🌟 When the world feels too heavy and impossible, there is One who knows our burdens and wants to bear them.
🌟 When our daughter died at 18 weeks gestation, so much changed about our family. We were now a family with a daughter and sibling in heaven. We were faced with many awkward questions about how many kids we have and how it feels to only have one girl. (We are blessed with one living daughter and 4 living sons) Jokes about being outnumbered and feeling sorry for our living daughter for being the only girl. It goes on and on.
🌟But, the one constant was and is Jesus. Were we angry with the Lord? Yes. Did we question Him? Yes. Where was He when He was supposed to be “knitting Mary-Linda together” in her mother’s womb? We serve a Big God and He can not only handle our anger, questions and pain, but He wants to bear it for us.
🌟Remember that today and always. When things seem dark, know that the light is near. Hold tight. You are loved.
Our lives and my birthday changed forever in 2017. In 2017, I was the happiest I had ever been in my 40 years on earth. I wasn’t the least bit upset to be turning forty. I was pregnant with our second daughter and fifth child. Life for us was in the highest of highs.
The following month, at my 18 week appointment I learned that our daughter had unexpectedly suffered a fetal maternal hemorrhage and her heart had stopped beating. We would go on to deliver her and hold her and deeply grieve and be changed F O R E V E R.
I’ve heard people make comments and say “she should be over it.” “At least she has living children.” “She didn’t even know that baby.” And there are people who are so uncomfortable with me sharing about our walk through grief that they question my mental health. Do you really think that I share everything on social media? No. No, I don’t. But, by me sharing my heart and my experience, I have helped a lot of women who have lost their babies in pregnancy through miscarriage and stillbirth and others who have experienced early infant loss. And, by God’s Grace we have a safe space for all, no matter where you may be in your grief journey, your fertility or infertility journey or your mental health condition. This is and always will be a safe space for you. I am here to listen, to share and to be there for other mommas and hopeful mommas.
That brings me to this year. This year, I am turning 44. There is a different level of joy from my 40th birthday, as we have waded the depths of grief and celebrated on the highest mountain tops since that day. One of our greatest joys came in May of 2019, when God blessed us earth side with our son, Jimmie.
This year, at my birthday dinner, Jimmie was so much fun. He’s learning to keep his cup down when he is drinking from a straw. And in between sips and telling me how he’s supposed to hold his cup, he would remind me of why we were at dinner, sweetly saying “happy birthday, momma.”
I cried. Our lives look so different than what we would have anticipated them looking like just four years ago. We’ve experienced the loss of our daughter, who would be 3 years old right now. We’ve experienced the joy of having our precious Jimmie (age 2). Expecting him, being together for his birth and being home together for much of his first year and second year of life. We are incredibly blessed and thankful. Our big Els wanted to know why I was crying and Moustapha said this “God didn’t have to give us Jimmie.”
That is so true. Jimmie doesn’t replace our baby who died. But, we know we would be in a very different place right now, if we were still waiting on baby Jimmie. Thankfully, God made a way where we did not see the way. It was not easy and we are incredibly thankful.
My birthday will always be a reminder that we are missing Mary-Linda and that we are blessed with our Jimmie, Leeland, Trinity, Maddux and Bakri. A reminder that we are not promised tomorrow and to be grateful for our blessings today.
It’s only February of 2021 and it’s already been a doozy.
But, who can keep track at this point? In the latest crazy events, we got snow, sleet, ice and deep freeze temps across Texas that lasted for a few days. That, in and of itself was unusual as it occurred across ALL of TEXAS. It was very cold here on Monday, February 15 and while we were experiencing record breaking low temps across Texas approximately 60percent of us were without power. No electricity. No heat. A lot of our friends and family were without power the entire first day. We lost power in the evening around 5pm and were powerless for the following 39 hours. Around 7pm that first night, we also lost water. Not water pressure, but more like someone turned off the water for our entire block and much of the city at the same time. Yesterday morning, power was restored for 6 hours and then off again for 8.
So, here’s a few things we did and what we are continuing to do to try to weather this very strange time and storm. Please comment with somethings that you forgot or that you did that helped you weather this storm!
No water. No heat. No electricity. No problem.
Check and replace batteries. Charge everything while you can. Use your laptop or car to charge your cell phone. (Don’t run your vehicle inside your garage for risk of carbon monoxide poisoning)
Keep bottled water, beverages and snacks handy
Love coffee? Have coffee grounds set aside, if you don’t have a hand-grinder. Make French press coffee. It’s better anyway!
