Today my Facebook feed is full of beautiful tributes and happy wishes for moms. I like this holiday, the flowers and cards and attention. 😉 I enjoy thinking about the loving things, like rocking and reading stories and baking cookies. But let’s be honest: so much of what we do has a mind numbing repetition and it is good to know that it really does add up, in the end, to a nurtured child.
I mean, who knew that you would have to repeat so often those choice bits of motherly advice? I hear myself saying the exact same things to my children that my mom said to me.
- Life isn’t fair and you might as well accept it.
- Don’t throw balls in the house!
- Use a tissue!
- Shut the door!
- You don’t ever say you hate somebody.
And all those women who got cards and flowers today… what did they have in common that caused them to be so loved that even a tough grown son would write on their Facebook wall something like this, “Mom, I know I was a pain growing up and I want to thank you today for being such a great mother anyway.”
I am hazarding a guess that she didn’t spout out wise platitudes every day, but maybe more like, “Don’t pick your nose! Who had it first? When you hurt somebody accidentally, you still say sorry,” etc. etc. And then she swatted his backside and sent him out to play, fully aware that he hadn’t really understood what she said and she would be repeating herself the next day. Maybe she sighed and prayed and made another batch of scrambled eggs and washed another load of jeans and wiped the grime off the bathroom sink.
I suppose this is why I don’t always feel very pious about my “lofty calling”. Daily life seems so ordinary and I know myself to be quite flawed and prone to messing up, even with these amazing little miracles we call our children. Don’t get me wrong, I do earnestly want to get this right, this shot I have been given at mothering. It just seems so incredible that commonplace mortals have been assigned to a task that, were we to read the “high-calling literature” just the way it is written, we would have to assume that children are too fragile to be entrusted to anyone but angels. And angels we are not!
In the early days of parenting, I used to cast about for methods, child-training gurus, books on sleep training, guides to teach children manners, you-name-it. I took my child’s failings personally, agonizing privately to my husband, “If I were a good mother, we would not be dealing with this. I must have missed it somewhere.” (My husband always assured me that this was actually a lie, and I should pitch it out.) This was a very heavy weight of responsibility and more than a little frustrating when the tried and true methods didn’t always work.
One day it dawned on me that children just are not one size fits all. Nobody else was ever given our particular children to raise. I could ask for advice and pick the brains of the wise and learn from them but in the end, they were our children. I couldn’t blame ——- ——- for our issues. Nobody is wise enough to cover all the angles of everybody else’s children. (Do This=This Good Result.) But wait, there is someone Who is really THAT WISE.
James 1:5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.
I decided to give up the quest for a fool-proof method and quit acting like this was all up to me to figure out. This is very homespun and practical, but it gives me confidence to realize that I certainly meet the requirement of lacking wisdom, God is still a liberal giver, and all I have to do is ask in faith. I started asking God the silliest questions, like stuff about weaning away from binkies or getting my son to eat his peas, and more burdensome stuff, like the problem with lying. Lots of times I woke in the morning with a fresh idea that I knew didn’t just come out of my own head. Sometimes God may use that book I bought or the other mom’s blog post, or maybe He will teach me something from my husband. “She is big enough to throw her binky into the trashcan by herself and understand that it is gone.” (And guess what, she was, and that was the end of it, no trauma for life or anything like that.)
I am intrigued… what do all the women who are blessed by their children (biological or otherwise) today have in common? I suppose it could be called something noble like “sacrifice” or something more simple like “do-the-next-thing.” Maybe, despite ourselves, we are all becoming a little less selfish and a little more sage about life in the process. And just maybe the everyday routine matters more than we think it does, with the end result, by the grace of God, a nurtured child.