Mothers Day

Mother's Day Giveaways (And--Stop Trying to Make Your Kids Happy!)

 Dear Friends,  It’s almost our day, the day to celebrate ALL who mother! (Which means every woman I know.) Today, I have a gift for those mothering and grandmothering——I am offering one beautiful freeing truth, (and 10 books.)

How do I dare to give mothering advice? Because I’ve been through the mill, the flood, the fire and the storm with my six kids, and we have all emerged on the other side. (Here, photos from the last 3 weddings, all in the last 8 months. Proof that we’ve all survived——intact and loving each other!

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(No, we’re not perfect. We’ve been through a ton of stuff—just like your family.) And——we only dress up for weddings. Here’s our more usual garb:

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Here’s the problem. Listen to these words from a teacher I met last year:


"I have a little girl in my classroom who never obeys me. It's a huge problem. So I called in her parents and told them about her disruptive behavior. They looked at me blankly for a moment, then said, 'We never tell her no. Your rules aren't important. Our daughter's happiness is more important than your rules!'

Then they left. I’ve heard the same story from youth pastors, from other teachers, from all around us--and I know you have too. Scary stuff!  

   Most American parents say,  “We just want our kids to be happy.”   

How many times do we hear this? Especially now in relation to sexual identity. (Your 6 year old daughter says she’d be happier as a boy? Let’s consider hormone therapy. Whatever she needs to be happy!)

We see it on nearly every front. Kids 8 – 18 now spend an average of 7 hours a day on electronic gadgets---because we let them----leading to obesity, mental illness, Addiction, aggression and more, according to experts

Many of us go into debt for our children, providing lavish birthday parties and exotic vacations. We fix the foods our children clamor for instead of what they need, while childhood obesity rates soar. We don’t allow our kids to fail. We don’t allow their sports teams to lose. We threaten our kids’ teachers with a lawsuit when our (lazy) students flunk a class. Keeping our kids "happy" is exhausting--for everyone. Even them.

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Here’s the truth: Our job as parents is not to make our children happy, but to help them become “good: ” compassionate, honest, responsible, hard-working, kind. Trying to procure our children’s happiness is like trying to catch a river with a sieve. We need to do for our children what they cannot do for themselves: distinguish between their short-term happiness and their long-term good. What is that long-term good? It’s the same as the way God parents us: for our growth, goodness and holiness rather than our immediate happiness. But of course it’s not an either/or. Ultimately, goodness and Holiness IS the way to happiness.

How do we get there? A few suggestions: Give your kids meaningful work to do. Real work that takes time and muscle. Do hard things yourself and enable them to do hard things as well. Model compassion. Require perseverance. Delay gratification at times. Discipline them when needed. Love them always.

If we make life too easy for our children, they’ll fall.

        My sister-in-law planted a Japanese maple in her yard one year. Because she lives on a windy, stormy island, she staked it out so it had full support against the winds. But it began to sag. By the third year, it completely collapsed. The nursery owner from whom she had bought the tree told her, “The tree is too protected. It needs the wind to strengthen its fibers. It needs the wind to make it strong.”

    Do any of us want our children to topple? Don’t we want them to be like the tree in Psalm 1, firmly rooted in the banks of a gushing, living stream? These gorgeous trees yield bright, bursting fruit through every season of its life.

I pray that we can love our children enough to parent them toward THIS kind of happiness!

And we can.

 

Giveaways!

I’m giving 10 books away this week! Five parenting books (which just may save your life as a mother!) AND—five of The Wonder Years: Forty Women Over 40 on Aging, Faith, Beauty and Strength. I'll do it the usual way.  For everyone who shares this post on their social media, please let me know below----and I'll enter your name in the drawing. And DO leave your email as well so I can get ahold of you!!

(Sorry—-Offer only good in the U.S. )

Thank you!! I am so excited at the freedom God can bring to us as we love and raise our children! AND the freedom that comes to us as we sail over that 40 mark . .!)

with Love to you all,

Leslie

 

For Mother's Day: Madeleine L'Engle on "The Flesh is to Be Honored"

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Dear Friends, I come to you today from Kodiak. I write looking out upon my rainy Alaska ocean. Home at last.

