Thursday, September 6, 2012

To be or not to be.....a mom.

I am not a mom.  For many of you that might have come as a surprise. J  In my home you will not find Elmo, legos, or that faint scent of Johnson and Johnson/baby poop combo.  However, you will find a diabetic dog that will never die and the option of having a white couch.  I do not have babies to rock or children to occupy my time, but I do have a job that I love and the freedom to travel.  I do not have a minivan nor do I care to ever own one, but I do have a great Toyota, compliments of many supporters.  PERSPECTIVE.  GRATITUDE.  TRUST.  OPENNESS.  All of these words are key to embracing the here-and-now in each  unique and individual season of life.  God has me doing the homework. 

Once upon a time, in a land far, far away (okay, so it was two years ago in New York City),  I found myself in the most awkward position. I was on a summer mission’s project for six weeks and my assignment was to help mentor staff women with my particular ministry.  You see, I had done quite a bit of homework on how to really care for and shepherd mom’s.  The plan was for me to meet with two of the mom’s on our staff team and pass off all the information and ideas I had gathered so they could implement them.  Well, the mom’s felt that I should be the one to implement the ideas and lead the weekly mom’s time.  I wanted to puke. Too much?  How could a 35 year old single woman encourage a group of mom’s?  I didn’t even know how the  &^%$ to operate a diaper genie, and can you believe I had no strong opinion on breast feeding versus bottle, and what the heck was Growing Kids God’s Way?  Wasn’t every mama just trying to do the best that she could do? So with great vulnerability and nervousness,  I obeyed and God gently met us in our times.  Because after all, what each mama needed was just someone who noticed and cared enough to even try to have a mom’s time.  I share all this not to brag or for someone to think I’m special, but I share that because for a lot of my life I just didn’t notice the needs of mom’s.  For one, I was too busy focused on my own (still am a lot of times), to focus on someone else who I felt had gained the American Dream of family.  This is where perspective comes in. 

Over the past few months I have wrestled with longing for acknowledgement of not having a family. When you are single, most church people just think you might be sad because you want a boyfriend, but there’s not acknowledgement that you are grieving a whole family that you had imagined would have been a reality by now – a strange type of infertility. I couldn’t have named it, but after my sixth friend in a month’s time shared that she was pregnant and another handful got engaged, I think what I longed for was some sort of acknowledgement, “Beth, what is this like for you?”  However, in the midst of someone’s great happiness, why should they?  Perhaps this is why since that summer in 2010, and especially over the past week, my mom friends have been so heavily on my mind and heart.  They live day in and day out with little if any acknowledgement.  No one is around to cheer, “Way to go! Way to clean up your kid’s nasty diaper! Way to expand the Kingdom!” They don’t hear, “I know you feel like you have a second butt with that child following you around everywhere, but this will matter in the long run.”  And my guess is that when they are up at 4AM and want to cry from total exhaustion, no one is around saying, “These moments are an invitation to something greater and it is just for a season.”  Sigh.  Mom’s, we see you.  God sees you. And… matter. 

Gratitude enters the picture when you begin to see what you do have versus what you don’t.  Like the first paragraph of this blog – with perspective, gratitude can come.  Not sure which comes first?  I am grateful that while I am not a mom I have friends who let me be Auntie to their children.  I often laugh with my sister/cousin Ami who happens to have six kids, that when I am at her house in Texas, I don’t have time to think about myself or be sad.  What a gift AND what exhaustion.  Happy exhaustion.  A way I can love my friends is to love their kids and to take a meal or give them a break.  Who says I can’t be a little piece of a mom to a lot of kids?  If I continued to sit around in my house with my diabetic dog and be sad, then it is my own fault.  Jesus offers a way to get out of ourselves as single people and be the Body to our friends.  Can we put selfishness aside?  Not longing, but just self-centeredness long enough to love on those who could use a hand? 
Will you trust God with me that He will somehow use our feeble attempts to love one another and allow that to go a long way in the lives of those that feel unnoticed?  Don’t we all just occasionally want to know we are not alone?  Isn’t that why people fight and argue because they don’t feel heard or noticed? The concern is when the desire to be acknowledged becomes a demand.  Disordered desires can shoot us in the foot and keep us from OPENNESS to what God has for us.  Choosing to dream new dreams beyond what I want in the next year is where I am.  Asking God for a dream and vision of what life could be like if I remain open to Him…………perspective, gratitude, trust, openness.  The invitation is for you too!  And for all my mom friends, you are my heroes and I love you. Thank you for teaching me about dying to selfishness.


