In any given week, at least one day seems to spin out of my control. Especially lately, as my pregnancy hormones ebb and flow, claiming bits of my memory and pieces of my physical dexterity. By day I chase an impish two-year-old who speedily scampers away at diaper-changing time, exclaiming, “itchy butt, mama!” He chews the dirty bottoms of my slippers, plucks lint from the dryer and scatters it around the house, all the while exclaiming with glee, “Noah makes mussies!”
By night I don my writerly cap. I strive to craft a book proposal, polish my narrative writing, and manage a new Christian writers group. Somewhere in between, I hit my home gym–the exertion brings me sanity, balance and a sense that I’m still in control of my body, despite my bulging belly. My to-do list is never finished by the time my head lands heavily on a pillow, a sharp reality that irks me. When I was an editor in D.C., I could accomplish 20 tasks a day, maybe more. I got things done. Nowadays, a good day means ticking off three or four things on my list.
What happened? Have I really lost control?
Life has happened–and an exciting one, at that. I got married to an incredible man who grew up in Europe, who has made me a better woman than I ever could’ve hoped to become as a careerist inside the Beltway. I brought my son into the world, a miracle that continues to transform my heart and mind. And, leaving the bustling city behind, we bought a home in the suburbs. The dynamics of this new life don’t always fit nicely onto a to-do list, much as I wish they would. Taming a toddler on a daily basis is quite a feat. Though it’s not on my resume or touted on my LinkedIn profile, it is deepening my faith in Christ, strengthening my character and, I pray, setting roots that will help my child soar.
It takes some reflection for me to rediscover a lesson I’ve learned before: I’ve never really been in control. I like to believe that I am, because for me, a sense of control means I’m comfortable; things are in order. But God’s the one in control, and his end game isn’t about my comfort. It’s about making my character more Christ-like–if I let him. So, as my desk piles higher with tasks, books and reading lists, I remind myself to relinquish control. I push myself to dwell in the safe harbor of knowing that God’s timing is perfect, that he daily equips me to accomplish the critical stuff.
In the meantime, I’m trying to enjoy this loss of what I consider to be control. A recent post on Motherlode–The New York Times blog on parenting–underscores just how delightful these out-of-control toddler years are. As Anna Quindlen suggests, the rapidly evolving stages of childhood and parenting just keep getting better, and one day soon, the wee ones grow into adults, and the house grows silent. So tomorrow, when my son babbles non-stop, when he arbitrarily demands to dip my tea ball into his juice, when he hides the mouse to my computer–I’ll enjoy the chaos, remembering that things won’t always be so delightfully silly, so utterly out of control.
Kristina, I can so relate! I’m glad you found this precious wisdom while your son is still young. It’s a daily tug sometimes, giving up that “control” but I have found that’s where I find the true peace I’ve longed for. The other is just an… illusion. I had 4 children running around, three were rowdy boys, and at times I thought I’d pull my hair out. I was so consumed with keeping things in order that I missed the miracles among the mundane, the kisses of God. I am thrilled when I see a young mother recognize what is truly important in life. I still struggle, desiring order, it makes me feel comfortable too. However, like you said, comfort isn’t what is important, character is. I find now I no longer have the energy, mentally or physically, to chase after “marbles” that have dropped out of my bag with a hundred holes…. I think it’s God’s way of working on me, showing me how to let go. Just FYI, I am reading a wonderful book now by Ann Voscamp, Ten Thousand Gifts. I would encourage everyone to read it.
Hi Lori–thanks for writing. I’m glad the post hit a chord with you. It’s a daily struggle, as you indicate, to let go–but God is good, and he gives us many chances to improve. I think motherhood really shapes character in ways that nothing else can. It’s my hope that women reading my posts will have a sense of empowerment, because all too often our society characterizes moms–and dads–as victims of circumstance. Moms are still the unclaimed heroes of our world!
Ah, Kristina – You and I sound so much alike! The illusion of control has held me for a long time. But what joy there is in relinquishing control to the One who’s had it all the time, anyway.
Keep holding onto HIM. HIS faithfulness never ends!
Hi Karen–I agree, we do seem to have similar stories! You’re right, there’s real freedom in Christ and letting go. Motherhood has helped me begin to understand that more than anything else in life could. While some argue that motherhood and parenting makes you less free, I’d argue the opposite …
It’s so, so, so true. Accepting that you’re not in control is so freeing, and the realization that you were never in control in the first place is something that took me a long long time to process, let alone accept. (and a lot of the time i still don’t, lol).
Sounds like all is well with you and your baby bump – i’m so glad, you sound so joyous!
Thanks, Islaygirl–I agree! There’s much freedom in surrender, and the good kind of freedom, at that. One where you grow into a better you. 🙂