“It’s not about you.”
(Name that book.)
How simple is that? And how profound? And how daily, momently, do I hit my head right up against that truth?
I’m leaving behind the “Mom of Littles” years. The growing pains of bursting through that old skin have certainly been there in the last year, as Jameson stretches, William close behind, me last to the party, still trying to cram them into a pre-school sized compartment. I was kind of comfortable with babies and toddlers and managing little people. Sure, it was hard work, but it was familiar. Couldn’t we just hang out there for awhile? Maybe forever?
Part of the shifting has been seeing these boys grow and realizing this is their real life. Like, what they’re doing right now. It’s their life. (I know. Genius revelations happening over here.) But really. This isn’t just My Life: The Little Kid Years. They are real people thinking real thoughts having real struggles and you don’t just shut the bedroom door at night and sigh deep and crash on the couch and that’s that. No, they’re on their beds thinking their own thoughts. Thoughts about life and God and how the day went and what they’re feeling and why did Mom talk to me that way and is evil real and how come I always mess up and I hope I get that Lego set.
There was some summer day, as I watched lanky boy walking along in front of me, laughing at jokes with growing-taller brother, that I realized deep in my soul, “They are not a chapter of my life. I am a part of theirs.”
Of course, I knew all this. I mean, if this was just about my life, I would probably ask to rewrite the chapter — add a bit more sleep, a bit less puke, maybe scratch out the part about stretch marks. I knew as I stared at my brand new baby the first moment I was suddenly a mother that I held a person in my arms — but watching him stretch into tall boy, hearing him process his life… He is a person.
So, it’s not about me on this theoretical level.
But it’s also not about me on a practical level: I would rather be managing toddlers. Drink more juice, go to bed, pick up the blocks, time for a puzzle, Mama said no… I like order, and while having toddlers may seem like an insane definition of “order”, I really do call the shots for those first several years.
Then there’s this new creature who suddenly appears, and he’s baring his heart to me in the middle of vacuuming, and next thing I know we’re sitting on the kitchen floor for 45 minutes talking. Suddenly, listening can’t be done with 15% of my attention, because he’s a person and that’s not how people should be treated by their own mothers. And those arguing brothers are suddenly begging for me to sit down with them and let them spill tears and voice hurts and let me teach them to repent and forgive and to treat hearts with deepest care.
And knowing that all of these eurekas don’t require that I run out and buy a new slew of books on “loving the middle years”, subscribe to a whole new set of blogs, or throw out all previous methods to learn new big kids tricks.
Nope. All I really need to do is realize It’s not about me. I must decrease. He must increase. My ear needs to hear the whisper of the Holy Spirit more than ever. My eyes need to see the way He sees. My heart needs to overflow with prayer and compassion and truth and love, ready to pour out in nurturing word and deed. My time needs to be purged of all selfish claims, available to invest energy and service into other people.
This isn’t about me living out my story. Oh, no! What a small, sad story that would be. But how amazing that if this small seed of me is allowed to fall into the ground and die, life could spring forth! How amazing that here, in this very house, real people are being raised up, and God takes the seed of my life and allows it to bear fruit in theirs.