Posts Tagged ‘motherhood’

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Of Books and Babies

August 4, 2015

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As a writer, I know the importance of beginnings.

Everything hangs on the first few pages of your novel.  If readers don’t enjoy those, they probably won’t move on.  There are lots of books in the world, so unless someone else told them it was a good story, why should they spend time on a book that confused them, bored them, or offended them right off the bat?

You have to foreshadow everything right.  You have to lay the foundation for the story and its themes, introduce your main characters and setting (in an interesting way!), and put your plot in motion.

Beginnings are HARD!  I can get so fixated on how my book starts that I don’t move forward, perpetually rewriting and revising my opening scene.

I tend to carry this attitude over to my mothering.

These little years are all-important.  I’m forming human beings!  It’s my job (I think to myself) to make sure they don’t grow up malformed, like a tree that was bent into an awkward shape while it was a sapling, and keeps growing crookedly.  It’s my responsibility (so I fear) to dot every “i,” and cross every “t,” so they have the best possible, perfect, ideal foundation for life.  Sometimes I feel like someone is standing over me, putting negative tally marks for every time I do something that is less than ideal for my children’s foundational years.

Oop, too much TV today. Bad mom.  She lost her temper again.  Bad mom.  What, no veggie with dinner today?  Bad mom.

Some people brush off worries about the little years with thoughts like, “Eh, they’re little.  They won’t remember this stuff anyway.”

But! But! I splutter inside.  They might not remember, but they’ll be irrevocably shaped!

They are shaped by my words, attitudes, and fears.  They are shaped when they see me crying over a poop mess, and when I yell about spilled milk on the carpet.

It can’t be done again.  I can’t rewind time, erase my progress, and start over with a stronger opening – my kids’ life, 2.0.  Their childhood thus far is set in stone.  And that’s a scary thought.

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In the world of fiction, there is a writing rule called “Chekov’s gun.”  It states that if there’s a rifle hanging over the fireplace in the first scene, it needs to go off by the end of the novel.  There should be no loose ends, no details that are not relevant, because all details tie into the plot.

Sometimes I wonder what kind of guns I’m hanging here, over my children’s heads.

(Is that…is that a nuclear missile???)

What part do I play in this opening scene of their lives?  Am I a loving mom?  A sweet mom?  A mom who languishes on a sickbed and weakly entreats her child to “have courage and be kind?”

A lot of the time I worry that I’m more like the wicked stepmother.

You had a potty accident on the couch AGAIN??

But I tell myself these things:

God is the ultimate Author of their stories, not me, and God’s stories always have perfect endings, no matter how messy their beginnings.

However I shape my children, His hands are around them (and me), far more powerful and purposeful than my clumsy little fists.

God’s stories are simultaneously first drafts and finished products, full of crazy, unexpected twists and concluded with every plot thread in place.  All His guns go off, and they all go off at the right moment – even if the characters were only fooling around and fired them by accident and hit somebody in the eye.

And my children are shaped by far more than my flaws!

They are shaped by our Bible lessons, even when I think they’re not listening because they’re busy giggling and smearing cinnamon toast on their faces.

They are shaped when my hubby kisses me in front of the kitchen sink.

They are shaped when I play Christian music on Pandora.

They are shaped by my hugs and kisses, that cup of water I bring them at 2 A.M., those many hours reading Beatrix Potter.

It just isn’t as simple as, “You’re either doing everything perfectly or YOU ARE FAILING AT LIFE.”

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We are all a crashing, colliding, crazy, messy crowd, mixing our good acts with bad attitudes and our worst mistakes with our best intentions.  We are saved in Christ, yet struggling sinners.  We aren’t perfect, but we rest in Perfection.  We are flawed and fallen, and yet He does His good works through us, and appoints us as His representatives in the world and His members in the church.

He didn’t just put me on the earth to make my children grow up well.  He also put them here to make ME grow up well.

So I can’t be paralyzed by these first pages.  I have to keep moving forward, working out my part in my own story and in theirs.  For praise be to God! – I pen imperfect novels, though I may write the beginnings a million times, but He never needs revisions, and He is creating a masterpiece.

