Do you have a favorite indulgence? The carrot dangling two inches from your thoughts, a reward for spending countless hours in super mom mode. We all need one. Mine is Taste of Home magazine.
Last week I squealed in delight to discover a shiny new edition tucked in my mailbox. I love the photos of fancy desserts, tips for marinating pork chops and weaving pie crusts, recipes, recipes, and more recipes! Taste of Home feeds my dream of someday becoming a decent cook. Feeling giddy and suddenly a little hungry, I longed to slide my feet into fuzzy slippers and ingest the glossy pages.
“Momma, do you want to play Candy Land?” My four-year-old daughter roused me from my mailbox reverie, clutching a game box to her chest. Baby sister was napping, so my version of upcoming events involved the preschooler watching Nick, Jr. while I perused my luscious magazine.
“Not right now, sweetheart, Mom really wants to rest. Let’s play later, okay? I’ll let you watch Jack’s Big Music Show!” I replied, hoping to heaven she liked this alternative.
“No, Mom, I really want to play Candy Land with you!” She stood firm. Darn. I tried another tactic.
“Well, how about if you snuggle with me in the comfy chair?! I’ll make popcorn, and you can watch T.V. while I look at my magazine.”
“Yay, popcorn!” she cheered. “Let’s eat it together while we play Candy Land!”
Backfire. I stood hinged between two impending meltdowns—no Candy Land or no magazine—and I caved to the lesser tantrum.
“Ok, let’s play.”
My little opponent dashed toward the family room to set up the board, merrily oblivious to the debate that just waged in my head. I loosened my grip on the stack of mail, releasing Taste of Home to the “after kids are in bed” pile.
Before I had children, I was the axis of my own planet. Everything spun at my will. When I wanted to read a magazine, I read a magazine. When I wanted to sleep, I slept. When I needed to brush my teeth, I stood quietly at my own sink with nobody busting down the door to ransack my dental floss supply. Life was all mine.
Sure, there was my husband to consider, but he had his personal planet, too, and together we floated in harmony through the same solar system. If he wanted to go golfing, I said “Have a good time!” and flopped onto the couch for a nap.
We ate meals at restaurants, interrupted only by waiters delivering refills. We spent Friday nights renting not just one, but two! movies—and we watched them past 10 o’clock, because we could snooze as late as we wanted the next morning before heading to Home Depot for shopping at our leisure.
Ah, our B.C. (before children) days! They were all so peacefully selfish. God knew we needed a cosmic shake-up. Enter our first little asteroid, baby girl #1.
In pregnancy, I envisioned cradling a slumbering cherub, both of us smelling like sweet baby wash and Dreft. Instead, reality delivered me a saucer-eyed infant insomniac. For three months I reeked of spit-up and stale deodorant, desperate for an hour of sleep and a shower.
That’s when a savage thought invaded my sanity—a thought many new moms share but dare not voice. Is this what motherhood is all about? Why didn’t anybody tell me? I want my old life back!
“Then he said to them all: ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self?’” (Luke 9:23–25)
Pardon my blasphemy, but I’d like to paraphrase in mommy-speak:
“Then Jesus said to the woman post-childbirth: ‘If you claim to be a Christian, you must at last learn to live beyond yourself and take up your burp cloth daily and follow me. This means replacing your own wants with your children’s needs―including waking every 90 minutes to feed a newborn, dodging banana chunks catapulted from high chairs, scrubbing leaky diaper juice off bedspreads, and postponing meaningful adult conversation until the kids have flown to college. . . to name just a few.
“For whoever wants to read a magazine when the youngster pleads for attention will miss the lesson and the blessing, but whoever loses her selfish desires in an innocent Milton Bradley match will see my face in the eyes of a child. What good it is for a gal to gain a hundred new recipes, and yet forfeit the wise and loving soul I am refining through parenthood?’”
This has been the most shocking lesson of motherhood for me―denying self. I had no clue how self-absorbed I really was until God hurled children into my orbit.
Yet now, two daughters deep in the journey, I would never wish to trade parenting for childless freedoms. I get choked up just imagining it.
Yes, there are moments when this mom wants to sit and eat a muffin without breaking off bites for little beggars. But praise our great and loving God for two more mouths to feed, two beautiful legacies, my gifts. These children, by stripping away my old life, have taught me how to really live—selflessly, passionately, tear-stained, beaming with joy, and clinging to Jesus every step of the way.
So I don’t get to read a magazine on a whim. Fine. Instead, I get to count colored squares, chat about imaginary friends, and nosh on handfuls of Orville Redenbacher at 2 o’clock in the afternoon. Is this not a beautiful life?
“Mom, you won! Good job, Mom!” my daughter exclaimed as I hippity-hopped my green game piece across the finish line. Her enthusiastic sportsmanship amazes me. Such a natural encourager, my girl. My heart puffed with mommy pride until I could almost feel my chest ache.
Yep, Candy Land was the right choice. Maybe later we can find a recipe in that magazine to cook together. It’s time a young lady learns to marinate.