Have physical copies of your favorite inspirational books to read. My current faves: the Bible, Scripture and the Skeptic by Eric Huffman and Night Night, Little One by Stacey Donovan. When the internet is down, what will you consume?
Play family games that you create yourself!
We play a game where everyone thinks of 3-5 celebrities, historic figures or famous characters and writes them down on small pieces of paper
we split into two teams. Momma and Dad are team captains and we rotate Els on our teams
Each team gets one minute to try to get their teammates to guess as many celebrities as possible
Round 1: you can say anything (except for the name) and make any motions
Round 2: you can say one word and make any motions
Round 3: you can’t make any sounds. You can make any motions
Remember momma keeps score in her head and it’s always a tie
Finally, blankets and cuddles are required to keep warm and cozy
Hope you are all safe and able to get any damage repaired soon. We had one pipe burst in our garage and are working to have that repaired now, so we can take showers! Cleaning with baby wipes is just not acceptable for 3 days straight! Also, I won’t even begin to share about how bonded we are as a family, because of our new knowledge of everyone’s bathroom schedule and potty habits. The things you learn and go through when you don’t have running water!
It’s always been hard for me to imagine how my babies will look and who they will look like, when I am pregnant. It was the same when we were expecting our second daughter in the summer of 2017. I knew she would look like an El. But, would her eyes be hazel like mine and Bakri’s? Would her hair be curly like Maddux and Leeland? Would she have olive skin like Trinity and Leeland? Or would her eyes be blue and her hair be blonde like Maddux?
When she died at 18 weeks gestation, I held her tiny little body in my arms. I remember that day so vividly. I never ever wanted to let her go and yet, I knew that her little body would not keep. And, I could not hold her like this forever. As the days passed, I would imagine her. I would have day dreams of her in heaven. I could see her. I could touch her. She wasn’t a baby at all. In my mind she was a little girl. She was three.
She was the age she would be now, had she not had an undetected fetal maternal when I was 4.5 months pregnant with her. She would have a sweet nature, because, well the Els all have sweet natures as babies. 💗 She would have had a distinct way of speaking. They all do. Each one had their own special way. She is so loved. I wish I knew more of her. But, I know there is someday. And, we are one day closer to that day.
I wrote this in December, just before Christmas. I’m sharing it now as the drama (always) continues. xoxo, El Momma
It’s been an interesting few weeks (months) around the El House. One up followed by a down followed by an up and on and on. You get the picture.
The biggest weight that we have been carrying is my dad’s health. He’s been in and out of the hospital for the last few months. It’s been hard. Thankfully, he seems to have turned a corner, he’s in a rehab facility and we are hopeful he will be strong enough to go home soon.
So, that brings me to my “Momma Drama” and breakdown of the day.
Let’s set the scene.
First, our school district sends out a district wide phone message notifying all the parents of a “threat of violence” (that appears to be uncredible) last night. Our school responds swiftly with closing the campus to all visitors. At this point, I feel sad that we’ve come to this, but I am okay.
We make it to school fine and all of our children are in the building safely. We decide to have breakfast nearby, just in case we are needed quickly. All is calm and well. My husband goes to work and I begin working from home. I decide I am going to exercise today “no matter what” and I pick out a power yoga class that I will absolutely attend. (I promise myself again!) I head to the back of my vehicle to put something in it and run a quick errand on my way to yoga. I see my kindergartner’s lunch box in the back and start driving to the school, since it’s already his lunchtime by then. (they have lunch super early in the day) I am about to turn on the road to our school when my phone rings and it is the school calling. I hear an automated recording which identifies itself as the “attendance office” and notifies me that “your student, Trinity…El…is absent today….” My heart sinks. “Don’t panic,” I tell myself. I end the call and find the school on my phone and call the front office. I calmly identify myself and tell them what happened. They ask me to hold as I pull up to the school. She returns to the phone to apologize and inform me that it was just an error. “Trinity is here.” The thoughts that ran through my head (in what was only a few seconds) were terrifying. All I wanted was to hold my sweet girl. To tell her I love her. To cherish her. I walked into the school and left Leeland’s lunch with a note. I got a quick hug from one of my babies’ teachers and I left to run the errand I still had to run, on my way to yoga.
