Lent for Mothers

Photo by Jennifer Balaska via Wikimedia Commons

Photo by Jennifer Balaska via Wikimedia Commons

My dear friend Kristen, mother of three boys ages four and younger, recently posted the list below on Facebook. I loved it so much, and she graciously gave me permission to reproduce it here. Here’s why I love it. First of all, it made me laugh. I identified with every single one of her penances. I love that there can be as many different parenting philosophies as there are parents in the world, but there are also so many things that all mothers share and understand. I also love this list because it is so encouraging. It’s so easy at the end of a long day at home with kids to look around at your toy-cluttered house, laundry piles, and spaghetti-crusted dishes and wonder what in the world you have to show for your day. This list is a reminder of all we mamas lay down for the sake of our babies and families.

I love the Lenten season, and I love the opportunity every year to look at my life and myself and see where God wants to eliminate some flaw or build up some new sacrifice that will straighten out my crooked character. This year, my Lenten penance is to continue to do all of things on this list that I already do, but to do them, as much as I possibly can, cheerfully and without complaint. Be encouraged, mothers! Our work is important!

I keep seeing a lot of Lenten suggestions and challenges in my news feed. So I have decided to write a list of Lenten suggestions for mothers of infants and young children:

  • Wake up every two to three hours – stay up for about 20 minutes.
  • Wake for the day around 6:30 a.m. (if you are feeling extreme wake up at 5 a.m.)
  • Make a cup of coffee and leave it on the counter.
  • After it is lukewarm, put it in the microwave. Leave it there.
  • Do the same thing for some of your food.
  • Carry a 15 pound weight at all times and learn to use one hand.
  • Take something expensive that you own or something you really like and break it.
  • Wash and blow dry your hair, then put something that resembles spit up in it.
  • Put this same substance on all of your clothes – if you are really feeling penitential put it on your favorite clothes.
  • Make a recording of loud sounds and play them all day. Turn up the volume when you are on the phone.
  • When you find yourself on the brink of some sort of melt down, go ahead and drop something heavy on your toe.
  • Write only half of a response to an important e-mail, save it in your drafts, and forget about it.
  • Wash someone else’s laundry, do their dishes, or clean up after them without looking for praise.
  • Live out some gospel recommendations – care for the sick, clothe the naked, feed the hungry, etc., etc.

Or my greatest suggestion – go easy on yourself!!

I’m a Writer

typewriter

Photo by Chance Agrella via Freerangestock.com

There’s a comedy skit where a would-be writer moves in to an apartment next to noisy neighbors. When they get too loud, he calls the cops, protesting weakly, “I’m trying to write in here! I’m a writer!

It’s an inside joke between me and my brother – we say it to each other when I’m talking about writing-related business. There’s always been a little part of me, though, that believes I am that stereotype – the whiny dilettante that always tells everyone how I do some writing work, or want tohope to, would really like to be a writer. 

My husband put up a permanent note on my desktop that reads “You are a writer…so write!” I see it every time I turn on my computer. And he’s right. I’ve written since I was a kid. When my best friend and I were teenagers talking about the future and she didn’t know what she wanted to be, I always did. I studied English and writing in college. My first post-college job was a business writing job. Then I floundered for awhile, doing restaurant and secretary work, but always, when anyone asked, I said I was doing such and such, but what I really wanted to do was write.

My problem was that I needed to get over myself. I love Dave Eggers, and I thought that if I hadn’t published a critically acclaimed book by the time I was in my early twenties like him, I was washed up. That mindset was so much pride. Of course, like any artist or creative person, I want my work to find an audience. Beauty wants to be beheld, not kept hidden. But writing only for the sake of publishing, or making money, or earning accolades will rarely produce good work. These days, I want to write for a living because I love it – from editing small details to creating something entirely new – and I want to do it all the time.

And finally, after years of part-time, piecemeal, freelance work, it looks like I might be able to do that. I’ve got more work coming in than ever before. So much, in fact, that I started my own business, something else I thought might never actually happen. Yup. M. M. Parker Writing & Editing, LLC. Registered in the state of Maryland. A little scary and a lot exciting all at the same time.

It’s ok – and actually healthy – to claim one’s talents and name one’s identity. I am a writer. It’s who I am. It’s how I see the world and how I live my life. The only difference is … now it’s in writing. Pun intended.