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10 Things a Mom of Littles REALLY Wants for Christmas

December 16, 2014

1. Animal crackers.  For the kids.  Well, mostly for the kids.

The ones in the cute boxes are the best, yo.

2. Peace and quiet when she uses the restroom.  (May be difficult to gift wrap.)

3. iTunes gift cards, so she can buy the kids more children’s apps instead of saying, “No, those cost money,” every time.

4.  Babysitting.

5.  Sleep.  A full eight nocturnal hours is best.  Daily naps are nice too, if you have a smaller budget.  Actually just any kind of sleep is a good thing.

Bonus brownie points if you can procure RESTFUL sleep for the tired mom.  You go, gift giver!

6. An end to all wars.  Specifically Mommy Wars.  But it’d be nice for other wars to end too.

7. Reassurance that she truly is doing okay and the kids will be fine.

8.  A day without poop.  Just one day.

9.  Someone else to potty train the toddler.  Somebody!  Anybody!  What, no volunteers?  It can be my birthday present too…?

 10.  And for the mom who has everything – more hugs and kisses and snuggles with the babies.  Because you can never, ever have too many of those!

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Put Down the Mask

July 31, 2014
One of my first Facebook profile pictures, before I decided it was okay to show my real face online.

One of my first Facebook profile pictures, before I decided I felt safe enough showing my real face online.

I had a conversation with a friend the other day about how everyone is insecure.  There are few exceptions.  Everyone puts up a front to hide the fact that they don’t like who they are, or what they’ve done, or the mess their lives are.  Either we hide our deepest flaws, or we glorify them and hold them up like proud signs.  “Hey, this is who I am.  Deal with it.”

For some of us the deception or pride runs so deep that even we are convinced of our own got-it-togetherness.  Then when our insufficiency or our hidden sin rears its ugly head, we panic. What? That’s not me! No, I’m not normally like that!

In this era of social media, it’s even more painfully obvious that everyone’s putting up a facade.  People are all in competition to put the best face forward, out-yell everyone else, wave their proud signs highest.  (This is where the Mommy Wars come from, too.)  If we’re all in chains, at least I’m shuffling around faster than the person next to me, right?  Like the Pharisee we all like to think in our hearts, “I might not be the best in the world…but at least I’m better than that guy!  That’s got to count for something.”

Except it really doesn’t.

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But God gives grace to the humble.  He covers those who weep that they can no longer hide their faces.  He lifts up those who are too weary to go on shuffling, and breaks their chains.

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.”
– Matthew 5:3-6

In Christ we can stop striving!

[Following a list of sinners] – “And such were some of you.  But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” – 1 Corinthians 6:11

If we are cleansed in Him, we have no reason to hide ourselves any longer.  We are free to pull off our masks and soak in the sunlight on our bare faces, and put down those heavy signs and rest our tired arms.  We can rest.

We can open up our souls to others without shame, and show our faces without fear, because this isn’t a beauty pageant anymore.  We’re not in a race, and nobody’s going to knock us down the ladder.  We are safe, purified, and loved.

We no longer need to identify ourselves with our parenting methods, our handiwork, our bad history, our depravity, our perfectionism, or our desperate attempts at righteousness.  We are free to be our true selves!  No more putting down others to make sure we aren’t on the bottom of the heap.  No more competitions.  No more disguises.  There is no need for a disguise! – our souls are becoming beautiful from the inside out as we follow a beautiful Savior.  No more cumbersome props.  No more chains dragging behind us.

Weep for your sins…because He is not judging you.  Put them down…because you don’t need them to define you.  Hold out your empty hands…because He will fill them.

In Christ we can show our true souls because unlike our mortal body, they are not deteriorating and crumbling away.  We are becoming newer every day.  Like Moses’ face when he descended Mount Sinai, our faces shine ever brighter with the brilliant, reflected glory of God.  We are being made like Him.

What wondrous love is this, O my soul?

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.  And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another.  For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. – 1 Corinthians 3:17-18

A recent Facebook profile picture - zits, baby weight, and all.  :)

For contrast – a recent Facebook profile picture.  Who cares about baby weight and acne when you have joy?  🙂

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