Sunday, May 12, 2013

If Mother's Day is hard for you

(Because when you wake up at 5am with words heavy on your heart, you shouldn’t waste it. Because laying there in bed wishing for sleep to return isn’t going to make those words go away. Because some other people are lying awake this morning with heavy hearts and your words might help them.)

This one is for my dear friends in the mama waiting zone. Maybe there’s a guy out there who could benefit from this too, but I’m writing for you girls. For those who this “Mother’s Day” feels a bit like Valentine’s Day used to when we were single. Today, when breakfasts are balanced in beds and cards attempt to express unspeakable feelings, and flowers are handed out, you are empty handed.

You read other words of sympathy and compassion for you, from other mamas who spent a long time in that waiting zone and other mamas who have babies they never got to hold or not hold long enough. And when the ever brilliant Ann says, “Real Womanhood isn’t a function of becoming a great mother, but of being loved by your Great Father,” you nod and try to swallow away that lump in your throat, because you know it’s true but you still feel that emptiness growing until it feels like you just might burst.

I imagine what I have to say to you here being something like what one character says to another at the climax of a movie, where truth is told in words that they don’t really want to hear, but need to hear, and then they can let go or grab on to something (or someone) to get their resolution. So please hear this in love:

If today is hard for you because motherhood has become an idol, it’s time to lay it down.

An idol is anything we set up to be bigger in our hearts than God. Though it’s super hard to admit it, even good things can become idols. Even that good, God-given thing of dreams, longings, desires of motherhood, can become an idol. When the pain of the not-having becomes stronger than the faith-act of thanksgiving for what you do have, you may have an idol. When an ideal presented in edited, filtered digits by someone else becomes more desirable than the breathing flesh directly in your reach, you may have an idol.

I’m telling you sister, lay that idol down now. It only gets heavier and stickier when it gets a face and a name. When you have that baby and you get those cards and now you can really celebrate this day, if motherhood is still an idol, you may not be able to smell the sweetness of those flowers. Because what you have still won’t be good enough. In all likelihood, you won’t feel good enough. The voices that said you were incomplete before being a mom will start saying you could do more, be more. And when your kids get older and make their own choices, you might still hear that you weren't good enough. And Mother's Day still won't be a day of joy.

When I was in the waiting zone, more than one well-meaning, loving person suggested I lay down the desire to become a mother. God knows, I tried. Through altar calls and tear-soaked pillows, I tried to lay it down, only to find it again the next day in a baby’s cry the aisle over or a news report of yet another one hurt by someone who was supposed to take care of him or her.

So that’s not what I’m telling you, to lay down your desires. Maybe you need to do that, but what I’m pleading with you is to consider where this desire-turned-pain is in relation to your view of the Giver. If the desire has become an idol, there is no better day to get it out of the way (or start to, it took longer than a day to get there and might take longer to get rid of). And how might you do this, you might ask.

Make God bigger.

Or in Psalms-speak, “Magnify the LORD!”

Ask God to examine your heart and inmost thoughts, ask that gentle Counselor to show you where things are off. Ask Truth to show you the gifts and the work that are present in you right now, things you don’t have to wait for but can partake in now. If you have trusted in God and are on the path of discipleship to enter His Kingdom, then these things abound, I promise you.

I’m praying for you, friend, this morning and throughout today. Will you pray for me, too? I can write this because I’m living it. No pointing fingers here, unless it’s just to show you my own scars and tell you, “Me too.”

Tasty bites to get you started:
Psalm 34:3, “Oh, magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt His name together.”
Psalm 34:8, “Taste and see that the LORD is good, blessed is the man (or woman) who trusts in Him!”
Psalm 34:15, “The eyes of the LORD are on the righteous, His ears are open to their cry.”

Psalm 69:29-33, “But I am poor and sorrowful;
Let Your salvation, O God, set me up on high.
 I will praise the name of God with a song,
And will magnify Him with thanksgiving.
This also shall please the Lord better than an ox or bull,
Which has horns and hooves.
The humble shall see this and be glad;
And you who seek God, your hearts shall live.
For the Lord hears the poor,
And does not despise His prisoners.

(And because there are still more words before I can click save and post: If today is hard because of your relationship with your own mother, can I gently ask if your ideal of what she should’ve been is the idol? Maybe you deserved better, I’ll trust you on that, but maybe what you do have--God’s goodness, love, forgiveness, grace--should have a bigger headline.)

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Little Days: A few stories about books

Do you remember how Ayla learned to say "No, no" from reading Sandra Boynton's Moo, Baa, La La La, and how I said I was not going to let her read any more books?

Feb 2012

Well, I lied. She continues to read books and I'm actually pretty happy about it! I thought I'd share with you some fun ways other books have influenced her.

1) Good Night, Virginia: Her favorite page is the one with Monticello on it. We've never been there, but are planning to go soon. She thinks any big, brick house is Monticello, and a few days ago started chanting it while pointing at a box of wine bottles while we were in line at the store. I was puzzled until I saw that the plantation house on the box did look similar to Monticello. The cashier was very impressed.

2-3) Elmo's ABC Book: Though she already knew her alphabet when we got this book, it has taught her a few other things (who Elmo is being one of my least favorite!). When she describes any food, she calls it "delicious and crunchy," because that's what it says about apples, and then she says that food starts with "A." For example, "Bagels are delicious and crunchy. Bagel starts with A." She also likes to tell the knock-knock joke Elmo is telling Oscar in picture 3. Oh, I'm not going to tell you which joke it is, though. You'll have to hear it from Ayla herself!

4) Olivia: We checked this one out from the library, and I thought it was pretty cute the first couple of times I read it to her. Of course, it was her favorite book and had to be read several times a day. (I was very happy to take it back today!) On a separate note, Ayla has been slow to give names to any of her stuffed animals. So far she has JoJo the purple unicorn, Gato the cat, Henry the rocking horse, which is of course not to be confused with Horse the zebra. All the others are the animal's name or its derivative. After reading Olivia, however, Ayla decided her pink doggy's name is Ian. (Ian is Olivia's little brother in the book.)

5-6) Anna Banana and Me: My friend, Heather, sent me this book long before Ayla existed. I introduced it to Ayla about a month ago and it's in constant rotation now. She especially likes how Anna Banana says she's swinging "over the treetops,"and always asks to go that high.

(I'm linking up with my friend Shannon for Little Days, an effort to chronicle the little things we enjoy about raising our little ones. Click over to her sweet blog to see others.)

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