Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Dear Sweet younger Mama,

I see you every Sunday, sitting in church with your little girls.  Usually, your daughters are wearing matching dresses, often their long hair has been braided (by you?) or curled.  They sit very quietly, proper.  I gaze from a few pews back with fondness,  remembering those days when my own 3 daughters were dressed and coifed and behaved to my liking.  I sit back with envy at the ease and beauty that you live in.  I think back to the "easiness" of challenges like getting the girls ready for church, the simplicity of those days tugging at my heart. 

My thoughts towards you are kind, although tinged with sentimentality of an easier time.  I smile because I've been where you are.  Those were beautiful days, and I probably didn't cherish them enough.  I don't envy you the ages of your kids because I am happy that I'm further along down this road of mothering.  However, I miss some of the compliance and sweetness... because,  I know what you don't ... That some day soon, you are going to enter a new place.   A darker, crazier, unfamiliar, place where you feel lost most days.  It's more like a black tunnel, less like a black hole.  You know that it is taking you somewhere new.  It's similar to a passage way leading from one stage to the next.  Inside this passage way you will experience sadness, pain, surprise, and ecstasy all swirling around you at various time.    There will be pain and there will also be joy.  The joy won't last long, but it will occasionally come.  Hormones really only allow for about 3 great days per month.

The ways that you parent and the tricks you keep up your sleeve won't follow you into the tunnel.  You will have to learn new methods.  No time-out is long enough for some of what you will face.   Inside this passage way, tucked in secret spots along the walls, there will be blessings, and there will be cursing.  Until you round the corner, you won't know which one will overtake you.  My suggestion is to accept and embrace, rather than fight and fret. 

One day, you will be surprised by the silence.  It will actually hurt.  The day your sweet little talkative girl sits next to you choosing to keep her thoughts and feelings to herself rather than invite you in.  In reply, you will fake a smile, and tell her you love her, and you will drive away clothed in the stoic facade that has become part of your normal wardrobe.  The tears will fall, but you've made great strides in letting Jesus wipe them.  Some days, under pressure, you will scream "I don't care what you do!!" all the while feeling "I care more than you know".  You will stay fiercely protective, just as you are now, but you will be forced to loosen your grip.  Fingers that are pried loose don't bleed for too long, I can assure you that. 

This tunnel has soft walls and floors, making the many falls that you will take more comfortable.  Falls of desperation to your knees in prayer, falls from being knocked down by ugly words, falls from attacks by your enemy, falls from inexperience, falls from being weak, and falls from being humbled.  Eventually you will learn that all of this falling has a purpose.  It is to prove to you the Lord's right hand is so strong.  He never gets tired of helping  you back up to your feet. 

I assure you that within this passage way, there will be small glimpses of light.  Lest you think that my words are just the rant of a worn out, flushed out mama, I can assure you that your perseverance and your heartaches will eventually produce fruit in your big girls.  For others, your girls will show  kindness.  For their friends they will be generous and loyal.  For their teachers and coaches they will practice discipline and respect.  Adults in your daughters lives will come to you with gratitude for your years of training, hopeful that your child can light the way for those around her.  

Within the sacred sisterhood of mothers, nobody talks honestly about these dark places.  It's like there was an oath taken, a vow of silence.  We don't prepare moms for what these teen years bring like we did the years when we had young kids.  I've never come across a book titled "What to expect when your daughter yells at you."  No grandmas and no aunts reveal the nitty-gritty truth for fear of being blamed for the halt of the family line.  No friends risk being brutally honest for fear of being judged or compared.  I know that  nobody's journey is exactly alike, but paired side by side, the paths could share some commonalities, some similar solutions.  This sure could be helpful toward successfully navigating what can be a really challenging time.   

My prayer for you, young friend, is that you will enjoy this time with your little girls while you have it.  Style the hair, match the dresses, and hold them close.   Listen while they will talk,   hug while they will hug you back, laugh when laughter is welcomed.  Ecclesiastes 3:1 says "There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven."  Then,  when your heart feels like it might break in the dark passage that is ahead,  I will shine a light and help you find your way.  My prayer for both of us, whatever season we are in, is that we would find our hope and our strength and our courage in God alone. 

Psalm 126:5-6
"Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy. 
He who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow
will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him."

This is a promise.  Believe in it.

With love,

A Sweet, older Mama

Wednesday, May 13, 2015


It's May!! The busiest month of the year for mamas with kiddos in school.  I seriously don't remember even THINKING about this month before the peeps started school. It was just another month.  But not now!!  Now it is the end.  And the beginning.  And the beginning of the end. 

The lessons wrap up with recitals, the rehearsals conclude with performances, the tryouts payoff in positions, the tests result in final grades.  Everyone has something on the calendar this week!  My handy I-phone keeps telling me that several of the days I am double-booked.  Well, yes!  You're right Siri dear.  We are double booked...

