Friday, July 31, 2015

the most important part of motherhood

If i was asked by a new mama what the most important quality is for a mother to possess in this life-long journey of motherhood (parenthood), i don't think i'd hesitate.
"Humility." i'd offer. Simply, plainly - there is no other quality that has saved relationship, opened doors of communication or allowed for thoughtful discipline and discipleship.
We exercise it during our pregnancies - allowing our bodies to grow and stretch to accommodate the life of another precious human being. Stretch marks, exhaustion, a gentler pace, appointments and care make it a good time to lay down ego and see ourselves in a new context - one where we become "a part of" rather than the whole.
Humility grows during childbirth. Our bodies each break in unique ways. It's empowering - but also humbling - to be brought to that place of surrender as we birth and are born ourselves as mothers. In post partum - we heal at different rates, some struggle to breast-feed, some are plagued with depression. There is joy, euphoria, satisfaction and goodness - but it's all better when it's accompanied by humility - the willingness to forego hubris and instead connect to those around us, acknowledging need and allowing ourselves to be fed as we learn to feed another.
But these are only the sweet beginnings of the blessing that humility brings. Maybe your tiny one will melt down in public, call someone fat or tell you they don't like you. Pride demands a red-faced reaction, "No child of mine!"... Humility tends to their heart. Later, when they're the last one to learn to read, humility brings patience - the ability to compassionately teach those letters again and again and again... consciously blind to deficiencies - always aware of our own insecurities and struggles, humility lets us keep their heart when pride would have lost it. Our children learn that it's safe to talk to a parent who is humble. Whispered shame-filled confessions aren't met with shock and revulsion. This can be a tough one... We can get so used to white-washing our kids' behaviour that when we see something put before us so black and white - something that we can't explain away - we want to distance ourselves from it... from them.
Humility closes that distance.
Humility breaks down boundaries, it binds the broken-hearted, it is the kindness that leads to repentance. It allows us to keep our eyes off of the judgemental glare of the world and instead gives us eyes to see roots in our lives and our children's lives that need to be either plucked or tended. It allows us to close our ears to the cacophony of advice and instead, we can learn to hear the heart-cry of the tiny human we were given to shepherd. Humility makes us worry less about what others think of our parenting, and instead helps us to become better parents.
Let's make every effort to respond without shock to each and every indiscretion our children bring to our lives. Let's keep the horror from our faces - so that they're not afraid of us - and so that the older ones don't cynically label us a self-righteous hypocrite. Our reactions matter - and they're not something that is beyond the scope of our control.
Humility sees past the awkwardness of the pre-teen, the acne, the grammatical errors, the outbursts. Humility refrains from reacting in anger, vengeful pride or embarrassment and instead extends a gentleness that is resilient in the face assault; a kindness that is more stubborn than selfishness, a compassion that is bigger than self-consciousness.
Humility has single-handedly shaped me as a wife and mother - taking away my need to explain the actions of my husband or children and instead giving me a greater capacity to understand, empathize, to love.
So, if i was asked by a new mama what the most important quality is for a mother to possess in this life-long journey of motherhood, i don't think i'd hesitate.
"Humility." i'd offer. Simply, plainly. It'll come whether you want it to or not - and wisdom would suggest that you welcome it as a friend.

Monday, July 20, 2015


Man, it takes a lot out of a girl to submit a little piece to a magazine devoted to documenting stories of motherhood. It's kinda like going outside naked & smiling & waving at the traffic driving by... Mamalode published a couple of my pieces a while ago, and it took me 4 years to gather up my courage to submit more. They're publishing two this summer and the first one went live today! Read it here if you'd like!

Friday, May 22, 2015

Kindness leads

Elmer walked past me with a small stick in his hand, and it grazed my foot. At nearly two, my flinch caught his rapt attention & he turned back to me.
 I was certain in that moment that he would scrape me again with the stick. He's such a little boy & I thought he would be eager to reproduce the results of the first scrape.... I watched him as he tenderly bent his tiny body and kissed my foot before walking away...  & I don't know why the softness of his response moved me so much.
Sloan & I were talking about kindness the other day & she said, with the certainty of one who has tasted the truth of their own words, "changing parts of your personality is hard.."
"But I'm so glad it's possible..." I replied.
"I know. I've done it..."
& we can learn, can't we? To be kind? To kiss the wounds inflicted by ourselves or others... to minister to the hurting, to pause mid-stride and heed the whispering admonition of a loving Father who bids us to become holy...

