Sitting in in the cool morning air of a quiet Pacific Northwest morning, I hear a light tapping on the inside sliding glass door and turn to see our 6-month old granddaughter peering out to say good morning. That is to say, I think it’s my sleepy, blurry-eyed daughter tapping on the door hoping grandma is up for a morning snuggle session so mommy can go back for a brief morning nap.
Well, DUH. Pass the kid this way, puh-LEZE.
My daughter’s typical comment is, “Mom, I’m sorry to interrupt your quiet morning moment, but…”
Or then there are the times in the car, “Mom, I’m sorry for all the crying and screaming…”
Or, “Mom, sorry if you have to clean out the car seat, (or your jeans, or your shirt…etc.)”
It fatigues my already tired mettle when that worn out rag of an opinion resurfaces that Christianity is somehow anti-female. Of course, now that the definition of “female” is under debate, I suppose that is, itself, a shifting deck in a storm of opinion. No matter, because at least, historically, there is in my mind (admittedly, for what that’s worth…) substantial evidence that feminism has its actual roots in true Christianity. Note the word “true”. Not necessarily organized religion, because most people never bother to check out the Source Document for themselves, and if they do, it’s merely a cursory study without much in depth “what’s-really-going-on-here” desire to know truth. I realize that’s a scathing indictment, but there it is.
I’m writing this in the early weeks of autumn as the leaves are beginning to succumb to gravity and the thermometer is gratefully beginning its slow decline from the ravages of an early hot, dry summer. I’ve cleaned out my garden plots, pruning back a tomato tree; I’ve never seen one get that big and bushy and likewise produce so little fruit (there’s another analogy there, I suppose), and the zinnias basically cut off the sun from the struggling lavender. Evidently, I was not aware of the potential within the plants, the effect of such good dirt, and the needs of the individual varieties. So I’ll try it all again when this old planet limps back around the sun once more this Spring.
I’ve decided that gardening is not only a science, but an art. Unfortunately, I’m not much of either, except like Edison, in that if it doesn’t work the first 999 times, persistence might make the 1000th be the winner.
I am, at the very least, persistent.
Relationships, I’ve decided, are also both a science and an art as well. We have three children. We had them early in our marriage, and I was young. I didn’t really even know myself very well, and here I was mothering three little girls, all with different personalities, talents, and destinies! Are you kidding me??
As they were approaching that wonderful American invention called “adolescence”, Bob and I did a Gary Smalley personality survey on ourselves and our kiddos.
Our eldest is a Golden Retriever—let’s take care of everybody and make them feel loved.
Our middle is more of a Beaver, organizing, accomplishing, business-minded.
Our youngest (sigh) is a full scale Lion….the kind with teeth and claws. This is not a bad thing, and I sigh only in part because her mother is an Otter. An a fun-loving, fly-the-seat-of-your-pants Otter. An Otter raising a Lion.
Yet another proof that God has a sense of humor.
I love this passage from Isaiah and leave it here for an encouragement to young mothers:
“The farmer knows just what to do, for God has given him understanding. A heavy sledge is never used to thresh black cumin; rather, it is beaten with a light stick. A threshing wheel is never rolled on cumin; instead, it is beaten lightly with a flail. Grain for bread is easily crushed, so he doesn’t keep on pounding it. He threshes it under the wheels of a cart, but he doesn’t pulverize it. The Lord of Heaven’s Armies is a wonderful teacher, and he gives the farmer great wisdom.”
And just as there is no cookie-cutter approach to child-raising, God does not use the same approaches with us, His children, either. How boring would that be?? What He is, is persistent.
When I was a teenager, my mom used to tell me that I could use her as an excuse anytime I might find myself in a socially compromising situation. The phrase was along the lines of,
“ARE YOU KIDDING ME? Do you know how many ways my mom will annihilate me if/when she finds out? Do you have any idea how many synonyms my dad knows for reprimand? I suppose you WANT me to be grounded until graduation!!”
