic. Instead of lengthy novels, I absorb blogs, articles and essays.

During an online reading binge last year I discovered The Minimalists blog. It’s written by  two young guys who walked away from six figure jobs, because they knew life consisted of more than climbing a corporate ladder.

Their blog posts are beautifully  layered essays, odes to a simple life built on the appreciation of people and experiences, not vapid status symbols.

Minimalism has many definitions and looks different for various people, but I think of it as not only ridding yourself of excess stuff, but those stifling emotional weights. It’s understanding what matters and why.

I’ve just started diving into their book, Simplicity: Essays. Many of these pieces were published on the blog; some appear in this collection with revisions.

It’s not a lengthy read; you can skip around, choosing what resonates most with you. There are varied lessons here, overall though, minimalism helps us understand the fullness of living in the moment, and honoring our voices over the chaotic noise.

Choose to do less and be more, the minimalists seem to say in their own way. And we all have that choice, the question is how do we manage this power?

Here are a few of my favorite passages:

“The white picket fence. The large suburban home. The big screen TVs glowing in multiple rooms…. The corner office.

In exchange for…

The daily grind. The nose to the grindstone…. The cubical farms… The arbitrary goals… The unyielding tiredness.

You can keep your American Dream. Give us back our time, our freedom, our lives.”

– UnAmerican Dream

“Questioning the meaning we give to our stuff is the basis of minimalism. By paring down and getting rid of life’s excesses, we can focus on what’s important.”

  • Questioning Stuff

“This life is short, but it contains everything. There is inherent beauty in simplicity. Choose your path wisely; often the simple route is the most beautiful path to follow.”

  • Simplicity, An Unpublished Essay

“Without growth, and without a deliberate effort to help others, we are simply slaves to cultural expectations, ensnared by the trappings of money and power and status and perceived success.

Minimalism is a tool that allowed us to simplify our lives so we could focus on what’s important. We were able to strip away the excess stuff and focus on living meaningful lives… You deserve to live a meaningful life, too.”

  • Grow Yourself, Not Your Stuff

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/
Emelda De Coteau
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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.