07 May 2016

a gift this Mother's Day

I am a woman of impossibly high expectation.

Matt would tell you, my people could tell you.  I am no settler, not a good enougher, always walking into every situation with massive expectations, and most often walking out disappointed.

If I have a week with you, a day with you, a conversation with you, I want it to just be perfect...full of depth and joy and good conversation, sprinkled with laughter and tears and the real stuff, the messy stuff, the good stuff.

If there is a birthday party, I want the person to feel and know the whole spectrum of how they are loved and appreciated, from the gift to the cake to the prayer to the meal to the conversation.

If there is an end of the year celebration, I want everyone to reflect and cherish, to laugh about good memories and to cry together over the pain, I want to encourage each one in Christ to the depths of who they are, sending everyone out inspired and at peace and resolved.  The "everybody hug everybody fest" on the last day?  That was a total Stacey moment.

I don't care if all the physical details are perfect or if everything tastes or looks perfect.  I don't care how perfect the surface is.  I care that hearts were shared and revealed and loved and touched and reached.

You can imagine how often the day is done, and I'm saying to Matt, to myself, to my Father, "I wish that had gone better."

And Matt says, "Stace, that went GREAT. What are you talking about?" And I'm left thinking, "Yeah, but...I just had hoped...I mean, I wanted it to be more...MORE."

So imagine all the nonsense I have riding on a day like Mother's Day.

I'm pretty sure I get this magnificent expectation from my mom, she who was up all night icing leaf cookies for the first day of fall and filling M&M bags with Skittles for April Fool's Day, she who scarified ridiculously for even small meaningful things that few others care about, she who taught me to pay attention to all the clues of how people are feeling and hurting and to reach deep and wide to touch them.

We could have made Mother's Day something crazy meaningful, mom and Lisa and I, if she were here, if she had been here long enough for me to realize how crazy meaningful she was.

So with no mama to shape it for, and the God-given mothers in my life all off with their actual children, as they should be, we just have my Mother's Day, and try as I might, it's inevitable that own my precious family is going to let me down.

I am amazed and thankful every single day for the miracles He has given me in these three precious little girls.  They make being a mother SO incredibly deep and sweet.

But it would be simply impossible for three little girls and a mere mortal man to somehow wrap up for me the all the feelings I want to feel on Mother's Day : loved and appreciated and pampered and noticed and cherished and noted and cared for and...

Mother's Day usually means I am bawling in the dishwater, missing my mom and hurting that there are still dishes, working with all I am to count my many blessing and to battle wanting to feel the love I somehow feel I surely deserve this one day a year.

And so when my sis sent me this a few days ago and I've read it 10 times sense, this Mother's Day is feeling awfully sweet and free.

Mother or not, with a mother or not,  read this....and be free, free to expect nothing but Jesus from ourselves, free to lay all our expectations on expecting Jesus, free to die to all we think we are entitled to, and to lay down our lives, as He did, instead...this Mother's Day, and always.

How not to be disappointed this Mother’s Day

The flowers that didn’t come, the cards that were forgotten, the breakfast that was a disaster and that you had to clean up while everyone else was watching TV.
The house that wasn’t quiet or clean or tidied up. The getting to sleep in that didn’t happen, the nap that evaporated into a toddler’s meltdown, the meal that someone else didn’t prepare. The laundry that wasn’t folded for you.
The kids that didn’t call, the sermon that wasn’t about mothers, the grand kids who didn’t visit.
I heard it again and again in so many different, disappointed, let down ways – how this one day can’t possibly live up to what it means to mother.
How 24 hours can’t possibly hold the measure of a lifetime of laying oneself low for the loving and raising and wrangling of tiny humans.
Why do we think it will? I ask myself this every year after the inevitable disappointment.
But we do. We expect.
We expect so big and so hard and with so much pre-programming that we don’t know how to turn the expectations off.
We expect and the expecting is high and impossible until it blossoms into full blown entitlement. And entitlement? Entitlement is a very slippery thing.
Entitlement believes that we know best, deserve the best, and resents the rest who don’t deliver.
Entitlement takes the sacrifice of motherhood and spins it in dizzying, disorienting circles.
Motherhood bends. Entitlement demands.
Motherhood serves. Entitlement stomps its foot.
Motherhood delights. Entitlement keeps lists.
Motherhood laughs. Entitlement whines.
Motherhood celebrates. Entitlement sulks.
Motherhood forgets itself in favor of remembering her dimple, his fastest mile, their mouths all ringed around with chocolate.
Entitlement tastes bitterness in every bite of a day that doesn’t go as planned.
And the grand irony of a day devoted to remembering mothers is that it can make me forget how content I am in this skin. Because I am not the sum total of breakfast in bed or empty dishwashers. I am not defined by how tidy the playroom is or who remembered to make me a thoughtful card.
What I believe, what I’ve learned, what I’ve earned through all those sleepless nights, all those miles of carpet walked, all those parent-teacher conferences and cold meals and ruined clothes is that the gift of motherhood, the art of this beautiful, terribly holy work is to find a way through to forgetting myself in favor of someone else.
The holy of motherhood is how it teaches me to lose myself, to let go of Lisa-Jo and surrender myself in an act of rebirth that only a God who wants to help me uncurl my desperate white knuckles from around what I think I’m entitled to could envision.
It’s been a hard battle to hold onto my contentment. In this small, rental house with these sometimes drive-me-crazy kids.
So this year, this year I want to be prepared. I want to take Mother’s Day into my own hands and make it magical in unexpected ways. 
Because I’m learning. Slowly, stubbornly learning that we fight the fear of missing out by remembering that it’s in bending the knee to serve that we are most satisfied.
So this year, this is my plan to make sure I don’t miss out on the joy of Mother’s Day.

An UPside Down Mother’s Day Gift List:

  1. Send a card to the special women in your life (whether they are mothers or not) to thank them for all the ways they have mothered so many with their words and their lives.
  2. Quit the Hallmark Channel in the days leading up to Mother’s Day.
  3. Invite a single mom to lunch and celebrate her.
  4. Pick flowers from your back yard for the women in your mom’s group.
  5. Let your husband off the hook – just go ahead and tell him exactly what would make you feel loved – so he has a fighting chance of getting it right.
  6. Invite that friend who is pretty much an adopted mom to everyone in your community over for lunch.
  7. Help serve meals and build bathrooms in South Africa for mothers a world away and see motherhood and your own messy kitchen as anything but ordinary through her eyes.
  8. Write each of your kids an individual list of why you love being their mom. This will help you remember why you’ve already got everything you need today.
  9. Call your mom, your grandma, your favorite aunt in the week ahead of Mother’s Day – it doesn’t have to all be on that crowded Sunday.
  10. Give a gift, a card, a slow conversation, a phone call to the motherless daughters and mothers in your midst who ache today. Take time to remember their mothers with them.
  11. Fill your table with women who have mothered others whether they are mothers themselves or not. Celebrate and serve them.
Because the thing is, we mother because we’re called to it. We mother because it’s a gift.
We mother because God trusted us with these kids. We mother because we can’t not.
Over and through and under and around the unappreciated days, we mother on.
And I want to remember to keep seeing it for what it is.
A messy, beautiful, chaotic, miraculous, unexhangeable and irreplaceable gift

1 comment:

  1. WHEW! I never thought of it as entitlement. Ouch. In a good way. Thank you for sharing this, Stacey!