Monday, March 18, 2013
A Mother, The Memory Keeper
Click. Memory of the day #1.
Then he woke up cranky not wanting to eat any breakfast unless it was ketchup on a fork.
Click. Memory of the day #2.
Mundane. Surprising. Predictable. Tiring. Revitalizing. Adorable. Annoying. Lucky. Empty. Overflowing.
Click. Repeat. Click. Repeat.
In our digital world, a mother's memory is still one of the most vital tools we have in keeping accurate records of our little one's childhoods. 'A picture may be worth a thousand words' according to Einstein, but a crisp, emotional attachment to a moment in time? No amount of pixels or shutter speed can capture it.
J's arms were resting behind his head like a listless teenager and his lips pouting in toddler perfection-- I don't know if there is anything more precious than a sleeping child. Especially, since I am about to embark on the detour of baby number two where a sleeping child is as rare as witnessing a wild Giant Panda (Yes, my son and I watch too many animal shows.)
Regardless, I am 19 days away from my due date with our second baby; a little girl. While that should send shock-waves through my system, I am trying my best to enjoy these last few weeks with my little man and prepare myself for the wonder of a newborn. I was not very good at enjoying the 'wonder of a newborn' the first time around. Instead, I focused way too much on how much my life had changed instead of how much I was going to change through the process.
I didn't personalize Isaiah 43:19 "Behold, I will do something new, now it will spring forth; will you not be aware of it? I will even make a roadway in the wilderness, rivers in the desert."
I was not aware. I was too blinded by my own shadow. In my defense, my son didn't sleep through the night until 10 months old. We were living in a studio apartment and had a pool table as a changing table. He even needed to be walked back and forth or bounced day and night on top of my exhaustion. I was a wreck, tired, and lonely-- I felt I had every right to be disillusioned by infancy- but in those moments I missed the rivers in the desert. Instead, I stood next to the stream and screamed about how thirsty I was.
Looking back, I realize now that I was a brat about being a mom of a newborn. I say that I had a hard baby, but in reality, I had a hard heart. The good news for my little girl, is that I have been softened around the edges a bit because of her big brother. I think that will be to her advantage. My memory lens during her baby years may have a sharper focus. Or at least I hope so.
But until she arrives, I have come to blows with this knock on my heart clamoring for me to put down words about what these first two-and-a-half years as a mother have taught me. But what I realized is that my daughter is going to teach me lessons that my son never could, and the merry-go-round will begin again. The thing with parenting is that you're always learning. From day one to 32,872.
So while I could go on for days trying to explain how much I've grown (mostly by default) I think I will instead focus on how much I've been taught. As the molasses moments between my son and I grow into smaller slivers of time, I have come to realize that one of my biggest responsibilities thus far is to be his memory keeper.
J won't remember his first steps or his first words. I will be the vault that keeps these precious moments on lock down. He won't recall his first trip to the emergency room and how brave he was for being such a little boy. I will be the one to remind him that he has had a tenacious spirit from the moment he exited the womb and that he has never been afraid of much at all. I will be the one to encourage his gifts of humor and tenderheartedness, among his natural tendencies to be frustrated, territorial and give up. It's my job to be keenly aware of his unique giftings and biggest struggles- jotting them down in my mind's steno pad ready to pull them out when he doubts how God made him.
While he won't be throwing matchbox cars across the room forever (God, I hope not.), he may be at the point of throwing away something he's worked hard for just because he wants to see the fallout of the crash. I know I've done that.
As mothers, I believe it is our job to jog their memories, and our own, to discern what they were created for-- and we may not know that right now but God is definitely giving each of us fragments of important pieces to arrange over the next few decades. This conscious collecting will become a gorgeous mosaic of moments that give our children purpose, self-solidarity, and peace.
As mothers, we are one of the only mirrors that reflect these precious early moments.While many other people in our "village" help raise our little ones we are the only ones hardwired to love them ferociously through it all. A mother's love isn't tameable; it is a wildfire that burns away all of the nonsense around us and helps us translate the seemingly insignificant.
I want my son to know that the instant I heard his voice communicate his love for animals, numbers, colors, and letters; I seriously felt like I could fly. I want him to know that on a very difficult day God spoke to me directly through his Word about how to discipline and love him well for his personality (Isaiah 54:7-8) just so he knows how much he means to the Fella upstairs. And finally, I want him to know the prayer that I pray over him every night, "God please pursue J with a relentless love every day of his life" is whispered so that if a day comes when he wonders why God seems to never give up on him, I can explain that love has been prayed over him since the moment he was born.
So if you find yourself at the starting gate right now or are in the midst of being your child's Memory Keeper- here is what I know. Fully submerge yourself in the arctic blast that is early motherhood- not because it is the numbness that allows you to survive-- but because it is the mindfulness of spirit that allows you to thrive even under the harshest of circumstances. Welcome every tinge of emotion with its varying degrees of delight and despair, so that your memory will be able to fully capture the vibrant dance of their childhood that we are lucky enough to be instrumental in choreographing.