When the kids were younger, I enjoyed having Christmas caroling parties for them. We’d make tree ornaments, strung popcorn, went out caroling in the neighborhood, and generally made a fun mess in preparation for the holiday. (Sometimes, the mess persisted well beyond the holiday, you know, kind of like the pine needles…)
To begin with, I haven’t given birth to a baby for over thirty years. That, in itself, is worthy of thanksgiving. (And beyond that, if you are a man somewhat faint-of-heart, you might consider going to the next post on your reader…)
Not that I would trade any of it—that miracle of another human being growing within me and then passing through me into the world, and, as my husband’s mother mused when our first was born, someone who is “50% mom, 50% dad, and 100% herself”, well, that’s just unspeakably cool.
Back in the early ‘80s, they were going with these new things called “birthing rooms”: comfortable bed in a wallpapered, home-like atmosphere, etc. I got to use one when our first made her global debut. For all the “coaching” classes we had, poor Bob was ultimately relegated to silence and the important task of providing me with ice chips.
No, as the title might suggest, I haven’t been gone in some foreign country for two years.
At this writing, Bob and I just returned home from a week-long extended family vacation in Maine where we all stayed in a huge old house (older than my own, fancy that, and in many ways, reminiscent of…) The week prior we were superlatively blessed to have our two-year-old granddaughter and her mommy (our eldest) with us before the four of us flew out to join our son-in-law and the rest of the crew.
Here’s what greeted me upon returning home from the airport this morning at 1:30AM…
It’s been about 30 years since I’ve had a toddler. I believe that one really doesn’t appreciate parents adequately until you have children of your own. Now, I’m thinking the same about the grandparenting experience, so here goes.
Open letter to my mom (now a great-grandparent several times over!):
Whenever we came to visit those, oh-so-many times, did you ever find yourself—
—cutting fresh peaches into small pieces for your own cereal?
—arguing with the Pack-n-Play about fitting back into the carrying case? (oh wait, you didn’t HAVE the convenience of Pack-n-Plays back then…!)
—Cleaning the oatmeal (or worse, as I remember…) from your Sunday outfit before church?
—locating a forgotten bag of (used) diapers upstairs after the house had been closed up for a week?
And did you start noticing how many horribly dangerous plastic bags there are in the world?? Sheesh, they’re EVERYWHERE!
Did you ever wonder if there is a heavenly equivalent to rocking your granddaughter to sleep on a patio with cool breezes gently blowing? (Or maybe that’s just a little piece of heaven that God allows for us to have down here.)
Hey, Mom, I continue to appreciate why you loved Erma Bombeck so much, with pearls of wisdom like,
“When a child is locked in the bathroom with water running and he says he’s doing nothing but the dog is barking, call 911”, and,
“Onion rings in the car cushions do not improve with time.”
I remember your wisdom as to why the knees always wore out in my long trousers, and now, thirty years later, how my knees just feel, well, worn out.
But one thing I know never wore out was, and continues to be, your prayers for us, a gift far too precious for adequate expressions of gratitude!
Mom, it’s not technically Mothers’ Day, but we would have no days at all without you. Thank you for teaching me to be a mother, and now teaching me how to be a grandmother.
I think it’s time to start ordering my own library of Bombeck classics. In fact, it’s on my “to-do” list for today, along with laundry, and picking up the dog from the vet, and cleaning the car…
(nah, just wait until the fragrance makes itself known a little more, right?)
This is such a cool poem. Right, I know that doesn’t sound very sophisticated, but since I’m not a poet, I’m satisfied with that assessment. Here’s why I like it: The author, Rose at http://seekingyoufirst.com/, has it tagged under “motherhood”, which intrigues me. I’m thinking (Rose, I’m willing to stand corrected) that the author came up against some crazy arguments about how staying home to raise your children is somehow a waste of potential skill and talent.
Like raising children doesn’t take skill, talent, and several more virtues besides? (Okay, now I’m just getting revved up. Best not go there.) Here’s from Rose, a poignant statement:
I Don’t Want This
What If I told you I don’t want this?
What if I told you I wanted to trade in for less…
Would you see me as weak?
Would I cease to be a pillar of strength?
Would I somehow become less intelligent?
I know this is what I’ve worked for,
But this is not what I want.
I’m not her, I am not that woman!
I don’t want this and I don’t want that.
I need more of…
What if I told you I want, no need, to trade in for less.