I sit there, head resting on my hands. Dirty plates and bits of food cover my horizon while children run and scream and laugh and taunt (and scream again). Dad steps in. Music flutters through the background and I close my eyes and wonder. Years from now, what will I remember about this night?
Will I remember the sound of a full, happy house?
Will I remember squeaky baby voices and belly laughs?
Will I remember what it’s like to have everyone at the dinner table, an assurance I can count on every night?
Will I remember dinner music?
Will I remember the way my children lapped up the macaroni and cheese to which I accidentally added a tablespoon of chocolate milk? Secret sauce, perhaps?
Will I remember the way they invite me into their worlds when they ask me to play?
For an instant, time suspends amidst twinkling goodness and I’m aware of the raw beauty of the actual moment. This is so perfect, so quintessential, so longed-for. But I worry that it’s not the goodness I’ll remember. I worry it’s the pain: the shame of feeling like I’m not getting it right; the anxiety of feeling like I didn’t do enough; the worry that I’ll feel regret; the uncertainty of not knowing if I’m on the right track; the hopelessness of feeling like I’ve lost myself amidst the drudgery of the everyday. Because sitting there with my head in my hands, that’s exactly what I’m feeling: despair which chokes and frightens and haunts.
I want to remember the lovely, but I feel so lost sometimes, like I’ve drifted so far from myself that it would be easier to create an identity entirely new rather than find my way back to the one God gave me.
I’ve been reading a lot lately and came across these words in Rebekah Lyons’ book, Freefall to Fly:
Life exists in seasons. “There is a time for everything,” Solomon once wrote, “and a season for every activity under the heavens.” Seasons to change diapers, breast-feed, toilet train, spoon-feed. But what if meaning is more than that? Of course I’m called to be a mother…But if I’m not careful, I lose my identity. I become defined by something outside myself. I cease to be Rebekah, the uniquely talented woman made in God’s image. I’m now only Rebekah, wife of Gabe. Or Rebekah, mother of Cade, Pierce, and Kennedy. I love these roles, but I also recognize that deriving one’s identity from another person is a short road to resentment.
God intended for me to contribute my birthright gifts to the world…
I’m not suggesting that we give up on our families and go make our dreams come true. Quite the opposite. Women must discover their callings precisely because the health of their families, relatioships, and communities is so vital. When we become who we’re meant to be, everyone around us benefits. When we live out the stories God wants to tell through us, we bring healing to all who struggle alongside us.
That was balm for a weary, discouraged mama-soul. That if I don’t find screaming, breaking up arguments, washing the clothes, and reading board books completely fulfilling, it’s probably because I wasn’t designed to be completely fulfilled by those things. They are treasures in their own way (well, not the screaming…I haven’t come to terms with that one yet), but they are not the only treasure with which my life has been blessed. Maybe, just maybe, it’s not so much that something is wrong with me as I might possibly be normal.
That thought comforts me as I stare out over a houseful of messy surfaces and contemplate leaving them as they are to go to bed. And that’s exactly what I’m going to do–leave the mess, leave the worry, leave the shame, and go to bed.
Rest for the body and soul. That’s what I need now.