I gave this little devotional at our MOPS meeting a few weeks back. I thought I’d share it with you, my lovely readers. -Enjoy
“May She who gave (you) birth, be happy.” Proverb 23:25
What!?! If happy means “content, settled, at peace, restful…” then I haven’t been “happy” since well.. .since I gave birth the first time.
My first birth experience was insanity and I would rather not remember. What I do remember, however, was that I was completely and totally overwhelmed and in awe. I was humbled and trusting in the Lord and was terrified yet overwhelmingly empowered. I specifically remember standing barefoot, in the snow, on my back deck talking to my mom on the phone. I was in tears and lamenting my colicky, not sleeping baby, my slow healing surgery, the dozens of college students in my business ALL THE TIME, and I said “You did NOT tell me what this was really like.”. She responded “You wouldn’t have done it if I did.” So I promptly hung up the phone and sobbed and eventually returned to my still screaming child and exhausted husband with a new found determination to do this thing!
I was definitely NOT happy. Well, unless happy means awe, trust, strength and determination.
The Toddler & Baby years were better, and worse. I had the happiest infant in the world. Slept through the night at 5 weeks and didn’t look back. Fussed for a purpose, ate like a bird, no more 1 hour nursing sessions in the middle of the night…. And then a toddler… who is ever happy with a strongwilled toddler? I was frustrated and angry and was forced to face my own weakness in nearly every minute of his waking hours, add to it a husband who was out of state working for weeks at a time. I ate too much and slept to little. In that moment I had nothing but surrender, I absolutely could not do it alone. Anyone who knew me then, knew that I was certainly NOT happy. Unless happiness meant growth beyond imagination and complete surrender to God.
“He is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid a foundation in the rock; and when a flood came, the torrent burst against that house, and could not shake it. Because it was well built.” Luke 6:48
I might venture to guess that the “happy” referred to in that verse from proverbs is more along these lines. Happiness in parenting littles comes from laying that firm foundation of “hygiene, sleep, healthy habits, a loving family and following Christ. It might not be “happy” but it’s certainly “joy” in the truest sense.
Parenting big kids: whoa dude. That rock, that foundation we built and you are building now, is an every present part of my day. Those torrents of friendships, choices, business, slam away at my kids and my family like a hurricane at times. There are MANY MANY MANY moments that I long for those unhappy toddler years where misbehavior or disrespect can be handled with a time out or a nap.
I quickly found my stay at home mom self completely overwhelmed with big kid life, so I found things for my kids to do all in the name of helping them, or socializing them, or giving them skills. But really it was mostly about me. Church activities (every single one we could do) Soccer practice, swim lessons, dance class, piano lessons, gymnastics, all helped them learn skills and helped me to feel normal, less out of control, and perhaps, in the beginning, we were trying to create a firm foundation for our children. Necessary life skills, exercise, finding their passion, loving and serving GOD and the church!!
A few years later… I found myself with my head spinning ALL THE TIME. I barked orders, I said “hurry:” at least 100x a day. I was all consuming this “busy.” The 2nd time the crawling baby went headfirst into the swimming pool at swim practice, I knew I had to do something different. This life I’d so carefully constructed was chaos!
This job we’ve been entrusted with is HUGE AND MESSY!
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you, I have called you by name, you are mine.”. 43:1
So we made a family choice, a counter cultural one I’m sure. We chose unhappy, we chose boredom, and too much time at home. We pulled out of year round swim (partially to save the baby’s life), and partially because he didn’t LOVE it. We said goodbye to TKD because we missed family dinner way to often. We quit dance, slowed down on piano and made VERY calculated decisions about church involvement. We are slowly working on OUR name. Our family name. What does it mean to be part of this family. What do we stand for, what values do we believe in?
We are slowly beginning to learn what Isaiah is speaking to. God called both myself and my children by name, not by talent, or skill or resume or report card but simply by the name written on our very souls. The name HE gave them. My kids deserve to tap into that name. I wish for them to not be so busy that they cannot hear that voice that calls them to greatness, (or mediocrity). I pray that the noise of life doesn’t stand in the way of who they are meant to be.
Our children still do things that they love or things that are good for them. Connor plays rec soccer (instead of competitive) and takes piano lessons. Shannon plays piano and does girl scouts. We are in a mother daughter book club, which means that EVERY SINGLE night we read a book together. OH MY GOSH I LOVE IT!!
In our family we have a favorite song. Its VERY CHEESY and my husband says way too hippie but he secretly likes it too. We listen to it in the mornings when we are getting ready for school, or in the car when the toddler requests it for the 4000 time that day.
A few lines go:
“You were born with endless love inside you, the whole world is calling you name…. You are powerful beyond imagination, you are made of indellible light, who is gonna change the world for the better, you just might.” – Robbie Schaeffer
If I can leave you with one take away it’s this, Be intentional NOW. Create your family identity, do not let it be created for you and don’t’ wait until your oldest has only 7 YEARS LEFT at home to do it. HAVE MERCY!!
Do not let the unhappiness or the chaos of these young years become years of enduring or escaping as I did. We have been called by name, God knows where we can from where we are going and who we ARE. My prayer for myself is to give myself space. Space to be me, and space for my kids to be them.
“I am here to remind you, you are beautiful.” -You are beautiful – Robbie Schaeffer