remember those idyllic hours spent pushing your little adorable kids on swings...
up. down. back. forth. high. low. pump your feet. "higher, mommy, higher!" or "i don't like this mommy. make it stop!"
i remember those joyous moments. i loved them. so i hope you enjoyed those trips to the park/backyard swing set. because you aren't done with that swingin' just yet.
i find that almost everyday my teens and i are still swingin,. only we aren't having quite as much fun. well, half of the time isn't the ride of my life. or theirs. here is a random sample drawn from the last 20 minutes of my life...
- love life---hate life.
- grown up---needing help to do the smallest task.
- best of friends---worst of enemies.
and the swing i am on the most is this one...
- "good" mom---"bad" mom.
one moment i think i have just done the BEST PARENTING JOB EVER AND WHERE IS MY TONY AWARD? (i do not think that my constant obsession with wanting to win a tony award in any way negates my "good" parenting.)
and then five minutes later i am in the pit of despair knowing that i have irrevocably messed up my teenagers forever and will spend the rest of my life visiting them in prison. or rehab. or they will be visiting me in prison. or rehab. either option seems viable to me at most given moments. and we know that nobody in prison wins tony awards. though several actors may have come from rehab...
which reminds me that we are closing in on my LEAST favorite holiday of the year...
really, i like arbor day more than i like mother's day. even april fool's day is a gleeful romp compared to mother's day.
maybe it is because my last two mother's days have been a little bit horrible. if by "a little bit horrible" you mean "i cried a lot in private. and some in public. and some at church during praise and worship time which makes me clearly look crazed and depressed."
so this article that arrived in my inbox was so timely. and showed me for the first time why my mother's days were not the stuff of hallmark cards and why it wasn't ALL my husband and my children's faults. and it got me off the swing of guilt---despair (for a few minutes.)
my (unbeknownst to her) bff elyse fitzpatrick states it so succinctly and so much better than i can in her article "happy daughter's day" ...
yup. i seem to swing between those two extremes. she goes on to explain...
Here’s what’s wrong with Mother’s Day (and every other celebration of our own goodness): Any time you seek satisfaction, honor, and glory in yourself you’re going to be dissatisfied—that applies to both women and men. Any time you look for someone to give you something that will make you feel like you’ve done a good job, or are finally a person of worth, you’re going to be disappointed.
We’re living under the law of Mother’s Day: If you’re good, you’ll get goodies. In the words of my daughter, “It’s the one day when I’m forced to look at either my own shortcomings (resulting in guilt) or the shortcomings of others who fail to appreciate me (resulting in discontent).” It’s the one day we’re told over and over that our identity as women is not rooted in the life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ, but in our own ability to be the source of life and goodness for all, when we judge whether we’re finally OK based on the response of others rather than by the gospel of grace. Mother’s Day is the Law and that’s why it breeds such discontent and guilt.
which is all the bad news. but here is the good news... and it is the gospel (you saw that coming, right? it was easier to predict than matilda's TWELVE tony nominations...)
The source of true happiness is not found in being praised or anything we have ever done. True happiness is found in dying to ourselves and celebrating what Christ has already done for us.
True happiness is here: It is found in Jesus’ work. The best gift any woman (or man) has ever received was given on another Mother’s Day: this one was 2,000 years ago in a borrowed feeding trough when God was born and nursed at a young mother’s breast. It continued to be given some 30 years later when that perfect Son of Man was nailed to a tree and his Father turned away from him while his mother wept. No Hallmark cards or saccharine sentimentality for Jesus. Nothing. Just blood and despair and an anguished “It is finished” for us.
from the depth of our sin to the height of His Love...
Whatever happens this Sunday remember this: You are loved. You are forgiven. You are righteous. Not because of anything you can do, but only because of what Jesus has already done.
i want to get off the swing of discontent and guilt. i want to rest as a contented daughter. loved. forgiven. righteous. because of what He has done.
not a "good" mom or a "bad" mom. a beloved daughter of the King.
not "the BEST mom ever" or "#1 mom" because one look at the stuff moms are putting out on pinterest (Lord, save us from ourselves and our craftiness.) or one glance at my instagram feed of joyful and beautiful moms whose kids are hugging them and praying with them (and taking a picture during the prayer? doesn't that negate the prayer?) one minute of reading status updates from teens posting all over their facebook walls about "my mom is the most awesomest superest coolest mom ever" and we all know that i am not the BEST mom ever. and matilda may win the #1 musical and i might have predicted it last year but that won't ever make me the #1 mom.
i can't ever measure up to that standard. and that standard is actually a lie. awesomest, superest, and coolest are not the standard for mothering.
the real standard is dying to self. loving the unlovable. saying "no" when it earns you ire. saying "yes" when it means you won't get to bed until WAY after your preferred bedtime.
knowing that sometimes the awesomest mothers don't get the hugs. or the praise. or smiles. cards. or acknowledgements here on earth.
the bestest mothers are those who so desperately want to see the seeds they have planted sprout into that full beautiful flowering harvest. and even when those seeds don't sprout. when they are carried away by the birds. or just laying unopened in the soil. those mothers just keep sprinkling seeds. on a dry and thirsty, weed infested patch of dirt. and praying for the rain. always praying for the rain.
the math of motherhood isn't #1... it is is a thousand glasses of spilled milk cleaned up while laughing. a thousand tears wiped away with your sleeve. a thousand fingernails and toenails cut in one week even though you hate toes. a thousand prayers whispered over sleeping children. a thousand times setting the table even though they are "out with friends" but "might show up" in time for dinner. a thousand beds made because they "forgot" again. a thousand times laying your hands on a closed door as you walk by their bedroom and charging a HOST OF ANGELS to protect them, to surround them, to sing over them. a thousand mornings waking up and your first words are "hosanna. save today Lord. save today." a thousand nights going to sleep and resting sweetly because you know only He is enough. for me. for them.
it isn't cool that makes a mother. it isn't awesome. or super.
it is grace.
besides if my children did post those awesomest, coolest, superest comments and tagged me on facebook (or prayed over me whilst i was taking an instaphoto) i would know for sure they were on mind altering drugs and then we have some more issues to deal with. besides the pride i would feel that they had posted that wonderfully affirming status update. yes, i would feel pride in that status declaration of "best mom ever" even though i knew they were on drugs. i am a complicated bundle of neurosis aren't i? who let me write a blog?
i plan to spend mother's day off the swing set. i am tired of scaling the heights and the depths. i am dizzy. my legs hurt from pumping. and my arms hurt from holding on so tightly to things that don't matter.
dying to self and celebrating what Christ has already done for us is a much better way to spend mother's day than crying in your closet because you a) know you don't deserve the goodies. you are not the #1 mom. or b) being discontented because you didn't get what you "deserve" on this day that honors the greatness that is your mothering.
expect to swing low. sweet chariot.
and expect the gospel message ALONE to give you the strength to jump off that swing and to fly through the air into the waiting arms of your Heavenly Father who loves you and catches you every time...
and expect these cards to make you laugh...