Hear Me Roar! and Living in a Shoe [Getting Past Perfect Book Club: Chapters 6-7]

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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.

Our children were created to fulfill not our own will, but God’s. We have to be careful of making too much of ourselves and too little of God. #GettingPastPerfect #bookclub

I got a phone call from my mom this morning, like I do most every morning. “I saw the family picture you posted on Facebook. Mary’s dress was a bit short. Your father is upset. Someone else even made a comment to me about it. They were surprised.”

Surprised at what? That my 19-year-old daughter has free will and pushes the “nothing above the fingertip” boundaries? Good grief, she has been pushing boundaries since she was 2. At what age do I let her go?

Of course, we want our children to grow up to become saints. It would be better yet if they were born that way and stayed that way.

But then again, where are the funny stories, the challenges, and opportunities for growth in that? How do we learn to love and trust God more and more if everything in our family life is always perfect? What would us mommies have to blog about or write books about?

This is not to make light of a very serious and haunting question – how do good, Christian parents have wayward children? It is the question that Kate Wicker answers in an honest and liberating way.

The short answer is “free will.”

We all have free will. No matter how well we may guide our children to Truth, we cannot make them accept it.

Here is the liberating part Kate shares: it is not our job to make our children saints; that’s God’s job. We need to trust Him to do His job. We need to entrust our children to God.

There are times when our children make us proud; there are times when they, well, shall we say, embarrass us. Raising children brings laughter and joy, tears and frustration. In the good, we give glory to God; in the sorrow, we give that to God, too.

As Kate’s parents would say, “Don’t take credit for the good. That way you won’t have to take credit for the bad either.” Thus, we simply do our best and let God do the rest.

Keep this in mind, too – every stage of motherhood provides its own unique challenges and triumphs. Embrace the good, and survive the adversities.

When things get real tough, remember “this too will pass.”

The sleepless nights will pass, so embrace the moments when you can just sit, be still and hold your baby, for that too will pass. The tantrums in the middle of the Walmart aisle will pass, embrace the dandelion necklaces made out of love.

The attitude, believe or not, will pass; enjoy the nights when you and your teenager sit up late and talk civilly, sharing problems, emotions, and stories. The dent in the bumper can be fixed; be grateful for the extra help getting other children where they have to be.

Sickness, too, will pass; praise God that most days are passed in health. The quietness of an empty nest will, in time, give way to the pitter-patter of little feet once again as grandchildren come into your life.

As Kate puts it, “Our children are walking timepieces, always marching forward.” Let us enjoy the time we have with them.

To Ponder, Reflect, and Discuss:

  1. I often pray this short prayer: “Lord, let my children become saints inspired by me, not in spite of me.” What can you do to inspire your children to love God? Is there something you do that would have your children becoming saints in spite of you as opposed to inspired by you? Is it some thing that you need to apologize to them for? After all, it is important that we model both giving and receiving forgiveness.
  2. Mothering is a tough job. It is important that we support one another in our vocation. What can you do to encourage a mom – watch a new-born so she can get a nap; offer a play date at your house so she can go shopping without kids in tow; go out for coffee with a mom of a troubled teen and lend a listening ear and a big hug; have an empty-nester over for lunch and discuss all the new possibilities God may be opening up to her? “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds” (Hebrews 10:24).
  3. What are the joys you are experiencing in this stage of motherhood that you are in now?

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

There will be poop. But there will also be grace. #GettingPastPerfect #bookclub

Next week, we’ll cover Chapter 8. For the complete reading schedule and information about our Book Club, visit the Getting Past Perfect Book Club page.

Copyright 2017 Kelly Guest

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About Author

God has given Kelly lots of wonderful opportunities to follow Him. She was a Dominican Sister of St. Cecilia in Nashville, an education coordinator for a Catholic Charities’ program for pregnant teens, a middle school teacher, a director of religious education and is now a youth minister. Her most challenging and rewarding calling, though, is wife and mother of ten children. What she has learned, she blogs at CatholicMom.com.

15 Comments

  1. What a great reflection!

    I take great comfort in knowing not everything depends on me and what I’ve done and not done. Free will can work both ways, so I’m hoping our kids choose the good in spite of their parents’ failings.

    I’d love to be of more support to others, but everyone else always seems to have it together. I’d always feel guilty asking for a hand because no one ever seemed to take up my offers to return the favor since they had built-in family support (which we lacked). There’s a young, widowed mom in our parish, and I’ve been thrilled we could at least offer her some hand-me-downs. Maybe I need to do a better job of trying to discover who might need my help of friendship.

    • Carolyn, Barb is right- none of have it all together. The time will come when you will be called on for help. Letting be known that you are willing is all you have to do now. And hand-me-downs are a fav in my home. I am sure that mom and her children appreciated it too.

  2. Kelly, that is a great prayer!

    Carolyn, I can tell you right now that those people who seem to have it all together are just good actors. You can’t always reciprocate to the people who have helped you, but you can do for someone else, and maybe that’s enough. Maybe sometime later you can return favors given to you. Don’t worry about keeping score.

    • Thanks, Barb. Nearly all of the families of children my oldest son’s age had 1.2 children and two sets of grandparents, and here we were wth our four and no support asking if someone could watch our kids. It wasn’t very often, but I was thrilled when in turn, very rarely someone would ask if I could watch their kid for a couple of hours. Hopefully I’ll be able to find some young families to help out. Honestly, it was probably more my issue then theirs. They probably never thought twice about it.

