“As I look to the needs of children today, I am convinced they need the same things from their mothers that I needed… They need not only the gentle touch of a mother’s hands, but her focus and attention on a daily basis. They need a champion and a cheerleader, someone who has the time and energy to give encouragement along life’s way and comfort in dark times. They need a directive voice to show them how to live. These needs are not frivolous demands. They’re a part of the way God designed children” (p.2).
In honor of Mother’s Day, I thought it might be fun to read a book about mothering for this month. I’m not sure if you’ve noticed or not 🙂 , but being a mom is not exactly easy. Sure, some women have more natural nurturing then others and can make it look easy, but there is not a mother I have met that has not found mothering difficult at some point in her life. I know for me I often describe it as the best and worst thing I have ever done… because it truly is!!! As the quote above describes, children are designed to have genuine, distinct, significant needs that are best met by their mothers, but this puts intense pressure on those of us who have been honored with that role.While living out this role and fulfilling those needs is incredibly rewarding and I am reminded of its blessing with every little smile and sweet memory, it is also the most difficult thing I have ever attempted when it requires losing sleep, constant self-sacrificing, mounting insecurities, and daily challenges of my will and sanity 🙂
I am not the first mother that has ever struggled nor am I alone (there is some comfort in that) but I find that our current society has a tendency to either overplay or underplay motherhood. Either you have to be perfect at it (Facebook fake it right?!) or just do not talk about it often seems to be the standard. And God forbid you reach out and ask for help!!! However, this does not work for me (and I am guessing it probably does not work for you either)! I need other moms in my life, and I need to be able to share the real struggles we are experiencing so we can learn from, commiserate with, and encourage one another along the way.
I especially need moms that are a little farther ahead of me, so that they can give me hope and wisdom as I confront things they have already experienced. Many of these women are available in our churches and local communities, but for some reason (another posting), we do not always get the time or opportunity to connect, which means generations of moms, like you and me, are missing an important part of our own development and support.
Fortunately,there are amazing women like Sally Clarkson, author of this month’s book, who have gone before us and now have all of this mothering wisdom to pass on to those of us that have just begun the journey. Since her experience has been recorded and published in book form, we can tap into her many mothering lessons without having to find a time that works for both of our schedules or confirm childcare :). I am so excited to share this experience with you, and grow in our own mothering as we learn from hers!
Why I Chose this Book
When I found this book, I was in my fourth month of second motherhood (I had added my second little guy to the mix) and I was somewhat on the edge of losing it. I had decided to take even more time off from my career due to childcare conflicts as well as personal desires, and while this time off may sound lovely, it was also a struggle. I have always wanted to be a stay-at-home mom but there is this looming pressure from the outside world to do more, be more, achieve more and not let your career go to waste while you are taking care of your children. So, if it isn’t always looking for another side job to still be “successful” there is always the method of over-booking, over-busying, and over-analyzing myself to make sure I am still being all that I should be and more (even though it is miserable).
At this particular time, I was trying to be particularly discerning about what I kept in my life and what I let go as I left the newborn-maternity-leave phase and re-acclimated to real life with but not completely focused around my children. And to be honest, I was completely lost. What should I do? What does it look like to be a mom with all of the other things screaming for my time? How should I answer? Can I really be all things to everyone and wear all of these hats and should I even try? How can I best maximize my time with my children and make the most of my mothering while still maintaining me and some semblance of sanity?
I longed for answers and encouragement and this book was like a warm hug from a sweet friend with a cup of hot tea attached 🙂 As I started to read, Sally spoke straight to me heart, to my concerns, my fears, my insecurities, my struggles, my desires… it was as if she had read through my unspoken thoughts and questions and then sat down to write me a personal letter. As I read her insights and understanding about motherhood as a mission, I felt many pieces of my own life and heart falling into place as I realigned my vision and focus with the calling before me. And ever since, it has been so refreshing to view mothering as a part of my life mission (and not just a biological obligation) that gives meaning to even the most monotonous of moment and allows me to maintain motivation, focus, and challenges me to view the miraculous among the mayhem. My guess is that it can do the same for you!
*One unique thing about this book versus the others is that I have not actually read it all just yet (I only made it through the first couple of chapters). So with that in mind, I will give the caveat that unlike the books prior, there may be some controversial material that I am not aware of (yay topics like mothering) or a stance on mothering that I or you do not agree with. I hope we can dialogue about that if it arises, but also view this as a learning point which means we still need to filter everything we read through God’s Word and truth and not just take it at face value. I will share my thoughts as we go along; please feel free to share yours as well!
I am not sure that this section should really be published anymore, since I have yet to keep to one in the past couple of months 🙂 However, it does give me a goal to work towards and at least gives you an idea of what I will be attempting 🙂 So with that in mind, here is my hopeful plan for how I will be reading and writing through this book:
Part One: A Mother’s Calling May 12
Part Two: A Mother’s Heart for Her God May 17
Part Three: A Mother’s Heart for Her Children May 20
Part Four: A Mother’s Heart for Her Home May 25
Part Five: A Mother’s Heart for Eternity May 29
My Hope for Our Experience
With each book we read, my overarching hope is that we will be encouraged and challenged to keep moving forward and to not just survive this life (although there are moments when this is all we can do), but to truly THRIVE. For this book especially, my hope is that those of us who are currently moms will be renewed and refreshed when it comes to our motherhood journey to benefit both ourselves and our families. For those of you who are not yet moms or do not plan to be, my hope is that you will still join us this month as a learning experience (possibly for the future) about motherhood and how we can best support the moms in our lives right now since it is often a difficult and lonely calling. Regardless of your current situation, I affirm Sally’s hope as well: that we will experience a “rediscovery of the traditional mission of motherhood [and] a rediscovery of what God had in mind when he first designed families” (p.2-3). ♥
***PS: I know we still have postings on the Strategy of Satan; I have not forgotten; they are in draft form at the moment and will be appearing soon!!! 🙂
Sometimes, being out in the world as a mom can feel just like a scene from the Hunger Games.
