faith · family · parenting · womens issues

things I’m (re)learning being a mom

I wrote a post while pregnant way back in September. Similar to this one, it’s a reflection on things that are kinda obvious but worth repeating. Or maybe I’m just not learning them as well as I think I am and need the reminder… a bit of both. Anyway, now I’m a full-on mom and here’s what I’m relearning now:

The more you fight, the longer it takes.

Ah diapers!! I have the feeling that I am not the only one who feels like life is actually like a box of diapers. Day in and day out, diapers diapers everywhere! And I’m ok with it. I never thought I would be this concerned with poop and its many colors and textures.

One thing that I am discovering is just how squirmy a child can be. Just 5 short months of life, Naomi has shown me the very many positions her still forming body can get into. It’s fascinating and sometimes downright baffling. And she also is introducing me to her vocal range and volume control. So I say things like, you know, baby girl, if you stop fighting with me this will go oh so much faster.

It occurs to me that I am so much like this. I want things and I want them now. Or I feel like I’m getting shortchanged somehow. And I scramble around or get angry and bitter with God. Or like Jonah and that big fish thing, I attempt to run away and do exactly the opposite of what I know in my heart I am called to do.

There is no formula, though, so don’t think I’m saying that if you play all your cards right, God will bless you faster. It isn’t so formulaic as all that. People who say that God will only give you what you ask when you are “ready” for it aren’t really basing any of that on actual Scripture. First of all God gave us grace when we were nowhere near ready, and secondly that implies that people who get what they want are all some kind of spiritual giants. We know that can’t be true.

But I believe that when we fight God and run from His will, as difficult as His will may seem at the time, we delay the grace and the peace that could be ours.

“Be prepared” isn’t just for boy scouts.

You forget to bring a clean diaper only once.

But more than just anticipating what you need for baby, I’m reminded that being prepared emotionally, mentally, spiritually, physically, are all important too. Life gets super crazy complicated. There are times all you want to do is kick and scream and / or totally break down and zone out. Staying your mind on Jehovah – Jirah, the One who sees and provides – is a discipline. Like exercise for your soul, being prepared means consistently readying yourself for whatever the day may bring. And just like you pull that diaper out of your bag of tricks like nobody’s business, when your heart is prepared it’s less a battlefield and more a well tilled field, come what may.

As a related sidenote, I attended a workshop with Isaac Wardell of Bifrost Arts, a ministry that focuses on worship and music. He talked about how we prepare the music and liturgy for our church services. One question he asked really stuck with me. Does our liturgy and music help prepare people for disaster? It’s an interesting question. What happens when the bottom falls out of my life and I want to crawl back in bed and cover my head until summer? When I collect myself and get back to a more normal emotional state, what often runs through my brain are lyrics. Songs that I know well and that remind me of the grace I need, the love incomprehensible, the steadfastness of God’s mercy. I am reminded of the Lord’s Prayer and other repeated liturgies – phrases like “Give us this day our daily bread” and “What is the chief end of man?”

It’s also true that we can only take out what we put in. A speaker tells about how people change and shows us a bottle of water. He takes off the cap and shakes it. And he asks, why did water come out? People tend to respond about the shaking and the outside forces affecting the bottle. But his point is that water came out because there was water inside. That whatever is inside you is what will come out when trouble comes, and when you aren’t purposely filling yourself with patience, goodness, kindness, and grace, then what else will come out of you when you aren’t prepared for hardship?

Perspective is everything.

There are times she is the cutest little ball of glee. Other times she is screaming her head off so loudly I swear the spacestation can pick her up. Sometimes I really really want her to fall asleep, and other times I really really want her to wake up so we can play! The key is to remember the opposite time when you’re in middle of the other time.

It’s true in all of life. Sometimes I sit on the couch with my husband and I cannot be any happier and feel more loved and in love. The furthest thing from our minds is that there was a time when we felt so devastatingly alone and hopeless. But it is good to remember that it did exist, that the time where we felt a pain cutting so deep in our hearts, because the existence of that wound makes our now that much more healing, that much more complete and fulfilling.

Oh be careful little eyes what you see!

I suddenly watch TV and movies and the internet differently having a little girl. I start thinking, oh wait! How much of this is she absorbing? Can she tell that I’m watching a Law and Order marathon? Is her first word going to be “perp?” Yikes!

I start watching everything differently as a mom now. I think about my daughter so much. I think about how she will grow up and experience the world. I think about all the pain and darkness that exists and that I cannot shield her from all of it. It’s impossible, though Rob and I will certainly try to make decisions that are wise and for her best, but we cannot control everything that she sees and does. All we can do is teach her to love and seek out wisdom, to embrace the goodness of God and to believe He will make all things beautiful in the end.

It’s really hard to do things.

I have to resist the urge to just do whatever Baby Girl is trying to do. She tries to grab the toy and she can’t quite get a hold of it. At first, you put it in her hand. Then weeks go by and she is learning that if she stretches her hand out, she can touch it. Then she learns to grasp and pull toward her. And of course she learns that everything goes in her mouth, more or less.

Now we leave things slightly out of her grasp. We watch her figure out how to get them, how to take her pacifier out of her mouth and put it back, how to use her legs to change positions. We could do all these things for her, but we sit back and watch her struggle. Why? Because we are mean jerks. No wait.

It can be hard to watch your child get frustrated. Clearly I don’t wait until she’s freaking out but jumping to help her every time she doesn’t do something the first time robs her of the experience of trying again and succeeding. She has to try. I can’t do it for her for the rest of her life. It would be debilitating to both of us.

And it reminds me of me. How as an adult, sometimes, it’s really hard to do what you want, or what you know you should. It takes a lot of energy and resolve, sometimes all you got. And you try try try and still fail, and you look over at your parent like ok, help me. God is so good. He says I am helping you. Sometimes I’ve already done it for you. Sometimes you are trying to get your toy in your mouth, but you already have your pacifier in your mouth. And you should be content with that but nooooo you want ALL THE THINGS!

She isn’t crawling yet, but I imagine it will bring a whole new level to frustration. I do what I don’t want to do and don’t do what I should do. Sound familiar? A grown man said that. Paul writing in Romans, chapter 7. How often have I thought that about myself. I try try try. Life can be hard. But it occurs to me as I watch my daughter, this is how I learn.

But the analogy stops there. Because what my kid is learning is she can do it. She learns to master her little hands and fingers and feet and legs. She learns to make sounds. She learns to call out. What I learn is that I cannot conquer myself. I learn that my best efforts, on their own, don’t add up to much and I’m just spinning my wheels. I learn that only through Christ who strengthens me can I do anything, and if God goes before me, and only if God builds the house, whatever I’m trying to do can be done.

And I’m learning I have so much still to learn.

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