20 May 2014

When you’re tired of the “how-to” books about parenting

So there’s this mom I know. Her husband flat out left her to raise those kids alone. And she cried every day they were getting home and off the bus that she wasn’t there to see.

She leans over her keyboard and tells me with these bright eyes green with tears, “I know I missed too many things. But someone had to work.”

Untitled

And I’m on my way to the bathroom a few months before when a girl I’ve never met stops me. Tells me she’d never heard of me before this afternoon but can I tell her what to do? She’s flat out wide-eyed with questions and they spill out like exclamation marks, “I don’t think I can take homeschooling anymore. I can’t breathe.”

She’s a desperate stranger and I’m just still a novice mama who’s gotta go potty and I wish I knew what to say. But instead I just stand and listen.

Sometimes if you listen hard enough with both hands wide open you don’t need to say anything. Sometimes if you listen enough for both of you she’ll hear what she needs to.

The problem with writing a book about motherhood is that people are gonna mistake you for an expert on parenting.

And this mom, she writes me an email. And it aches with all the same hurts and worries that fill up my inbox from other mamas wondering how to stop failing, how to stop flailing, how to find their feet in this sinking sand of mothering.

We all of us casting sideways looks at the mom ahead in the car pool line or at the check out counter or in Target. Checking out her parenting as she’s checking out and mentally checking off the list of what we would have done different, better, or not at all.

We keep score.

We are hard task masters. We cut ourselves so little slack. We judge our piles of laundry our kitchen counters. We are angry at ourselves for accomplishing too little in too short days.

So I whisper it on repeat in the dark between the sheets and the shadows on the wall, to remind myself, “This isn’t a ‘How To’ book it’s just my, ‘Me Too’ story.”

You with the kid who slammed his door yelling, “Shut up! Just shut up!” through the cracks? Me too.

You with the unmade beds and left over art paste dried onto the kitchen table? Me too.

You with the heart ache and heart break of distance and family and misunderstandings tied up in your DNA and your kids? Me too.

You with the nagging guilt for that job that keeps you long hours away from your kids? Me too.

You with the itching against what Jesus has called you into and trying to make sense of where He’s calling you next? Me too.

Motherhood isn’t a competition it’s a calling.

motherhood isn't a competition it's a calling via lisajobaker.com

We like check lists with everything checked off.

Motherhood is a series of messes mostly incomplete.

And we’ll never figure it out completely. We’ll never cross the finish line. We’ll never be able to say, there, it’s done. We just keep waking up tomorrow and pouring the Cheerios and facing our fears and opening our arms and loving again anyway.

Wider now. Open your arms wide enough for your kids and the mom in the car pool lane next to you.

All of us wild-eyed with wonder and exhaustion and wondering how tomorrow will turn out.

All desperate to hear someone say, “Me too.”

 

In trying to find some white space again in this world of blogging, I’ve turned off comments for a while. Thank you for taking me anyways. And you’re always welcome to connect with me on Twitter or Facebook or Instagram.

 

Trackbacks

  1. […] Lastly, When you’re tired of the “how-to” books about parenting try Lisa-Jo Baker’s Surprised by Motherhood: Everything I Never Expected about Being a Mom which you can enter for a Giveaway here this week!  […]

  2. […] Yes::: When You’re Tired Of The How To Books About Parenting […]

  3. […] I leave you with this for when you’re tired of the “how-to” books of parenting as another reason you should read Lisa-Jo’s beautiful book. “Motherhood isn’t a […]

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