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May 9 2013 5 09 /05 /May /2013 17:24

Part Three of the Motherhood Saga -

The Hidden Blessings and Open Challenges of the World's Finest Art

~ A Tribute (thesis?) ~ by Sandra Carlton Duncan ~

 

As I have already suggested, pregnancy, despite its frequent challenges, was actually one of the easier parts of this whole parenting gig! It was the ONLY time, in fact, that I ever felt remotely "in control" of any of these people! Not that parenting is about being in control! God forbid, that's God's job (which is a good thing, since I couldn't manage it anyway)! But there was an element of Authority, and order, in which I foolishly expected to walk, that seemed rather hit-and-miss at best! It is difficult to say how often I've actually "hit" that target, but the misses were glaring! Of course! Ain't that always the way? However, even though I imagined myself to have a modicum of control during the pregnancy, silly me, I think, even then, they hijacked my appetites and cravings!

 

I mean, why else would I have desired MEAT with Jon (ask Gene, he is the one who went out at midnight to get Burgers from "Steak and Shake", and whole Chicken Breasts from "Mrs.Winners"!). Yet, I preferred daily rigorous exercise with Christin? Hmm...? Suspicious, isn't it!? Also, I was uncharacteristically crazy for sweets with Rachel, and wanted Coffee - which I was utterly sworn off during all of my pregnancies - almost unbearably, with Sarah, and Chocolate (which I did indulge in moderately)...? The coffee craving was so bad I had to go get one of those pitiful herbal substitutes, made from acorns or something! Ugh! But...see what I mean? And....sorry...you were waiting for the list to continue...those of you who know that there are seven.... however, I have to admit that I honestly don't remember the particular cravings of the last three! By that time it was sort of hectic, and it was like, "Cravings!? Ain't nobody simply got time fo' dat!" lol

 

Just the housework and caring for the first four (ages 8,6,4 & 2) were running me ragged by the fifth pregnancy (plus I was not getting younger - I was 30 with the first one!)... I still had a two year old, plus a 10 year old with the sixth pregnancy... and I had god-awful, Godzilla-sized, relentless Braxton-hicks - plus a different two year old and a 12 year old with the last one, and so on! So I was into eating whatever I could get my hands on, whenever I could get it, and was exhilarated to have it! No kidding!!!

 

The good news is that, by the last ones, the first ones were getting old enough to be helpful, the bad news was that we were adding home schooling to the mix - a new student every couple of years - so - planning, organizing, teaching, grading, etc.! Add to that the ceaseless drama of dysfunctional relatives, plus some real illness in family and friends, aging parents on both sides, community "activities" to insure "proper socialization", and a rather involved church life, and well - "hectic" doesn't really cover it, but it will have to do for now.

 

What a responsibility it has been! What a load to haul! What a job to pull off! And with few role models to follow, no real instructions, and no real mentors or examples! Furthermore, Gene and I had no supportive parents or relatives to come alongside and help us - with finances or even free child-care! My sisters pitched in in a pinch, but were not eager volunteers! We did gain a few friends, later in life, (which I suspect God sent along to keep us from imploding or just disappearing into the responsibilities never to be seen or heard from again) but other than that we were in it on our own! So I was ever so thankful - and dependent - on the Word of God!

 

At first I succumbed to real and constant social pressure to feel the need to apologize for "needing that crutch"! But I quickly got over it, as I was so glad to have anything at which to grasp! And I quickly discovered that it was the manual for this family gig if one could interpret it correctly! So I decided to dismiss what others thought of my "coping mechanism" and set about learning to interpret it! Hey, it was cheaper than drugs or counseling (and I tried both within the legal realms), and safer than substance abuse! So, to each his own! My attitude quickly became, and still remains, get off of my face and out of my space with your cheap, lousy, and often religious "expertise"! I mean really? One can only afford just so much chocolate - I didn't dare turn to alcohol (besides, frankly, neither would've been enough to guild the pill anyway) - I am not the "get lost in soap-opera-land" or "use the TV for denial" type either - so I had to have something! That "something" thankfully turned out to be the leading of the Spirit of God and His ever increasingly present Word! I bet my kids were glad! Or will be!

