June 26, 2006
My friend, Sarah
If you recall, after returning from the annual "Foursquare" church convention a few weeks ago, I felt a fresh passion for mentoring moms. More than ever, I want to be your "friend for the journey." At the same time, I realize that as we travel this adventure together, it is sometimes hard to keep in step because we are in different places along the path.
I have three teenagers, therefore, I'm immersed in hormones, and relationship fissures, and daily life-altering drama. You, on the other hand, may be drowning in dinner dishes, and Dora & Diego, and doodie diapers (and other duties.)
Because I don't want to lose touch with where you are, while at the same time I don't want to actually go back there, I've decided to introduce you to one of my dearest friends. I met Sarah when I moved to Texas almost three years ago. Her husband was the Student pastor at our church. I could tell I was going to like this girl right away so I immediately invited her to be a charter member of my new Lone Star state MomTime group.
I just love Sarah, and I know you will, too. That is why I called her a few weeks ago and asked her if she would consider writing for me occasionally from the perspective of a mom in the toddler trenches. Unbeknownst to me, it just so happened, (don't you love it when God puts something together and you thought it was your idea,) Sarah had just begun blogging her mommy journey.
Perfect! So, for those of you who want to leave me for a younger mother then you will want to check out Sarah’s blog, "In the Midst." If you really don't have time to read one more thing, then rest easy, I plan to share more of Sarah's mommy musings in the future. So, without further ado, my friend, my "mini-me," my favorite library card holder, Sarah!
When I was about 10, my mom made me start doing devotions on a daily basis. I balked, so she bought me a journal, had me record what I'd read and learned each day, and then I had to show it to her as proof. She never read it, but she'd scan it to make sure there was something written down. Call it Commando Quiet Time if you like, I certainly did. My mother has never approached anything halfway.
I still have that journal; it's the first of over 40. Research says an activity takes at least 21 consecutive days to become a habit, and obviously it's true in this case. As soon as I start nearing the end of one, I make a run to Barnes and Noble to buy another. That first one, though, has one of the best entries I've ever written. It's a list of 13 things I swore I'd never do once I became a mom. Forcing my daughter to have a quiet time and then show her journal to me--oh, the audacity!--is number one.
Looking back at that list, I realize that I've already broken at least half of my rules. "Because I said so" is a perfectly valid reply to the question, "Why?" Writing thank you notes for gifts is not an option, and taking a bath on a daily basis is just the nice thing to do, for pete's sake!
Ten-year olds are pretty black and white. Life must be fair, and everything should work out perfectly, like in long division. While growing up, being dead-set in my convictions was good, most of the time. Now that I'm a bit older, though, I realize there's a reason the Bible is silent on so many topics: there isn't always a right or wrong answer.
Before I became a mom, and even until I had my second child, I held to so many "non-negotiables": all moms should stay home, if they can afford to. All moms should breastfeed. All moms should use cloth diapers (yeah, that's real practical until you have two in diapers!). Make your own baby food, don't let your children cry, never buy them a cookie to make them be quiet in the grocery store, never call the driver next to you a moron in front of your four year old, and so on and so on. (Okay, so that last one probably is a good one to hold on to.)
I've discovered, though, that motherhood is truly the cure to being judgmental. I feel like I'm a really good mom, and other than those months of morning sickness, I limit TV viewing, try to do educational things with my children every once in a while, and feed them relatively healthy food at least a couple times a day.
But you know what? Motherhood is hard. Really hard. Maybe it's just me (and I know it's not), but it's the hardest thing I've ever done. It's unrelenting. Nobody told me that while I'd love my children with my every last breath, I'd get sick of them after days upon days of being with only them. That while I'd readily give my life for them, I'd also want to wring theirs out of them on occasion. Nobody told me that even though I'd be busier than ever, I'd get bored. That motherhood is often monotonous. That conversation with a 20 month old, while immensely entertaining, doesn't count toward those tens of thousands of words women need to speak daily. Nobody told me that going to the bathroom without an audience is a luxury. Or that the odds of getting up, exercising, showering, having a quiet time, and eating breakfast--all before the kids are up--is only possible if I awake at 4 a.m. or have a nanny. So far, neither of those has happened.
Some of those notions I held dear faded quickly once I had my first child. I didn't breastfeed him. There were days when staying home didn't feel like such a blessing. The idea of doing cloth diapers flew out the window once our second came along, and so did the homemade baby food. And when grocery shopping with two kids three and under, any item on the shelf that can be quickly ripped open and fed to them to keep them quiet is fair game.
I've realized that there are some truly black and white issues in the Bible, but that the rest are up to our own discernment--and circumstances. With that in mind, I've re-written my own list of things I'll never--ahem, try really hard not to--do, and it only contains one item: Do not judge another mom. Unless she's causing serious bodily harm to her child, don't judge her. Even if she's feeding her baby Kool-Aid in a bottle. Because as a mom, I now realize one simple thing: with very few exceptions, we love our children fiercly, but we're just human. We're all doing the best we can, the best way we can, as often as we can. And for all those times we fail--and Lord have mercy, but it's a lot some days!--the best gift one mom can give another is not to judge. Besides, as Jesus made plain, we'll be judged in return.
And on that note, I'm going to take my own advice and not judge myself. Especially since, in one day, I've counted playing in the kiddie pool as a bath, fed the boys Captain Crunch for dinner, omitted the nightly bedtime story--just because I felt like it, and literally counted the minutes until 8 o'clock. At the end of the day, I'm still a good mom. And you know what? My mom is, too. Despite the Commando approach to quiet times.
Don't ya' just love her?
Posted by weblion at 04:49 PM