About Me

 

 The greatest thing we can do is to show up for our lives and not be ashamed.

 -Anne Lamott

 

I'm a creature of the word, learning to tell my honest story.

I offer it here because telling stories is the road back home.

Motherhood is not a biological designation
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Sunday
May132012

A letter to my sister as she becomes a mommy for the first time

Dear Brett,

Even though I have four wee ones, and you are getting ready for baby #1, I don't feel like I have much advice to offer. You have to find your own path; you will walk your own mothering journey. And you already have such good guides, and a humble husband.

But I guess if I could say one thing, it would be this: let the cracks widen.


My therapist says we all have fault lines in our souls; we have these places where we're cracked and gaping, and really quite broken- places we try to bridge, or plug up, or hide altogether. 

When you become a mom, you submit to two dimpled baby hands grabbing hold of either side of your cracks, and pulling them apart.

It's utter exposure right where you feel weakest. And the natural tendency is to seize those prying little hands, and place them back in little laps before they can do any damage.

But the beauty, sweet sister, is that the wider the crack, the more the light gets in.

 

Motherhood is submitting to being split wide open. 

Because children blow the illusion of having it all together to bits.

When I think about my most difficult times as a mother, it's when I've tried to act like I've still got it all together. Like I'm one whole seamless person- shellacked perfection.

And then, when my children refuse to cooperate with my illusion, I get angry; I try to will them into obedience (which is really just forced compliance with how I think things should look...and who made me God?)  They're blowing my cover, exposing my fault lines, and I tremor with the coming earthquake of my undoing.

Let the earthquake happen, sister (because, in the end, it will give you stronger ground to stand on).


If you can, pray for the grace to be still, and hold the cracks before the Lord, and ask him, "Can you shine your light here? What do you want to reveal?"

It's so humbling to be a mom.
To have the things the world calls weak, shame the strong; the foolish things trump the wise.
The last to be first.
The little children to lead.

Motherhood has split wide open all illusions I had of patience, of compassion, of selflessness. Of competence. 

And oh, I fight it. I fight having to admit how little I know, how often I am at the end of my rope, how much I feel like I'm stumbling in the dark hoping I somehow get it right by default.  

 

There aren't many rules for good mothering; the very idea that one could define "good mother" is part of the problem, not the solution.  

The best rule, maybe the only rule, that I could stake my life on is this: love covers over a multitude of sins.

The only thing that bridges fault-lines is love.


Instead of striving not to get angry, never to yell, never to make a bad judgment call, spend that energy learning how to get down on your knees, look your little babies in the face, and tell them, "I am sorry. Mommy needs Jesus' help to love well. Will you forgive me?" and then ask them to pray for you.

This is what they will remember, not the anger or the "failure," but the beauty of their mommy modeling humble dependance on the Lord's grace, and the bravery of vulnerability.
And the realization that we're all on this journey together, and just because they're the children doesn't mean we don't need their help, and their wisdom.

 

Motherhood is a moment by moment exercise in relinquishment.

You know not what you thought you knew. You are not what you thought you were.
And (to paraphrase Khalil Gibran), your children come through you, but they are not from you, and they do not belong to you.

I pray for you to have the courage to stand at the edges of your fault lines and teeter between holding on and letting go...it's such a dance of tenacity.

I pray that you would embrace the loss of control, the very humbling realization that we walk by grace, not by sight. We have no idea how to lead well, how to love well, how to be a "good mom."

 

Let the cracks happen.

Instead of using your precious energy grasping both sides of your fault lines and trying to hold them together to maintain the unbroken facade, let the brokenness happen.

We love, and we lead, not by what we say, but by letting our children put their chubby little fingers in our wounds, and pry until they know that what we say is true.  

Our wounds, like Jesus', are the proof of love.

Our wounds, like the holes in his hands, are the reason they believe we know what it's like to be human.

 

it is the sacrifice of honest brokenness which is the greatest gift. And the most difficult to give.  

The mess, dear Brett, is what is beautiful.

The cracks are how the light gets in.

 

Love,

your sister

 

Reader Comments (1)

This is lovely but please reference Leonard Cohen, who said it first.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_e39UmEnqY8

May 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLisa

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