 

At this point in my particular parenting gig, the score cards are not even all in on my performance - but still, like "America's UNfunniest Home Videos" the "scenes" of my failures still haunt me all too regularly! You know - those many times when I lost dignity and did NOT yield to the fruit of self-control, allowing emotions to over react ("pitching fits" is what we call that in the south) - all those times, too many to count, when I allowed "them" to get the better of me, etc... (hey, I was seriously out-numbered here)! But still, vivid reruns of all those times of perceived failure do torment me on the screens of my mind while I am trying to sleep from time to time! It is definitely a downside of this career - that I have entitled "P.F.S." - "Perceived Failure Syndrome"! Which, if allowed to, can seriously affect ones self-esteem, disturb ones peace and sleep patterns, and keep strife in play! It is nasty business. One must learn to have grace for oneself, as one does for others. One must stay humble and submitted and leave the judging to God! It's the only way to stay sane!

 

Of course there were disappointments almost immediately! After all, I had my own ideas about how this was supposed to work, about what it should look like! I envisioned smoothly organized days, wherein I lovingly taught them things, and they happily received them! But, I was stunned to find that it rarely, if ever, actually worked that way! How could I have ever guessed the level of resistance I would encounter in trying to teach them the simplest of things! How could I have possibly been prepared for the constant objections to boundaries - meant for their well-being, and the constant uprisings which I would be forced to put down! There was nothing to prepare me for this "surprise", military level, conflict! Seriously! I was expecting to birth innocent creatures that wanted and needed nurturing and protecting! Not a bunch of miniature storm troopers bent on world domination!

 

I was horn-swaggled! And all the lovely plans I had for cooking and art and science and multiple foreign language lessons regularly went down the tube as my time was spent on enforcing boundaries that had already been very firmly laid! Oy vey! Many days the most we could accomplish (after my authority and dignity were regained at a greater outlay of time and energy than I even want to admit) was the exhausted reading of some fine literature! Not exactly a waste of time, but not the heights I had been aiming for either! Whew! There were days when I scarcely escaped with enough sense and strength to get dinner! There were also days that I just went to bed, leaving them to cook some macs and cheese!

 

Dealing with these little fleshes, experiencing first hand the concept of "lower nature", seeing the family strongholds running rampant in them, etc. - causes one (at least the ones who are paying attention) to call on God for help! It makes us oh so eager to yield to the Produce of the Holy Spirit! We need all nine facets of that "Fruit" called "Love" - found in that second list in Galatians Chapter Five - for this job! It brings one quickly face to face with the reality of our own fallen flesh with which we struggle, and our extreme inadequacy to perform this daunting task - of discipling these people to Yeshua! That mysterious assignment known as "Motherhood" quickly removes all misconceived conceits about how "righteous" we may have thought ourselves to be B.C. (before children)! It is difficult to maintain dignity, much less arrogance! Especially since these people can totally activate that "other list", which lurks deep in our own flesh, five minutes into the day! Know what I mean?

 

Those who do not understand that statement either do NOT have any kids, didn't have enough kids, had much more "help" with their kids or had access to drugs, that I did not have the privilege to encounter! Seriously! These "innocent, sweet, little kids", have the minds of New York back-room lawyers, the ethics of pagans and the ambitions of politicians! They come fully loaded with their own agenda, and a five point plan to accomplish it - come hell or high water! They will work you out, and have you tying your own self up in knots before you even realize that a game is afoot! They will stretch every virtue, tap dance on every nerve multiple times per day, and wear out your resolve. Good thing His mercies are new each morning, because they will see to it that you sin it away before bedtime! They are a fierce opposition to righteousness!

 

So, our mission - if we choose to accept it - is to jerk the slack out of that chain (commonly known as the flesh) - and teach these people - whom we've been honored to steward for God - how to submit to HIM. (That is, after we manage to accomplish the arduous and admirable feat of seeing to that process in our OWN flesh!) Instead of, as is encouraged these days, hiding behind our careers, "ministries", degrees, or whatever! Not that some can't do those things while mothering - but it will be an extra challenge - and it will be very difficult not to let those things eclipse what is MOST important! Oy! Believe it or not, like it or not, admit it or not, Motherhood is the perfect training crucible for this assignment - of redirecting the human soul back to God (theirs and yours)! It will burn the crud out of your gold, harden your steel and test your mettle! Or it will break you utterly. It is one of the most challenging training schools of life.

