I Love Motherhood—Except When I Don't [Getting Past Perfect Book Club: Chapter 2]

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Welcome to the Getting Past Perfect Book Club! We’re reading Getting Past Perfect: How to Find Joy and Grace in the Messiness of Motherhood, by Kate Wicker.

We all need a savior. But motherhood isn't it. #GettingPastPerfect #bookclub

First of all, can we talk about how much I love this book? Kate Wicker says all the things we hope someone would just say already, so we can stop thinking we’re crazy for having totally natural, totally acceptable thoughts and reactions to the challenges of motherhood.

In this chapter, Wicker talks about why it’s okay not to love every single minute of parenting.

I don’t know that there’s anything I love absolutely every minute of, even the things I generally love to do.

Running feels good, but sometimes it hurts. I love to knit, but when I make a mistake, it can take some time and muttered frustrations to set things right again. I love my husband, and we’ve been together for nearly half our lives at this point, but that doesn’t mean it’s all been peachy and easy.

Why should our relationship to motherhood be any different?

Anyone who’s been there—heck, anyone who knows someone who’s been there; so, everyone—knows that parenting is hard.

You give up a lot. You have to make tough choices.

And in the end, you don’t have control over how things turn out.

But if we’re doing the whole parenting thing well, that’s not why we’re doing it. We’re doing it for love, and not the Hallmark kind.

I love that in all things, Wicker points us back toward God. We cannot be parenting only for our kids’ own good, nor for our own good. We have to keep pointing ourselves, our kids, and our families back toward God if we want to do this thing right.

This line from St. Augustine of Hippo’s Confessions has been in my mind recently (even though, I admit, I have not yet read Confessions; but it’s on the shelf, so that’s a step):

“Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee.”

When my husband and I got married, our priest made the point that our job—our vocation—was to help each other get to Heaven. As our family grew, that charge extended to our children: we are to help them get to Heaven and vice versa.

God has given us all to each other according to His plan. It goes both ways.

This parenting thing is as much—if not more—about my relationship with Him as it is about my relationship with my kids. When I lose sight of that, things get all kinds of jumbled.

How I love this line:

“Being a mother may not always or ever be the source of your joy, but like Mama Mary, it very well may become the cause of your joy.” (p. 27)

Amen, right?

Today I recommit myself to God first, my husband second, and then my children.

That might sound crass or self-serving or who-knows-what-else by today’s standards, but I’m not ultimately concerned with today’s standards.

To give my kids the best parts of me, I need God first in my life. When that’s in order, everything else works better.

And even when it does hurt, even when it is hard, I know that it’s all worth it. I’m on the right path. My heart is resting where it ought to be.

To Ponder, Reflect, and Discuss:

  1. What part of motherhood are you not loving right now? What makes that tough to admit? Whose standards are you applying to the situation—the world’s or God’s?
  2. What are your true, honest expectations of motherhood—perfection? Holiness? Or something else?

Here are my answers to these questions:

  1. There’s a lot of driving in my life right now, which means I’m not moving as much as I’d like. My two-year-old is often literally along for the ride, which she’s not crazy about. I can lament feeling stiff and being unable to read her mind, or I can see the time in the car as an opportunity to chat with God more, both on my own and with my kids. I can make the most of the time I do have to workout, rather than sitting still more on the couch when the opportunity arises.
  2. If motherhood is my vocation, it’s not about this moment or this day; it’s about Heaven and living today in a way that will lead me there.

Feel free to comment on your own thoughts from this week’s reading, your impressions and reflections, and/or your answers to these questions.

We all need a savior. But motherhood isn't it. #GettingPastPerfect #bookclub

Next week, we’ll cover Chapters 3 and 4. For the complete reading schedule and information about our Book Club, visit the Getting Past Perfect Book Club page.

Copyright 2017 Lindsay Schlegel

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About Author

Lindsay Schlegel is a writer and editor with an extensive background in book publishing. She contributes regularly to Verily, and blogs about writing at What I Learned While Writing a Novel. She is married to her high school sweetheart. They have three children on earth and one saint awaiting them, God willing, in Heaven. She enjoys knitting, kickboxing, and reading to her children. Visit her online at LindsaySchlegel.com.

