I watch my boy at play: one clumsy little foot flies out in the vicinity of a falling football. He giggles wildly at the gap between intention and reality, the ball propelled not by feet as was the aim, but by wayward arms with flailing legs lagging behind. When life is good, it is grand – and the whole world is a playground. He is not embarrassed. Mistakes are simply serendipitous pathways to hilarious alternative games, equally as valid as the original. Oh, the sweetness of trying again and again without success!
I have enjoyed the privilege of becoming an aunt again twice in the past few months. A sweet little baby boy and baby girl have filled their lungs with air and made their voices known to the world. And our family is rejoicing.
As I gaze on these little lives, I want to take my role as aunt seriously. I want to be intentional about the time I have with them and about the privilege God has gifted me. So I search the scriptures and try to find examples of how non-mothers effected the lives of little ones.
I turn on my phone and I read about Charlottesville, about atrocities around the world… I feel helpless. What can this person that I am do to ignite change and inspire love? What difference can I make to the world? I’ve not got substantial amounts of money to donate, or time to give or even much of a sphere of influence. I read, I cry and I pray but as a person of faith I believe I am also called to action. As a builder of community and kingdom, I believe that whatever it is I can do, I need to do. Thus, I need to take stock of what I can do, and at first, it doesn’t seem like much. As Arthur Ashe’s well known quote is drummed into my memory, “Start where you are, use what you have, do what you can”, I go ahead and make a list.
Mum guilt is the weirdest thing I have ever experienced.
When I use the term ‘mum guilt’, I don’t mean the idea of being shamed by another mum. That’s simply ‘mum-shaming’ and I refuse to even touch on that today because I can’t believe it exists. (We’re literally a giant collection of women all doing the same, hard, life-changing job. Can we just stop with the keyboard bashing and the quick tongues? Okay, noooow I’m not going to touch it on it.)
**Trigger Warning: This post contains content on miscarriage and infant loss, which some readers may find distressing. Please be aware of your triggers and don’t read on if you don’t feel comfortable doing so.**
“You must be sooo over it by now!”
My protruding belly is the subject of all mindless supermarket and bump-into chit-chats.
“Oh you know, this is the easiest part!” Truly. It is. If you’re a mom, you get my drift.
Right now baby does not need to be changed, carried, fed, changed, dressed, undressed, changed, bathed, changed, rocked to sleep while I lose my mind.
I don’t have to figure out why she is crying, wear dodgy nursing bras or wake up for feeds and function on half a brain the rest of the day.
There are few things in life that are as precious to a child as their Dad. The appeal is effortless – one tickle fight and they’re in for life. When I was a kid, all my Dad had to do to make my day was get home from work and play duplo with me and my sisters, or tell us a story that started with “When I was a little boy.” When we got our first jobs, Dad was the one who helped us get tax file numbers and open superannuation accounts. When we got our learners permits, Dad was the one who took us car shopping and arranged our insurance. For as long as we lived under his roof, we were looked after.
There is something really precious and sweet, lost on our way from childhood to adulthood, isn’t there?
Something big, invisible, beautiful and powerful, something along the lines of innocence and boldness and joy.
Maybe it’s the reason we think of childhood as such a magical time, the reason we look at children with envy, and melancholy and tears in our eyes.
And I wonder… I wonder how we get a glimpse of this fleeting gold in our souls again.
Almost 13 years ago, my husband and I sat at the end of our hotel bed, looking over the jungles of Borneo, soaking up the last few moments of what had been the most amazing 10 days. It was the eve of our return home after our honeymoon, and we had been talking about our new lives together and what it all meant. We pondered what the future would bring, the adventures we would go on, the opportunities we would seize. We decided to write a letter to our future selves, to be opened on our 10th wedding anniversary wherever we might be. A time capsule one might say. There were questions about where we planned to travel, if we would move overseas, if we would build or renovate….exploring the million possibilities our new path could give us. Our eyes were wide and our dreams even wider. Coming up to the last question, we were unanimous in our answer.
I have seen mothers at their best, and I have seen mothers at their worst.
At our best, mothers unite. We fight for each others’ rights, each others’ kids, each others’ protection, each others’ security. When a fellow mother is worried, we soothe. When a fellow mother is uncertain, we guide. When a fellow mother is about to break from the pressure of it all, we support.