Wednesday, February 25, 2015

On Falling on My Face as a Mom in Lent

Oh, 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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  1. "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.”

    Amen, sister.

    Your words really resonated with me today...I feel this way so often it is often embarrassing to say so. I think you hit it on the head though when you said ‘my parenting failures are a result of my stinginess.’ Perhaps I would even add that, for me, it’s a complete desire to control and not maintain peace in my heart, even during the imperfect times I hadn’t planned. I think that’s the real goal for me - finding peace within the areas of life that aren’t always peaceful and perfect - like motherhood. It would certainly set me up for failure if I expected to find it in the places that aren’t ever going to be picture-book, right?

    Anyway, I’m rambling. I agree with what you said and hope to take that same challenge this Lent.

    I love the harsh reality of light shining in all the places we’ve tried to hide, oddly enough. Lent is good ;)

  2. as someone who left a job she loved to be a stay at home mother, who traded readily visible accomplishments for stacks of laundry and dirty diapers, this struck quite the chord with me. this was an excellent reminder of the true purpose of our jobs. as Cynthia said, "Lent is good."

  3. I feel like you jumped into my head and wrote that for me. Wow. Right there with you sister. I don't have anything uplifting or encouraging except that I am fighting those same battles & emotions & frustrations with myself and my life and other DAILY too.

  4. I feel a little out of whack this Lent too. I normally jump right in and embrace it but I've been feeling lackluster with stuff that's been going on (moving) and I'm just not feeling it. I've also had a cold virus going around with me and the kids for a month or so so that might be it too. btw i started listening to your podcasts last week and found your blog that way :)

  5. A counselor told me recently: "How many times do you berate yourself daily? The answer should be not at all." I was like... um, all day long?! It can be so hard with little ones to keep peace and endurance! Just know that people hear what you're saying and it is possible to find a happy peace (but not easy... at all).

  6. I am right there with you. I hope that YOU feel more normal because I tell you that this post made me feel normal! You have a right heart, sweet friend.:) Thank you for sharing it.

  7. Christy, this is me! Gosh, I feel you. And you know what? I think it's the worst at the beginning of Lent. I think the Devil knows what we're trying to do...he knows that we're trying to grow closer to become new in Him...and the Devil doesn't want it. So, he works extra hard. I just know that this Lent has been really tough for me...not because of what I gave up but because of who I want to be and the failures in becoming that around every corner. BUT, we'll get there!

  8. The web ate my comment. CURSES.

    In short, I feel this. And God is constantly calling me to die to myself and my groans of frustration, and instead crack open my heart just a tad more to extend love and grace to my family. The growing pains...

  9. your post reminded me of this quote by St.Rose Duchesne that I love. “We cultivate a very small field for Christ, but we love it, knowing that God does not require great achievements but a heart that holds back nothing for self" what I couldn't put into words, you have. Thank you for these words of beauty & truth. I think my biggest takeaway from this post is that me even just acknowledging and desiring for my true love to grow already gives me a huge head start. God sees that desire and can fill us with His grace. Before lent I kept trying to think of things I could be focusing on or sacrificing and all I kept coming back to was "Just love your family." I kept blowing it off too bc I thought "of course I do that, that's too simple. I need more!" But to really love them can be such painful, distressing work So that is what i'm focusing on this lent. BTW: your lovely sentence might get printed and hung on my wall "motherly love is a wild, unfettered, sunshine that should spread and light up everything in it's path with nothing left untouched."


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