Sunday, May 4, 2008

The Question Mark


I find myself incapable of resisting the delectable combination of chocolate and peanut butter, tickling tiny toes, and completing multiple choice personality tests. Perhaps it’s the puzzle of trying to figure out what I have in common with a pair of cotton pajamas, a Golden Retriever, and a Daffodil that swells the intrigue? Or maybe it’s because I have never taken one that lived up to its promise of defining me? Regardless the why, and despite the let downs, I still take the tests. The most recent was the highly unscientific ditty What Punctuation Mark Are You? The title screams DO NOT TAKE ME SERIOUSLY. But still, I checked five boxes and I read that I was most like a comma. Sadly, yet not surprisingly, this test didn’t “get me,” either. Now, the comma and I are tight, but no piece of punctuation sums me up better than the question mark.

Why the question mark? For starters, I operate with caution. Although an adventurous streak courses through my veins and predictable is not on my calling card, I invest considerable thought in the decisions that fall under my jurisdiction. Another reason is that my initiation into motherhood requires my participation in a scavenger hunt of sorts. In this hunt, the clues are evasive, the answers well-hidden, and the questions emerge from a bottomless cavern.

Some confrontational questions include:

  • Is it normal for my four-year-old to burst into tears because she wants to play with a plastic candy wrapper that I asked her to throw away? And is it a normal part of her imagination to give said candy wrapper a cutesy name and call it a friend?
  • Is loosing an entire box of Cheerios ™ a sign of the undocumented medical phenomena Mommy Brain or a symptom of a brain tumor?
  • Should I keep choosing my daughter’s clothing for her on Sundays as a part of stressing obedience? Or is it not worth the battle?
  • How can I gently stop my one-year-old son from spontaneously screaming?
  • How can I keep my kids free of foods stacked with unnecessary hormones and chemicals while adhering to an unforgiving grocery budget? And where is that balance between healthy and unhealthy?

I’m guessing that in 20 years I will chastise myself for wasting time on such unknowns, but if I really believed that wouldn’t the questions vanish?

There are probably child psychologists, super nanny types, and pediatricians who can offer plausible answers to my questions. So I do my research. Yet, even then I find conflict among the experts. What’s a mother to do? Here is my three-step action plan (because I cannot remember more than three-steps). It may seem simple, perhaps even trite, but it’s all I’ve got.

  1. I’m going to wake up each morning dedicated to doing my best; and accept that on some days my best will be excellent and on other days my best will be allowing my good enough to be good enough.
  1. I’m going to cover my children in prayer. I’m not going to ever have all the answers. Despite my desire to control my life, I was not given that responsibility. It’s not my job. But I’m on a first name basis with the One who is in charge. And I can call on Him…not just for the answers, but as the Answer.
  1. I’m going to enlist my inner “Mama Bear” to capture, shackle, and kick out every stinking lie that invades my heart. Lies like I’m a failure as a mother; God made a mistake by thinking I could handle this (fill in the blank); and, I’m going to ruin my kids. Once those culprits are vanished, I’m going to plant truth in those empty spaces. Truth such as, I have not been given a spirit of fear but of power, love and a sound mind – 2 Tim., 1:7; I have been chosen and appointed to bear fruit – John, 15:16; and, I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength – Phil., 4:13.

After Pumpkindoodle’s birth I referred to delivering a baby sans pain medication as my Mt. Everest. But I soon learned that the journey of motherhood is the highest mountain to climb. It is going to take me a few decades, dozens of falls, and thousands of bruises and pulled muscles, but I’m going to reach that mountain top some day. And when I do, I’m going to collapse into the mighty arms of my Savior. I pray that He will reward my efforts with seven whispered words, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”


I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing. II Timothy 4:7-8 (NIV)





48 comments:

Lynn said...

Praise God that we don't have to have answers to all of those questions.

Great post...I enjoyed every word.

Pam said...

You gave me goosebumps!

I feel like I could have written this post - I take all those silly quizzes. I have millions of child questions I can't answer and feel like I should know if it is normal or not. For example- is the rash my son has just a rash or a reaction to his ear medicine?? And, I also feel like the world's worst mommy for not being able to answer that question. But, I think your 3 step plan just may be my answer! (after all, as you said- 3 is all I can remember too!)

Happyhome said...

Great post! The speaker at our ladies retreat this weekend talked about the importance of ridding our lives of the lies the enemy wants us to believe and instead hitting him hard with scripture. No weapon formed against me will prosper! Greater is He that is in me than he that is in the world! I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me! We have to know the Word in order to be able to combat the lies.

As for Lisa Welchel...I've never heard that, but I consider it a great compliment! :)

Have a blessed day.

Kate said...

Amen sister! Keep walking on...thank you for stopping by yesterday. And THANK YOU for voting for my sister!! :) God bless your week...

