Tis been so long

It is quite possibly 14 years since I have stepped into this suburban city pool. The girls are splashing around and my man is cutting laps. This is where my boy did a Vicswim program at age 3 or 4 and well, he refused to get in the water after day one. Perhaps not a big deal, but when you are juggling a toddler and baby this kind of stubborn behaviour makes everything go pear shape pretty fast.

Nowadays I write and read pool side. Last year I managed to complete an entire MOOC while the kids swam each week. But I feel for the young Mums, anxiously supervising wet kids, swim lesson meltdowns and their own entry into the water. Do you remember? When you don’t have the right post baby bathers, when you haven’t seen the inside of a beauty salon for years and you are struggling to feel respectable doing the 5 metre dash from chair to pool? Girls I remember….but hang in there. The day will come when you can let them swim without getting in, when you too can cut laps and enjoy the freedom of the water again. You will have time and you will get your mojo back. 

A Better Day is Coming

The weekend is full of promise. For most of the Western world we work hard all day and lurch toward the weekend as though it is the ultimate finishing line, our race has been won and we somehow now deserve the prize. I don’t doubt that the need for rest at the end of a working week is real and sometimes all consuming. We equate the weekend with our right to sleep in, take our leisure with everyday tasks, let our ‘hair down’ with some form of relaxing or partying. But for one particular individual better days seem to never come. If you are a mother of one, or two or more – regardless of their age or stage in life – the work of raising a family and caring for their physical and emotional needs does not stop on the weekend. I don’t get a ‘time out’ card to do my own thing and ignore the requests of the four year old for food or play, or to support the teenager with some relationship crisis, or encourage the student with his SAC preparation. As a mother you are on duty for life, 24/7. Mothers serve.
As a Mother to five children I know the longing for better days is real. The need for peace and time to yourself can be at times overwhelming. A break from the overnight feeds and the mundane tasks of family life. But our role is to serve. To love. To serve some more and to hold onto the hope of that better day when our Saviour will come again. I was reminded this week that the Gospel is all about service. John 13:1-17 is about Jesus washing his disciples feet. But he did not come to simply wash feet but to wash our soul. The ultimate service and the start of that better day that is coming to those who accept Him who longs to serve us.

The Good Mother

How to be a Good Mother with Sharon Horgan?  Are you a good mother, Ms Horgan? Well who is a good mother? Over the years I have read, chatted, written and reflected on this notion of being a ‘good’ mother. I have had my own identity crisis as I transitioned from independent, smart working woman into stay at home mother. Trapped. Grounded. For life….or so it seemed at the time.

But Horgan’s cheeky and humorous investigation of what constitutes a good mother is amazing. Frankly, I did not know what ‘good’ mothers were out there. Horgan interviews such a variety of women who believe that they are ‘good’ women you would be forgiven for thinking that she has interviewed different species of animal. Motherhood is hardwork, emotionally and physically demanding. And something no person or text book can prepare you for. So the women that appear in this documentary have all found their own way to mother.

Lynnea is a natural earth mother type who is a zealous placenta enthusiast. She will create ‘prints’ of your afterbirth, make charms, placenta smoothies and placenta capsules ( think steamed, dehydrated, ground placenta). Ah hhmm, I kid you not! Then there is Daria who is an ‘elimination communication’ advocate – yep, that means no nappies day or night, but she has such perfect synchronicity with her baby that she knows when they need to go poo.

Horgan also introduces viewers to a stripper Mum, an IT junkie mum who allows technology to organise her mothering, a woman who did not want kids and another Charlene, who has 6 kids at 27 years old and home schools them all.

My notion of motherhood has been challenged. Mothers don’t all look like me. Or my own mother. Or my friends that are mums. The good mother comes in many different forms. Each one loves and cares for her kids in the best way she knows how. As I know you do too, if you are a mum. Now that is worth celebrating.

Social Media Anxiety Disorder

The Scream, Edvard Munch
Social Media Anxiety Disorder. Apparently, 42 % of women surveyed admitted that Pinterest made them feel anxious. 

‘Pinterest culture can generate feelings of inadequacy by creating a pressure to throw elaborate birthday parties, attempt intimidating DIYs and bake picture-perfect cupcakes. Comparing the less pristine reality of motherhood to the polished sheen of online images may cause moms to worry about falling short if their culinary or crafting skills don’t seem to measure up.’

The ease by which we log onto Facebook and Instagram and update little images of our life has to be questioned. A ‘good’ life, family bliss and kid harmony is what you see on most social media sites. We rarely allow our ‘community’ or network to see us when we are exhausted, when we have failed as a parent, spouse or friend. There are no failed cupcakes pics on Pinterest or the family trip to the snow that was a shambles. The screaming and yelling as we push kids out the door to school, the constant negotiations over time out, house rules and homework are not our usual status updates.

SMAD seems to be yet another reason to reflect on our own online habits, our own online version of our lives and cast all our anxieties on the one who cares.

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7

The 7 Stages of Motherhood

A recent blogpost on motherhood from Deb has caused me to remember a powerful book I read some years ago, and one I should revisit. Anne Pleshette Murphy’s book, The 7 Stages of Motherhood: Making the Most of your life as a Mom came across my desk at an interesting time. It was that limbo time between being settled with three children and debating with my man, myself and my future life whether to have another child.

Being a parent is hard work, amazing and life changing. It is the ultimate transformation, a powerful and thrilling metamorphosis. Most parenting books focus on the dos and don’ts of baby and child care, not on the role and well being of mothers. Murphy looks at the emotional lives of mothers, at how we change and grow from the moment we get pregnant to the day we watch our kids graduate from high school.

To realise that motherhood is not a journey of high risks and great adventure from which you will come back home, unchanged, ready to resume ‘normal’ life is liberating. In fact it is a journey that you never return ‘home’ from. As a mother you change; we all do as we parent our kids. Murphy guides our thinking on this topic. And little by little we discover that  ‘home’ becomes a new place, where you find yourself with your man, your child and your heart. 
A new home and a new stage – for life.

Motherhood and a mission to the Moon

How often do you stop and think about motherhood? Your role as mother to your children, and how you are travelling along that road? If you are like me then there are hundreds of daily distractions that come at any given moment. A phone call, text message, a need to see your Facebook feed, Ebay items ending soon, the latest tweet and another blog post….food, chores, you get the picture.
A good friend sent some encouragement my way via Carolyn Mahaney’s post Mother’s as Mission. Today it was spot on. And I know it will be spot on tomorrow. If we don’t ask ourselves the hard questions about how we spend our time and energy equipping ourselves for the task of mothering then we will be distracted. Raising our children is an enormous responsibility. In the words of G.K. Chesterton, mother’s are responsible to raise children who “require not so much to be taught anything as everything.”