Early in the morning, my song will rise to thee…

Photo by runrunrun via stock.xchng

Photo by runrunrun via stock.xchng

“In the morning, while it was still very dark, he got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed.” Mark 1:35

I crave the peace of early mornings. The silence is almost physical – a soft and welcome assault on my ears. I was never a morning person, but with three children, mornings have become my refuge. Sometimes I am productive, busily putting things in order, finishing leftover chores and making breakfast before anyone is awake to distract me. Sometimes I am contemplative, praying and listening for God in the quiet. Sometimes I am blessedly unproductive, resting in the stillness before the day requires anything of me.

This morning we were out of coffee (an unacceptable state of affairs in our house) so I walked to the corner store to get some before my husband had to leave for work. It was 14 degrees out and mostly dark. The trees were empty, the space between them just barely stained sunrise pink. The world’s first faint sounds stirred as it prepared to wake.

The early morning has always felt holy to me. It feels like the dark before creation, the breath of God hovering, waiting to call everything into existence. Or the Resurrection morning: “Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed.” (John 20:1) Can you imagine the sorrow she felt in the darkness, and the deep, solemn joy that was already stirring, unknown to her, waiting for daybreak? As the psalmist says in one of the most beautiful phrases in the Bible, “Weeping may linger for the night, but joy comes with the morning.”

I wish I could say I get up early every morning. The truth is I hit my snooze button until the last minute just as often. But when I do get up, I am reminded why those hours before dawn are so precious, so holy. God waits for me, there in the darkness, the joy and light the day offers as yet unknown to me, but not to Him.

Guest Post: Faith and Motherhood

 

I had the privilege to be a guest blogger for a good friend: author, pastor and father, Adam Feldman. You can find my post about how motherhood has impacted my faith here, and while you’re at it, look around and enjoy his writing!

I met Adam and his wife Kim several years ago, when their church was meeting in the living room of someone’s house, none of us had kids yet, and we had a lot more free time to spend at coffee shops, reading and writing and talking. It’s amazing to see where we are now – Metanoia has grown by leaps and bounds, we’ve all had a bunch of kids, jobs and life changes, we see each other much less, but our hearts are still close.

I love when that happens.

At the end of the day…

“Thus far the mighty mystery of motherhood is this: How is it that doing it all feels like nothing is ever getting done?”

Rebecca Woolf

This is what goes through my mind as I finally lay myself down in bed tonight. I yelled at my kids, there are dishes in the sink, and I’m just pretending not to see the pile of laundry in the corner of my room.

But…I got one-on-one story time with my littlest, talked with my 5 year old about when our unborn baby got its soul, and painted my daughter’s fingernails.

And that counts.

Starting Over

Sometimes you have to admit when you’re beat.

31 day blogging challenge? I’m beat. I’ve always been someone with plenty of intention. All kinds of intention. I just have a hard time on the follow-through. I was determined to write 31 posts on one topic, even if they weren’t published consecutively, but I realized that at least in this instance, my blind will to finish my commitment was keeping me from moving forward – I got stuck on 31 days, and let all kinds of other writing ideas and inspirations disappear into the creative ether.

There is something to be said for keeping a commitment for commitment’s sake. In fact, it’s something I want to practice much more. But not now, not today. Today I’m moving on.

Today I’m thinking about new things. About a new year, a new day, a new life. A new baby growing in my belly. An unexpected gift. Though logically I should be anxious, this new little one was so unplanned that I can’t do anything but accept. I smile to myself to think about this little secret seed I carry, safe and warm and hidden, in one of the coldest, dreariest months of the year.

I’m beat. I’m tired. But I’m hopeful and expectant. Things are changing as they always do. I’m letting them change, letting them pull me, lift me, take me somewhere new.

31 Days: Madeleine L’Engle

madeleine_lengle

“I have advice for people who want to write. I don’t care whether they’re 5 or 500. There are three things that are important: First, if you want to write, you need to keep an honest, unpublishable journal that nobody reads, nobody but you. Where you just put down what you think about life, what you think about things, what you think is fair and what you think is unfair. And second, you need to read. You can’t be a writer if you’re not a reader. It’s the great writers who teach us how to write. The third thing is to write. Just write a little bit every day. Even if it’s for only half an hour — write, write, write.”

Sometimes finding the still point comes from doing, being faithful to the practice of your talents. Then the Spirit brings to life that beautiful result around which your daily work revolves.