Becky Crenshaw said...

Beth, I seriously could cry. Thank you so much for this post. You have no idea how validated this makes me feel. I feel chronically unappreciated. Woe is me, I know, but it sure would sound great to JUST ONCE hear the boys say, "Gee mom, thank you so much for bleaching the floor behind the toilet. I know we pee everywhere and it dries. And stinks. But you on your hands and knees around the toilet every week, man, that knocks it out!"

Love you Beth...

Anonymous said...

Great, great post.

Years ago, Geralyn and I were smack in the middle of pillow talk and she said, "You talk often of wanting children but never mention a husband."

In my mind, that was assumed as a first step but I guess I never mentioned it. But what you said above is totally true - grieving the loss of the "whole package".

That's all I've ever wanted. Since age 12. To be a wife and mother. That's it.

Like I posted this week, I am SO thankful the Lord has placed families in my life where I can be surrounded by kids. Kids who love me in ways I don't understand. Parents who give me time with their kids - they think it is a gift to them then I babysit but they don't know how much it ministers to me to have time with their kids. At my age, I can be selective at who I babysit. Praise!


Thankful for this post and perspective.

Always love it.

Life With Lucy said...

AHHHH YOU FLOOR ME BETH!!! Bam, bam, bam all up in my face with valuable truth. I could just soak you right up & have constantly been thinking about everything you talked about in the 3rd paragraph. Seriously, next time we're together I want some GOOD talking time sister.

Anonymous said...

I cannot imagine raising my children without you in our lives. Chris and I are humbled to walk this journey with you. xoxoxoxo


Anonymous said...

After I posted my comment late last night, I realized it sounded incredibly self-focused. Those were my initial response comments.

All wrapped up in that was the assumption that yes, we need to and want to thank the moms in our lives! I am beyond thankful for all my dear friends raising littles. They are exhausted and work so hard. Becky's comment about bleaching behind the toilets is the perfect perspective. Nope, none of those sweet boys will ever thank her for that but it matters.

Now that my friends have teenagers and are sending kids to college (heck, some have children having first children) I am seeing the results of all those years serving their families. Time on their knees (whether in intentional prayer or wiping up after a sick child) before the Lord. Seeing children choosing to walk with the Lord. Some not. God is faithful.

Press on dear friends. Your daily toil and love and wiping bottoms is not in vain!

Anonymous said...

I love you Beth! You are giver, and I appreciate both your giving and your personal needs. I think they go hand-in-hand. It is hard to truly give if you've never wrestled with a need. God Bless you Sweetie!
~ Aunt Carol

Nicole Ouwenga-Scott said...

You did bring me to tears. You are a well of all things beautiful... and I so appreciate the shout out for us moms. I wish you lived closer so we could call on aunt Beth when things get kooky around here! So much love to you, my friend. xoxo

Jenn said...

you are an amazing writer friend. please please keep writing ! i sent this to my sis .. i miss you.. you .. me.. date .. soon! love you

Pam Archer said...

This breaks my heart, but it is a beautiful encouragement to other moms. You are an awesome daughter!

Beth Dishman said...

This would be a great Mother's Day post for the ISBC blog! A gift from a "guest" blogger. Beautiful and thought provoking. Beth Dishman

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