And it's FUN and

And the truth is, I wouldn't trade it for the world.  My favorite thing is to celebrate my children's success.  I love watching them work hard for something and finish it strong.  It delights me to see them pleased with themselves.  Life isn't all about achievements, but it sure seems like MAY IS!!  In response, we make room in the calendar for everything little detail.  We cheer boldy and whistle loudly; we make costumes and write reports, we study and memorize and practice and pray. 

 Most of all, we pray.

We pray for God's peace, His presence and His will.
We seek His glory and humbly honor Him as the Giver of all good gifts.

Then we gas up the mini-van and hang on for the ride. 


Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Fear and Love

When I was pregnant with my first baby, I lived in an idealistic world.  I was certain that if I just had the nursery all ready and the diapers all stacked and the clothes all folded, everything else would fall into place.  I would magically know what to do when the baby cried; I would instinctively know all about her needs and her wants, possibly even knowing these things before she even "asked".  My first surprise of motherhood was having a C-section.  I had planned an ordinary birth with no complications, expecting to return home shortly after the birth.  Rather, I had a scheduled birth via C-section and stayed in the hospital for 4 days because this first baby was going to come out her own way... upside down and backwards.  This was my first clue that I wasn't in control of this being a mom thing.  My kid was. 

I have some perfectionistic tendencies about how I should do things and how things should go.  I want to do things right.  I like to do things without mistake.  I enjoy when all of the details of the day line up the way that I need them to.  Well, let's just admit it - The way I WANT them to.  Truthfully, I don't think that this makes me an evil or bad person.  Some will tell me that it does, but I disagree.  Wanting things a certain way causes me to be organized, meet deadlines, and live a generally un-chaotic life.  So why do I get shamed and blamed for this?  Why do I feel like being a high achiever and having expectations is something I should feel guilty for?  

I've been a mom for 16 years now.  And I am have been poking my head out of my idealistic bubble now for at least the past 6 years - the years that my kids entered double digits.  I'm still learning the same lesson -  that I'm not in control.  But wait... I have to be in control.  People are counting on me to be in control.  My teenagers need me to help with their schedules.  My younger ones need their laundry done and their lunches packed.  Why is there a place where parents can look up grades if parents aren't supposed to care about grades?  Why does my child hand me a permission slip from school needing my signature to leave on a school bus, and hours later this same child yells at me to stay out of her life?  This is the quandary. The secret to be uncovered.   To BE in control, yet not BE controlling.  To manage the household and the details of the calendar, to remember all of the dates of concerts and games and lessons and practices AND  to never be late and never be tired and grouchy.  To have the meals planned and the uniforms washed, to snuggle and read, to listen and guide.  To BE in control, and yet not BE controlling.  This secret, this balance, can only be discovered for me through daily mediation on scripture.  To seek my direction from God's word, teaching me about patience and humility; reminding me of His Will not my own. 

I shared with another mom a frustrating moment that I had in parenting this week.  I might have mentioned packing one of my child's things and setting them at the front door.  She laughed and said "Thanks for saying that.  Everyone thinks those things, but nobody says them.  Every mom puts on this act that motherhood is easy when really it's the hardest thing any of us have ever done."  Together, we encouraged each other and patted one another's back for making it through another day without a homicide or suicide attempt.  But why?  Why don't we tell it like it is and be truthful? That our feelings are hurt, and our bodies are exhausted, and we're sometimes forgetful, and we're often not present even though we long to be.

I think we don't tell the truth because we're afraid.  I'm afraid.  If I say the dreaded words "I'm failing" or "I can't do this anymore", I risk opening myself up to criticism, to other parents peeking into my home and shaking their heads at me.  I'm afraid that someone will tell me "You're a bad mom".  I'm afraid of disappointing my children and I'm afraid of ruining my children.  I'm afraid that I'm not enough and then I fear that I'm way too much.  I've got to stop allowing fear to be the controller and rather I need to pursue the Prince of Peace as the one who controls my heart and mind. He is the one who reminds me that He CHOSE me to be the mom, handpicked me for these kiddos because He knows that with Him, I am enough, I'm a great mom, I'm doing a good job.  Colossians 3:15 says "Let the Peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace.  And BE THANKFUL."

The end of that verse, after commanding us to allow the Peace of Christ to be in control, gives us another command -  Be thankful.  This is the only way for me to BE in control yet not BE controlling.  If I let Jesus rule, then He is in control, and when I am focused on being thankful my heart will be surrendered to Jesus, recognizing Him as the one who helps, guides, directs, forgives.  In this mind-set, there isn't any room to be afraid.  I can trust my kids to Him, I can trust that He has the past and the future in His hands, I can trust that He is going to work all things out for our good.  These are His promises. They are written for me so that when I have an "at wits end" day of being a mom, I can find my hope in what my Heavenly Father tells me.  He is here, He sees us, He loves us. And...

 "There is no room in love for fear.  Well-formed love banishes fear.  Since fear is crippling, a fearful life - fear of death, fear of judgment - is one not fully formed in love." 1 John 4:18 MSG