Tuesday, July 9, 2013

To Me. Four Years Ago. (And all other moms!)

To Rebekah, 4 years ago,

What I wouldn't give to have your attention today! To hold you captive with a few of my thoughts.  As if looking through a window, into your life as a new mommy, I want to pound my fists against the panes! "Rebekah!" I see you, in your quaint and tidy rented town home, already in pre-baby clothes (please enjoy that quick rebound, it gets slower). I see you, first time mommy.  I see your fear, although you work full time to hide it, even from yourself. I see your new mommy fog, although you are unaware of it. I see that you are actually dressed and teeth brushed before 8:00.

I know you can't hear me, through this figurative window. But if you could, I would tell you to lighten up.  It's gonna be ok.

But I don't mean lighten up like "You are gonna be a great mom!" with a slap on the now wider, flatter mom butt.  And I most definitely do not mean "Lighten up!" because it gets easier.  Because neither of those things are really all that helpful, or true. But lighten up, because it's ok to be a mess.

I'm not saying to stop scheduling.  Schedule your heart out! Four years later and you will still love our daily routine.  But realize that a perfectly scheduled 3 month old could possibly definitely turn into a bedtime-screamin' 4 year old. And that will be ok.

I wish I could tell you that it's ok to tell people how hard it is to be a mommy.  How crazy you feel.  How you don't feel like yourself.  How you kinda feel like you are losing who you are.  That's ok too.  Because you can be crazy and still crazy in love with your baby.

Hey Rebekah, at 24, please lighten up.  Laugh at yourself, because at 28 you are gonna need a lot more laughter, and a lot more grace.  I know you think your kids are going to be good, clean church mice.  But despite your goals, and strong will, your kids are gonna be the chocolate donut stained faces in the foyer.  And that's, gonna be ok. (But I won't tell you that you'll let their after church donut be their lunch every week, you just wouldn't believe me)

I see you, praying with a (large) smidge of judgment, for the mom who's kid is throwing a fit in public.  And I hear your thoughts, "If she would only put her baby on a schedule, he wouldn't be so tired....tsk tsk..." But in a few years, all three of yours will learn to throw fits.  In sync. And they'll do it with  snot running down their noses, which thins out the chocolate donut frosting.

I know your wake up every morning determined to own this mothering thing.  I know you love your baby, but you are grasping for anything to help you cope.  And so you read and structure and compare until you are blue in the face. But lighten up a bit, because someday, in the next three years, you will lock your middle son in the car at a restaurant.  And a  year after that, you will inadvertently leave your Honda Pilot RUNNING while you grocery shop with your three sons.  And you will laugh, instead of cry.  Because that....is.....ok.  (Is it?)

I wish I could tell you that whether you ace this mom thing or not--God is pleased with you! You are not more pleasing to God when your son learns independent play time or finally takes a bottle.  And I wish you would tell more people that your husband actually PUT ON your bra your first night back to work, just to get that son of yours to accept a bottle! It's a great story. And that's kinda ok too....

Re, you know why you should lighten up?  Because in about 4 years, when you look up and have 3, YES I SAID THREE, sons, you are going to learn that motherhood is not a skill to be perfected.  It's not a race to win, or a competition.  It's a.....mess.  A beautiful mess.  A mess to be embraced.

Young, foggy Rebekah, mothering will bring you more joy than your little post-partum mind can perceive right now.  But first, it's gonna send you into a weird few years.  Where you doubt most everything you do, you struggle to be a good friend or sister, you implement system after system.

But then one day, you will walk into the kitchen and your middle son will be standing on the kitchen table. Holding a Chef's knife like it's a microphone. And you'll just have to lighten up.

Someday soon, Rebekah, you'll stop trying to make everyone think you have your stuff together, and you'll be comfortable in your mommy skin.  The skin that has a little smear of baby poop on it right now.  So, Rebekah, stop it with this competitive spirit--towards other mom's who kids kick the pastor in the shin after church or eat Red Vines for lunch. Because you are going to be her.

You don't have to ace this thing.  You don't have to win at momming. You can be overwhelmed.  You can be a bit depressed at times.  You can be utterly lost in what to do in this new role.  That's ok.

Because Jesus says, "Come to me, all who are weary, and I will give you rest. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."

Lighten up.  Carry only what Jesus has for you.  And what Jesus has for you, is not a yoke of perfection or accomplishment.  It is of grace.  And freedom.

Oh to be free! To no longer live in the chains of slavery--slavery to fear, to performance, to man-pleasing.  But to dance as a mommy--freed by the love of Calvary, freed by the love of my Heavenly Father.  Freed to be a mess, because that's when I hear God's loving melodies.

New mommy, find your confidence in Christ.  He who is Faithful and True.  Not just as a mom, but in every role you find yourself in.  Focus your tired eyes and sometimes hurting heart on Jesus, who just drenches us in grace and love.  He's your refuge, your strong tower.  From the pressures you put on yourself, from the hurts from other people, from the lies from society.

Be free Rebekah.  And tell other mommies the same.  That we can stop the mommy march of self effort (see this post) and instead lay down in our mountain of laundry, cuddle our unbathed babies, and tell them that Jesus loves them, no matter what.

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