When I brought our first child home from the hospital to the Greek Revival where my husband and I were housesitting in Mid-coast Maine, none of my friends had kids. I was three years out of college, working as a reporter for a local newspaper and had just taken a six-month leave of absence. Most my friends didn’t live in Maine and were starting careers or in grad school. And most the folks at our church were silver-haired grandparents.
My own undersized family–mom and brother–were travelling. One overseas. One hiking around the country. In other words, I was alone.
Thankfully, mothering came pretty naturally to me–except the one time I called the 1-800 number for the Gerber hotline because I couldn’t figure out how to get my infant son to sleep. Now, at nearly sixteen, he still likes to be in the middle of everything.
If only I’d had someone to come alongside me and say, “Relax! You are not alone. Take it easy on yourself. We’ve all been there. Welcome to the messy art of raising a family.”
That’s exactly what author Jennifer Grant offers in, “Momumental, Adventures in the Messy Art of Raising a Family” (Worthy Publishing, 2012). Filled with first-person stories and encouraging words, each of Grant’s fifteen chapters presents parenting as an adventure, assuring moms that they are not alone.
Growing up in a family with divorced parents (like mine), Grant wondered whether she could ever have a stable, loving home in which to raise children. “Our father who art in Texas,” she and her siblings called their dad because they saw him so rarely. He’d moved there, she believed, because Texas had few laws requiring parents to pay child support. Was she doomed to repeat the same pattern?
“Such unpleasantness would not befall my home when I had children of my own,” Grant resolved. “I would be in love with my husband, and he with me. I would model tolerance, good humor, and gentleness for my children, and they would mirror these traits. I would be like a stone dropped into a pond, my children the ripples, spreading peace and goodwill as they echoed away from me into their own lives.”
Enter reality. While Grant and her husband have a strong and loving marriage, she endured the struggles of many moms from comparing herself to other to feeling as if she were failing. The journey she takes is one from unrealistically high expectations to acceptance that parenthood is full of triumphs and flops, of tears and hugs, of overwhelming fatigue and quiet, happy surprises. Her faith informs each page, assuring readers that they are not alone–a knowledge that often kept me going in the early days of motherhood and has steadied me since.
Even when friends, co-worker, and family all seem distant, the knowledge of God’s presence reminds me that each child, each day is a gift. And even when I’m not, God is in control.
What are you reading this Wednesday?