Mothering

We rejoice at the positive pregnancy test and immediately plan the colors of the nursery. If it’s a girl, it’ll be Tiffany Blue and if it’s a boy, grays and navy. And when the ultrasound time comes and we find out the gender we immediately pick names. In the span of 20 minutes we’ve considered and tossed out close to 50 name options ranging from family to traditional to unique to modern spellings of traditional names.

As the pregnancy grows we plan our clothes and the baby’s clothes. We plan the diaper bag and the wipes holder and plan the car seat and the window shade and the high chair. We plan our birthing process and what we’ll wear in the hospital and what the baby will wear home.

When our child is born, we plan the feeding schedule and the sleeping schedule and the pooping schedule and the playing schedule. We plan visits with family and friends to show off our bundle. We take time to pack the bag and have extra clothes and extra diapers and extra wipes and extra everything in case we’re stranded for a week solid.

As toddlerhood begins we figure out where they’ll go to Mother’s Morning Out and for how many hours a day. Then we finalize a preschool and Halloween costumes and Christmas outfits and Easter baskets and decide if we’ll even celebrate Halloween or Santa or the Easter Bunny at all.

Careful thought about every single aspect of our child’s life, planned out from the moment we peed on a stick.

But then, if you’re like me, you wake up one day and your daughter is almost nine and you realize you’ve been very happenstance about this whole mothering thing, regardless of all your planning.

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And I suddenly there’s a sense of urgency because if I’m not intentional now then I’ve lost the most formative years before she’s a full-fledged teen. (tweet)

And all the planning for nursing and outfits and preschool was nothing compared to the planning I need to do now.

So now — today — I begin. With intention. With determination.

First, I hit the ground with my face to the floor and let my pained heart bleed out to the One who gave her to me. I thank Him for the gift of raising a daughter, even when I was scared to death about raising a girl in a world with Facebook and Twitter at minimum. I ask Him to fill me with wisdom and discernment and confidence and boldness that I might say no when necessary, bestow grace when it’s undeserved and hold firm when I want to waver.

Second, I cover her with Truth. I pray the word over her, that her heart would be guarded from lies that the world wants her to believe. I pray that no weapon formed against her would prosper and that He would hide her under His mighty wing. I pray that she might always find refuge in Him alone. First. Always. I pray that her daddy would continue to dote over her and fawn over her, displaying the Father’s love for her here on earth, just as he always has.

Third, I stock up my arsenal. I gather books and resources galore that will help me navigate in these choppy waters of tweendom. Resources from Secret Keeper Girl and books like Six Ways to Keep the Little in Your Girl and Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters. I read and highlight and cry and pray as my eyes are opened to the importance of this time in her life. I call on friends who have walked this path and know what’s ahead of me. I ask them for prayer when I’ve had to make tough decisions that leave me feeling like That Mom. I soak up wisdom from these friends and pour out thanksgiving to them and God for their covering.

Lastly, I let go. After all the tears and prayers and books and talks, I have to open the cage and let her fly. I have to trust her to make tough decisions. I resist the urge to rescue when her heart is hurt by a friendship. I have to comfort and love and release and watch in so many ways and it makes my heart ache, but that’s what I’m called to do. I have to trust Jesus in her. I have to trust God. I have to. For after all, she was His first. He’s just entrusting her to me for a time.

When I was six months pregnant and had that glow and eagerly anticipated what Jaana would look like and how she’d grow up, I didn’t imagine she’d be as amazing a child as she is right now. I also couldn’t have imagined the depths to which I would feel for her.

I knew I’d love her fiercely, but I didn’t realize how quickly I’d be willing to punch out another child for hurting her feelings. Or how often I’d want to isolate her in a bubble so she wouldn’t be subject to any pain or difficulty or change. Or how her pain would literally make my heart stop.

I didn’t know it would be like that.

I’ve had to keep myself from crying more times than I can count as she tells me about changing friendships, hurt feelings and how life just doesn’t seem fair.

For all the planning I did as a pregnant woman, I have felt so underprepared to mother, feeling failure at every turn and fear of permanent scarring.

But there are also moments when I’m drowning in the words I can’t find to comfort or guide her, and suddenly as my mouth opens God fills it. He speaks the words that will bring a healing balm to her tiny heart. He speaks the grace that erases doubt and confusion as she nods her head in understanding.

Those are the holy moments. The moments when I truly realize He has equipped me for this job…even if the equipping happens in real-time in a minute-by-minute basis, and not in a stockpile. (tweet)

So I begin my journey of intention starting today, confident in the knowledge that God is equipping me to mother this beautiful girl as I go. I make my plans but keep a loose hold on them to allow for God’s divine guidance and direction along the way.

“The mind of a man plans his way, but the Lord shows him what to do.” (Proverbs 16:9, New Life Version)

Five Minute Friday #21 – JOIN

I link up with Lisa-Jo on Fridays, where writing solely for the fun of it is the priority: “On Fridays over here a group of people who love to throw caution to the wind and just write gather to share what five minutes buys them. Just five minutes. Unscripted. Unedited. Real. Your words. This shared feast.”

Today’s topic: JOIN

GO.

The pool was still icy cold, but I bounded down the steps and in anyway. The minute my breath was sucked away by the cold she quickly laid out the plan. Her name is Angelina and she’s a mermaid I find at the beach. She’s a young girl and I’m a young girl and my name is Pen and we become friends but my parents don’t want me to be friends with a mermaid. She gives me an orange sparkly pretend fin to wear that lets me swim like her and has the magical powers that also let me breathe underwater. We swim and we pretend and then Angelina’s family moves her to another ocean in Hawaii and she wants Pen to come visit someday but it’s too far and too much money to go.

We play and we pretend and we play some more and one day we have a snack bar in the neighborhood.

The tractor was covered in dew from the morning which made all the dirt extra dirty which he loved. He climbed up and climbed in and climbed around it telling me where to go and what to do and where to sit. He decided he had to do work on the tractor so he pretended to fix a headlight and wipe it down and I still had to just sit in the front seat because that’s what he told me to do. Then a dump truck drove by and he was covered in dirt and I had on white pants, but I knew it would make his entire day to watch the truck dump out the old asphalt. So I sat him on my lap and got dirt all over my white pants and we watched as God gave him the coolest bulldozer and dump truck show an almost three-year old could want.

We play and we pretend and we play some more and another day we have a neighborhood car wash.

This parenting thing is so much harder and easier and enjoyable than anyone can tell you to expect. The disciplining is hard and the intentionality of molding is hard and the character-building is hard. But the reward of all the hard is the joining in we have the privilege to experience with them. It’s a gift to be invited into their play and be an equal participant and yet sometimes I forget that. And as I watch my girl grow up and develop her own website and become a full-fledged tween, I realize if I don’t join in now she’ll never ask me to join in later. And if I don’t get dirty with him now he’ll get dirty with someone else later. So everything else stops and has to wait because right here, right now, I’m joining in and cashing in on the rewards I’ve earned so far. And it’s worth every bit of it.

STOP.