So, I get to the monogram shop (the errand). I’m picking up our Christmas pajamas. They were being monogrammed and I had all of them ready, except for Moustapha’s (dad). I tried with him. I even ordered a pair of “men’s pajamas” from zulily to match the kids. And, the men’s pajamas I ordered were actually a child size medium. UGH! So, I finally resolve to just have a red tshirt monogrammed to match our pajamas. I had dropped off all of the other pajamas the week prior and I was given a firm timeline to return with Moustapha’s pjs or no monogram by Christmas. This was, of course, that final day. The sign on the door read “no more monogram orders before Christmas. All orders from this point forward will be ready after Christmas.” I totally ignored that and went in, picked up my 5 items and laid out Moustapha’s shirt and told the sweet lady behind the counter what I needed. She, very sweetly told me that it would be ready after Christmas. I replied with the information she gave me last week. She said she was sorry, but there was nothing she could do. That’s when I began to cry.
All the “stuff” that had been brewing and bubbling the last few weeks, came pouring out…all over the monogram lady. She stood there and listened to me…then she began to share her story and her “stuff” that had been brewing and bubbling began to come out. We were a sight. And, in the middle of it all, without talking about it, she filled out a new order form for me and promised me a monogrammed pajama top for my hubby before Christmas.
This is the stuff, people. This is real life. It’s sometimes messy and confusing and sad. And, sometimes it’s really really great. PS. Yes, I made it to yoga.
We did it! This is my final post of my self-given challenge to blog every day for the month of July. We went on a few random thought trails, but for the most part it was a great experience. I enjoyed sharing a part of my life with you every day this month. If you missed a post or two, feel free to look around. Every post was tagged with the hashtag #elmomma31 , so that should help or you can just scroll back through time or start on July 1 and scroll up until you end on July 31.
Welcome to August. I’m sure you will hear from me again soon as we gear up to go BACK TO SCHOOL!
We’re two weeks in and I’m tired. Any other mommas and dads with me? Summers and vacations are times when I find my rhythm. Who doesn’t love relaxing and taking a break from the norm to refresh. But, even so, I love structure. I love knowing what’s next, scheduling myself silly until I just fall over at the end of each day. It’s part of the reason we plan weekly themes in the summers. It helps me to make a plan. A plan that still allows all of us to sleep in on summer days.
And, that is the reason I’m so tired. Every school day I wake up by 6am. I am NOT an early riser. I’m a sleeper and a dreamer. I’m also a Momma, so I convince myself if I just get up now, I can take a nap once all of the Els are at school/work. That’s just me lying to myself. I’ll never stop to take a nap. But, the thought is nice.
So, we’re off. In the rhythm of school and work and practices and lessons and choirs and teaching and rehearsals and total chaos. We’re in our rhythm. We’re happy and good, but tired. How are you doing with the kids back in school?
About El Momma: Rebekah Maddux El-Hakam is a worship leader and songwriter from Houston, Texas. Her debut album, Radiant You received 4.5 stars from NewReleaseTuesday and was produced by Marshall Altman. A 6 song sampler is available for free on Noisetrade Free Noisetrade Download and the entire album is available for purchase on iTunes
Last week, while the Nation celebrated our Freedom on the 4th of July, we prepared for a week long celebration with Water as our theme. The first objective of water week: learn to swim!
With a bird’s eye view
Swimmers must be hydrated and fed well. Here is a photo of us at lunch at the Kolache Factory.
For the 4th of July, we celebrated with family at the Els’ Aunt and Uncle’s pool party! The Els practiced swimming.
Ate yummy dinner by the pool!
Leeland even sported his Willy Wonka top hat in his swim trunks. Can you guess what next week’s theme is? (I’ll give you a hint, it’s performance, birthday and chocolate related)
After the family pool party, we headed home to watch the fireworks! Leeland asked nervously “Are they coming closer?”
Me and Miss T- July 4th 2013
And, for the weekend, we made a waterpark in the backyard…just dad and the water hose is pretty much all it takes!
After all of the water park fun in the backyard, we had a picnic. – Leeland
-Daddy and Trinity
-Maddux and Bakri
-El Momma and Trinity
Daddy’s hat on Trinity
Hope you are enjoying your summer. What do you do with your little ones to keep them cool, happy, occupied and engaged in the summer months? Comment below.
–El Momma is a blog chronicling the adventures of El Momma (singer/songwriter Rebekah Maddux El-Hakam), her husband and 4 children- the Els. To download a free 6 song sampler from Rebekah’s critically acclaimed debut album, Radiant You, visit www.noisetrade.com/rebekahme/radiant-you