HEY MAMA: A NOTE (DEVOS FOR THE WEARY MAMA)

Devotionals.
Quiet Time. 
Prayer. Etc. etc. etc. 
Have you heard it yet? A list of all you should be doing? It makes my body react as if I'm wearing stilettos and shoving them in the dirt while someone is trying to drag me forward. 
Hold the shoulds—I'm just trying to remember to breathe here. 

But here's the thing, there was a day, years ago, where waking up early for that time was the best part of my day. I would leave class, or work, and go to a coffee shop, and read my Bible—because I needed that time with God. And yes, I believe the need was real. But truth is, we must change the conversation because truth-be-told, if I need three hours alone (or one...or .5), then I'm not getting what I need and I should just give up (am I the only one?). 

Let's change that conversation. Mama, you don't need to do one more thing. God's relationship with you—Christ's relationship, heart, glance, companionship, care towards you will not shift because your quiet time has dwindled. Don't let shame keep you from drawing near when you can ("but it's been too long!" you say? Impossible—He is timeless).

He has fed the five thousand with five loaves, so the Bible tells me. 

There was a season where time with God, or time to just let my soul rest, felt impossible. Someone told me that I needed to be in the Word everyday (which, I agree with), and my internal conflict between pride and shame shriveled me—because who has an hour to read the one year Bible? I haven't slept in 9,000 years. 

So here's what I got. It's not perfect. My life is full of spots and bruises and warts of all shapes; but I have found some things that have kept my mouth and nose above water in this season, maybe they can help you, too.  

Hey Mama, you're doing a good job (in case you needed a reminder): 

This devotional. It will take five minutes of your morning, or naptime, to read through the devotional, five more minutes to look up the Scripture of the day, and then however much longer you want to rest on it for. Sometimes I do a good ol' inductive study on the verse (they're no longer than two verses usually), and find some gem in the Greek or Hebrew to reflect on throughout the day. It's by far my favorite devotional, featuring quotes from classic authors who are Christian (like Jane Austen) or from Christian thought leaders (like Mother Theresa), and always relevant, not fluffy. 

This podcast. The episodes are about 20 minutes long, perfect for a quick solo Whole Foods run —I've made grocery shopping my time; grab myself a fancy water, hydrate and listen to a podcast, sermon, or favorite worship album on the drive so that I can be more available to pour out (some favorites: This Happy Hour episode ft. Ellie Holcomb, Dear Daughters Podcast, Of Dirt and Grace Live From the Land album). 

Load 'em up. This is something I've learned since having two under two...some days are just hard. So, before you lose it on your kids, throw them both in the car, give them an ipad, put on a movie, whatever you have to do to get some quiet and just drive. This has become a saving grace not only just for my sanity, but, at times, mine and Will's marital sanity. Some of our best discussions, best connections, best conflict resolutions have been born out of us throwing all four kids in the car and driving somewhere an hour away. 

 

Son sits on my bed, watching some super-hero favorite, while I rest in my chair, reading blogs I love. There is always this twinge of "I should be writing more;" "ugh, I wish I were writing more;" "I miss writing." It quickly disintegrates to can'ts and should-nots because I just feel so depleted, I don't even know what or who or where or anything to write about these days. 

I know I miss writing, and I would love to start again. But this season has been so turmolutious—even just within myself. It's been hard to find something worth saying that doesn't start with a nag or a whine. And then, there's the world. There's the Nia's and displaced kids, separated families. It kills me. I want to jump in and then I see these four sets of eyes that need me, and need me present and safe, and I feel trapped. I want to know how to help, where to go, dive in and hug the child, make the sign, be the voice, but I'm often weary with wondering if I have the right voice in these things—I just have so much to learn still. 

But these are the things I do know: 
The sun rose today. 
T has 20 days left of being one. 
Scout has become this precious, old-soul human, who I selfishly want to spend every waking moment with. 
Son (the younger) calls us Mama and Dada. 
I am desperate to surround myself and my children with people of all kinds, who look different than us and who hold different strengths, people of different abilities, and races, and cultures and pasts. These are the people I want to raise my children around. 
I am desperately trying to teach our kids about race, and racism, and the concept of privilege that they too will need to navigate one day. 
My house is a mess, but I'm getting my couch steam-cleaned Monday and I just can't wait. 
 

DEAR DAUGHTER: A LETTER TO THE MOTHERLESS

She came up to me with her purse on her shoulder: Mama, she said, I want to go on a date.

If you know her, you can imagine the voice—the strong "t" sound at the end of want, the monotone dictation, conflicted by a sweet high tone. I oblige (gleefully).

We walked downtown, got three macarons to share and pulled out the blocks she packed in her purse. I started to affirm her—she doesn't understand really what I am saying today, but I do. And something in my heart tells me that her heart gets it, too. 

"Baby, you know that you are so loved by Mama?" 
"Daughter, you are so fun to spend time with." 
"Sister, you are so helpful. You are such a big girl. I am so proud of you. I enjoy you so much." 

More seasoned parents than I have warned against the "self-esteem" movement. I get it. Don't over-congratulate your kid on things that don't need be praised. But my gut says, screw it—every single thing she does is magic and she needs to know it. 

In high school, my psychology teacher gave us an assignment where we asked our parents what we were like as babies and toddlers. I still don't understand the purpose of the assignment—it felt like a cruel joke. All I remember was the feeling of dread met with the inevitable answer: you were awful. High-tempered. Crazy. Scary. The list goes on, and I cannot remember most of it. My dad answered completely different, from a place of kindness—according to him I was a quiet girl, shy, afraid of people. So I'm really not sure who I was then. But I get glimpses and can put pieces together based on the girls I have now.

Maybe I was a high-tempered, angry little girl. That's ok. We call it spirited, strong, passionate, and assertive (none are negative) in S. It's the fire in me that energizes me against injustice and unfairness. Yes, it gets me in trouble sometimes, but I am not afraid of the fire in my soul. 

Maybe I was quiet and reserved—praise the Lord for the gentleness in me. It's taught me to listen well and to hold dear all kinds of people; to be slow to judge the battles others maybe facing, and to not withhold the glory of grace from anyone, no matter how differently they fit the mold. 

Having the girls has awakened me to this seemingly widening gap of what I've lacked my whole life, really. A mom. My mom. She wasn't all bad—just...mostly. She was kind of like Ms. Hannigan in Annie. She was cruel (I am unafraid to say this anymore). Her punishments bizarre and not disciplines of teaching but rather tortures to ruin; she wanted to let no good thing flourish around her in me, as it pained her to see me grow. She was destructive to my life—making me tell teachers it was my fault I was late to school, covering her mistakes, making me call voice teachers for her to say I didn't want lessons anymore (when the truth was the cost of booze outweighed them in priority). It was a gnarly road. And I live with it, still. 

But as we walk down Main Street, her little hand in my guiding one, I'm amazed at how lucky I am to be hers. How lucky I am that she's mine. That she is all that is strong and gentle and thoughtful and fierce—all the dichotomies that come with toddler-hood. I get the front row seat. And as I enjoy, I am rewriting my own narrative.