It is not by accident that God sent my third child, Faith, to me when she was already three years old. Although I find babies adorable, meeting their minute to minute needs is not one of my strong suits. God knew (because He knows everything) that as much as I love being a mom and as much as I relish the memories of my boys as infants and toddlers, my mommy-powers were better spent beyond that time in childhood.
In fact, natural nurturers always amaze me: those women who swoop in and help quiet screaming babies or squirming toddlers, who can get eye to eye with a preschooler and talk them into eating the food you have prepared without negotiation or bribery. Even in my 15 years as a child care provider and preschool teacher, the actual hands on caretaking never came naturally. I had to study technique and work really hard at being good at it. Those sweet little kids taught me an awful lot, and without a doubt helped me to be a softer, gentler, and definitely more attentive person – which in turn, I feel made me a better mom. Yet, I was still not focused on mothering.
Once I started studying and growing in knowledge of children and their development, I then wanted to share what I was learning with others. So when my sons were 3 and 6, I decided to return to school. Maybe some of you can relate to this time in my life when I had a full-time childcare and adult-ed teaching business, two small children, a full graduate level work load, along with the usual household tasks to manage and all my volunteer obligations. I was exhausted but too stubborn to admit it or give any of it up, never mind think to ask for help.
See, I am not one to half put myself into something; I go “all in” but there is only so far all of me can stretch. Unlike that He-Man stretch doll my brother had growing up – eventually in me something has to give. Usually it is my family; maybe I choose them because I believe they will always forgive me when I fail to live up to my responsibilities or expectations. Expectations, I might add that I have set for myself. My family doesn’t set yearly goals and hold a performance review, where I am either promoted or demoted. Nope, that insane overscheduled calendar and pressure to juggle every ball without dropping a single one was all self-imposed, and it remained that way for many years. Until, I stopped trying to do it all alone and allowed God into my life.
Danielle Bean’s title for Chapter 6 in Momnipotent, “Giving Till it Hurts…Everyone,” actually made me Laugh Out Loud. Yup, I LOL’d not just at the title (and most of the chapter because Danielle has a great sense of humor) but in the fact the Holy Spirit allowed this to my chapter to reflect on. The Holy Spirit has an uncanny way of smacking me (often) with the proverbial spiritual 2×4 right between the eyes. Funny Holy Spirit. In a clear example of “Godcidence” (Allison’s phrase for the coincidence that clearly God has orchestrated), the assigning of this chapter to me, at this current point in my life, was truly God giving me that gentle little loving nudge to remind me, you are moving right back to that ‘supermom cape wearing’ place again. My plate is full again while my family stays hungry.
The child care may be closed and those babies are now 18, 15, and 8 but they still require mothering, and their father still requires husbanding. This chapter forced me to relook at my priorities and workload – both in my new career in Catholic ministry and my evolving domestic duties. Am I balancing, not in the “clown on the unicycle with the plates on his nose” way, but in am I taking care of me, my family and work responsibilities without losing sight of God, my health, and my sanity? In reviewing Danielle’s very poignant questions on page 106, I had to ask myself (note: these are a paraphrase of the end of the chapter questions):
To Ponder, Reflect, and Discuss:
BONUS FEATURE... My interview last Friday with Danielle Bean - we discuss parenting, my bad tech habits, and more!