12 Comments

  1. The part of motherhood I’m not loving right now is the “pulled in many directions at once” part of parenting a teen with a chronic illness. He has to learn how to manage his illness on his own before he graduates high school. That’s only 3 years away. I want him to be independent with these things, but he’s not completely ready for that, and I’ve got my expectations, my husband’s expectations, my teenager’s expectations, his medical team’s expectations all competing– I’m a mom, not Gumby. Whose standards am I applying? I don’t even know. Honestly, I hadn’t considered what God’s standards in this situation would even be. Sometimes I’m just too busy getting through the next 10 minutes.

  2. The part of motherhood I’m still learning to love is being a “consultant” and prayer warrior more than a hands on coach (/boss!) My boys still need me, but in new and different ways that are sometimes challenging to understand and to effectively carry out.

    My “expectation” of motherhood at this particular phase of life is one that comes from my own mom: to be a good companion to my children as they need me. My mom hasn’t dropped everything to be totally on call for me 24/7 but I have no doubt that she prays for me daily (with Daddy!) and that she is here for me in the way that she can be. I hope to give the same to my sons.

    • As much as the micromanaging of little ones is tough and exhausting, I’m beginning to see glimpses of how difficult the “consultant” role is with my oldest. I’m a control freak so the lack of control in older children’s lives is scary to me. But as you so wisely say, we can always pray for our children!

  3. I’m not loving the typical yet hard to tolerate aspects of having little kids – the whining, the disobedience, the whining, the potty training – did I mention the whining? We had a lot of whining today. I’m just tired – for lots of reasons – and ready to be done with the demands of tiny people who need me 24/7.

    I don’t have a whole lot of expectations about motherhood – or most things, really. I just sort of roll with it. I guess that has both its good points and bad points.

    Great post! It seems obvious right – not liking everything all the time – but it’s so helpful to have you point that out.

    • Putting up with the incessant whining…surely this will knock a few years of purgatory. 😉 I actually had a child bemoan about a sibling in a sing-songy voice, “She breathed on me!” It was so cliche I had to laugh. Of course me laughing made the accuser angrier and whinier. Ah, the injustices in the Wicker house. They run rampant!

  4. I sometimes feel like everyone in the house is working against me. I clean a room or 2 and within 24 hours it doesn’t look like it has even been touch! I am running around trying to get things done and everyone else is playing or relaxing. Then I hear Jesus saying, “Kelly, Kelly, you are anxious about many thing, but only 1 really matters.” Deep breath, sit and relax. Message received!

    • Oh, Kelly, I can completely relate to this. Just the other day I had a dear friend of mine visit who’s known me for a long time. I was lamenting the state of my daughters’ shared room. She wanted to see it. When she saw the disaster zone, she started to laugh and then said, “Oh my goodness. This is not you, Kate.”

      And it isn’t. I’m the mom who used to alphabetize my baby’s board books despite my first child making it her mission to empty her bookshelf at least 342 times a day. I’ve gotten much more laid back and of course, I encourage responsibility in my children; yet, there are times that I get anxious about many things that don’t really matter in the long run. Or even if the kids do need to work on their mess and we need to have a decluttering party, I don’t need to freak out or turn into a “tsu-mommy,” crashing through the room while my kids look at me dumbly like, “What in the world is happening to her?” It is hard, day after day, to pick up things and to serve as the family’s GPS unit. But sometimes I just need to sit at Jesus’ feet and gain a whole new perspective. God bless you!

      • Kate, lol! I used to put books on the self in descending order. And while I was in their bedroom putting them all back on the shelf, my sons were scattering all the VHS’s all over the family room floor! It amazes me now, looking back, how long it took me to stop and just wait until after bed time to put it all back. At least then there was order for 8 hours! 😉

  5. tough love. The real, hard, I do not want to do this, kind. I more than don’t love it-I absolutely wish this was the cup that Jesus would take away.

    beautiful reflection-thanks for sharing!

    • Tough love is so, well, tough. I’ve told my older kids that they may think I enjoy making them unhappy by doling out fair and just natural consequences or taking away privileges, but it pains me so much. I so WANT my children to be happy, but more than that, I want them to be good, kind, and responsible people, and that means I frequently have to dole out tough love.

  6. It is hard to “need” to be what you know you can’t be – to have expectations set by yourself and others that you can’t possibly meet. It is very much to the point of what you are discussing so sensitively – the fact that everyone has needs and expectations and we, as mothers, can’t fill them all.

    Perhaps that is what God has been trying to get through my head all these years, that He is God and that I am not. I think the driving underline fear is that if I fail, if I don’t do “enough,” then my kids might not make it to Heaven. Then, once again, I have to step back and realize that even in that uncertainty, I am not God and their salvation is between their souls and God.

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