Facebook Blessings?

Facebook Blessings?

We all recognize, in varying degrees, the potential evils of Facebook – its addictive nature; the opportunities for flagrant self-promotion vis-à-vis loads of “selfies” and gratuitous oversharing; the persistent temptation to compare your real life to someone else’s happy Facebook fairytale … Continue reading

Great Reminders for Moms

If you are a mommy of little ones, these MOPs articles offer great thoughts on motherhood and the holidays! Adjusting expectations is a powerful tool and one I am still trying to master. I imagine it will take my whole life. :/ Such good reminders, and I need a lot of them this busy holiday season. Hope you find them helpful too!

Mom and Jesus

I’m not a big fan of Mother’s Day, but I am also not cynical (or selfless) enough to expect nothing from it. That’s right, I want my big Hallmark holiday, and I want it in a BIG way. But like Valentine’s Day, the day dedicated to acknowledging motherly devotion  is completely ill-conceived from the beginning. And I will tell you why.

As liberated as we like to think we are, just who is it that spearheads nearly all holiday festivities? Women, more specifically, mothers. So Mother’s Day is like expecting a great Christmas after telling Santa and all his elves to go home, kick off their shoes and relax. IT SIMPLY DOESN’T WORK.

My mother still makes me feel loved on special days, but now that I’m a mother – a shift has occurred. I am setting the tone for my own family’s holidays. I am the one without the days off.  It can be, if not exhausting, then completely terrifying, especially considering all my mother has been to me over the years. I have some pretty big shoes to fill.

I remember, in a middle school essay, praising her for being selfless “all the time.” One peer edit in incredulous purple ink questioned, “Really, ALL the time?!?” Indignation rose within me, but I forced myself to acknowledge the reality – no one is selfless ALL the time. Most people aren’t selfless MOST of the time.

But, my mother isn’t like most people. She is pretty darn selfless.

Could I be as selfless as her? I certainly wasn’t feeling selfless on Mother’s Day. I was thinking, This is MY day. Make is special, or die trying! I mean, if I am honest, I want to be recognized and appreciated. I desire validation…and regularly.

But the thing about motherhood is we are not here to be recognized or be lifted on shoulders and carried through the streets with cheers. We are here to serve and be worn to the bone. Mothers do things so many things so many times over that go largely unnoticed. It’s the part of motherhood that scares me the most – the constant giving and serving – without applause and sometimes without a break.

Before my son’s second birthday party, my mom washed my floors on her hands and knees. How many times had my mother washed floors over the years, and I never noticed…even on Mother’s Day? But that day, I noticed. Because I was pouring myself out in the same way for my son – cleaning the house, decorating, wrapping gifts, making party favors, baking the cake. I was pouring myself out as my mother did for me. It is the truest devotion, isn’t it? The willingness to be poured out again and again until you are gone.

I realize people caution, Make time for yourself. Take care of you. There is truth to that. But when you are a parent, you realize a perfect balance is impossible. And while you are unprepared for the challenge ahead, you are equally unprepared for the desire within you to give of yourself OR the joy that comes from loving your child like Christ loved (still does love) you.

Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friend.” (John 15:13) Or wash their floors. Or make their food every day, three times a day. Or wipe their bottoms. Or kiss their boo-boos. Or read them the same book a thousand times. Or wake with them at night. Or hold them when they’re sick or sad. Or listen to them talk when you’d rather have quiet. There’s more than one way to lay down your life. As a mother, there are probably a million ways.

Like my mother before me, I am walking the road Jesus did. I am placing one foot in front of the other. And I am surrendering a little more, every day, my need for applause.

The Loneliness of Motherhood

Motherhood can be singularly isolating. Sure, there are play groups, play dates, church, preschool and gymnastic classes. But conversation with other mothers is so often reduced to whatever chatter prevails over the noisy din of children at play – and that ain’t much. So much of what we say or want to say gets interrupted, paused, forgotten – as we pretend to joyously partake of plastic vegetables, sip air out of cracked tea cups, facilitate snack time and encourage sharing, then stuff cranky children in car seats, exchanging hasty plans for our next get-together as we pull away. I’ve yelled more things out a car window these days than I care to admit.

Gone are the days of long, penetrating conversations while slowly sipping lattes. Gone are the questions like “What is my purpose in this world?” “What is going on in your life?” “How are you…really?” I miss it…some days I miss it desperately.

Today, much of my deeper dialogue with friends must occur over the phone, because we can clean or prep dinner while we talk. Multitasking diminishes some of the guilt brought on by trying to fill one’s own relational needs. Yet, phone conversations are still wrought with frequent interruptions as we take turns responding to needy children (made instantly needier by the mere fact we are on the phone).

I enjoy all the opportunities to mix and mingle motherhood provides. And I am thankful for this season of my life. The community of moms is vast, varied, interesting and held together by the strand of procreation and the act of raising children into responsible adults (an altogether complex undertaking made up of a million simpler, sometimes nearly mind-numbing, tasks).

There are days, in the center of some conversation about meal preparation or sleep schedules, I’ve suddenly had enough. I don’t want to discuss the best sippy cups on the market or what Johnny had for lunch that gave him loose stool. I want an uninterrupted exchange of ideas and thoughts and feelings that has absolutely NOTHING to do with breastfeeding, potty training or how to make gluten-free granola. Other days, we are stuck at home due to weather or illness. I am pouring over dishes when I’d rather be pouring my heart out over that latte…with no time limit and no other things on my to-do list. I feel lonelier than usual.

But relationships are not simply about what we get out of them. Relationships are what we give. The mommy dialogue, the one where we exchange recipes and ideas, is necessary and helpful. I would be foolish in overlooking the benefits of community with such amazing and incredibly diverse women. It’s good to talk about finger foods and pregnant celebrities. It’s also good to build and nurture relationships that feed deeper parts of ourselves that still exist, despite the repetitive nature of our present everyday lives. We honor this need by first acknowledging it and then by fostering close, authentic relationships with other women — not just with women we’ve always known, but with new friends. We cultivate these friendships by looking past the busy, self-sufficient veneer and asking the harder questions…and by setting the example through our own authenticity. I can be the first to offer the truth about myself – that I don’t have it all together, that I sometimes miss the things I used to do. Or I can share what I am passionate about beyond the four corners of my child’s universe.

Prayer helps. When we lift our hearts to God, we surrender our loneliness and embrace communion with our Creator. And we can pray for friends who will challenge us in new ways. Several times now, I’ve had a chance-meeting with another mother who I liked so much that I yearned for her friendship. But I wasn’t sure I would ever see her again. Then, within a day or two, I did see her again in the most unexpected place. Whenever this happens, God’s love for me overwhelms my heart. He knows my intense need for special friendships, because He created me. This small act of “coincidence” is His love letter to me. “Jessica, I know you. I love you. I’m on it.”

Reading His Word also helps to provide spiritual and intellectual food when we feel starved for deeper meaning. Scripture reminds me of the bigger picture and emboldens me to reach outside my comfort zone. Chances are, there are other mothers who feel like I do. Maybe I can minister to them in their loneliness. Every person we meet, after all, is an opportunity to see God at a different angle. When we begin to see everyone this way, there is no opportunity, no conversation too small. And our focus is no longer on our own loneliness anymore.

In this season of busy chaos, we will sometimes still feel alone. But God knows. He cares. And He’s on it. In the meantime, keep having interrupted conversations over the din of noisy children. Some day, we will miss that too.