“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.
My nine yr old, firstborn daughter found this post tucked in your blog. We had both missed it somehow. We both appreciate your family life. You have a way of capturing the beauty of motherhood. Thank you for writing words that my heart has been processing for years. It is a comfort to understand and be understood. It is a joy to follow Jesus.
The realization that you have birthed real people is a heart-stopper!
But the beginning of the deepest friendships and most valued career you may have ever known.
So beautiful! Sensitive Mama – you are living a great example! Christ in you……
You do not know me. We have never met and we probably never will “meet” (at least not on this side of glory :). I live just outside of Chicago and stumbled across your blog in a meandering sort of way several years back (you know how the internet is with all it’s links and clicks). I have returned to read your blog numerous times over the last few years, and have always appreciated how you share your heart and how, as already mentioned, you capture the “beauty of motherhood.” And to that I would add, the beauty of a mother submitted to Christ.
God has blessed my husband and me with three precious children. One of them, N, who would’ve been five in January, is with the Lord, the other two, S and P, are with us. They are 3 and 1, respectively. Needless to say, because of our similar life-circumstances, I relate to so much of what you say and appreciate all that you share as you are ahead of me in so many ways.
I could say so much, but I’ll stop because I really just wanted you to know that the Lord has used you to encourage me so many times on this journey of mothering. Me, who you don’t even know, who lives in an entirely different region in this big country of ours. This post about our children being “real people” is truly a “heart-stopper.” I found myself choked-up, welling-up and convicted as it really struck me too that “they’re real people.” Those two little ones snoozing away (finally) in their room are real people. And not only that, but they’re not mine – they are His.
Thank you for being a woman of God and for always bringing it back to Christ. To Him be the glory!
Your sister in Christ,
P.S. You write so beautifully!