Oh, You. Who are You? What do You want of me? What will I be doing on this day next year? Don’t tell me. (You wouldn’t anyway, would You?) Do You know, Yourself, or is it left partly to me? Are You withholding my life from me, or unfolding it with me? Are You an eternal parent, or are we eternal partners? Are You there for me now? I choose to think so. Otherwise it would just be too lonely. -Gail Godwin, Father Melancholy’s Daughter


Sometimes it seems as if we treat life like a video game, rushing to unlock the next level. I am not so good at video games, and once I make it to the desired level, I am okay to rest on my laurels. What this really means is that I don’t want things to change much. I have my job and my friends and my routines, and I am happy where I am. This has made the past two months challenging, to say the least.

I am sure I am not the only new mother who has felt, from time to time, that I would like my old life back. Mostly the sleeping and the time with Mike, but other things, too: the regular rhythms of church and work and seeing my friends. And not being so jiggly. I miss my clothes. It has gotten better as Atticus has gotten more responsive and we have settled into a better idea of each other, but I can’t say that it has been easy, especially on the days when I feel stretched thin to the point of breaking from lack of sleep. Though I don’t have a “philosophy” of parenting after just two months, I do believe strongly that my job is to serve Atticus as if he is the least of these, which of course he is. Perhaps we could call that “social justice parenting.”

I have had a lot of time to think, the past two months, about where our lives are headed. Especially about the past year, which was full of extremes in both directions. The questions that the character of Margaret Gower asks in the above passage have been on my heart, too. Though I have things that many people want, many of the things that I have desired most have been just out of my reach. Were they, are they withheld from me? Is that how it works? Has it all been decided, or do we help shape the pattern?

As I have watched Atticus’s life unfold over the past two months, I wish I could say that it has given me some great insight or driven me to my knees, but I have mostly been tired. I have been angry at a Creator who would create babies that need to be fed so often, that are so needy and undeveloped, angry that it all falls on me when my body is tired and worn from the previous nine months. It is not bold, in these days of blogging and confessionals, to express discontent with motherhood. And I am not sure that that is what I would call it anyway. It is more that I am frustrated with this process. I was not created as a gentle person, and that makes me feel wholly unsuited for the tasks at hand.

One of my greatest insecurities about being a parent is that I will teach Atticus my wrong-headed, deeply ingrained things about God: that he is a smart alec when answering our prayers, that he does things out of a desire to teach us rather than out of love. That he is harsh and demands perfection rather than being, as Margaret says, a partner and friend.

Though I would wait in fear, Love calls and asks me to join in, offering life. It is easier to believe in the unfolding of the future as I watch Atticus grow into whatever the world has in store for him.

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