It's almost Mother's Day. So I come with a small gift: beautiful words not my own, but words from the beloved Madeleine L'Engle I have caught like seeds on the wind, words planted in The Wonder Years.

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There is no more beautiful witness to the mystery of the word made flesh than a baby’s naked body. I remember with sensory clarity sitting with one of my babies on my lap and running my hand over the incredibly pure smoothness of the bare back and thinking that any mother, holding her child thus, must have at least an echo of what it is like to be Mary; that in touching the particular created matter, flesh, of our child, we are touching the Incarnation.

 

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Once, when I was in the hospital, the smooth and beautiful white back of the woman in the bed next to mine, a young woman dying of cancer, was a stabbing and bitter reminder of the ultimate end of all matter.

But not just our human bodies: all matter: the stars in their courses: everything: the end of time.

 

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Meanwhile we are in time, and the flesh is to be honored. At all ages. For me, this summer, this has been made clear in a threefold way: I have fed, bathed, played pat-a-cake with my grandbabies. In the night when I wake up, as I usually do, I always reach out with a foot, a hand, to touch my husband’s body; I go back to sleep with my hand on his warm flesh. And my mother is almost ninety and preparing to move into a different country. I do not understand the mysteries of the flesh, but I know that we must not be afraid to reach out to each other, to hold hands, to touch.

 

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In our bedroom there is a large old rocking chair which was in the attic of Crosswicks when we bought it. It seems to have been made especially for mothers and babies. I have sat in it and nursed my babe in the middle of the night. I have sung innumerable lullabies from it. When Hugh was in Medea, which was sent overseas in 1951 by the State Department, I sat in the rocking chair, carrying his child within me and holding our firstborn in my arms, singing all the old lullabies, but especially “Sweet and Low” because of over the Western sea and bring him again to me.

This summer I sit in the rocking chair and rock and sing with one or other of my granddaughters. I sing the same songs I sang all those years ago. It feels utterly right. Natural. The same.

But it isn’t the same. I may be holding a baby just as I used to hold a baby, but chronology has done many things in the intervening years, to the world, to our country, to my children, to me. I may feel, rocking a small, loving body, no older than I felt rocking that body’s mother. But I am older bodily; my energy span is not as long as it used to be; at night my limbs ache with fatigue; my eyes are even older than the rest of me. It is going to seem very early—it is going to be very early—when the babies wake up: Alan, Josephine, Cynthia, and I take turns getting up and going downstairs with them, giving them breakfast, making the coffee. Is it my turn again so quickly?

 

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Chronology: the word about the measurable passage of time, although its duration varies: How long is a toothache? How long is standing in line at the supermarket? How long is a tramp through the fields with the dogs or dinner with friends, or a sunset, or the birth of a baby?

Chronology, the time which changes things, makes them grow older, wears them out, and manages to dispose of them, chronologically, forever.

Thank God there is kairos, too: again the Greeks were wiser than we are. They had two words for time: chronos and kairos.

Kairos is not measurable. Kairos is ontological. In kairos we are, we are fully in isness, not negatively, as Sartre saw the isness of the oak tree, but fully, wholly, positively. Kairos can sometimes enter, penetrate, break through chronos . . . The saint at prayer, friends around the dinner table, the mother reaching out her arms for her newborn baby, are in kairos. The bush, the burning bush, is in kairos, not any burning bush, but the very particular burning bush before which Moses removed his shoes; the bush I pass on my way to the brook. In kairos that part of us which is not consumed in the burning is wholly awake . . . 

 

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I sit in the rocking chair with a baby in my arms, and I am in both kairos and chronos. In chronos I may be nothing more than my social security number; or my passport number.

In kairos I am known by name: Madeleine.

 

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                    **************************

 

May you love well and fully this Mother's Day! And May God give us the eyes to see every  kairos moment with our babies, our grown babies and our grandbabies. 

Gratefully,

Leslie

P.S. Maybe bless your mother with a copy of The Wonder Years for Mother's Day? It will inspire and encourage her.

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The Glory of Diapers, the Terror-Joy of Pregnancy Tests and You,Dr. Mom!!

Dearest Mothers and all those who Mother---for YOU!!

Consider it Mother's Day Week, or better, Mother's Week! In your honor, here's a poem written in the thick of those diaper-changing days. And if you're long past, come and remember with me that profoundly sense-filled experience!

