To kick off the week, I want to start by inviting you to read through my absolute favorite book about being a mother. The Mission of Motherhood: Touching Your Child’s Heart for Eternity by Sally Clarkson. Today I’ll share a little background info about Sally Clarkson and give context from which I began reading the book. Tomorrow, I’ll go through the introduction (it’s that good!). Beginning next Tuesday and Wednesday, we’ll continue with chapters 1 and 2 and continue each Monday and Tuesday until we are through the book (12 chapters, 6 weeks). So there’s time for you to get the book , read the intro and the first two chapters and of course, join me! Please do, and please comment at the end of my posts about what you’re learning, how it is helping to shape who you are as a mother. I promise you won’t put it down untouched by the Holy Spirit. If you are a mother or desire to be a mother (as part of preparing for motherhood–you know what I think about preparing!), I’d highly recommend reading this book.
It might help you to have a little background info about Ms. Clarkson though before we get into her book. I always love learning about the author because it helps give me a little better context. Here is her bio from her family’s ministry website, Whole Heart Ministries:
“Sally is, first and foremost, a full-time, stay-at-home-schooling mom. Her life has always revolved around her four wholehearted children-Sarah, Joel, Nathan and Joy. In addition to her ministry to her family, God has also given her a ministry to other families, and to homeschooling mothers, through speaking and writing. Sally grew up in Texas and New Mexico, accepted Christ personally her freshman year at Texas Tech University, was active with Campus Crusade for Christ during college, and joined staff upon graduation in 1975. She ministered at the University of Texas, lived and ministered in Eastern Europe under Communist rule, and returned to Denver to work with executive women and singles, and with Clay, whom she married a year later. She has always been active in discipling women, and began a church-based homeschool support group in Nashville that is still active. Sally is a writer, speaker, discipler, and blogger (itakejoy.com) who also loves books, music, British films, baking, and tea.”
If you get a chance, check out Sally’s blog. I’m sure you’ll be encouraged by her writing!
Now, you must know that I cried and cried…and cried through the introduction. I don’t know of any other book in which I’ve had that experience! A little background info of the time in which I read this: several months after Brant was born in the midst of life with a nearing two-and-a-half year old and of course an infant. It was a daily struggle with many battles, and many, many tears (shed by both myself and Tara but I probably win that one). I was not enjoying my daughter (most days) but instead felt like everything was a battle. Everything was an emotional drama. There was not tenderness and physical closeness (for one thing, she’s never been cuddly or affectionate, unlike Brant). I felt dutiful in my mothering of her.
Let me interject a few comments about life with Tara before Brant was born…I had a wonderfully easy transition to motherhood. A few factors, I believe, went into it. First of all, lest you hear me boasting in myself, be aware that evidences of the Lord’s grace are all over it! The Lord gave me a desire for children long before I even knew Him and I sought to prepare myself to be a mother one day. I babysat a lot, asked lots of questions to those who already had children, and read a lot to prepare myself for the physical and spiritual aspect of parenting. We also had a painful time of waiting on the Lord for children. When Tara was born, I felt like I was finally doing what I was called to do, in addition to being a wife. Life was blissful, the first year was wonderful. The change and demands that having a baby brought was expected and welcomed, and therefore, was not life shattering. I also love babies. And, my personal opinion is that babies are easy (obviously just an opinion!).
Parenting became more difficult around Tara’s first birthday when evidences of her will began coming out more and more. No longer was she totally dependent on me. She wanted to do things herself and her way. I was slowly beginning the long process of letting go and of training and discipline. It was not easy, especially because it demanded more of me than that first year of life did (um, like putting down something was doing for the purpose of character training). All of a sudden, the huge responsibility of her spiritual and character training was upon me. It was much more demanding and the sense of urgency was different and felt more weighty. I do believe that each child is born a sinner and I was able to see this fact of life come out very clearly the older she got.
So back to life after Brant was born. Sure, at times I had fun, but the first 5 months of Brant’s life were sheer survival mode. The next three got a little better but it wasn’t until he was about 8 months old that I felt like I was not just surviving. Funny, that’s when Blane began his three month leave from the Army and was home every day (just in case you haven’t figured it out–don’t look to me as a “super mom.” I failed that a long time ago!). I remember feeling like nobody else had the struggles I did and I would collapse into bed EVERY night out of both sleep deprivation from never being able to really recover from child birth and out of emotional exhaustion. I rarely heard anyone speak about their struggles and/or failures as a mom with small children. I felt alone. I was angry on a regular basis (mostly at the gross amount of self-centeredness in my heart) and felt as if I was failing as a mom. I shed many, many tears before the Lord and Blane. I needed help.
Tara began a napping strike one month before Brant was born. She was not even two yet. And for those of you who have had babies, particularly more than one baby, you know how precious nap-time is just after you’ve had a baby. You need to recover and rest. There was NO opportunity for that and I was struggling. I had many melt downs in which I would call Blane at work in tears, and would confide in an older woman asking for advice ( a true Godsend! I need older, wiser women in every season of my life!).
All the while, my relationship with Tara was suffering. I was so focused in maintaining and trying to just get through the day with everyone alive, so aware of my shortcomings (and the unhealthy ways of dealing with it), that I was forsaking a crucial element in my mothering of her: nurture.
Come back tomorrow to hear what Sally has to say about this important aspect of mothering. The Lord used this book to begin a new work in my heart and in my relationship with Tara. And buy the book or go to your local library to borrow it! You won’t be disappointed.