Wednesday, February 25, 2015
On Falling on My Face as a Mom in Lent
It's always shockingly surprising when we go into Lent at how quickly we can be shown that we really do have a lot to figure out, and be humbled about, and how badly sin has warped our every facet of mind and heart.
It's been just a week and I think I've already had hearty wake up call.
Yesterday was one of those days. With a girl confined to the couch with a bad cough, cold and grey weather, and toddlers climbing the walls it felt like a long day. It felt a million times longer when my husband called to say he'd be home late, and late as in hours past the kids would have to be in bed. The last two waking hours of the kids' day was full of tantrums, fights, refusals, protests, talking back, yelling and screaming. Enduring a meal with them alone at 6 pm felt like another level of torture, and I should have just made them jam and toast instead of a meal that was fought over with actual vegetables. I fell on my face because I tripped on one of the many toys strewn dangerously on every square foot of the floor. I was frustrated and fuming by the time everyone was tucked into dark rooms.
Of course, afterwards I stewed in my failure. More frustration, more failure. And of course I could mention all the blah, blah, blah about grace and motherhood and starting again. Because we all know it. But at that moment of stewing and bubbling in your actual failure and actual frustration you would really rather punch something than hear another rambling and emotive sermon. Or at least I would.
The problem in my head is that it felt like failure and it really was failure. But I feel at this stage of the game, almost 8 years into parenthood, I should have a little less face to face with this abject suck-age. I want to be tangibly better at this. I want more success. I want less crash and burns. I want my motherly love to wrap up neatly into a square box that can be distributed daily at fixed times and accepted in a polite manner. I want my parenting prowess to shoot straight up in a nice line. I don't want fluctuations. I want some order and progress. I want accomplishment.
Parenting, and more especially at-home motherhood, has no visible production checklists for the day. We can't wake up and get the kids fed and clothed and be successful. There are way too many intangibles that make up motherhood. There are so many emotions, personalities, unknowns in just one day to make what we do equal success and accomplishment impossible. It's all complicated and mixed up and nothing at all fitting neatly in a box. That's why in part, it is so hard to go from having a job that everyday you accomplish things and are recognized for and see what you create, to being at home in a jungle of invisible heights to climb and unseen castles to build. Sure, in the long term, and even shorter span of years we see our efforts in the growth of our children, but in the day to day when faced so often with our own inadequacies that growth and accomplishment is just not there.
But that is all a problem of my own. I'm the one who searches for progress, accomplishment, production. I'm the one who wants efficiency in the loving of my own children. I want to love in a small, tight, cramped box when really, motherly love is a wild, unfettered, sunshine that should spread and light up everything in it's path with nothing left untouched. Which is only accomplished with crushing my own pride and practicing generosity. In other words dying to self in order to really love.
I realize that so often my parenting failures are the result of my stinginess. My refusal to accept the reality of the chaos and unorganized, and instead love the whole of it. My pride wants to put my children, my day, my house, my mothering in a tight, small box. When love is the light that wants to flood everything, even in my messy house full of children who just want to yell. This Lent I want to fast and pray to submit my pride in order for true generosity and love to grow.
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