How does one begin to write about the big, chaotic, colourful, exhilarating, frustrating, rewarding, heart-breaking whirlwind adventure that is Motherhood?
After almost seven years of mothering two rambunctious chaps, I’ve come to the conclusion that no two mothers’ experiences are ever alike. It’s the little moments and the unexpected encounters and a myriad of factors that shape each woman’s completely unique journey of motherhood – and yet, we each make it work, in our own ways. Here’s a snapshot of my experience.
I’m sorry, that’s not a very creative title, is it? But really, it’s a post that I’ve been sitting on for a long time, and just didn’t feel confident enough to share. Now that we are almost halfway through the year (GASP!), I do feel like we have gained a little experience with primary school life – enough for me to share – and it’s also a good time to talk about this, as many K1 parents are probably losing sleep over this issue as 1 July draws nearer…
Growing up, I wasn’t the typical girly girl who wore frilly dresses and puffed sleeves and played lovingly with her Barbie dolls. Actually I was quite the tomboy, preferring comfort over ribbons and lace, and I chopped off my Barbies’ hair when I was about 6, then couldn’t deal with their hair loss, and promptly decapitated them and cast them down the chute – true, sad story.
But even as a little girl, I gravitated towards order and perfection, such as making sure my textbook covers were properly wrapped and uncreased, and using a ruler to draw lines on any paper before writing so that my words would always be straight. Looking back, I think those were my benchmarks of “beauty” back then. I wouldn’t say much has changed, although these days I am definitely very much in love with all things floral and sparkly.
In short, I had come to think of myself as a person who appreciates beautiful things. The glory of a golden sunset, of my child’s innocent smile, of the promise of crisp, new things and of words that touch the soul. Thus it came as quite a shock to me when I was recently challenged to examine my perspectives on beauty.
Silent night. The balls of crushed wrapping paper have been tossed into the bin, the opened gifts have been admired and rejoiced over, the boys are sweetly sleeping in their beds. Finally, time to sit and be still, after a day full of cheer and laughter, gifts and feasting, family and friends. Finally, alone.
I love lists. All my life, I have made list after list, covering everything from grocery runs to holiday packing to study schedules and wedding plans.
Whenever I am worried about something, I make a list to breakdown my insurmountable mountain into bite-sized points that I can wrap my head around. Sometimes my lists are physically written on paper, or the nearest napkin or receipt. Sometimes they just float around in my head.
Making lists doesn’t mean I always succeed in everything I do, that’s for sure, but they certainly help me stay calm and think of alternatives. Especially when the list I have already made becomes impossible, when things don’t go as planned…
Ten years ago, a group of us were invited to attend and lead worship at an international missions conference in the region. As I was serving in a music ministry at the time, it wasn’t an unusual request or the first time that I was part of such an event, but it is only years later that I am beginning to understand what a truly watershed experience it was for me.
Recently, it feels like I’m in a state of transition and limbo. Not alarmingly or distressingly so, but just, like SO. Part of me is at peace in accepting that life is always about change and uncertainty and new perspectives and goals. Then again, I also wrestle with those feelings of lostness and loss that are part of the journey.
Do you ever have moments like these? It feels like I’m on a bus headed somewhere. I don’t quite know where I’m headed, but I somehow know it’s someplace good yet uncertain. I have no itinerary for my bus route, so I don’t know where we are stopping at or for how long. I’m glad I have friends with me on the ride, but they are equally clueless about how we are getting to where we are supposed to go, and besides, we might be getting off at different stops along the way…
A wise pastor recently shared his own journey in recognising his personal inadequacies as a father, and in fact, how inadequate we all are as parents, and his words gave me much food for thought.
You see, I’ve never thought of myself as a perfect parent. I know all too well that what others see on my social media feed, and even on this blog, has been censored, filtered, painted in pretty words, no matter how raw or real. But the inner struggles of a parent are often not a pretty sight at all, and harsh words and unkind thoughts can’t be captured on camera. So no, I am definitely not a perfect parent.
But what struck me deeply about what he shared is that this is true of our own parents as well.
It has been termed by The New York Times as”the worst act of terrorism on American soil since Sept. 11, 2001, and the deadliest attack on a gay target in the nation’s history”. This morning’s brutal mass shooting in an Orlando nightclub claimed 50 lives and wounded 53. When I saw the headlines this morning, and took in the images of grieving friends and family of the bereaved, I almost didn’t believe that this had happened. After all, it was just two days ago that the world lost a talented young woman called Christina Grimmie to another deadly shooting.
I can almost imagine the shock and horror that the people of Orlando, and the US as a whole, must be reeling from. Then again, perhaps many are numbed by the many incidents of gun violence the nation has experienced over the months. But it doesn’t matter.
It’s not fair that we get to do baking on a clean kitchen floor without worrying about flour being spilt or cookies being burnt, when you are scrabbling in the rubbish heap for a stray morsel of bread.
It’s not fair that our drawers are bursting full of clothes, while you roam the streets half naked and wear the same torn shirt all year round.
It’s not fair that we can walk to the nearby park or playground any day of the week to scoot and cycle and run and play, while you step out onto your street at the risk of your very lives and limbs.
It’s not fair that we worry about teaching the boys to read, while you worry about just staying alive for one more day.
It’s not fair that we get to fight and make up and sometimes even go to bed angry, saying “we’ll talk about this again tomorrow”, while you never know when a bullet or bomb is going to take out your loved ones and friends this next instant.
It’s not fair – and sure there are things I could say about how God is a good God even though evil and suffering like this exists. This post is a great read. But tonight I just weep with those who weep and feel angry at the injustice and cruelty of it all. My tears won’t make a difference to their pain, but my hope is that our prayers will.
O God, do not keep silent; be not quiet, O God, be not still.