Visceral Motherhood

The other night, Nick was out late at a concert and I was home alone with my 1 year old, Millie. She was having a rough time getting back to sleep, so I brought her into bed with me so that we could both, finally, get some rest. 

As a parent, you become well-acquainted with interrupted sleep and the feelings of being jolted awake in the dead of night by the sounds of a crying child. This night, however, I found myself jerked awake, in a complete state of grogginess but aware that someone was standing over the bed grabbing Millie. In my confused sleep-state, I convinced myself that someone had broken into our house and was kidnapping my daughter. The terror that overwhelmed me in those few seconds caused a cry so deep, so raw, so visceral. "NO! NO!", I screamed, only for Nick, in his sweet and gentle voice to reply, "Honey, it's just me, I'm putting Millie in her crib." Relieved and traumatized, I laid back and cried, over-come by the intensity inside of me. The whole thing transpired in less than 5 seconds, but goodness-gracious, it felt like the entire Earth might as well have stopped spinning.

The next morning, Nick and I debriefed on the night before. "So THATS what 'that' sounds like", he said. He was referring to the guttural scream of "No! No!" that I had let out when I thought my baby was being stolen. We half-laughed and marveled at the intensity of it...the animalistic behavior. It was a bloodcurdling, low, fierce and horrid sound that I couldn't imitate if I tried. We concluded that something of that nature is produced from a primal, instinctive place that is tapped only in the face of wild threat. 

It's alarming and awesome to consider a love so untamed and intrinsic that I could, literally, growl like a bear. And then I think about the day I gave birth to Millie. My friend made an audio recording of the last bit of labor when I was pushing. Those last shouts and groans right before Millie entered the world gives me chills to this day. It's almost embarrassing how unhindered and raw the moment was. But it was also something of was holy...almost inhuman...and yet...the most human; almost unearthly...and yet....of the earth. 

This is motherhood; "the most human...and of the earth".

I understand mama bears, and mama wolves, and mama tigers and every ferocious beast of the earth that is a mother. I am a ferocious mother-beast...and it is something I have absolutely no control over. It comes out when spontaneous threats arise. Nick joked of the other night, "I'm glad you didn't have a gun...I may not be here today." 

This ferocious mother-beast carries a love that is so big and untamed that it scares her. It overwhelms her. It makes her laugh. It makes her cry. When you get right down to it, her bones...her ligaments, her flesh, muscles and all her organs...are walking around outside her body. Her raw, fleshy heart is learning to walk, spitting out avocados and playing music downstairs with daddy.

The desire...the instinct I have to protect my daughter; to keep her safe from harm is greater than any love I could ever have for myself. Yes, a mother's love is sacrificial...but don't you know that we would have it no other way? This love...this is visceral. 

Don't Let 'Buzzkill' Control Your Story Today

This morning, I woke up and did what any normal human being would do: rolled-over and picked up my phone. I scrolled through Facebook and Twitter. (It's a compulsion that rarely leaves me feelings uplifted and "more alive".) Simply put, its a life-suck.

During the course of my scrolling I come across a Buzzfeed article of a dad posting funny things on Twitter that made me laugh, and a video of a christian evangelist telling amazing stories that made me cry. I should have stopped there. I proceeded to stumble upon a disparaging post about women written by someone I respect. I debated with myself for 10 minutes on whether to respond or not, concluding that anything I wrote would either be ignored or turned into some annoying Facebook debate; thus, futile. Because I'm a glutton for punishment, I hopped over to Twiltter where a barrage of passive-aggressive political posts shot tiny knife-lasers into my eyeballs. The world is shit. It's 9:00 am and I'm reaching for the preverbal towel to thrown the damn thing in.

Here's the thing. My life? It's small. Not so impressive to anyone other than my Mom and me. Today, I have to go to the grocery store. I have an email to send. Laundry to do. Dinner to cook. If I'm in the mood, I can organize the garage. I have a daughter that I have the immense privilege to love today; to represent the love of Jesus as purely and truly as I possibly can. She's growing so strong and so quickly. The time is precious. I have to drink it in.

A few miles away, my best friend, partner and lover is working his butt of for his family. He wakes up everyday at 5:30 am to take care of us and he does a damn good job. He deserves my best because we love each other. And sometimes my best is an encouraging text, when he's tells me he's having a "melancholy day". 

Listen folks, you and I are both going to bump into things today that will make us feel like crap. Social media, being one of them, a melancholy day...being another. The demon 'Buzzkill' is a real thing. I don't mean like the cousin of 'Beelzebub', I mean...that discouraging, depressing, intangible temptation to believe the worst about the world and ourselves. 

Here's the truth about your story today. All those people on social media...they're just like you: trying their hardest to get by. But they are very far away. They don't know you and you don't really know them. They're not your family or friends so don't worry about what they're saying (or not saying) today. What is in front of you? A grocery list? A 9-5? Three screaming kiddos tearing your kitchen apart?

If all your wildest Pinterest boards came true, it would not be enough to bring lasting joy and peace to your heart. Social media is a bit of a fantasy world, isn't it? There's a little bit of truth, but a lot of not truth. All that 'not-truth'? can kill the simple joy that you will stumble upon in actual real life, today.

So you have a grocery list? You shop the CRAP out of that grocery list! Say hello to the girl at the meat-counter. Try every sample! You have a 9-5? Ask your boss how he/she is doing today. Hardly anyone ever asks the boss. You have to organize your garage today? Put Bruce Springsteen on blast and go to town. Let gratitude swell inside of you for the simple joy of holding your child's hand.

Lift your hearts up to the Lord, the giver of Life, the giver of every good thing. Choose it. With every fiber of your being, reach for joy. Don't let the buzzkill of a couple "not truths" control your story today.