#kinderdays = you're not gonna see much in the way of Ellie pics for today. So here's one from last week to tide you over:
#kinderdays = adventures with this little mate of mine:
Today we went for a drive out to one of my local happy places: Lake Learmonth. My boy had a stick and a toy digger, so it was his happy place too.
(And a "skate park".)
(And a playground.)
Getting out into somewhere quiet and still and not the shops is always a recipe for a good day and a refreshed perspective. Clear air, clear head. I spent the drive out reflecting on an article I read yesterday (this, if you're interested). She makes two interesting and (I reckon) very valid points:
1. In a self-centred world, having children seems like an inconvenience and a chore at best; the idea of "laying down your life for another" represents "everything our culture hates".
2. In truth, children are a gift; they are a blessing; they are a reward from God. And when we remember and appreciate this - "when we thank God for his blessings and we love, nurture, train and bond with our blessings - our lives are fuller."
As the article acknowledges, in the midst of nappies and tantrums and sleepless nights it's easy to feel like it's all too much.
What a great reminder that at those points we can lean on the Lord and thank him for giving us SO much.
"He must increase, but I must decrease."
- John 3:30
Who are we, who say, "Less of me, Lord, and more of you," to shake our heads at those who "lose themselves" in the service of motherhood?
Rather, I want to rejoice in it - for in losing myself, I find Christ.
Something else that's got me onto this line of thought: the comments coming up recently in various pregnancy groups along the lines of, "I'm excited about having this baby, but I can't wait to get back my body / brain / personal space..."
To which I find myself going, "AaaaaaHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAhhhh!!!!!"
Like things are going to go back to normal post-pregnancy! You're gorgeous!
Normal is over. Welcome to a whole new "normal".
A "normal" that changes as soon as you think you've got it figured out.
A "normal" in which you won't recognize yourself at all, at times.
A "normal" in which who you are is changing constantly, in accordance with the changing abilities and needs of your child.
(He's very pointedly hanging up on the birds with his snail-phone, because they're "being too loudy".)
"You see dis, guys?"
Let's face it, the body you have as a mother - regardless of how much or how little you work on it - is never going to be the body you had before. It might be as fit and healthy as ever. But it's changed, forever, in obvious and indefinable ways. You can despair, or you can love it and all it represents.
God gave you a body capable of the most amazing things. And look at what that blessing has given you.
The brain you have as a mother will be different, too. Your priorities will change, beyond anything you can imagine beforehand. Your focus will shift. You might forget to return calls, eat lunch, wash your hair, talk about anything other than your children... But you're an expert in the fields of your children's past, current, and possible future interests, needs, strengths, weaknesses, fears, triumphs, challenges, friendships, preferences, and, let's face it, bowel movements.
And making these things a priority - allowing them to take over from your awareness of current events, social trends, where you put your car keys - is service. Motherhood is service. Jesus washed his disciples' feet in a demonstration of service and humility. It didn't mean he was a pushover. It didn't mean he wasn't their leader. He taught them, he corrected them, he led them, he guided them... and he served them. No shame, no embarrassment, no holding back.
"And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me."
- Matthew 18:5
When we serve our children in humility and love... who do we serve?
Oh, and the "personal space" thing? Forget it. You don't get it back just because you're not carrying a baby around inside your body any more.
I've mentioned my "pregnancy is practice for parenthood" theory plenty before, and this is all part of it. All those hands touching your belly - husband, children, friends, family, doctors, midwives, sonographers, physiotherapists, colleagues, acquaintances, random strangers... not to mention the pokes and prods and middle-of-the-night hiccup sessions coming at you from the inside - are NOTHING compared to what comes after.
Sit down, and there's a child on your lap; or at least a child's legs tangled across your legs. Go to the toilet, and there's someone with freezing hands touching your knees and gazing disconcertingly deeply into your eyes. Dress nicely, and sticky fingers will touch you. Put sleeping baby down, try to creep away, and sleeping baby will immediately become VERY AWAKE BABY WHO SIMPLY MUST BE HELD UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE.
It's no wonder we hide in the pantry to eat Nutella from a spoon, or sneak away during Ben and Holly to urinate in peace.
But it's okay. It's all part of letting go of self. It's all part of "Less of me..."
And as we decrease, we don't become less.
Because as we decrease, there is room for Him to increase.
I'm not saying I'm good at this. I'm not as mindful, or as graceful, about this as I wish I was. Certainly third time around I'm finding it clearer to see, and easier to remember; less of a struggle, and more of a thing of joy. But that's not to say I'm good at it.
But it's a timely reminder. The world might shake its head at motherhood's inherent loss of self. But I'm raising children who are gifts from God. I'm responsible for some of God's children. And if I can remember to embrace this as the blessing it is...
Less of me, and more of you.
Less inconvenience, and more blessing.
Less of "too much", and more of "SO much".
Less of a struggle, and more of a thing of joy.