 

It is a fight to the royal finish! No wonder there are so many mothers in nursing homes who can't speak intelligibly anymore! They obviously believe that they've utterly lost their battle! Words have failed, efforts have waned, hope has crashed, and they wait to die, feeling beaten, succumbing to the shame of utter failure! So, to escape the pain of that unhappy prospect, they simply create another world within themselves where they can feel safe and in control - they go back in time and find a "happy place", or, if there are none, they make one up! It becomes the only place where their perceived failures do not mock them to scorn, kindling the fires of shame in their tormented souls! It is a place where they are accountable to no one, and bear no responsibility! They are in charge. They have no one to judge them there. These afflicted souls may appear "mentally challenged", but these kinds of survival skills actually require a great deal of mental effort and acumen! It just isn't effort that we - on the "outside" - can appreciate, benefit from, or relate to! That does not invalidate it in my book, however. I have so much compassion for them. Somewhere they missed the comfort of God that has sustained me through this trip, blithely called "Motherhood"! And I get it! I really do!

 

We have read that God is a refining fire? Well, it is my firm opinion that, for mothers, these little kids provide most of the heat! Honey, these sweet little people, the very same ones that you cherish above all else from the minute you conceive them, that most certainly prove that there really is "love at first sight"; these same adoring infants that wrap your heart around their tiny little pinky finger while your are nursing them; are the same people, who, by the age of five, begin making plans to dissect that heart and feed it to whatever cause they deem worthy, while shouting, "Death to tyrants!"; and who, by the age of 13 - if not properly trained out of that monstrous, hell-bent, flesh, will be big enough and resourceful enough to accomplish just that! SO not joking.

 

Over the years I have poured the best of all that I have into this work - called family - the only institution actually found in the Word of God! No, the Tabernacle was NOT an institution! It was an instrument designed for the worship of God; and for the government and instruction of THE institution which God ordained - which He called Family! Family has been my career, my art, my ministry, my study, my passion - it has been my life! And I think there is simply something intrinsically unfair about the fact that there is no degree waiting for me now! No retirement plan in place! No trophies to place on my mantel! I did not, however, as some have said, "put my life on hold to raise kids"! I have simply poured my life into this effort! Which means that for a season they simply became my life! I have no regrets, but I do have a lot of hard questions! Like, where is my honor? And did anyone get the number of that truck that ran over my authority.....?

 

However, I can not say that I have nothing to show for my work!! I may or may not get the credit I deserve for some time - it may come postmortem! But I think anyone can see that my children are living proof that I took this job seriously - and did it well! Enjoy! They are great people! And I am proud to announce, thanks be to God to Whom the credit goes, that their individual fleshes were contained within His loving and reasonable bounds after all! That they have come to love God in spite of me and His presently pitiful "Church"! That they are productive, thriving members of society! And by that I do NOT mean they are making lots of money yet - nor are they wildly successful in ministry yet! However, they know what is truly valuable in light of eternity! (Not that there is anything wrong with money, or degrees, or other defining elements of success! But we should not worship those as we do!)

 

But they work well with others, have compassion for the hurting, and have the boundaries necessary for healthy relationships! All miracles of "Red Sea" proportions - given the background of the main steward! "Main", being determined by the one who had the most - "hands-on" - time with them. (I often "laid hands" on them. Sometimes rapidly and repeatedly! Sorry, couldn't resist!)

 

As I look back over the 25 years, and counting, of my parenting career, I look back with a growing sense of satisfaction, despite the struggles and questions which this job has produced! With God's help I've not only managed to "not screw it up", it looks like I did pretty well! In fact, I'd say I'm a huge success! Praise God, and Yay, me! (And, Gene helped too, but he gets his accolades next month! lol)

 

In the next part I will discuss some of the difficulties I encountered, my issues with the "systems" that surround it all, and how God's grace brought us through it all...

 

Shalom!

 

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  • : SELAH Jubilee Lady Writes 4 Shalom
  • : I love to write, all about life, and what is going on in it. And about the Beloved Creator, Who sponsored it! I hope to intrigue and inspire.
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  • Sandra Carlton Duncan
  • I am a devoted follower of Yeshua, the Messiah. I have been married to Gene Duncan II for 37  years, and counting. I have 7 children, 3 boys & 4 girls - all grown up. They have been home educated, K-12. I also write, hence the blog  (including, but not limited to: children's books, poems, and personal growth art. ) Please stay tuned as I share my personal journey through poems and writing.
  • I am a devoted follower of Yeshua, the Messiah. I have been married to Gene Duncan II for 37 years, and counting. I have 7 children, 3 boys & 4 girls - all grown up. They have been home educated, K-12. I also write, hence the blog (including, but not limited to: children's books, poems, and personal growth art. ) Please stay tuned as I share my personal journey through poems and writing.

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