Rebekah said...

you wrote what every mother goes through. Child birth is nothing compared to child rearing.

and chocolate and peanut butter- my fav!

BP said...

Thanks for the prayer request. I put it on my list.

I feel like a question mark too. I struggle with "what ifs" often.

Laura said...

You are hi-lar-ious! I feel your pain, my friend! Thanks for tickling my funny bone this morning and awakening my determination to do my best as a mom too.
Blessings...
Laura

saramason said...

I am a ?, too! Because of all the questions of motherhood and spirituality, but also because I'm just plain indecisive!

the160acrewoods said...

* Is it normal for my four-year-old to burst into tears because she wants to play with plastic candy wrapper that I asked her to throw away? And is it a normal part of her imagination to give said candy wrapper a cutesy name and call it a friend?
YES, YES THIS IS NORMAL!! I HAVE TWO CHILDREN WHO DO THIS.. (SHOULD I ACTUALLY ADMIT THAT?)

* Is loosing an entire box of Cheerios ™ a sign of the undocumented medical phenomena Mommy Brain or a symptom of a brain tumor?
I ALWAYS WONDER IF IT'S A BRAIN TUMOR HAHA

* Should I keep choosing my daughter’s clothing for her on Sundays as a part of stressing obedience? Or is it not worth the battle?
I choose.. or we choose together...

* How can I gently stop my one-year-old son from spontaneously screaming?
let me know if you find the answer to this one!

* How can I keep my kids free of foods stacked with unnecessary hormones and chemicals while adhering to an unforgiving grocery budget? And where is that balance between healthy and unhealthy?
If I was super mom, maybe.. but other wise growing my own garden in the summer and the occassional processed food for convienence!

God Bless you! what a great post!

Amy said...

Great post - I love your writing and feel much the same about motherhood! Day by day - He will supply for our every need.

Karen said...

I love your three step plan!

And, I've got some pictures of crazy outfits that my dd picks for Sundays because that's one battle I give up once they can dress themselves.

Not that I don't second guess myself when she comes down with a blue dress and red shoes ;)

Gretchen said...

Wonderful post and excellent plan. I'll be joining you--especially in #3. The self esteem for mothers is such a spiritual warfare target. Let's get the armor on, Baby!

Blessings!

Darla said...

I pray that He will reward my efforts with seven whispered words, “Well done, they good and faithful servant.”

You and me both, girlfriend, you and me both.

Mocha with Linda said...

Great post, and EXCELLENT 3-step plan!! We should all heed it!

Genny said...

I love your three steps! What a great, great post! Thanks so much for stopping by my blog again, and for your sweet comments.
Genny

a Tonggu Momma said...

I need to better heed your three-step plan. What a wonderful post! And, though I often feel like people look at me with a question mark, I feel I am more like a comma. I talk in run-on sentences, I often find myself waiting, and there always seems to be something just around the corner. LOL.

Julie said...

Another beautiful post....

You are doing and AWESOME job.

I have made MANY mistakes in my 21 years of motherhood...and what I have discovered is grace covers everything, EVEN my mistakes. I've done alot of things wrong through the years, things I wish I could have a "do-over" on. But God in His powerful way has come to redeem and restore.

You have seen on my blog my 21 year old's quest right now. If you had seen us togethe during the teenage years you would see some of the stuff leaking out. But God.....

That's all, But God.....

He truly does redeem the years the locust eat.

You are a great mother. He will guide you!

Hugs,
Julie

Becoming Me said...

As always, you all are wonderful. Every time I post I cringe and think, "OK, this is going to certify me a weirdo" but then I learn even more that we are all so similar as moms.
Also, Mommy Brain was in overdrive last night as I wrote about a coma and not a comma, although I feel like I'm in a coma most of the time. LOL. Thanks for Linda for gently sending me a personal e-mail and bringing attention to the typo. :-)

Ashleigh said...

I'm so with you--I thought of my natural birth as a type of Everest too, only to realize it was a foothill compared to the reality of motherhood. This post is wonderful... a real keeper.

Andrea said...

Absolutely beautiful - and I think what every God-loving mama goes through every day!

And if you can tell ME how to stop myself from spontaneously screaming, that would be something! (Just kidding!)

MyJourneyBack said...

I just happened over from Amy at the 160 acrea woods and I am so glad I did. This post was inspired. You Bless. Your attitude and your desire to trust in God is a Blessing. Thanks for sharing.
Have a Blessed week. Sherry

Elaine A. said...

Thanks for this post. We all need to hear (or in this case read) these kind of things every now and again to remind us that we are not perfect and that God is with us through it all, even Mother hood! ; ) Really thanks.

And, if you figure out the answer to that 4th bullet point, let me know, k?

Sarah said...

Love the post. Thankfully we have a Savior who so fully equips us. BTW I have lost count of the items I've accidentally left at Target or other stores.

My Ice Cream Diary said...

