Labels: babies and kids books desperate friends light and momentary struggles Mommyhood walk with God
Desperate-chapter 1 (some quick thoughts)
I started reading "Desperate: Hope for for the Mom who needs to breathe” by Sarah Mae and Sally Clarkson. I ordered it after hearing from a few friends that this book was a must read for someone in the little years. One of my dearest friends and I are going to read it together and talk about it. Normally I like to devour a good book but I am going to be disciplined to actually read this slowly so it soaks in. That might not be a problem (the reading slowly part because when I started it today I didn’t get too far. I sobbed through the forward by Anne Voskamp, was interrupted by an poopy diaper explosion and struggled through chapter one while Hayleigh asked me lots of questions (about Rapunzel’s hair and if bad guys can do good things and good guys can do bad things.) But yes, all the reviews are true. It is a-maz-ing…already. This book was written for me. I am convinced.
I think the best part so far has been the overwhelming feeling of companionship. I am not alone. Other people feel what I feel, do what I do, are living through the same things, and in fact have already on numerous occasions made me feel as if the words on the page came directly out of my own head. Despite being surrounded by little people, and despite having friends in the same stage of life, I often struggle with feeling lonely. I often tend, in moments of weakness and struggle, to pull back inside myself, to hide, to escape, to surrender to the inevitable failure I am sure is coming. To read that other women I have never even met feel the same way has already given my heart such encouragement and hope. I am already thankful that these women were brave enough to be so candid and write such an important book.
I was struck by the ideals that I have put on myself with regards to motherhood. Sarah talked about how she went into motherhood thinking she could “wrap (her)self up in an image” of what mother she would be. I realize how much I do that. And when I cannot live up to the ideals I have in my head I feel as if I have failed miserably. When motherhood itself does not live up to all it “should” be, I feel completely disillusioned and let down…and then guilty for feeling that way. Where did these ideals come from? From my upbringing? From those around me? From parenting books? From sermons? From television? From seemingly source-less ideas floating around my head? Yes. I was struck when Sarah said this:
“I didn’t purpose to be Sarah Mae, a unique individual with gifts and talents from God. I didn’t even purpose to be who God wanted me to be. Without a realistic vision, I was crushed before the season of motherhood even began.” (p.5)
I, too, was crushed to realize this is also descriptive of me and the ideals I had set up for myself. I was not only unrealistic, I was cutting myself completely out of the picture and trying to be something I was not. I meant well. I wanted to give my kids the best I could. I guess I wanted to give them perfection. And then when that didn’t happen I have been left feeling as if I have failed my kids and failed God. I need to take into consideration who God made me to be when determining what I look like as a mom. And perfect is certainly not part of that description.
I also realized that I have set idealistic standards for my kids as well. This saddened me. I don’t want to raise my kids to be moralists. I want to raise hopelessly flawed kids who love the Lord and look to Him for salvation for eternity and for the day to day. Yet, as I parent I am grieved to say that my interactions with my kids often does not reflect this. Why? Why am I so hard on the myself and my kids?
Something Sally said in a note to Sarah to begin chapter one completely took me aback. She said “Jesus is so very gentle.” I read that sentence nestled in between longer, wordier ones and I stopped. In fact I read it again, as if stunned to see this word there: gentle. I do not think of the God of the universe as gentle. Powerful? yes. Sovereign? yes. Big? of coarse, big. Loving? yes, although I don’t really live in a way that shows I really grasp this. I have long known my view of God is warped and small. But I guess I didn’t realize just how mangled and teeny it is until Jesus being described as gentle rocked my world. I put unrealistic expectations on myself (and now also my kids) because I am always trying to please a God who I have set up in my mind as unappeasable and angry and a watchdog. No wonder I have spent years living in fear and guilt. No wonder I am raising little moralist (or not) kids. How deeply saddening. Yet how deeply freeing. Thank you God, for proving your gentleness by so gently giving me such a large revelation. Not until I truly grasp the gentle and powerful, loving nature of our God can I free myself to be myself or release myself and my kids from my joy sucking ideals.
“This is the true beginning point-God. He is the one who created babies bursting with life and the mamas who love to care and watch over them. He brought forth from His imagination the most beautiful of gardens, threw galaxies of stars into orbit, and painted our world with color. In keeping with His character, He must have intended something beautiful in creating a woman with this ability to give life, nurture with love, and cultivate the soul of a precious human being entrusted into her hands.” (p.9)
I realize I often choose between loving and discipline my kids, as if the two are separate things. I see myself as two mommies-each with something good and necessary: the fun, loving, engaging, gentle mommy and the mommy who disciplines naughty behavior. I feel pulled by what I “know” of God to be both mommies but yet I cannot reconcile the two in practice. Obviously I am going about it all wrong, as if patience and discipline do not go hand in hand. I know I need to address the bad behavior but what I want more than anything is to penetrate and reach their souls. It is as if I struggle to separate my kids’ behavior from who they are. I don’t need more to do, more advice or techniques. I am always bogged down by what I should be doing differently or what the “formula” is for a certain situation. It really just leaves me tired and drained. What I need more of is God. I need Him to fill me up.
“My kids don’t need supermama. They need to see a mama who needs a super God. That maybe being the mama I wanted to wasn’t so much about being more as about believing more, believing and trusting more in the God of Hagar and Ruth and Hannah, The God who sees me, who nourishes me, who hears me and answers.” (Anne Voskamp, forward)
Maybe I need to see myself more as a child of God. Maybe that will help me see myself as He sees me. I look at my children, my babies and I my heart aches with love for them. I would do anything to protect them. I would only do what is best for them. I love them, flaws and all. I see the quirks and uniqueness of them as assets to be appreciated. I see their strengths as things to be sharpened and their weaknesses as areas of opportunity for growth the glory of God. I love to give them good gifts. I love to see them enjoying life, smiling, happy. And although it pains me, I love to comfort them in times of pain disappointment or fear. Maybe if I can see God as my parent and myself as His beloved child I will see God in a more gentle and loving light. Maybe I will see God less as someone who has set me up and is waiting for me to fail, again, and more as someone who is cheering me on and wants to see me succeed. And when I do fall down ,as someone who is waiting to dust me off, give me a hug, a word of wisdom and a hold my hand as I start off again. This is not at all my present picture of God and maybe that is why I struggle to be that for my kids, why I struggle with a split mommy personality and with unrealistic ideals.
“And above all I need to remember that “good” motherliness has nothing to do with how God sees me. Nothing. I am pleasing to Him on my good days and my bad days. His love for me never wavers…and never will. Because I am His.” (p.6)
Oh, God, help me to know you more, to breathe you in and out. YHWH, I cannot do this alone. I need to immerse myself in who you are. I cannot give my kids something I do not know myself.
I am so excited about what God will say to me though these two wise and brave women. I am ready for a change, ready to be changed, Maybe even a little desperate.