If you could give a new mom one thing, what would it be?
This past weekend I attended a baby shower for one of my closest friends. I've always loved showers, but mostly for the cookies and camaraderie before I personally had kids. Now that I have Titus and Bambino, I love showers because I love to love on a new mom.
I love to make self-care baskets full of weird things moms don't know they need. Enter nipple cream and nursing pads. Enter granola bars and ALL THE WATER. Enter encouragement note cards to be opened at 3 in the morning when you are crying because you wish your husband had the boobs. Or just one boob even. And when you are pleading your case with God like this might actually be a doable request at this stage of the world.
If I had one gift to give a new mom, it would be for them to see themselves, their calling, their diaper changing, as treasure. And I would eliminate the words "I'm a bad mom" from their vocabulary.
New mom. Old mom. Grandma. Foster mom. Adoptive Mom. Single Mom. Woman who has "children" they disciple in various ways. YOU ARE NOT A BAD MOM. You are not a tool. You are the buried treasure. Actually, Jesus in you. He uncovered you when he redeemed your life, and in doing so, redeemed your motherhood.
A few books I've been reading lately have cemented this into my own brainwaves. Jess Connolly writes in Wild and Free, "Ladies, when we flip the script and remember who the main character is, it takes the pressure off us. We get to lay down the burden of getting it right, because God's already got this- completely. It's not that we have to live for God; its that we get to live for God. It's not that we have to serve Him; its that we get to serve Him. It's not that He wants more from us; its that He wants more for us. You are the real work, and it's already finished. God does not need you to do something big for Him, and He doesn't need you to fulfill your part. But in His great love, He has prepared works for you, according to Ephesians 2:10, and He intentionally crafted you with gifts because He wants that life of giving and serving for you. He knows you're the most you when you're living out the calling He has given you. He knows the enemy is quieted when your loving is loud. He knows the ache that wonders what on earth you're here for. He's already prepared all of that and made a way, through the power of the Holy Spirit, for you to walk with Him and serve Him. You are not a tool but a treasure."
Gosh, I feel like a tool most days. I feel like the snot wiper, the food maker and cleaner upper, the disciplinarian. Pregnant, I am the carrier, the weight bearer, the one with the vericose veins and friable cervix. This baby is literally using me, taking my energy, my nutrition, and some days, my self-confidence when I look at the mirror. With a newborn, I'm the milk producer and nighttime mommy zombie. I'm the launderer, the scheduler, the packer, the menu-planner, grocery shopper. Moms, we do so much, don't we? Ever laugh (or cry or punch someone in the face) when they ask "what do you do all day?" Or my gal pal's favorite, "You look like your hands are full!" So helpful, right?
And some days, the weight of the feeling that I am the ONLY one who can carry most of these tasks is overwhelming. My kids need ME. I can get a sitter, ask my husband for help, but at the end of the day, I am the only one who can do many of these tasks. I can't take a day off being pregnant, and nursing, I can't take a day off of feeding or pumping. I'm the human bottle for the time being, and sometimes it feels more like a cage than a calling.
In Missional Motherhood, Gloria Furman writes, "Missional moms are word-filled women. According to Christ's pattern and by his power, we take up our cross in mothering. There is no "mommy martyrdom" in God's kingdom. Taking up our cross in mothering others means that even as we die to ourselves, not as masochists but for the joy set before us. That's how Jesus gave, as the preeminent "cheerful giver" who gives not reluctantly or under compulsion (2 Cor. 9:7). We're free in Christ to be who he is remaking us to be: women in his own image. Our actions are consistent with his design and not the designs of the devil. All the good works we do are strategically angled at showing forth God's glory, not in showcasing the image of created things. Around the clock and around the world, the work we do in our missional mothering adorns the truth of God's gospel that we speak with our lips and write with our hands and text with our thumbs. We're sure his word is sure."
Lord, what does it mean in my every day life to treat my mothering as treasure to showcase you? Your glory? How do I turn the works of my hands into the works of yours? And how can I add serving my husband, my church, this world, to the people I am overjoyed to serve on a day to day basis?
In my own life, I think it has been a daily prayer for the Lord to take me out of the picture. Call it taking my cross. Call it an attitude check. Call it an Oatmeal Heart. The pressure is off me when I'm not there to begin with, when it is all Jesus.
Moms, JESUS HAS DONE IT! He has taken off the pressure, the cage, the masochism that is tempted to overtake our service to him when we serve others. He already calls us good when we invite him to be our Savior. We can work from our rest in Christ. We don't have to work to earn that heart/soul rest. We don't have to work to be a good mom either, whatever the heck that means anyway. We get to let Christ do the work in our hearts and joyfully watch as He unfolds his glory as we fold our laundry. He has delivered me out of myself and into service, and this is the most beautiful gift that I've ever been given, that only he could give me.
Treasure, huh? You don't have to tell a diamond to sparkle. It just does because that is what it is. So if we are treasure, God already sparkles through our lives, our freezer meals, and our trips to Toddler Time at the library. He also shines when we snap at our kids and repent to them, when we cry out to Him in our exhaustion, and when we need to ask for help. Because Christ is in us, we are free to glorify Him, even in our repentance of sin and failure and humanity.
Hands up! I'm taking myself out of the good mom race. And while I'm at it, I'm exiting the good wife one too, and the good house church shepherd, Bible teacher, counselor, blogger, friend, daughter, sister, or whatever title I happen to accept in my future.
When I say, God YOU are GOOD. Now it will be a reminder, that because He is, I don't have to be, and I can just let him do the good things in my life, in my heart, and in my mothering.
Mothers, how will you joyfully showcase your treasure today?
Me? I'm going to put on Lauren Daigle on Pandora and worship the Lord while I unload the dishwasher. I'm going to love my toddler through his drool and give him nose kisses even though his nose is a flood of teething snot. I'm going to swallow my prenatal vitamin with a cold glass of lemonade. I'm going to tearfully hug my Aunt for watching Titus so I could finally write a blog post today. And I'm going to thank God for giving me the many opportunities he gives me on a daily basis to show the love that he has shown me every single day of my life.