Aug 8, 2011

Myopic Motherhood

It seems like my world revolves around nap schedules and diaper changes, and my brain seems consumed with the one pressing question: Why is she still getting up 4 times a night?  What can I do to help her sleep on her own?

In my bible study last week, I was sharing that sometimes motherhood feels myopic to me.  Until 7 months ago, my focus was on hundreds of children.  Now it is on one.  Don't misunderstand me… I LOVE being Cora's mama.  Every single day I am thankful that I get to spend my time with her, and I am soaking in every single moment. 

But the monotony of motherhood - the diapers, feedings, naps, laundry - sometimes rattles me.  I'm silent on this blog nowadays… mostly because I feel like I have nothing to say.  (And little time to say it.)  I know that is a lie, planted in my head by the one who wants to dishearten me from my task.  But it is hard to feel valuable, meaningful, and relevant when I am spending considerable portions of my day scanning the floor for potential choking hazards.

(Because she will find them.)

I know what I'm doing matters.  I know it is the most important job I could have right now.  I know all the right things we mama's say to each other.  And I do know they are true.  But some days there is a disconnect between what I know and what I feel, and what I feel is sometimes that I have lost a bit of myself somewhere along the way… lost the part of me that has a big heart for the forgotten and an energy and a drive to make a difference.  It's a little scary, confusing, and even discouraging at times - I just don't feel like I have much to emotionally offer to the causes I was so passionate about just a few short months ago. 

I guess that's why I feel motherhood can be a bit myopic.  All my focus on one, when part of my heart still desires to focus on the others.  But last week, in my study of 1 Peter for bible study, a particular passage jumped out at me.  It was an odd one - the first time I read it, I honestly thought that it didn't even apply to me, so I skipped ahead.  It's about elders… But then for some reason I came back to it.  (Actually the reason is that this particular study has us reading and journaling about a few verses a day.  You can't really skip a section you don't think is applicable when it is THE section you are supposed to focus on for the day.  It's good for me, because what tends to happen is I find the most conviction/life-change in the passages I initially write off as irrelevant.  Funny how that works.)
Care for the flock that God has entrusted to you.  Watch over it willingly, not grudgingly - not for what you will get out of it, but because you are eager to serve God.  Don't lord it over the people assigned to your care, but lead them by your own good example.  And when the Great Shepherd appears, you will receive a crown of never-ending glory and honor.   
-1 Peter 5:2-4
Willingly, not grudgingly… oh to always have this attitude.  For me, motherhood is the epitome of servanthood; and being a servant isn't glamorous and it doesn't get you acclaim.  I so often struggle with feeling inadequate; not as smart and talented as I once was or as my peers who are still "in the trenches" of orphan care, the workplace, or any other responsibility that doesn't center around a baby. 

But in this passage, God spoke loud and clear to me.  When I'm changing Cora's diaper, or rocking her to sleep, or feeding her in the middle of the night, I'm serving HIM.  Not an earthly boss, but the God of all Creation. 

I'm reading Sacred Parenting by Gary Thomas right now.  It's a great book, not about how to raise your children, but about how raising your children shapes your soul.  Powerful and convicting stuff.  In it, he says anger towards infants is rooted in inconvenience to the parents.  So very true.  The other night, I was rocking Cora for an hour straight!  She STILL wouldn't go to sleep!  I had plans for my evening, for that sacred time after she was asleep, and they were all falling apart with each minute that ticked by.  At one point, I wanted to scream at her: JUST GO TO SLEEP!  And with that I realized, God is using this season of my life to weed out not only pride, but also my self-centeredness.  Putting the "other" before myself is the chief task of motherhood.

But if we're being honest, isn't it the chief task of the Christian walk as well? 

And then it hit me… Being Cora's mama isn't myopic.  It is training ground for a deeper way; a higher calling.  I truly believe God is wanting to develop in me a mother's heart - not just towards my own daughter and my future children, but towards all the people he puts in my life.  My prayer these last few days has been that God will use this season of parenting Cora… a season of high needs and constant demands and never-ending attention… to create in me a nurturing, loving, life-giving, and self-sacrificial heart towards all that He puts in my path. 

What would the world look like if we served those around us the same way we served our children?  Joyfully, with no accounting, no question of whether or not it is deserved -- just served, open-hearted and open-handed, in whatever relationships He puts us in? 

It'd be revolutionary.

13 comments:

Tara Anderson said...

One of my favorite posts you've ever written. :)

Lisa said...

I'm so glad I checked in on you today! This is exactly where I'm at these days. I want to adopt again, do fundraisers or go on mission trips. You know, do "something important" for the orphans around the world. But my days consist of planning a home school year, cleaning, laundry and preparing meals. Thanks for the reality check. God always uses you to speak to my heart!

