Monday, September 15, 2014

Mama Transitions #MindfulMotheringMondays

I'm laying on the couch, book in hand, nose in book. On my side, with Rosie tucked in the crook my body makes, her legs draped over mine. In one hand she clutches an ever-present baby doll. With the other she carefully traces the shape of my lips, her eyes watching as she makes her way around and around Mommy's mouth. It's Saturday and we're just nursing in the way we do these days.

She's eighteen months now. It seems hardly possible that my baby is picking up new words by the dozen each day and is growing into such a little sassy personality. My big kids, too, keep growing and changing. Every one of us seems to be in transition. I feel that gnawing feeling that I say this all of the time, and I know it's because I do. I keep waiting for that day when we just are just as we are, but the more I live and watch seasons and people grow and change, the more I realize that life is transition. And I'm not sure that ever truly stops.

The girls are sprawled on the living room floor, making cards "just because" for every person they can think of. Neighbors and cousins and friends and family, all carefully spelled out on colored construction paper trimmed with hearts and a well practiced "I love you" on each and every one.

The boys are out back, all three with a neighbor kid thrown in for good measure on a chilly fall day, tossing around a few footballs they found in the garage. Transition, transition. Jonah's first year of "real" school. Ben in middle school and Peter seeming every day more like a kid and less like my chubby baby.

Transition, no matter how lovely to behold, comes with it a certain ache. Change and time and endless adaptation to the new - it can rub your heart right raw. Mamas start out in that first confusing moment of pain and exhilaration and it seems like a paradox. How can something so difficult and scary and painful be the absolute apex of joy? We regard for the first time a mottled and squished squawking speck of humanity and feel it - fierce love, anguish, pride, fear. And we think that, by and by, it will change. Get easier somehow. Slow down to a steady and predictable daily pace. But it never really does. All of mothering is a mirror of those first moments. Pain side by side with joy. Fear and grief nestled gently with hope and faith. Desperate to succeed, fear of falling. Blinding, astounding, terrifying love.

We're human so we can get bogged down grasping at moments, trying to tug them close and keep them from slipping out of our hands. But the only way to hold them, even for a little while, is to live in them with gratitude. Knowing this day comes just once and loving it for what it is. My nursing relationship with this last little has an expiration date. Those boys out back won't always come in the kitchen door all loud and muddy every Saturday evening. The people my girls love will continue to grow and expand to include people we don't even know yet. This is only the beginning.

Some days are harder and we rush right through, ready to just be done with whatever it is we are facing. Not all moments feel like treasure. Not every day is one for the memory books. Not every day presents itself as once-in-a-lifetime. Life is hard and I would never stand here and say "just count your blessings!" because goodness, I know difficulties. I know that platitudes such as those don't mean much to a friend who's baby is in the NICU while she waits on the floor below, waiting for answers and aching to hold him. They fall flat to a Mama who goes home empty handed from the hospital with nothing but grief.

The thing is, the hard stuff in life doesn't make the good stuff less of a blessing. If anything, it showcases the magnitude of the graces that we are given. Her eyes on my face. My big girls humming echoing through the house. His 3 year old cheeks brilliantly red on a Fall afternoon. We can't keep the moments but we can acknowledge the miracles when we see them and live fully and presently in the time we have.

There's an ache to the change. But I can hold the ache together with joy and look across the years seeing just how He led us from day one. Through each change, over each mountain, guiding us gently home.

{It's Mindful Mothering Mondays, a day to take a deep breath and write out your mothering journey, whatever form it takes. A day to link up for encouragement from others who are in this same phase of life. A day of writing out the trials and triumphs and what you're learning right where you are, right now.

You might post recent struggles or thoughts. Maybe just a picture or a quote. Or maybe you'll just come here and read the links that others post. Whatever form your participation takes, this is a day for you.
We are all in this, together. Together, we can encourage and build one another up, be honest with our shortcomings and strengthened by community to keep fighting the good fight.

I chose Mondays because what Mama doesn't need a little encouragement on a Monday?

I hope you'll meet with me! Here's what to do ~

Link up your post below in the comments. Remember to put the link to the exact post you want to link, and not just your blog url. Include in your post a link back here so others who want to join in can find us! And visit some other Mamas who have linked up.

