Sunday, May 17, 2015

On Survival and Sunsets: Mom-couragement

Moon Rise?
I asked for the same thing for Mother's day for the past three years.

I wanted to take a shower without any surprises. One where I don't come out and find something broken, or the house torn apart, or one where someone doesn't pry open the bathroom door and yell "SURPRISE!" because that happens, too. Also, the shower should be long enough to wash everything, not just the important stuff.

It would be nice if I could sleep in, too, but that's unrealistic. I didn't actually expect any of these things, because Mother's day is not about me. I'm not even sure it's about mothers in the way we think of them, so much as it is a celebration of nurturing, caring, and sacrifice. Not to diminish the special experience of motherhood, but these attributes can be found in other places.It's just that they are really special in the hands of a mother.

I often think of being a parent as getting this job you really want. You've watched others do the job, you know what you would do, or what you would do differently. You aren't sure what your strengths would be on the job, or what will be your weaknesses. You only know that you've seen some people who are great at it, some who are not, and you can do better than the worst and aspire to be the best.

When you are hired, everyone asks how you like your new job. You answer, "I love it!" because you do, and you've only been there a week.

A couple years go by, things start getting intense. You have a bad week, and no one asks how you like your new job anymore. They just tell you how lucky you are to have it.

Little by little you figure out your strengths, and the things you just never seem to get right. Yet, you can't delegate your weaknesses, and you can never resign. There is no Human Resources office. Trust me, I would have called for back up by now.

Sunburst through the window of an old farm building.
You go and talk to the boss, and He listens, and often refers you back to the Employee Handbook, and reminds you that He has an open door policy. Sometimes, it doesn't feel like enough. You want to say, "You really put me in charge of this person? Me? I'm useless before ten in the morning. I can't be the best candidate."

He says, "Yes, you, and only you."

At no other time will you ever be told that you are the only person who can do a certain job. It's a position divinely appointed.

Recently, at a neurology appointment for Little Mister, I was expressing some concerns about his erratic sleep schedule and how we've found only one method of getting him to go to sleep at night. My child cannot just lay down, close his eyes, and go to sleep.

"You do what you have to do to survive", she told me. One day this will stop and go away but for right now, it works and you do it. Then, this wonderful neurologist who is herself a young mother, went on to share about her son who will not eat a bite unless a certain cartoon plays and a live puppet show is conducted at the same time. "I tell people for a living not to let their children watch television while they eat."

She really does get this, I thought.

Then I thought about the puppet that I carry in my pocketbook. I thought of how our frustrations as parents only last for so long, and then it's something else. I thought about how I won't have to do a crazy bedtime ritual forever.

 Oh, and that shower? Don't worry, I'll get it on my birthday.

Sunset at the lake.


  1. Oh Monica, I so needed this beautiful, funny post! My Mother's Day had a few disappointments, and maybe that's because I was expecting too much :) Hope you get that shower! ;)

    1. Just tell me you're laughing with me. If it weren't for humor, survival would be scarce in mama-land!

  2. Monica, you remind me of how overwhelming and self-sacrificing motherhood can be. Several things stand out to me in this post: that you know this "position" has been divinely appointed... how nicely put. That on some level you realize that God knew you are the right person to be the little mister's mother, knowing that he would need special cares. My heart goes out to you in support of these demands on you.

    What else struck me is that you realize this isn't for always. This time does pass by more quickly in retrospect, and by then you will long for the times when he still fit into your arms.

    As for the shower without any surprises... perhaps voicing your wish out loud to the Mister might make it come true?

    1. Don't worry Saloma, I'm not shy about communicating my needs to the Mister, but I would have made the same suggestion had I read this. Truth be told, I've been a bit of a work widow lately which has made things difficult.
      Thank you for commenting Saloma, it means a lot to hear from other mothers who have felt the same way, and those such as yourself who survived the young mom years. We all need each other, and we can all learn for each other.

  3. Monica, this is such a beautiful, encouraging post- you always do so good at weaving humor in at just the right spots. I especially love how you said that the attributes of nurturing, caring and sacrifice can be found in people other than moms. I love that there is a holiday celebrating mothers, but am always keenly aware that a variety of friends also nurture other people nearly as much as I do, but they don't get any recognition because they don't have any children. I know that wasn't really the point of this post, but I still appreciated your mentioning it.

    And I think my favorite line in the whole post was, "A couple years go by, things start getting intense. You have a bad week, and no one asks how you like your new job anymore. They just tell you how lucky you are to have it." :)

    1. Haha, Lydia that line came about because I can remember my first month of being a mother and everyone asking that question. Of course, it was so easy at that point, what else could you say but "I love it!" I feel so validated that you like that line.
      Also, yes, I also acknowledge that there is no holiday that celebrates the wide range of people using their gifts to help others. Some of them happen to be mothers, and some will never be but will leave this world a better place. I like that you get that, too.

  4. I LOVE this post and the comments that follow. For some reason, I have always wanted Mother's Day as a day to celebrate MY mother (and Bill's) and pretty much that's where I've kept it. However, this Mother's Day I was rather surprised that I only got a card from one of three children; a verbal "Happy Mother's Day" from a second, and after Mother's Day, a carnation showed up sitting in a glass of water from the third. I wasn't exactly disappointed, but now that they are adults I guess I expected them to treat their mom the way Bill and I have treated ours.

    Now, that said,I CAN take a shower any time I want; have no fingerprints to wipe off windows (saved for a season, the ones from a granddaughter who was fascinated by the big back yard full of birds) and have no little voices calling (or screaming) to me in the middle of the night. I called upon the Lord to get me through those early years and I rely upon him, now, to get me through the quiet ones.

    Like you, there were days when I questioned His reasoning for allowing me to be the mother of three boys; but I'm so glad he did! We all survived, nicely and all is well. I love Saloma's line, too, about longing for the times when he still fit into your arms. I am there.

    1. Thanks for your thoughts, Peggy. I want to think about what you said, "I called upon the Lord to get me through those early years and I rely upon him, now, to get me through the quiet ones." The quiet years seem impossible, but they are actually a reward for having raised your family into successful adulthood. Of course, in ten, twenty years my perspective on that may change.
      We actually use Mother's day as a bit of a work frolic at my mom's house. We set up her gazebo out back, her summer lawn furniture, and tend to minor projects she might need help with. Maybe you can invite your boys over next year and have your list ready. Maybe they just need a little direction. ;)

  5. I love that you carry a puppet in your purse, and I just KNOW you know how to use it. There's no way on earth I would be capable of coming up with a great puppet story in my trying moments. What a woman!


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