The Parenting Magazine Crisis

1 chronicles

New Mom + Parenting Magazine Subscription = Monthly Mom Crisis.

When I was that fresh, idealistic young mom with that first chubby cheeked babe, I had big, big plans to get it all right.

Every month that magazine arrived.  I scanned it for creative ideas, ripped out yummy recipes, and dog-eared pages with fun activities.

Then I grumped around the house for a day or two.

I cried occasionally.

Because, according to the magazine, good moms don’t ever serve their kids macaroni and cheese.  If said mac and cheese happens to be from a box, good gracious, you are one of “THOSE” moms.  You know—-the Bad Moms.

Also, Good Moms have Good Kids who always choose the steamed vegetables and rice pilaf when dining out.  These perfect children never order the pizza and chicken fingers on the menu.

Limit screen time.  Join play groups.  Teach kids to share.  Teach them to care.

Involve them in service projects and ideally live abroad so you can expand their vision of the world.

Teach them sign language and then a foreign language.

Make all your dinners a month in advance and freeze them.

Kids must have an allowance and a weekly chore chart or they will end up lazy, unemployed and bankrupt.

Discipline this way.  Play with them that way.

Work outside the home.

Don’t work outside the home.

And never, ever, ever expect your kids to play on their own or entertain themselves with siblings or friends without your intense and continual involvement.  You must play cars, dolls, and blocks with them for hours.  Good moms never get bored building towers and are never too busy to color.

I finally asserted myself and cancelled the subscription.  Who needs to pay for a monthly self-esteem destroyer?

The truth is, I do some of those Good Mom things, but no one can do all of them.

When we try to do everything, we won’t do anything well.

We end up weighed down by overwhelming expectations and impossible demands.

How much better to celebrate victories, to keep a balanced perspective, and to choose what’s most important right here and right now?

How much better to lean in close to God day after daily day and ask Him, “What do you have for me, Lord?  Right here.  Right now.  Show me what’s next.”

The world is full of opinions about who we need to be and what we need to be doing.  It’s a noisy place and everyone has something to say.

And we need to know what is right and true and what is guilt-loading nonsense.

It means saying no to being like everyone else, to trying to be perfect, to trying to do everything, to keeping up with every great idea on Pinterest, Facebook, and mommy blogs.

It means no longer being paralyzed by everything, so I can do the right things well.

King David placed a weighty task on the shoulders of his son, Solomon.  He handed over the plans for the temple with instructions on dividing the labor among the Levites, how much gold to use for the lampstands and the cherubim, and the available supplies.

This was the right thing, the God-thing, that God had designed, purposed and planned for Solomon to do.

And it still could have felt like too much.  How could Solomon even begin?

David told his son:

Be strong and do the work (1 Chronicles 28:10 NIV)

and again:

Then David continued, Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Don’t be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. He will see to it that all the work related to the Temple of the Lord is finished correctly (1 Chronicles 28:20 NLT)

Be strong.

Don’t be afraid.

God is with you.

So, do the work.

Pick up right where you are and begin.  One step at one time.

You don’t need to do everything.

You just need to begin with this one thing.

And God is with you.  He will not fail or forsake you.

When we lean our weary and overwhelmed souls onto Him, He shoulders the load.  He makes sure the work is done well.

Maybe that’s the lesson Solomon needed so that when God told him, “Ask me for anything….” Solomon knew what to say:

Give me the wisdom and knowledge to lead them properly, for who could possibly govern this great people of yours?” (2 Chronicles 1:10 NLT).

Help me do the work.  That’s what Solomon said.  Show me how to fulfill this calling.

And isn’t this my heart, too?

Lord, show me how to do this well.

Let that be our prayer, our constant heart’s desire.

Originally posted August 15, 2014

After the Parade Passes By

Yesterday, they formed a parade in my honor.

I heard the commotion outside the bathroom door as I finished brushing my teeth on the morning of Mother’s Day.

At the sound of the whispering and shuffling, I opened the door to find three daughters and one husband singing, “Happy Mother’s Day to you…” their own take on the familiar birthday tune.

My youngest waved two hand-made flags, my oldest led the singing with her present in hand, my middle girl smiled in her Groucho Marx funny glasses.  They had as021signed my husband a triangle and given him handwritten sheet music so he knew when to play his notes.

Happy Mother’s Day to you. (tap, tap)

Happy Mother’s Day to you. (tap, tap)

Happy Mother’s Day, dear Mommy. (tap, tap)

Happy Mother’s Day to you. (tap, tap, tap)

They labored with love and presented handmade gifts, so thoughtful and sweet, and they were so proud of their offerings.  More than just handwritten notes, they had created dot-to-dot puzzles and coloring sheets for me with hidden messages.

All day my daughters fussed at me for pouring the cereal, clearing the table, or buckling my youngest girl’s seatbelt.

You shouldn’t have to do anything today, Mom.  That’s what my middle girl assured me.

Mother’s Day, all that recognition and thanks, all those assurances that the daily grind that has ground you right down is noticed and worth it and they appreciate it after all and maybe all those times you felt invisible someone actually saw you, that’s such a beautiful gift to a woman.  It fills her soul right up so that she’s able to pour out more.

Parades, though, all have endings.  A final float, the Santa sleigh or the police escort brings up the rear and everyone packs up their lawn chairs and bags of candy and treks back to their cars.

And we wake up the day after Mother’s Day and love without the flags and songs.

The phone is ringing, the laundry spinning, the dishwasher humming, and I’m running through the to-do list today.

But it’s when I scrub the toilet, of all things, that I remember as I grumble a little with that silent whine that no one else knows about except God.

How it must sadden Him so, how disappointed He must be by my heart’s ugly attitude as I serve, as I wash feet without joy and give without cheerfulness of heart.

There I scrub, bleach poured out and I’m working fast just to get it all done, when I remember—yesterday, they made a parade for me.

These gifts of God, my family so precious, those I watched last night after they were in deep sleep, breathing slow, hair tangled all over pillows, fleece blankets wrapped tight like cocoons around them.  I remember that I had prayed such deep thanks for these blessings.

And I felt so overwhelmed by that grace we can’t ever understand, how God trusted me with these daughters and the love of this husband.  This is the great privilege and highest honor.

Serving with joy, that’s my heart bent deep in gratitude to God.

It all feels easier for a while because I remember.  The laundry and the toilets and scrubbing the toothpaste off that sink: this isn’t mundane and annoying.  It’s the blessing and the gift.

But the challenge is here: How to remember the parade a week from now, a month, this time next year?  It’s always in those moments after the high of a mountaintop that we can crash right down the hardest because we have the farthest to fall.

Like Elijah, sitting on that mountain all alone after defeating 450 prophets of Baal in a spiritual showdown with supernatural fire.  It was after the victory that he ran away in fear.  After all that boldness, there was terror and loneliness and suicidal despair.

How could he forget, I wonder?

Maybe he hadn’t learned to live without the parade.

Sometimes God speaks in the whirlwind, the earthquake and the fire.  Sometimes it’s grand and showy.

But not always.

Oh no, sometimes it’s that “still small voice” and this we forget in the days long after the Mother’s Day parade when we’ve started to feel a little overlooked and invisible again.  We forget how to see God in the quiet and the everyday.

Zechariah 4:10 asks: “Who dares despise the day of small things?”

The small things, the quiet ways, the stillness, the everyday, the service without parades, the scrubbing down bathrooms without whining….that’s where we can find beauty, where we hear God, where our worship brings Him joy.

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  Her upcoming book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, will be released in November 2013!  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2013 Heather King