Post the community graphic within your post, so people who are reading your Mindful Mothering post can come back here and find the rest of us! You can use the hashtag #MindfulMotheringMondays on Twitter and Instagram to connect further.

Invite the writers of your favorite blogs to join in!

Share this meme with others on facebook and twitter. This community is for all moms, and the more that participate, the more we will be able to enjoy!!}

Grab the graphic here:


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Friday, September 5, 2014

Life Is More Than Lists {A Little Back To School Reminder}

It's the end of summer. We hold off on starting school a full week past what is normal for our area, but it still feels too early. Maybe it's because this summer never really heated up and we didn't spend a whole lot of time in that desperate pursuit of coolness. Maybe it's because, despite my yearly vows to keep our days free and open, every weekend seems to fill up one way or another. Or maybe it's just how it always goes. I never quite get everything in that I'd like to. I never quite manage to make it to the bottom of the check list of summer awesome.

But life is so much more than just a check next to an item line. At least, I want mine to be more.

I think about it while pulling out curriculum and making lists because oh, that's right, we are supposed to start school on Monday and I'll be teaching four kids four grades, with two others besides. I make my spreadsheets and I get it all organized on paper and it makes sense, color coded subjects by level and chore charts by difficulty. It's pretty and it's neat and it's so unlike real life that I think it may make more sense if I print it up and let the toddlers scribble on it in pen.

I try to remember that growing these kids in wisdom and grace isn't something you can check off a list. It's a daily practice that has to be claimed and worn each and every day. Some days easier than others. Some so messy and mangled that they more closely resemble my bin of mismatched socks than that pretty little spreadsheet in my google docs. I know that some days the only way I'll get to sleep is to hand our mess over to God and say "I did my best. You take the rest." Because it's really all I can do.

That's when something amazing happens. Life blooms in the cracks, in the margins of the check lists. In the unexpected and in the unplanned, we get a front row seat to the truth that our successes and the successes our children does not hinge solely on us. God's plan trumps our spreadsheets. He only asks that we trust Him and hand over every worry, knowing that He's bigger that any bad day we have.

These kids are amazing and He loves them more than I do. He takes my feeble human effort and blesses it like crazy and I can see how life is following His plan even if it's not following mine. I hand over my weaknesses and He fills the space with grace, day in and day out.

Summer is over, and I just know that this school year? This impossibly huge undertaking that is much too big for me to hold on my own? Is going to be great. Even if that list is long forgotten one week in.

"My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in 

weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my 

weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.

2 Corinthians 12:9

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Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Life Lessons From Knitting

{Putting the finishing touches on this Neverland Hoodie for my friend Kris' little guy. What are you working on?}
Knitting can be pure joy. Sometimes it's smooth and easy and just clips along at a quick pace, turning out better than you could have imagined. It looks lovely, drapes beautifully and is received by it's intended owner with the appreciation you hope for when putting so much time and effort into it.

But sometimes knitting is fraught with troubles from moment one. The gorgeous yarn you pick pools horribly, or is so splitty you are rejoining every other row. The weave is either too tight or too loose. You rip back at least once after an unclear pattern steers you wrong or you miss out on some tiny detail. It can be discouraging. Disenchanting. Disappointing.

You might set it aside for a few days, take a break to breathe and remember that knitting isn't actually out to get you. You might even leave it in the basket (or, if you're me, shoved in a corner somewhere) for a month, feeling a bit sick each time you think about taking it up again.

But the thing about knitting is it grows your patience. It fosters endurance. It requires resiliency, problem solving and acceptance. I'm not going to go right out and say knitting makes me a better person, but it gives me practice in a lot of the life skills that can just be so hard to pin down. In relationships. In life in general.

It reminds me to act intentionally, give things time to sort themselves out, not get too emotionally tied up in things that really don't matter. It reminds me persistence is a good thing, but taking a break can be just exactly what any given situation needs. It reminds me that some of the biggest tangles we find ourselves in can be solved just by taking the time and refusing to rush.

Sometimes a whole project needs to be ripped out, but it always has the potential to become something new. Knitting reminds me that patience, resiliency, hard work and imagination are valuable things to keep in your toolbox. Not just for knitting. For life.

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