This summer, part of my mindset about motherhood has fundamentally changed. I couldn’t tell you really why, or how it happened. It just did. It was kind of like something in me just snapped and I realized that these children that have been placed in my care will not be here with me long and I need to make the most of it.
It’s not that I didn’t know that before, of course. It’s just that I really didn’t pay attention to that fact. Motherhood hasn’t come so naturally for me in the nearly 10 years I’ve been one. It’s so easy to get caught up in day-to-day life and hardships like school and money and work and keeping the house clean that I tend to forget the things that matter most. Or maybe just put them at a lower priority than they should be, since maybe “forget” is probably too strong a word.
Suddenly, I find myself wanting to make memories with my children and to teach them everything I know and to be with them and love them with an urgency that I haven’t quite experienced before. And I kind of like it. I like the way it brings me back to basics. It crowds out all the stuff and helps me keep my precious daughters front and center. Right where they need to be.
But I am really not very good at it, no matter how much my mindset has changed.
Dance With Them: 30 Stumbling Mothers Share Glimpses of Grace edited by Kathryn Lynard Soper, was sent to me for review a couple months ago. I took my time with this book, as it is a collection of essays and I really enjoyed savoring it.
The mothers who authored the essays and poetry within its pages are mothers just like me: Mothers who struggle with knowing just how to be a mother at all, but who understand how important it is and do their very best. Some of them have crosses to bear that are beyond anything I have ever had to do. Others have more run-of-the-mill experiences, more like mine. All of them taught me something about what motherhood is all about.
One of my favorite poems in the book is entitled “Holy Ground” by Darlene Young. In it she talks about the ratty couch on which she reads to her children and the lessons they learn together as they read.
The line, “I’m planting seeds here on this couch” struck me quite forcefully as I read it. Who cares if the couch isn’t the newest or the best or the cutest? (Things that I often worry about, I admit.) What really matters are the children on it, the books read, the lessons learned and the seeds planted.
To me, that basic lesson was the gist of this entire book. We do our best with what we have, because our children are a gift and a blessing that we must take seriously.
And yet, what might work today or with one child, may not work again tomorrow or with another child. The essay by Sharlee Mullins Glenn which gave the book its title, explains it like this:
A dance isn’t about power or control. A dance is about trust, connection, cooperation, flexibility, and fun. A dance is about two people moving together, however awkwardly, trying to make things work, trying to create something beautiful, something symbiotic. For beginners, the movement is often clunky and halting. Toes get stepped on, people stumble and slip, sometimes they even fall. But then, hopefully, they laugh (or cry), help each other up, and start again.
And that’s exactly what this all is. This dance of motherhood. Learning how to dance with each child, learning how to make it work, getting up after each fall and trying again. Doing our best–stumbling as we are–and looking to God for the help He is there to give.
Loved this book. Read it, savor it, and learn to dance.