  3. Kelly, I had been expecting a younger daughter when I started to read your post, and it made me smile when I realized she was 19. I enjoyed reading how you reflected on Kate’s ideas and applied them to your own life. My girls are almost 14, almost 11, 4, and 1, so right now I am finding joy in the different stages. The challenges with my oldest daughter are the hardest because that age range is not familiar to me yet as a parent; whereas, challenges at the younger ages feel more like comfortable territory and I have the first hand experiences of the concept of remembering challenges will pass. Now I have been trying to increase my trust in both those comfort zone challenges and the new challenges. I especially loved the section Thy Will Be Done starting on p. 76 to ponder Mary, that seems like a key to really grow in this area. I also love that the prayer at the end of the chapter linked to St. Monica.

    As I navigate that, focusing on the joy of each stage is helpful too. The most powerful joys seem to be related to realizing what each of my girls appreciates as far as quality time together and anytime I make that a priority, I find joy. Then there’s also the personality joys.

    With chapter 7, I especially loved the concept of “finding grace in this season,” (e.g. the prayer on p. 90). This is something that I have thought about with my career as well. About 5-6 years ago, I read somewhere about being careful to not compare our start or middle to someone else’s end. That has been helpful in my overall convictions to avoid comparisons as the urge to do so has cropped up in different areas of life over time.

    • Amanda, Our Lady sure does give us much to reflect upon and imitate. When my kids hurt, I hurt. I cannot imagine how she felt watching her Son in His agony. Yet the Resurrection gives us hope that God can and will bring great joy from the suffering. We need to trust Him as Mary did. I like when Kate said, “Maybe if it’s not ok yet, that’s because it’s not the end.”
      And yes, I love St. Monica, too. Besides the Blessed Mother, she is my go-to mom!

  4. Such a great post – so much wisdom being shared here! I love your last question “What are the joys you are experiencing in this stage of motherhood that you are in now?” because it allows me to pause and dwell for a few moments on how good God is to me in this phase of life. My sons are older and almost completely independent, and yet not. It’s a blessing that we are connected now in new and exciting ways as we watch the twists their lives are taking. We have the joy of still parenting them, but in a different way. And I’m working still on the ability to pray with and for them without feeling responsible for every choice they make. That’s still a work in progress!!

    • Kelly Guest on

      As my children will say, “the present is a present.” It is always good to say thank you for a present. I have three in college now, and it was/is hard navigating these new waters, for all of us. Still, they are enjoying college, and I enjoy the times I see them, talking with them, sharing insights and what little wisdom I have gained over time. There is peace when they are in a good place, where I believe God wills them to be. For me it has been the greatest joy as a mom.

  5. I want to talk about the joys I’m experiencing right about now. Our fifth baby – Charlie – has been such an incredible blessing to our family for many reasons. First of all, it’s such a gift to see my older children delight in him. We have frequent sibling squabbles over who gets to hold the little guy next. Having another little one in our midst has also forced all of us to reassess our priorities. We are a sports-driven family, but it was getting to be too much with the travel sports. My husband, my oldest daughter, and I made a difficult decision to end her lengthy travel soccer “career.” She’s still playing for the school and developing her skills and having a blast, but we know this was best for our family. Our weekends were turning into a neverending soccer zoo. It took getting pregnant with Charlie for all of us to stop the rat race and embrace a more simple life.

    As far as relinquishing control, I have one child I’m slightly worried about – not because anything is really wrong but because I fear something might be in the future given her more impressionable personality. This is so unfair to her, to my mothering heart, and to God. Sometimes we have to just trust and embrace St. John Paul II’s beautiful message and “be not afraid.”

    Thank you for the discussion and beautiful reflection! God bless.

    • Kelly Guest on

      Congratulations, Kate, on accepting the gift of Charlie. It is amazing how babies can change our lives – for the better, if we let them.
      As for your concern for your daughter, remember, only Divine Providence is in the future. So don’t there, yet. In His Hands, she will be fine.
      Thanks for your insight and your book. God bless you and your family.

  6. Having raised three children to adulthood (and one to teenage years) I completely understand how children use their free will, much to my dismay very frequently (why is it when they let us down it stays with us so much longer than when they make us proud? Catholic guilt?). I think Kate’s parents were wise to say “don’t take credit for the good” because the bad will bite you in the you-know-what. I always pray that God will put someone in my children’s paths who can be a great influence and lead them to God when I can not.

    • Kelly Guest on

      Trust that He will answer that prayer of yours. I am sure St. Monica prayed the same kind of prayer; hence, St. Ambrose crossed paths with Augustine. Your children’s Ambrose is out there somewhere.

  7. I, like Lisa, really loved your last question …what are my joys right now in motherhood…especially being that I reflected on the JOYLESS chapter! ha! But the great thing is, that I have and am still discovering…even when it is down right AWFUL…and I mean AWFUL, hard, painful, scary stuff….there is joy. And dare I say…that right now, as I navigate through what feels like very murky waters, I have never felt closer and more comforted by Jesus and my Mother Mary. And this simply peace that feels like a safety blanket, is real joy for me.

    Great reflection! And if it helps, I can send you a picture of whatMY girls are wearing…..;-)

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