Friday, May 16, 2014

The Wire and Mother's Day




As in, it's coming down to the wire.

We've pushed our move out date up a couple times and our time here in San Antonio is shrinking like Lily Tomlin before our eyes.  (If you actually got that before clicking on the link I love you forever).  And I'm sad to be leaving.  Something I did not anticipate feeling 3 years ago.  Anyway, another post for another time.

The point is, we've got a million things to do before we leave and the list keeps growing and growing.  I'll be here--spotty though it may be--but I'll be here.

Also I have a few spotlights in the works, but as always I need more--so if you're out there and you want to share your story email me soon.  And then be patient because you might not hear back for a week or so.  But email.  thislittlemiggy at gmail dot com.

I never mentioned it, but I had a great Mother's Day.  My husband spoiled me off the charts this year, but more importantly my beautiful children filled my heart to the brim.  I also got to speak in church last Sunday on "Being a mother" and while I don't normally write my talks word for word, I sorta did this time.  I thought I'd post it for ya'll to read in leu of a spotlight today.  This is an aspect of motherhood I've been thinking about for years... I'd love to hear your thoughts.  Have a great weekend!

*****

I used to think that Mother’s day was a day to celebrate “the mom” which in my family is of course me.   Never being one to shy away from attention…. accolades…. kudos… praise…. the general celebration of ME I spent my first few mother’s day believing I deserved to be celebrated and congratulated on what a wonderful job I was doing as a mother.  But over the years Mother’s day has evolved into a day where I feel deep, deep, gratitude and reverence for the blessing of being a mother and the gift that my children are to me.  It is a privilege and a joy to be a mother to my three beautiful daughters.  When thinking about this topic of being a mother, there was one thing that has stood out to me over and over again.  

My children have taught me many, many things over the years.  But the most important thing they have taught me is how to love.  What love feels like, but most importantly what love looks like.  And not just how to love my children, but a key to being more loving in general, in otherwords more Christ-like.    

I’m going to do something that is probably frowned upon when speaking publicly, but I’m going to quote myself.  Forgive me.  It’s something I wrote a while ago that explains a little deeper what I’m getting at:  

“One of my favorite songs is called So Many Ways, by the band The Mates of State.  I can't remember if I knew this song before I had kids, but one day after I was a mom I remember thinking, Oh I get this song now...it's about having kids.  The Mates of State is a band that consists of a husband/wife duo who also happen to have 2 kids.   Now I have no idea if this song is actually about kids, or more specifically about having kids, and in fact the lyrics to most of the song are rather cryptic but it's the chorus that resonates with my parental point of view:

The question is posed, What have you given me? with the answer yelled back in unison, Nothing! and Everything!  That, I thought, is exactly what my kids have given me.  

Sometimes I daydream about having time to myself.  Time to sew, paint, read, watch movies... use the bathroom without an audience.  Sometimes I just long to be me.  To do those things that have always made me me. …  It's easy to define ourselves by what we do, but those things don't always accurately portray who we really are.  As much as I long and still hope to reclaim the artist inside, I think my children have done more to chisel away at my ineffectual exterior revealing a truer and better me, than any amount of artistic exploration.  Of course there are many days where it doesn't seem that way, many days where I feel like the worst version of myself and wonder who gave me stewardship over these little human lives in the first place...but it's there.  The subtle changes, the small and large sacrifices, a little-bit-better me.  In one sense those helpless, beautiful creatures have given us absolutely nothing.  Instead they have taken almost all our time, energy and mindshare, not to mention a fair amount of our financial resources.  And because of that, they have somehow given us everything.”


Many people talk about the love between a parent and child as the most natural and pure love in the world.   I agree.  But with a contingency… I think Heavenly Father in His wisdom created a built-in system to creating a bond so strong between a parent and a child that most of us could never imagine severing that tie.   A few years ago I was at a petting zoo with some other moms.  The night before 2 baby goats had been born.  As I was standing there with a friend of mine I said, “It is so biologically unfair.  These goats were born LAST NIGHT and they’re already standing up on their own and within a matter of days, they’ll be running around on their own.  They don’t need to be rocked to sleep, they just go to sleep.  Why do human babies take so much time and energy to get to the point that these baby goats are at just one day old?”  She agreed—biologically unfair.  

