I was shocked out of a nice dream around 5:00am this Mother’s Day by a terrible cramp in my calf. They are common for me during pregnancy. But isn’t that like the reality of motherhood. How appropriate, even, and outside the moment, comical. To begin a day full of celebration over being a mom starting with a painful by-product of the physical process of becoming one.
In my 2+ years of motherhood, I’ve learned it’s a practice of being flexible in tension.
I’m thinking of two definitions of tension when I use the word here: a balance maintained in an artistic work between opposing forces or elements; the act or action of stretching. And flexible: characterized by a ready capability to adapt to new, different, or changing requirements.
The tension of our deep love for our kids and the parallel fear of injury, failure or brokenness.
The tension of our joy in teaching and training and the taxing nature of the great responsibility.
The tension of a million opinions and our need for unique wisdom and discernment.
The tension of our wanting to meet their every need and wanting them to grow to think, be and do for themselves.
The tension of worry over every outcome and the relinquishing of control.
The tension of fearing the future and the excitement of raising kids in a beautiful world of waterfalls, ice cream, animals and great books.
To learn flexibility is what motherhood means to me lately. To habitually not snap, but bend. To not be so stiff, but pliable in the hands of a sovereign God. A different kind of steadfastness.
He has given me areas of control and there is a LOT outside my control. I can’t pretend I’m not tempted by anxiety and fear on the regular, but God tells me not to, so I work to not live there (Isaiah 41:10, Philippians 4:6-7, 2 Timothy 1:7). There is the narrow, more challenging-in-the-moment way and then there is the wide, easy way. We are faced with a million choices every week. No day is alike and we are constantly learning, growing and changing. So are our kids.
I used to think maturity and strength and goodness was to get on one side of the equation and stay there. Never any fear, always gentle speech, wisdom out my ears, never-ending energy. But it’s not. Maybe maturity and strength and goodness is to be flexible while holding the tension of all that comes. And holding it open before God.
Flexible. Grace. Humility. Trust. Some days we’re fine, others we’re great, and sometimes we’re not okay at all. The goal is not perfection. The goal is not even to stay the same. The goal is to remember that motherhood is not all about our kids, or all about me, but about God. Him for them and Him for me. As I go through this day. As I do that thing.
To bring it back around… being a mom is awesome, calf cramps are not. But that was this morning. We journey on.