Today's Work, Today's Rest
A funny thing happens when you have a second or third baby, and I’m assuming the same is true of all subsequent children: your older child or children suddenly seem heartbreakingly old. This realization hit hard for me in the weeks and months following Cosmas’ birth, and I’m sure it was all the more intense by the sheer fact that Bruno had already turned 4, leaving few remnants of his toddlerhood.
I was proud of my big boys for the way they helped me so much, often just by understanding that they needed to wait 5 minutes for me to help them with something. Parents of toddlers know that toddlers don’t wait well when they’re thirsty or hungry or need help in the bathroom. But my big boys were just that—big, and capable.
Other things started happening, too, like when Seb would say that he could run faster than me. There’s nothing wrong with Seb being able to run faster or farther than me, but it brought to mind an image of me not just losing in a footrace with Seb, but in not even being able to race. I’ll be a young mom to grown men. When Seb is 20, I’ll be only 43! But still, as young as I’ll be in my 40s, I can't choose then what kind of mother I want to be, I have to start the work and preparation right now, at thirty. I started to think about what kind of mother I want to be, not just to these little boys, but to adult boys. What kind of mom will I be when they’re smelly, and as Strecker genes dictate (to Seb and Bruno's delight) hairy, men? A mom of 4 grown boys once told me something I’ll never forget. “You know, when they were little, I loved every minute of having boys and never desired a daughter, but now that they’re men, it’s a little lonely.” This mother was still 100% delighted by her sons, but she touched on a feeling that I think is all too real. I think about what she shared a lot, and it makes me want to be intentional about the kind of mother I am now, and although I’m sure I won’t eradicate all feelings of loneliness when they’re grown (assuming we don’t ever have a daughter) but I want to prepare and do what I can to make meaningful connections with them as they grow. I want to change with them. I want to grow with them. I want to get stronger as they get stronger.
Camping is one of those investments in the future, as is running. Now, instead of the boys only running a half with their distance-runner papa, maybe we’ll do it as a family. And our vacations can be full of adventure because I did the hard things when they were little and worked to overcome a lot of my fears to do these things with them. It's funny how as I try to be a better, more present mother, I become more myself, more alive. I love camping and running with all my human fibers. Seb, Bruno, and Cosmas won’t remember a day that their mama sat on the sidelines, but I'll remember. Those memories fuel me every time I have the choice between action and inaction.
I’m sitting in Common Grounds, writing, with a hot cup of coffee next to me, grateful. So grateful for a husband who gives me space to be me, to write, to read, and to refuel for the work ahead. Fellow mamas know the feeling of brain fog all too well! Many of my early years as a mother were fueled by fear and my brain was so cloudy (perhaps PPD? I’ll never know I suppose). I was wrecked by the fear of failure, fear of doing something wrong, fear of being used by my children, fear of looking like a mom, fear of being nothing more than a mom, fear of losing my identity, and so many more things.
Why was I living like a slave to fear? There is freedom, and it’s not found in saying F*** you, world! Or in raising a banner for your cause, or fighting for a perceived or desired identity. No, freedom isn’t even found in this delicious cup of 8th Street coffee or the peaceful hum of this iconic Waco coffee shop that I know you all want to visit. (Please, do! And come chat with me!)
“As Christians, we wake each morning as those who are baptized. We are united with Christ and the approval of the Father is spoken over us. We are marked from our first waking moment by an identity that is given to us by grace: an identity that is deeper and more real than any other identity we will don that day.” Tish Harrison Warren speaks this truth into my soul, and I know that as I fight for the type of mother I want to be to my sons, I also rest in my place as a beloved child of God. It’s this simultaneous dance between work and rest. I rely on the scandalous, world changing, grace to do both, and to teach my sons how to do both. What hope we have! “Perfect love casts out fear.” I don’t have a chance at being the perfect mother, but I have hope because Jesus sacrificed all—perfect love—for me, for my children, for you, for your children.
I thank my God for giving me eyes to see, and a heart willing to change and be molded into an adventure-loving, camping, swimming, running, get-messy mother to boys. “God is forming us into a new people. And the place of that formation is in the small moments of today.”
Thanks be to God.