However as I’ve thought about it, I don’t think it is by accident that Heavenly Father created babies—human babies that is—to be so helpless and so completely dependent upon their parents, or other caretakers, for all their needs.   From my personal experience as a new mother, I didn’t fall instantly in love with the beautiful, but red-faced, screaming newborn placed on my chest just moments after birth.  In those early days I was tired, emotional, and so completely overwhelmed with just how much effort and energy this new baby required.  But as the days and weeks passed, as I nurtured and cared for this helpless little baby day in and day out, my love grew stronger and stronger until I thought my heart would burst wide open.  Over the years I often heard the saying, “You love those you serve.”  For some reason, I never really equated this idea with being a mother.  We don’t tend to think of parenting as serving, but that’s exactly what we are doing.   As mothers we are “clothing the naked, feeding the hungry and visiting or taking care of the sick and afflicted.”  And as Jesus says in the 25th chapter of Matthew, “Verily I saw unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” 

As I mentioned it took a while for those ‘natural’ feelings of motherhood to kick in, but once they did I was smitten.  B and I would say about our oldest daughter, “We’re so lucky.  She is so cute, and silly.  She’s funny and so smart.  We’re so lucky we got one of those cute, smart, funny kids.”  For a while I actually thought those were some of the reasons I loved her.  A few years later I got pregnant again.  This time B and I would find out that the baby I was carrying would be born with disabilities.  We knew for sure this precious baby would have physical disabilities, but we didn’t know if she would have cognitive delays, medical issues and or if she would even live past birth.  But my mother heart knew I loved her—tenderly and deeply.  It was then that I realized I don’t love my children because of how cute, funny or smart they are (even though they are).  I don’t love them for abilities, for what they can and can’t do.  I love them because they’re mine, they were sent to me.  And if I do my job as a mother even a little bit correctly, I will love them.  In the words of another mom, “All they had to do was show up.”  

When I think about all the time and energy I spent dating and looking for my wonderful husband, it’s amazing to me that when it comes to our children “You get what you get and you don’t throw a fit.”  We don’t get to choose their personalities, their strengths or weaknesses, but we love them anyway.  I think we all know families with a child who presents more challenges than the others, but again they are loved.  I think there is a lesson there in our ability to love.  

What my children taught me is that if you want to love someone, serve them.  And the more you love them, the more you will want to serve them.  Likewise, make sure you allow others the blessing of serving you.  

In closing I want to read a couple quotes that go along with this idea.  The first quote is from my good friend CS Lewis.  He is talking about charity, or the pure love of Christ.  He says, 

"Do not waste time bothering whether you 'love' your neighbor; act as if you did.  As soon as we do this we find one of the great secrets. When you are behaving as if you loved someone, you will presently come to love him. If you injure someone you dislike, you will find yourself disliking him more. If you do him a good turn, you will find yourself disliking him less….. The difference between a Christian and a worldly man is not that the worldly man has only affections or 'likings' and the Christian has only 'charity'. The worldly man treats certain people kindly because he 'likes' them: the Christian, trying to treat every one kindly, finds himself liking more and more people as he goes on — including people he could not even have imagined himself liking at the beginning.
This same spiritual law works terribly in the opposite direction. The Germans, perhaps, at first ill-treated the Jews because they hated them: afterwards they hated them much more because they had ill-treated them. The more cruel you are, the more you will hate; and the more you hate, the more cruel you will become — and so on in a vicious circle for ever.
Good and evil both increase at compound interest."

Finally Marvin J. Ashton said 

"The greatest example of love available to all of us is, of course, found in the scripture from John: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son.” (John 3:16.) By the greatest of all acts of love and by this supreme sacrifice, God set the pattern.”





13 comments:

  1. Pallavi9:35 AM

    Your writing is lovely and couldn't agree more to every single word you said...It is definitely a privilege to be a mother, the perks are priceless.

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    1. Thanks Pallavi. Yes, the perks are priceless.

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  2. i rarely comment, but this post is an answer to prayer, and gave me some much needed insight to what i already know but needed to be reminded of. thank you for sharing.

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    1. Kelly--wow...so glad it helped. I still think it's hard to do 100%, but I know it's helped me.

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  3. What wonderful reflections, all of them. "I think my children have done more to chisel away at my ineffectual exterior revealing a truer and better me"...thank you for that perspective!

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  4. "Galaxy glue, galaxy glue, live would go to pieces without galaxy glue..." Best.Movie.Ever.

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    1. Jane--I love you forever.

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  5. Anonymous3:33 PM

    You know, I am not a mother yet, but I have a mother who is dealing with a very serious health problem right now. It is a huge drain on our family and, for various reasons, I frequently find myself not feeling empathetic at all but just angry and resentful. But I want desperately to love her the way Christ would love her and, as your words testify, the crux of that is service. Service is the fertile soil in which love takes root and flourishes. Thank you for your lovely exposition; it clarified for me a truth I knew in my heart but have been struggling to live out.

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    1. Anon--You know it's still hard to put something like this into practice. I used to think my experience of having a daughter with special needs was reflective of all parents who have children with special needs. Now I know it's not. There are situations much more difficult and draining mentally, emotionally and financially. I think it's good to reflect on things you can change--like attitude and perspective--but it's also OK to admit that it IS a drain and that it IS hard. I'm sorry and hope you and your family are able to find some peace and happiness during this time.

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  6. this is a lovely photo of you and your girls. Children are such a gift x

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    1. Thanks FF. They are a gift. :)

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  7. Ellen6:24 PM

    Aaaaaaahhh! I love that movie. I have probably seen it about 500 times. We had it on VHS that I taped off of the TV. I still have the VHS tape, but no VCR! I'm off to look for the DVD on Amazon.

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