I used to be an exclamation point, the I became a very big question mark, now I am a set of parenthases. It seems like everything I say or do has a qualifier that must be put in parenthases. I hope to eventually make my way to the simple period.

Vintage Dutch Girl said...

Amen sister!

I am LUVING the 3 step action plan. Thank you for hitting the nail on the head :)

faraja said...

Ok, now I feel like I need to go back to school and learn how to write all over again. And I'm supposed to be an English Teacher! :)

You write exceptionally well. And it's not just the style, it's the content too. This post was encouraging, challenging and very inspiring to read.

And I too am a ? Now I'm going to go do the test just for fun to see what it thinks I am *lol*

Wifey said...

Great questions, great plan, great post! Smiles!

Misty said...

cant say anything anyone else hasn't already! great post!

Wendi said...

Wow. I look forward to reading each new post that you write. I love how you really engage all of your readers. You bring out so many emotions in a few paragraphs.
I was seriously laughing through the first part (What mom can't relate?) then soberingly challenged toward the end.
Thanks again for sharing your heart!

sara said...

Great post and a very good plan for me as I start my days with my teenage boys!!! It is so good that we only get small pieces at a time of what it takes to raise a child! If we saw it all at birth, it would completely overwhelm us, but as we take it day by day, relying on Him to guide us, we get through it...and I think complete it well.

blue-eyedchick said...

I LOVE your blog! I can totally relate to everything you wrote! I will definitely be reading your blog from now on!

Becoming Me said...

I'm glad you found me Blue-Eye-Chick. Feel free to pass on the word about this site. It is fairly new. Hope you have a beautiful week.

We are THAT Family said...

That was great--I saw myself in many of those. Most be a 'mom disease'!

Vicki said...

Loved reading here today! Nice blog. And thank you so much for visiting me recently. Appreciated it so much!

love in Him,
Vicki

Corinne said...

Hey friend, those all sound like questions I am asking myself!!! Especially that one about dressing my children on Sunday. I finally found a way around the "before church hair struggle" by encouraging her to cut it all off :)

graceunbound said...

Great post! I'm laughing, but thinking as well. I'll have to make note of the 3 step action plan.

Person(Also Known As Mommy) said...

This was a really great post. I am constantly reminding myself that God knows exactly how much I can handle and would never give me more than I am able to do.

Especially when I'm down to an hour of sleep and the little Bug is screaming and Monkeypants is drawing on himself in sharpie.

Beautiful Craziness said...

Yeah, I think I am more of a question mark too. Too many fine lines, too many gray areas. But in the end, God is merciful and kind adn not to mention patient!

Natalie said...

You have such a way with words. Your posts are so captivating. BTW- I have a great chocolate/peanut butter dessert recipe if you want it :)

GrandCanyonMom said...

You go girl! I love your 1, 2, and 3. So good! So true! Thank you for that!! I loved this post. Could be my new favorite.

Jaime

Caleen said...

I really needed to read this today. THANK YOU!

You are fabulous! ...as always!

kmom3 said...

:) You speak right to my Mommy heart! I ask some of those same exact questions, and the enemy whispers some of those very same lies to me! I am so glad we serve a God who is MORE than enough for us as mommies!

Thank you so much for your sweet prayers and kind offer of help for my friend! Praise God, the church she goes to (where I also attended) is full of some of the most wonderful, supportive, and loving people. I know God is taking such good care of her through them.
Thank you, again! I am blessed by your kindness!

Vixbil said...

Wow, those are all such familiar sentiments, I ask myself the same questions all the time and I so agree that childbirth sans meds is the easy bit compared to rearing them
xx

Steve n Vickie said...

Raising children is deffinately the hardest job I've ever had. ... but "I can do all things through Christ, which strengthens me."
Keep up the good work.
Vickie

wheresthebox said...

I agree, we are on the same page this week, and I really appreciate how you are able to express things so well.

Although it should be the first thing I do, I often forget to look to God for understanding and wisdom, especially when it comes to my son.

Katie said...

As a new mama (almost 3 months!), this post resonates - so beautifully written!!
Thanks for sharing - I'll be sure to visit again!

elizabeth embracing life said...

One of my boys asked me question #158, which came around 8:00am. "Why are the worms insides so squishy? Why did God forget to give the worm bones mommy, and why are they all the same color because it makes it easier for birds to spot them in the green grass?". I admit I had not had my cup of coffee and my answer was more a dismissal than a mommy moment with my sweet four year. I said..."well Eric, these are all questions that kids will be standing in line to ask God".

I know that if I am living in God's will, seeking HIM in all things and praying like crazy over my kids that the days they eat mac and cheese will be okay.

You are a terrific mommy in Gods eyes and that is what counts most...until they turn 20 and hug you every day for giving them such a great upbringing.

Heather said...

Thank you so much for visiting me...I really enjoyed this post. Praise God He knows I'm a simple woman just trying to do His will!

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