Friday, May 8, 2015

For the mama who is afraid of change

   There are a lot of words written about the wistful pain of saying goodbye to the baby years. It's so easy to wax poetic about that single damp dainty curl at creased neck, about tiny clutching starfish hands, and the smell? Ohhh, the smell of newborn baby - the mere memory of it makes me tear up. Babies are amazing. Those years are intense and we're immersed. Half drowning, half swimming, sleep deprived and constantly hungry, it's nonstop service - and we rise to the occasion, meeting every need and crooning over every sorrow. And I think it was partly the exquisiteness of the baby years that made me feel a certain trepidation over what was sure to come next.
   Little legs stretched out. Appetites blossomed, babbling words became complex ideas expressed. They pushed me away in the most normal, natural way - like a skilled swimmer using strong legs to push away from the side of the pool. They came back to me. They made me laugh. They entered, and exited the awkward stage, emerging with more grace and poise than I could ever have imagined.
   And maybe this transition is tempered in a way for me, because I do still have a little one in diapers who isn't talking about moving out, graduating college, falling in love or getting a credit card... Yet. But I feel like I was so deceived. I thought this phase of life was gonna be all sadness and melancholy and nostalgia. I thought the goodbyes to childhood would choke me and that my grief would steal my joy. Nothing could be further from the truth... It's amazing. That wild hearted faery princess twirling her dress around her skinny white legs, the one with sky blue eyes and hair as fine as dandelion fluff? She's still mine. Her hair is tamed - sometimes. She traded her velour Barbie dress for blue nursing student scrubs. But those ageless eyes will never change, and that fiery passionate heart didn't disappear, it only miraculously discovered both it's source and destination. It beats still, only what used to beat with questions and sometimes confusion, now beats with purpose and determination. It's breath taking. Her sisters and brothers follow close behind - just like they did when I had a flock of stair step tinies following me in years gone by. Now the stair steps are uneven as my second born grew taller than my first, and they no longer all trail behind, but instead some skip ahead or walk beside. My third and fourth born are taller than I am, and just this morning, my fifth grinned at me with a cock of her eyebrow, "back to back, mama?" There are piercings and hair dye. We listen to post secondary plans and make arrangements for graduations. We pay excruciating attention to both crushes and love songs. We've lived through acne and algebra. We've breathed a sigh of gratitude after no-injury fender-benders and broadened our music appreciation to include the taste of several eclectic teenagers. None of them stay little forever, and it's good and right - and even exciting... Yes, exciting... to experience this truth.
   So, grow little ones.
   Mama has learned not to be afraid.
After all these years, my first born is still teaching me. And as I snuggle my littlest one, tenderly trailing my fingers through his uncut tresses, breathing deep the fading scent of babyhood, I stretch my heart just a little more and  lean in deep to her instruction.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

after you...

     I live in Canada - the land of reputed politeness and niceties. It's an often true reputation that pervades our culture and humor over the never ending stop at the three way stop with each idling vehicle nodding to the others genially, "After you... I insist..."
     I had a day dream the other day while I was sitting in a worship service in church. A man had invited guests to his home. It was a dinner party, and when the first guest arrived, he was given the task of opening the door for the guests who would arrive after him.
     As the doorbell rang, he ran to open it adding urgently, "No! Don't take off your shoes, leave your coat on... come here. I will serve you your dessert." While the host in the kitchen continued to prepare the meal for his guests to eat, the pseudo-host organized those who came after in a most bizarre fashion.
     He got them to switch seats, to sit, but then to stand, he asked them to eat different courses of foods out of turn. As a spoon of soup was brought to one mouth and a creamy dessert brought to another, the other guests looked at each other in confusion, knowing that something was awry. They waited for someone to take the first bite. The pseudo-host glowed. "Oh no! YOU eat. I don't need a thing. I will watch you all and serve you. I will fill your plates and bring you your next course. I will witness your satisfaction and you won't need to witness me getting my fill.
     Finally the real host gently stopped him, "Friend... I invited you here as my guest. i am the host and what you are doing isn't appropriate behavior.Your attempted kindnesses are not only robbing your fellow guests of the experience I intended for them, but you have chosen hunger over partaking. This isn't right."
     I opened my eyes and they rested on the pastoral staff in the front row - eyes closed, arms raised in worship.
     And it was like a little wave of understanding washed over me in that little moment of wonder.
Invited to God's house, they attended. Ushered to the throne room, they worshiped. They ate, they drank - not waiting for another guest's first bite, but partaking at the invitation of The King. Each course delivered in it's time. No guest's need escaping the tender eye of the holiest of Hosts.

“Come, all you who are thirsty,
    come to the waters" - isa. 55:1a


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