My 3-year old daughter once came up to me while I was sick in bed last year, a day before I got hospitalized due to pneumonia (among other things, really). As I stretched out my arms to lock her in an embrace, the scent of 2 bathless days reeked off me. “I smell bad,” I said. She looked at me with her big round eyes, held my face and said, “I smell God.”
Now how many of you are with me that a kid seeing – er, smelling – the good out of the bad puts our “matured” perspective to shame?
There are lots of coming-of-motherhood-age stories out there and each one stands out in how it teaches a thing or two about this beautiful season of parenting. As for me, who is no doubt a rookie in the child-rearing industry, I’ve got a couple of notes myself that hopefully would get you through whatever kind of day you’re having with your tot right now.
1. Ability is not a number. I am a solo [single], working mom. Others who see me pushing a stroller and carrying groceries all by myself may feel a little sorry that this young woman is doing this by herself. The stares people give me every time I’d pick up my crying child on the floor while my hair is all over my face used to get me thinking, “Who am I kidding? I can’t do this.”
You may feel alone now as well – depends on the situation – married but alone at home with the little one while the hubby is at work, alone because the kid is still in school, alone in front of your office computer watching your child via FaceTime, or even have people around you wherever you are but feel that you are alone anyway. Trust in the truth that you CAN do this. There is Someone who supplies you with this strength that you sometimes don’t know where it’s coming from. Your ability is not grounded on the number of hands you have or the limited amount of time you have to finish that endless to-do list. Your capacity to parent does not lie on how many books you’re trying to read just to make sure you’re doing the right thing, or how many loved ones you have around you to help you out. You can do this because you fiercely love that kid and would do absolutely everything in your power to raise him to what he was called to do. As long as you love your child, YOU CAN.
2. Don’t get stuck with numbers.
These are just numbers. It would make more sense if we add descriptions to them, right? So let’s do just that:
25 – My age.
4 – Approximate number of hours I have in a day for quality time with my kid.
4,000+ – Actual balance in my payroll account (and it’s what, the 1st of February?!).
2 – Hands I have.
If I look at my 2 hands, 4 hours of quality time with my kid since I go to work, insufficient funds, how young I am, and all the things I can quantify, oh man, I know I’ll tell myself I can’t hack this mothering stint. I can’t do it all. I can’t give it all to my daughter.
The beauty of numbers is that we can use them to scale – is this enough or is this lacking? Since we manage the home, among other things, numbers are essential. But when the quantity of something begins to matter more than who and how – we spend or use them on, it could be a problem. Dear reader, hear this: nothing will ever be enough. Timely, The Greatest Showman, one of the top movie hits this year, reminds us just that through Jenny Lind’s song Never Enough. Since this will always be true, go easy on yourself. Come into terms that most of the things we hope are enough will probably never be. But you’re enough. You have been given this calling by God because He’ll carry you through. In the lack of everything, He is our everything.
3. Enough with numbers already. You probably noticed by now that I’ve been stressing on numbers since point #1. Here’s why.
Are you keeping count of how many times your kid disobeyed you today? Are your thoughts going back and forth on how many hours (if you’re lucky) you have left to finish everything so you can do your groceries?
I’m not saying that time, amount, and anything number-related aren’t essential. What I’m trying to say is that sometimes, these numbers become our limit, the “cap” to what we can do, the ceiling of our faith. What if I told you that we can actually take these digits out of the picture and experience limitless belief in what’s to come?
If we embrace the fact that our kids will make x number of mistakes in the future, how great would it be that we’ll choose to love them indefinitely because of knowing this fact? That yes, they’ll fall short but since we know this, we will not keep a record of these wrongs. If we quit on that dream of putting them through the best school we know because our paychecks say we couldn’t afford them, what power are we giving those numerics over what we know is best for our children? What if we look at the clock and not see the numbers anymore so we won’t have to stop having quality time with them every time we seem to be “behind” our chore schedule? That we have tomorrow for it anyway and maybe none for our child in the years to come?
So come on, moms. Take a leap of faith with me here. Ditch the digits. Because the ceiling of motherhood should only be as high as the God who has placed us in it.