Sunday, May 10, 2015

Mothering One Moment at a Time

Today is it. Our day.

Our day to stand taller, suck in our loosened tummies, and put lip gloss on before church.  This is the day, when our mind's eye views ourselves as we thought we would look as mothers. We will corral our good looking kids around our ankles, and speak in soft tones offering up soul-shaping instructions to our littles.

This is the weekend, where we may feel so love, so encouraged, so affirmed, that we may, for a day, believe that this.  (It packs more punch if you read that s-l-o-w-l-y.)

Hey, we might even shave our legs, grab our mothering flag, stick it in the backyard and claim that we have got this down. We will give each other slow knowing nods at the restaurants as we pass each other, saying "Woman-you. are. awesome."

Maybe the ads and the budding flowers have swept us up in the season.  The season of Mother's Day. Where, for but a weekend, we convince ourselves that we can win at this mothering thing.

Perhaps this mother's day hits you at just the right point in your cycle where your hormones are actually pretty steady, and perhaps your kids have rinsed off in the rain recently so they look clean enough, and you feel yourself summiting this mothering mountain.

You are believing, this weekend, "I can do this." I will conquer.

And what jerk would tell you anything different? I mean, isn't the blog world all about releasing feel-good butterflies out into cyber world?  And aren't mom blogs supposed to be like rainbows? Rainbows of sentences that lead you closer and closer to a pot of gold and a family of unicorns?

Well, weekend of mommying, I'm not falling for you this year.  I'm sorry.  I just can't go there, not this time.  I can't be caught up in the lie that I can win at this thing. I don't want butterflies.  And I don't have time to waste following a rainbow today. And unicorns freak me out.

I need more from you, Mother's Day.  More than a feel good fuzzy that only gets me to lunch time tomorrow.  Which, by the way, will probably be cheap hot dogs, again.

Mother's Day, mothering is just too big of a beast for you to fix. I appreciate the efforts to puff up a bit of weary mommies with encouragement and gifts. But I need more.

It goes without saying, we all have hopes for our careers as moms. We all have hopes and prayers for our children. Most of us share these broader goals-that we would be kind moms, who teach our kids to respect others, and to be honest.

And then our more personal hopes may vary. For me,  I crave to be an intentional mother to teach my children the treasures of the Bible, I want my kids to understand how loved they are by God, and I want to be somewhat fit and funny as I do this.

But more often than not, my day's combined efforts have me nowhere close to my big picture goals. Some days, when I send my kindergardener to school with his shirt tucked into his underwear, and those Spiderman undies then bunched over his poor fitting pants, and then I'm mid-spray Febreezing my toddler and I wonder "Where did I go wrong?! Who am I?"

And then there are the days, when I'm dreaming so passionately about this mother that I want to become, and these young men that I'm raising to change the world, but those children begin pounding on each other quarreling in the other room, daring to interrupt my prayers, and I scream at them "NO YELLING!"

Do you have these days, moms?!

Do you see what happens in these days?  My children become inconveniences on the way of me reaching my mothering ambitions.

This, this is very messed up.

And that's when it hits me.  When I realize what I have become. I realize who I am, in this high-achieving, low-grace day:

I am Mrs. PacMan.

Picture her, and you will see what I mean.

I am this fast moving, gluttonous beast of a mother, that is chomping and biting at my children when they don't perform, or obey, or rejoice over their green smoothies.  I gob at them, devouring their joy, just to get to my goals.  My aspirations of perfecting this mothering thing.

I must get to the point of accomplishment, or achievement.  Where my kids make me look good, quit pooping as a team in the backyard in front of the neighbor girl, and I learn to control my red-headed-temper.

And then the casualties come. Because when idealism paves my mothering path, there is little room for joy.

So what is a mom to do?

Here are a couple graces God is teaching me.

Yes, have a mission, and be on mission.  Know who you are in God's sight, know what you are called to.  Discern your priorities and what pleases God for you as a mommy. And pray over those hopes and dreams, bruise your knees before God on account of your children. Cry out for wisdom and hope as a mom, early in the morning before yours darlings awake and late at night.

However, I have found freedom-bearing-grace in setting my gaze directly ahead. When I  stop worrying about the end result of this mothering endeavor, when I halt the competitive dash to accomplishment, to attain a hue of perfection and control in all categories maternal.

And instead, take it one opportunity at a time.

Take it hour by hour, and pray for grace to be poured over each and every encounter.

When I let truth remove the burden of idealism, and give me a yoke that is instead light and easy, I am more likely to handle my fighting children with patience, and gentleness. When grace is the mommy song I sing, grace will be what shapes my children, rather than asking them to have it all together on the outside, no matter the inner turmoil.

I think of how Jesus has dealt with me.  I think about how he pours over each of my moments, failures, and temper tantrums with grace, rather than demands that I earn his love.  His strategy in purifying my conduct is packed within his kindness, and even his discipline is done in paternal love. Jesus even says that he despises the white washed tombs, that are filled with decay and deaths.

What can this look like?

Be it with an infant (or 5 year old) that needs you in the middle of the night. Where the voice of accomplishment will direct you only to getting your kid to sleep the schedule you prefer, Grace would remind you that this 3 AM call is an opportunity to call out to God, to thank him for this baby and to beg him to renew you and teach you of His steadfastness.

Arguing siblings are so tough, and will probably only get tougher. However, when Grace replaces my chains of expectations, I can take these borderline-violent-squabbles, I can calmly share with my boys their need for Jesus, the gift of mercy that can be theirs, and the God that loves them unconditionally.

And perhaps the most liberating, is when I completely screw up.  When I throw a bigger fit than them, use my words as daggers, and plow over their delicate souls with my selfishness.  When this happens, grace teaches me to apologize to my kids.  I remind them of how I can't be perfect, how they can't be perfect, and so Jesus was perfect for all of us.  And as we sit on this topic, sometimes it continues towards awesome soul-searching moments.

 But sometimes when we talk about Jesus we just end up talking about who would win between Jesus and the Hulk.

You win some, you lose some.

These are the moments that changed me. The moments when I started to give up my hopes for a win.

 Let's stop the ascent of Mount Momma, let's get our eyes off of the summit that claims we conquered this. Because then, we will find more of ourselves to give to our babies, and most of all, more of this God that gave us the humbling gift of motherhood.

Along the path of freedom, not expectations, we will find more gratitude, and then, joy.

I desire to travel along this maternal pilgrimage freed from anything but grace. Freed from control, pride, and guilt. As I stumble some days, and stride out on others, my feet will land only on His faithfulness.

I pray the same for each of you.

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