SarahTien said...

I hope you believe yourself! Beautiful, inspiring, convicting, and so many others!! You are living in the trenches believe it or not!! Thanks for making time to share!

thewindowwasher said...

Carrie you are so wise for a new mama. I went from teaching a class of 23 2nd graders pretty successfully to being the mama to one little pumpkin. I couldn't believe one small human could rule my world the way she did. It is such a learning curve and I think you are right on, God can use those times and seasons to refine us! A wonderful and encouraging post even for this mom who has been in the trenches for 15 years. :-) Thank you for sharing!

Valerie and Jeff said...

What a beautiful post--God is using you that is for sure even if I times you may feel otherwise. Your job is the most important one out there even though it so often times isn't given a second glance by others. Jesus would see otherwise--and yes, motherhood is certainly servanthood! (With lots of icing on it when the kisses and hugs are flowing.)
Hugs!

Sharie said...

Carrie this is beautiful. I am a working, single mom and my only child is nearly 7, but I still feel like every minute revolves around her. When I'm at work I think about her, when I have a break I'm scheduling or fitting in appointments for doctors, making lists of what needs to be done when I get home, filling out school paperwork.
One thing that is so easy to forget as moms is that we are MUCH better mom's when we take care of ourselves too. So don't be afraid to take a break, schedule a date night, find a mom to trade care with and just take time to lose yourself in a book. It is something I am working on and it isn't easy, but it is time well spent.

Laine said...

I agree with everyone, Carrie! You are learning this much earlier than I did...and I'm STILL learning it!

You know that you will pass on to Cora the things that break your heart and that fill your heart, and she will catch it and then pass it on to her children, and from generation to generation His goodness and grace will be told and spread. His purposes in one little mom, one little daughter, one little hour of rocking, one little bottled fed, one little creeper getting into mischief....we cannot fathom His purposes in these days, but we know He is working! Every little way you serve, every BIG way you serve...it's holy ground.

AND while I'm on a roll...:)
I do believe that in His timing, He places right in our laps the things He wants us to do in His Kingdom. Sometimes its mission work overseas, or mission work in our very own family, or work we can't find the mission in--but He knows.

I've been thinking of you so much! Especially lately... Probably will email you later...

Kathy said...

I always love what you have to say-and this is no exception. you may feel like you don't have lots to say, but I think you do! In some ways you say what many of us think but just can't seem to put into words:-) I will have to read that book-sounds right up my alley, and stuff I need to be reminded about over and over! I know that something God has shown me over the years is that parenting is so much about developing my character-and I joke(although I think He's quite serious!) that He keeps sending me more kids because there's obviously more of my character to work on!

blessings,
Kathy

Amy said...

Wow. This definitely hit home with me tonight. Thanks.

Kendra said...

I love this post. It was such a huge blessing to me. I have 3 boys (6, 4 and almost 2) and need to be reminded to focus on the important, not just the "urgent" things. And, all of it is ministry.

I help teach a class for new first-time moms (most babies are 3mo or less). I hope you don't mind but I shared part of your thoughts this morning with them. If you don't mind, I will like to point them back to your blog as well as many of the ladies mentioned to me after class how much they needed to hear these words this morning.

Thanks again!

Carrie said...

Thanks for all your comments... they are encouraging, inspiring, and help me to know I'm not the only one who feels this way. @Kendra - feel free to share with whomever you like.

Jen said...

You are getting so wise. i am a mom who works outside the home, while I'd rather just be at home. Still, I can relate to what you are saying. Just getting back into the classroom after summer break - there is so much to do at night for work - and then there's little Emma who is stressed because of her schedule change from being with sah-summer- mom to being taken care of by others - needing me at night more than usual. Sigh. Torn between two worlds here...

Anonymous said...

My daughter didn't sleep thru the night until I was willing (at 9 mos old) to take the advide of many wonderful moms who said, "She has to learn to soothe herself to sleep so that she can soothe herself BACK to sleep in the night. Put her to bed after lots of love and kisses and a little rocking in the chair. And, yes, let her cry those first few nights. She will learn what to do." It almost KILLED me to do it, but they were so right. She cried 30 minutes the first night, 15 or so the next, 5, then 3, then 30 seconds, then just started going to sleep. And she didn't wake us up in the night after that unless she was sick. She learned to go to sleep on her own and was not dependent on endless rocking and nursing. It was one of the BEST things I did as a mom. She's 17 now. :) I taught my second child to go to sleep on his own much earlier! And he was still and cuddlebug and still is at age 12!
Just thought you might want a bit of advice that will change your life (literally, a full nights sleep makes one a different person!).
Love your blog!
Teresa (mom of 2)

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