There are a few, singular moments in motherhood that have hit me with a heavy weight of change. Moments when the realization of what I am doing has dawned on me.
The first was when I was pregnant with my son. I had no issue telling people I was pregnant, that I was going to be a mom, that I have having a baby or that the baby would be a boy. I had been anticipating motherhood ever since I realized it was a biological possibility for me. Family life is what my heart craved from a very young age and I have always loved working with children.
None of that caught me off guard. It all sounded like the next logical step. The phrase that tripped me up was “I’m going to have a son.”
“Son” was the word that hit me with the full weight of what I had signed up for, because sons become men. I wasn’t raising a child, I was raising an adult….through his childhood.
The same weight was there with my daughter, I had simply accepted it by then. So as my belly grew rounder and fuller, I was more equipped to acknowledge that the baby growing inside would not be tiny forever.
“Won’t you stay here a minute more
I know you want to walk through the door
But it’s all too fast
Let’s make it last a little while
I pointed to the sky and now you wanna fly”Nichole Nordeman (Slow Down)
Another memorable moment was the first day that I sat down on the couch to read while my child picked up his own toys. He was finally old enough for some independent cleaning and has always been a strong-willed child, so cleaning never happened quickly. I had completed all my chores and there was a mess of blocks on the living room floor which I had implored him to clean up, many times. I was ready for the next activity, but adamant that this happen first.
Until that point in my parenting journey, my hands had been busy the majority of the time. I had a colicky first born, some post-partum anxiety, and a husband who worked really long hours. I felt that I had to make sure I was working hard on the home front too, as a thank you for all he put in. I’ve always prided myself on a job well done and I don’t want to appear to have slacked off, so undone chores bring a sense of scorn to my mind. I can easily start to attack my own self-worth at that point. An unhealthy manifestation of a healthy desire to keep a tidy, peaceful home.
In this instance, however, I was doing more by allowing my son to clean his own mess.
It was my first lesson in letting go. In recognizing the situations where doing less is doing more. In allowing (age appropriate) mistakes to be made and handled alone. I was there, on the couch, for instruction and praise for a job well done. The task, however, was his to complete.
This surrender is now a near daily occurrence.
Letting helping hands in the kitchen form imperfect lumps of dough.
The dough rises and blossoms into tasty bread all the same.
Piling laundry on a bed to be put away by my children, rather than myself. Also acknowledging that clothes don’t stay nicely folded when shoved in a drawer by a 2 year old.
C’est la Vie. I’m looking for obedience and growth, not perfection.
Most recently it has been watching quiet times shift again. Throughout my motherhood naps and quiet times have been a haven. When I had one infant, I used them to accomplish chores so I could be free when he was awake. I also made it a point to hold him through at least one nap a day, with a book in hand. It is hard to beat the warmth of a sleeping baby on your chest while flipping pages of a good book.
When I had a toddler and a brand new infant, quiet times were used to pour into each one individually and accomplish chores as needed. My self-care was lacking greatly in that season, but my prayer life was constant and God filled me up.
I’ve gone through many models of naps and quiet times and have always made an effort to find that peace in my day. However, I again find myself in a new season.
Setting these kiddos up for quiet time and encouraging them to play alone seems to take more out of me than simply reading a book while they play quietly. The strangeness of this season; quarantine, the loss of one grandparent, the travel of another, changes in schedules, etc. It has all rubbed off on them and they just want to be close.
I’ve been committed since the beginning to encourage closeness. When all they desire is me, I try to provide it. I try and I fail at times, being stretched too thin or bombarded with distractions.
I want them to keep wanting just me. It is a beautiful thing to be wanted just for who you are, to have a presence that soothes tears. It is a gift from the simple wisdom of a child’s soul.
“Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”Matthew 19:14
It’s an honesty that we lose as we age, but the guiding principle is the same. We just want to draw close.
We want to be near. We want to be understood.
Last week, we had an incident with the children. They were jumping around with all the pent-up energy of an Alaskan in the dead of winter.
Jumping from the window, to the wall, and up and down the hall.
Then someone slipped and hurt an ankle. I immediately rushed over to take a look at the mobility, my husband rushed to grab an ice pack, and I snapped at the other child.
He was getting in his sister’s face, trying to make her move, wanting to touch her owie, and help sort it all out. What he didn’t understand was that we needed to see what she could do on her own. I needed to maintain a calm atmosphere and his hands were not helpful in that, so I snapped.
After nursing our daughter back to a calm state and determining that the ankle was fine, I took the opportunity to seek out my son.
He was crying, tears of worry and frustration. He wanted his sister to be okay and he wanted us to understand that he was trying to help. He wanted us to see his heart even if his actions were misguided.
“Will you stay with me? Will you be my friend? Will you listen to my story till the very end?Annette Le Box (Peace is an Offering)
It’s a cry echoed by many of us in this season.
“Would you hear my heart?”
Way back in March. You know, 5 years ago. I had my first real dispute with a friend over all the Covid craziness.
It started simply enough with an invitation to get together, which I politely turned down because we were still following quarantine procedures.
I meant no disrespect to the friend or her decisions, I had simply made another choice. What followed, however, was a series of messages about how I was caving to fear. Some messages were private, some were not. It was painful to be turned on so quickly and to be misunderstood.
From my vantage point, fear was not a part of my decision. I knew my family was healthy and able bodied. I knew we were young and would, most likely, be a part of the community who survived Covid with no major incident.
I also knew that we needed to slow the spread for the vulnerable and saw myself as someone who could easily stay home.
I am a stay-at-home mother of young children. I’m a natural homebody and introvert with a wonderful house and loving family life. I’m a key candidate for socially distancing and, as such, took the responsibility seriously. I knew there were people who couldn’t stay home in the same capacity as I could. People who need to work, people with mental health issues that make isolation particularly dangerous, people from unhealthy homes. I wanted to make it more safe for them to leave, so I stayed home.
Which doesn’t mean pulling back from any sense of community. I have kept myself healthy so that when I am called on to serve, I can do it with the knowledge that I am not passing on germs to the vulnerable.
I made my decision with compassion, not fear. I wanted that understood, even if the friend didn’t agree with my reasons. I wanted my heart heard.
I know it’s happening on the other side too. The mask debate and political tension. We are all over telling people why they are behaving the way they are. Assuming their motivation and not pausing to listen to their story.
Even in this instance, I had to apologize. I hadn’t thought about some of the struggles that were happening in her life at the moment, and that she just needed a friend. Had she implored me with her struggles, I would have violated quarantine in an instant. I would have rushed to the aide of a friend had I known just how much she was hurting.
I should have thought that through harder and taken more time to ask her why she was so upset by my decision. I could have done better, I’m trying to do better.
“Peace is a joining, not a pulling apart. It’s the courage to bear a wounded heart.”Annette Le Box (Peace is an offering)
So let’s take one step closer to peace today. Let’s sit with a friend, on the couch or on the phone and let’s hear them. Hear their whole story, until the very end. Lend them our presence and the gift of our understanding.
Let’s walk this out together and stand united.