Changing Diapers

Baby, I do for you what Mother did for me.

So personal, this knowledge of your eliminations:

Amounts, hourly schedules, colors, smells,

The warmth of the plumped plastic.

So personal this place on you,

But how quickly the gaze goes medical.

There is deeper knowledge here,

And as I wipe and swipe

and swath in white

Like cloth over wounds,

I have learned the necessary secrets of your body

And know my next prescription.

Baby, you are getting older now,

An unwilling patient past passivity,

Busy on the rebellious route: The foot in the thick of it,

The exploring hand, the smeared clothes

As you try to stand. . . .

To wrestle or coo or doctor,

We meet on this mat times past counting.

I am wrapping my days around you,

My soft absorbant days that snug your hips,

And as I slowly peel off each one,

How you fill them baby!

How you fill every one!

                                      -------Leslie Leyland Fields

Just one more: Remember the terror-joy of the pregnancy test? How many of these did I take? The last two---in my mid-forties 

.

Is this really possible? I thought, shocked and appalled at even the possibility. It was indeed.

TAKE-HOME TEST

It's a mini chemistry set:

  tubes, vials, rubber stopper,

   test stick, white crystalline powder, 

clear 

liquids. At least

you supply the most important part,

waiting that long night

for the first splash of morning

into the small cup,

then adrenaline eyes devouring the directions

opened like a map on the vanity.

Step one:  remove grey stopper.

Step two: this is the recipe 

for making a child, you think. A little 

of this, little that. Stir, rinse, spin.

Wait.

You go to the living room,

act casual while someone' life

waits to be made.

When you can, you return calmly

to the only thing that matters,

your mind picking petals from a daisy . . .

You have practiced how to be happy

either way, and now

all you want is knowing.

Pink is the color--any shade at all. 

Don't breathe. Even from the doorway,

a soul can look so pale.

                                               ----Leslie Leyland Fields

And here is who those pink lines became . . . 

Love to all you mothers and those who have mothered.  Thank you for loving children---yours and others---so wildly, so indiscriminately, with such beautiful, heart-breaking endurance. Just as you will never forget the ones you have born and nursed and taught and raised, so God will never forget you, His most precious daughter.

With so much love to you all,

Leslie   

Leslie's Mother's Day Videos:The Happiest Best News for Parents!




Dearest Mothers, our day is coming! Hopefully we'll all get at least a flower in church, and who knows, maybe even coffee in bed and a phone call from our faraway children? I am remembering this glorious day last summer when all of us were together not only on the same island, but the same trampoline And here is one of the truths of Mother's Day:




But Mother's Day can be profoundly disappointing as well, for so many reasons. (This will be my hardest ever, for reasons I cannot share . . .)

May I bring some good news today---and may I speak it rather than write it this week? Two videos below to hopefully brighten your day. (Yes, these are not a total barrel of laughs--but hang on, good stuff in there!!)

And--I am beginning 6 weeks of giveaways in this special time between Mothers and Father's Day. If you share any or all of the posts these next few weeks, let me know, and I'll put your name in the hat for one free book given each week, (your choice of two books) AND one free audio book.  Share away--with grateful thanks!


More Here
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*The Sad Story of Samson=The Happiest Best News for Parents!







*More good news! Stop looking to your children for your happiness and fulfillment. Here's why:




*Content here is from Parenting is Your Highest Calling … and Eight Other Myths that Trap Us in Worry and Guilt

And finally, may I leave you with *this?

"If I pursue God first as my highest call and am satisfied in his love, then I am freed not to love my children less but to love them rightly. I am freed from the error of the disciple's mother, who sought identity and significance through her sons rather than in her role as God's redeemed daughter. Like Abraham, I discover that God's promises are rooted in God alone, not in my children or my mother or my father or any other person. 
   Knowing this, when my children or anyone in my larger family disappoints, I need not be shaken. We are asked to lose our lives in Christ's life, not in our children's or our parent's lives. Our greatest faith and highest hopes are not in our mothers and fathers and daughters and sons, but in the Son who has already come. "

The Son who has already come.

Peace and Hope to you all this week.

(And let me know if your name goes in the hat this week.)