I read these words last summer, and they have long haunted me since:
“Being a parent makes you feel like a blanket that is always too small. No matter how hard you try to cover everyone, there’s always someone who’s freezing” (Beartown, Fredrik Backman).
Being a mom feels like this, doesn’t like? Like you are trying to cover everything and everyone—leave no one in need—and yet constantly finding yourself coming up short.
- the event you forgot
- the car keys you lost (and later discovered in the fridge)
- wondering if constantly sending your child out in mismatched socks is going to give him a complex
- slumping into bed after a long day and your husband gives you that hopeful look and you just don’t even know where the energy or desire for anything other than sleep is supposed to come from
My daughter and I have a journal just for passing notes to each other. It’s fluorescent purple and written across the front in black sharpie are the words “Top Secret.”
A few months back my daughter wrote me a note that said, “I really hope you have a good [writing] conference next month, but why do they take kids away from their moms?”
Reading that question felt like a punch to the solar plexus. It offered up a thousand pounds of blunt guilt-force, and my bare flesh was exposed to receive it.
It reminded me of Fredrik Backman and the too-small blanket, for there in that notebook was the proof I had rolled towards writing for one weekend and left my daughter out in the cold.
Funny though, as I thought of how to respond to my daughter, I imagined her grown up one day, buried in her own family’s laundry and her own guilt for all the imagined ways she might be failing. Instead of shame, something resembling a mama bear rose up within me. Shame would not win this one, because if it could win me, it would win her one day.
I picked up my pen and began scribbling my daughter a note in response to her question because I wanted her to know something about being a woman.
“...Dear daughter, I hope that as you grow up and, Lord willing, become a wife and a mother that you will know that you are never just that or only that. There are so many wonderful things to you, and it’s okay to pursue those things too. It just means more adventure for your family. Moms have to be willing to put their kids before their dreams, but being a mom doesn’t mean you stop dreaming.”
A few years back, I met with a mentor. I made some comment about raising kids, and she looked at me and said, “This is the season for sowing.”
It’s stuck with me, that image. The rocky soil, the tilling, the laying down and waiting for something green and fruit-bearing to spring up from the ground.
These years where we are fighting for our right to po----tty (alone!) matter so much. We are instilling manners, values, obedience, patience, and how to overcome. We pray over boo-boos and bless our food in hopes that Jesus will always be the first place our kids turn. Sure, it’s easy to get a little lost in bottom wiping and bathroom reminding (so that at some point you turn to your husband and ask him “Do you need to put pee-pee in the potty before we leave?”). But these little years matter in the light of the long haul… in the light of eternity. We are the mothers who don’t just lay down seeds, we lay down our very own lives.
I wrote a post a long time ago about how children tie the feet of the mother—how we aren’t just tied up, we are wrapped up in grace. And it’s true. I’ve learned that, at least for now, dreams can rarely be ran after. Maybe we just walk really slowly. Maybe those little ones that tie us up are really tethering us to the will of God.
It’s the thing we want to know though, right? As moms? Is it okay to pursue our dreams? When is it okay? At what age can we begin to have a life again? What is the pace we are meant to move at?
The one thing I know about planting seeds, we hold them loosely. We are always ready to lay them down. When we look back on our decisions and the way we lived our lives through the young years of parenting (and probably the older years too), it will be where we lived with our hands open that will come with the fewest regrets. Where we groped through the dark. Where we waited for God’s voice. Where we declared to the heavens “If You want this, God, You can have it!” It’ll be where we took tiny baby steps and giant leaps of faith. Where we slowed down, leaned in, and trusted Him.
Maybe the real question isn't what is the pace at which we pursue our dreams, but what is the pace at which we pursue our God?
Because it's Him. It's always always Him.
Yeah. In your own strength you are rather like the too-small blanket over the great many needs you try to cover. You won’t ever be able to do it all. But, dear heart, that only means you have left room for God’s grace.
“Doing it all” has never been the point of our lives. We aren’t meant to walk about fully covered in the blankets of our self-sufficiency. The point, our point, is to wear His glory.
I can’t tell you exactly what you are meant to do in this season of your life. All I can tell you is to slow down, lean in, and trust Him. Hold your dreams loosely. And know you— banged-up, far-from-perfect, can’t-do-it-all YOU—was meant to shine forth His glory and point a freezing world to The Only One whose grace is big enough and warm enough to cover us all.
How do you balance pursuing dreams and raising babies? I'd love to hear from you!