Thursday, July 7, 2011

the only thing that stays the same

My sister has a baby, her first, and he's the cutest baby in the world.

I can say that, you see, because none of mine are babies anymore. Which is very weird to me, because I've spent almost six years mothering babies. Half of my adult life, in fact.

So I’m making a transition in my mothering, from being the mother of babies to being the mother of kids. And I'm realizing that I have to learn how to do this new thing well.

And it’s a fascinating new thing – my favorite part of mothering babies was watching them grow and learn, and being able to know them better and better as they were able to communicate more and more clearly – from first smiles to first gestures to first words – and liking them so well, and then liking them better and better the better I could get to know them, and being astonished that it was even possible to like them more when I already liked them better than anyone else I ever knew (except Adam) – and mothering kids! oh! it’s that over and over and more and more – I like Bess & Gamgee & Lucy & Anna each so much, and I love, love, love watching them grow into themselves and learning to do and to be . . . I think mothering kids is going to be an absolute blast.

I think the hard part, at least right now, comes with the way the old and the new thing merge and blend . . . yes, they are these new little people, just beginning to grow into their strengths and their intelligence . . . but the babyish parts are still there, and crop up over and over – often when I least expect them, and I have trouble transitioning (yes, again, some more) from moment to moment, from, “Let me help you do this thing you’re just learning to be good at – let me encourage you, let me watch you, let me get you the tools that you need to do it yourself” to “oh, goodness, you’re tired, you’re hungry, you need comforting – let me fulfill your needs.” And at this stage – this early childhood stage – they just boomerang from one side to another – from delightful new competence to newborn-level want-want-want-help-me-Mama! and I think I get whiplash.

So, as they are the growing young things, I need to be the one who is plastic, who is able to be one moment the strong trellis they can use as they climb up towards the sun and the next moment the warm greenhouse where they just rest and passively soak up the water and the light. And the only way I can be that, the only way I can have that flexibility that is so contrary to my own nature (I like things predictable) – is to rest myself in my own Father’s care. To be always consciously resting in His strength, letting him supply my needs so that I can supply theirs – so that I can have the wisdom, the patience, and the kindness that they need.

My desire to always know what to expect, my innate hatred of surprises – the only way I can truly satisfy that part of me that desires stability is with the knowledge that He doesn’t change. That He is who He is and He is there. That is where that thirst is slaked. And if I have that rock to stand on, I can stand firm then, despite the changes all around me.

Peace of Christ to you,

Jessica Snell

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