motherhood, perspective

I’m aware of my lack of perspective.

For someone who processes things in writing, I know I’ve been awfully quiet lately. I’ve written lots of words, but none of them were polished enough to share. Most of my recent writing has been on a phone screen, tapped out with my thumb while rocking a nursing baby that is working on six new teeth at the same time. (One of the molars finally came in, so we’re down to six now.)

I had the wonderful opportunity last weekend to attend the Wild + Free conference in Williamsburg, where rows of women poured life-giving words, hugs, and understanding into each other’s hearts. Some of us were tired when we got there. All of us had our reasons for needing to be there, I know.

For me, it was the end of a couple of rough weeks of homeschooling and mothering and life in general. It has felt hard to recover after the loss of my grandfather last month…hard to come back and pick up our routine after being gone for almost two weeks, hard to motivate and encourage my kids when all I’ve really wanted to do is crawl back into bed, hard to choose joy when I’ve been overwhelmed with a sense of grouchy foreboding and a general sense that someone is standing on top of my chest.

When I arrived Friday night, the first person I saw was Sarah Mackenzie, who is one of my favorite bloggers and the force behind the amazing Read Aloud Revival. The words she shared were the kind of grace-filled truth that only comes from having done hard things. She talked about Jesus and the wedding at Cana, how He told the servants to fill the jars with water instead of just producing wine out of thin air. He did this, she said, because He always starts with what we have to offer. We are responsible for filling up the jars, but we aren’t responsible for the miracle that results from faithfully doing what He asks of us. I listened to her words, and I wept as I realized anew that crazy contradiction of parenting: in the same way that I can never be enough to live up to the calling of mothering and educating my children, I am already enough.

After Sarah came The Hunts, a band of homeschooled brothers and sisters who played for us, lighting up the room with their songs and smiles. I watched them and wondered how chaotic life must have been at their home when they were all children. Now all grown up, they fill a stage and play their instruments together without any visible urges to hit each other with them. It’s amazing to think this was achieved through the work of their parents and the passing of time.

Both The Hunts and Sarah got me thinking about perspective, something I generally lack. I tend to get hung up on little things, blowing them out of proportion and spiraling down until I am predicting the end of the world before lunch. As doomsday prophets go, I’m pretty boring- mostly staying in the territory of messy rooms and lost socks- but my general lack of perspective about relatively unimportant things makes me less than fun to be around sometimes.

There are all these little blog posts and articles floating around lecturing us about how we are supposed to have perspective, how we should be treasuring every moment with our little kids because before we know it, they’ll grow up and be gone and we’ll wish more than anything that we could step on some Legos or clean up some vomit the way we do now.

I refuse to feel guilty about my lack of perspective.

It is totally okay that I don’t have the long range view here. I am so stuck in the middle of it all that I cannot. Perspective is one of those hard-earned, long-fought things. You don’t get wise by rising above. You get wise by slogging through the hard stuff, the worst parts- the knock-down, drag-out sibling fights and what feels like endless waking hours and crying jags that last days.

You get it by surviving (which is exactly what we are doing, by the way).

So regardless of what the internet says, I’m going to keep on keeping on. I’ll try to smile. I’ll try to enjoy the moment. But if there’s poop involved, or if someone falls on her face and knocks out her tooth and bleeds all over her dress and I feel grumpy about it, I’m going to be okay with that, too.

I know I don’t have perspective this week, but I decided to write anyway. What I didn’t do was think of asking Sarah Mackenzie to take a picture with me. You’ll have to take my word for it- meeting her was a real treat, but in my typical INFJ way, I fumbled through the small talk and thought of all the things I really wanted to say to her after she had already left.

Do you do that? I love to talk to people, but chit chat is just not my thing…and there isn’t often time for big, thoughtful conversations when you’re meeting someone for the first time (especially at a conference). I think it would work better if when I met someone new, I just pretended it was our third meeting instead of our first.

Would that be weird?


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