the mothering arts

Hopeful Parenting…

Lorelei sat across from me, whispy haired, her big sky blue eyes drinking in the sights and sounds.

We had escaped, we two, for a bite of lunch and some errand running. Just us girls.

I was gazing across the table at her, marveling at the miracle.

She caught my eye and smiled big, bites of grilled cheese showing through: "Wuv you mommy." She turned her head back again to the busy place, sipping her chocolate milk. Daintily, not at all like the boys do, slurp, slurp, slurp.

My heart pounded in my chest.

"Oh dear Lord, help me!"

Boys all rough and tumble don't seem so fragile, so easy to bruise. Being a mama to a girl, and my Lorelei girl, at that, scares me sometimes. I remember well my bruised childhood, and I fear for her, fear for myself. This whole woman thing is not easy. It's taken me so long to learn basic lessons of womanhood, and the culture is that much more against her…how do I teach her what it means to be a daughter of the King, a Princess with a calling? All these thoughts circled in my head as we ate our lunch.

I picked up the threads of a conversation to my left. Two moms chatted away, deeply troubled by the direction of their daughters' lives, who were (from what I gathered) nine or so. How lost they sounded! The despair in their voice was palpable. One of the ladies mentioned how she wished someone older and wiser could advise them. Her voice trailed off as she said "My mom was so very distant…I'd never be able to ask her these questions…" The discussion continued, and I felt myself nodding in agreement with some of their thoughts, thoughts that seem common to mamas since time immemorial. But their conclusions I found deeply troubling. They were so different from my own, and it dawned on me that my parenting comes from a place of Hope. It quickly became apparent that the difference between our 'answers' had to do with the fact that I was a Believer, and they were not. I had never recognized that dichotomy before this day. Dare I say that it's a blessing I've taken for granted?

I had never considered before this day what a blessing it is to turn my parenting over to the Burden-bearer. No matter what, I always have the ultimate Parent to turn to, to draw council from through His Word, to beg mercy from when I am utterly undone as a parent, a mama. I am never alone on this journey of raising children. Never alone. What grace!

As their conversation finished up, I found myself near tears. Never have I ever felt so deeply the loss of our culture to post-post-modern thought. There is no "mothering" culture anymore. There is no circle of life that stretches from great grandma to grandma to mother to daughter to sister to friend. There are pockets of it, here and there – I've been blessed in my own life to have that semi-intact- but overall, the culture is wholeheartedly against mothers, against fathers, against child-raising. It does everything it can to tear it all down. Not only was there no culture that would help these women, they probably wouldn't like the Answer they were longing for because they were raised in a culture that told them that there is no Truth!

It brought to mind a conversation with my mom a few days before. She had loaned me a popular "Christian" parenting/homeschooling book, with a warning. " Look, honey, there is a lot of good advice in here…but don't swallow it lock, stock, and barrel. It's not the Gospel truth, if you know what I mean?" We sort of laughed and I went on reading. I enjoyed the book immensely. There were a ton of great suggestions that I wouldn't have thought of myself, and I can't wait to enact some of them in my mothering journey. But there were a few spots that made me downright uncomfortable, advice-wise. It occured to me that the reason is because I do know the Word, and the Truth, and those pieces of advice did not (as my mother warned) line up with the plumb line of the Word. My mother taught me early to discern between knowledge and wisdom, and to measure everything against Scripture.

The two experiences have woven themselves together in my mind, and I have been wondering a bit ever since. How deeply has existentialist, post-modern thought invaded even with the "Christian" culture? How many times have I avoided the hard Truth of the Word in favor of feel-good, 'what's right for me isn't right for you' flavor of spirituality and parenting? Why am I so much more willing to listen to an author who lays it all out nicely and neatly in twelve points, than to listen to the Father of the Universe, whose mysteries are numerous but His Word true, and sharper than any sword? Gracious knows, His is the only council that should matter. All this other stuff is well and good, even encouraging. But if I am not coming back to the reality of the Cross, of the Word made flesh, then where is my hope? If that is not my foundation, all is lost.

Oh dear Lord, help Thou me!
Parenting, The Great Spritual Adventure @ Holy Experience
"Be"-ing a Mother @ The Flourishing Mother
Centering @ Study in Brown


  • Andrea

    Why am I so much more willing to listen to an author who lays it all out nicely and neatly in twelve points, than to listen to the Father of the Universe, whose mysteries are numerous but His Word true, and sharper than any sword?
    Yes!!! You voiced this so well.
    Thank you so much, Joy!

  • tonia

    you are a marvelous writer, joy. my heart echoes your own as you long for the connections of more than just community…those heart ties to bone and blood and DNA and the accompanying wisdom. i am trying to accept the gifts of the Christ-DNA that runs through this body that you and i are a part of…to take mothering where i find it…in a book or here, there, in a book, a song, a sermon.
    but we can begin new strands with our daughters and sons, yes? we can BE the heritage for them. i rejoice in that!!
    standing with you.

  • Mrs. M

    Thank you for your sound words. The loss of “the mothering” culture is so sad. I am often praying that in my family we can carry that on.
    I have found myself in the same state of fear…thank you for pointing my thoughts and heart to truth and HOPE. Really our hope in HIM is what makes or breaks it. Even in the every day stuff.

  • Suzy

    I love the way you write!
    This post really made me think. It’s so sad that we don’t have that mothering culture anymore.
    Yet we do have our Heavenly Father to guide us, as you say, he is our greatest teacher, parent and friend.
    God Bless ~

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