Thursday, April 19, 2012

capable: a letter

Dear Mama,

I don't know what stage of this mothering life you're in. Maybe you hold the dream of mothering in your heart but your hands are empty, for now. Or your body has been taken over by a thumping, kicking, nausea-inducing, skin-stretching little being who will soon rock your world. Or you've finished a mountain of paperwork and had your privacy invaded and you're growing a sweet little one in your heart; gestation length unknown. Maybe you're ravenously eating something while you nurse your newborn, in survival and sweetness all at once, drinking fast gulps of sleep like it's water. Maybe you're like me, in the lukewarm coffee, carpet-of-toys, aching over one baby in school and the other becoming a toddler, oh no this is going by too fast stage. Maybe your kids are now impossibly tall and consuming impossible amounts of food, and I could learn a thing or twelve from your experience. In any case, we're in the thick of it aren't we? This is tricky--it looks so easy from the outside and yet we feel ill-equipped to do this sacred job justice; we keep getting in the way of ourselves.

My kids are little, and I already want to start over. I want to have been as patient with my five year old as I'm able to be with my one year old. It's already too late for perfection; it was too late on day one. I'm a slow learner, but now I know, now I get it--how fast this all goes. The loud toddler protests and the wide hippo-mouthed cries will pass, his brain will change and he'll become reasonable, and this magical non-word language we have right now will be replaced with plain English. And I will be glad for that as well I suppose, but there's no going back. That's just it, isn't it? We don't get everything at once, that's the bittersweet truth.

We shine and we fail. One minute I'm living in the mystery and beauty of it all, drizzling laughter and silliness and generosity over the mundane like chocolate syrup on vanilla, and then what do you know? I'm yelling, frustrated to the max and where the heck did that come from?

Even so, there are some really special God moments to be had. There are help, I don't know how to do this moments, in which I am humbled to the dust, fully aware of just how human and frail I am. There are the times you hear a new steadiness and strength in your voice, feel it in your steps, and you think oh, thank you. I needed this help today. All these things you're doing now, all the sacrificing of time, the biting your tongue--it will matter to them, at some point. Apologize, stay soft, be vulnerable, be steady even if it means going slow, embrace that mama bear strength, wisdom whispers, because no one can mother your children the way you can.

There's really no separation between giving and receiving, I'm starting to realize; just inflow, outflow, inflow, outflow.  And I've come to believe, finally, that they benefit from the real me. Not the future, perfect me (ha) but me, right now. I'm slow to learn, but this is how God is parenting me right now, with this freeing knowledge. This is how he is smoothing over my rough edges. I am more gentle with them when I am gentle with myself. I'm learning to move forward without despising the precious right now. Sit back, take a deep breath and feel God smile over your work, over all you are learning and teaching.

I feel like I learn the same things over and over, every day. Fresh air always helps, laughter always helps, gratitude over the little things will save your sanity, you can't say I love you too much or listen too closely or inhale their scent too many times or choose the mess too many times and no one, no one can mother your children the way you can.

You are capable.

Encouragement for mothers in the trenches? Um, yes please. Learn more about Mother Letters here. You can also read more letters, write your own, and get the e-book. I love this project!

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