I am dead serious (no pun intended), and for those of you who do not regularly take young children to intense places like the grocery store or Target or (heaven forbid) a RESTAURANT, you may not truly understand… but I guarantee you have seen it in play.
Let’s explore the grocery store for instance. I recently took a trip to such a place this morning, with my 3 year old and 1 year old in tow. It was not a trip I wanted to make, it was somewhat coerced due to the rumbling bellies and the mouths that apparently wanted food to consume for lunch and yes, even dinner. 🙂
As I pondered whether or not to make the trip, I could hear my name being called from the stage in all the pomp: “Yes Sara Wood… You are the January 8th tribute chosen to brave the Food Lion arena. May the odds be ever in your favor!”
But, like the dauntless (wait… wrong movie) Katniss, I packed up my littles and we made our way there. If only I could have had some awesome burst-into-flames attire created by Cinna and a chariot with horses… although I was rocking my sports bra and jeggings in my minivan (giggle).
Once there, I made it through the first obstacles of unloading the boys and entering the arena: one in a cart and one with a hand which may not sound difficult but when the one in said cart decides he will not bend his legs and the one with said hand wants to run the whole way and the said cart is of course, the one that cannot drive straight without incredible force… it actually becomes quite the show.
Upon entering the arena, the games begin.
Literally, how quickly and effectively can I get in, actually get what I need, get out, still have both children somewhat safe, and still have enough sanity to get us home in one piece as a true victor (eating poison berries, while sometimes a legitimate concern due to those lovely bushes outside my house, is not an option). Not only do I have to complete all of the above (hopefully), but this is a PUBLIC arena, so I get to give it my best with tons of people watching me. Can you hear my enthusiasm?
Now, I will be completely honest here: sometimes, its not so bad. Sometimes, like this morning, my kids are on their absolute best behavior (thank you crackers in a snack container for the youngest, pint-sized drive your own grocery cart for the oldest, and sweet Jesus for the angels you obviously sent to keep them entertained and somewhat quiet). But sometimes, when the game makers decide to throw a curveball, my kids act like they have lost their minds and make a teeny tiny trip to the grocery store seem like a fight to the finish.
And since my kids were playing with their angels and enjoying their snacks this morning, this is what I got to witness in the line next to me as one of the other tributes, a mom with a boy probably 2ish, who decided in the middle of the arena to scream at the top of his lungs and cry and meltdown no matter what anyone said or did (and believe me, many people tried and failed).
Besides the overwhelming sense of selfish gratitude that Praise the Lord it is not me this time (I know… but I am being honest, remember), my heart truly went out to this mom. Because I have been there, and if you are a mom that has ever gone anywhere with one of your children, you have probably been there at some point too. And while I do not know the backstory and yes, I could easily judge as to her parenting skills or lack thereof and maybe if she had ensured a good quality nap or a snack and prepared properly or whatever and it could all be true, in that moment I felt an overwhelming sense of sympathy and solidarity.
And this is where this post all began, because right there in line, regardless of who was watching or how crazy people might have thought I was:
I wanted to raise my hand and somehow salute this woman and the only thing I could think of in that moment was the sign of the mockingjay. That’s right; no judgement here. Just a simple salute of solidarity to say:
I see you. I hear you. I am for you not against you. You are not alone!
I realized right then that we moms need a sign (it does not have to be the mockingly, although it is pretty catchy ([ha ha again with the puns] and no… the other bird is not nice nor appropriate) to be able to salute each other when times are rough. To let us know we are not fighting against one another for the best show in mommyhood but feel each others pain and wish to encourage each other when we get to witness one of your less than shining moments.
Words just do not seem to do it justice. No matter what I say in that moment, whether it be”It’s ok” or “that was my kid yesterday” or “this too shall pass,” it all seems to fall flat or cannot even be heard depending on how loud the kid is screaming. But a sign… a strong silent salute with the emotion and understanding of someone who has been there… that silence overpowers the screams and sparks a movement of unity, power, and true victory.
Can you see it?
Mom in grocery line with said screaming kid… I salute you.
Mom at Panera last night with her oldest of three throwing a tantrum because it was not the right pastry and middle child crying because daddy accidentally fed her a bite that was too hot and third child still in the carrier… I salute you.
Aunt running down the aisle at Target while nephew is pulling everything off of the shelves because you had to say no to the toy he really wanted (because he already has three of them at home but who’s counting)… I salute you.
Grandma at Chick-fil-A who is scaling the play place at wildfire speeds because grandchild number one has decided he can no longer go down the slide to get down and grandchild number two is so kindly helping him along because she can do it and he should too… I salute you.
So the next time you embark on your bi-centennial trip out into the public arena (with or without kids along) and hear those tragic words… “May the odds be ever in your favor.” Just think… maybe they will be. Maybe this will be the experience of the lifetime (ok). But if not, may someone share in your pain, not with a smirk or unsolicited advice or an empty but well-intentioned phrase, but with a show of support and a salute of solidarity (mockingjays all around).♥