Sunday, May 8, 2016

For the Moms

Last week I was talking to our AP coordinator about the upcoming AP Bio exam (stay with me, this isn't actually a post about AP Bio- I promise) In the course of conversation, I confessed to her that I had no idea where the four-function non-graphing calculators were. I had them ordered from Amazon for last year's AP Bio class, because the College Board restricts the use of graphing calculators on the exam, and few students, if any, have a non-graphing calculator once they hit high school. So the school footed the bill for a class set, and we used them last year, but I had no idea where I stored them after the exam was over. I blame pregnancy.

Telling her was a way to fully admit my own incompetence. Pregnant or not, I'd lost them, and I was ready to own up to my mistake and buy new ones out of my own pocket. I'm sure the school would have been gracious enough to have purchased calculators again, but I was too embarrassed to raise the issue. I had plans to make a trip to Office Depot and scout out calculators on my own time.

But on Tuesday morning, during my planning period, I noticed that a drawer in my classroom was ajar. I never use this drawer, so it was weird that it was open. I certainly hadn't opened it, and it's in an area of the classroom that's not really accessible to students. I looked into the drawer, which was empty aside from a cardboard box with black tape stretched across it, with the word "Amazon" typed in blue. I reached in and pulled the box out. There, written in my own hand, were the words "AP Bio Calculators."

I'm writing about this today because it's Mother's Day. And the appearance of those calculators was such a mom move. I'm not talking about mom-brain causing me to misplace them in the first place (though that might have something to do with it) I'm talking about the appearance of the very thing that I needed in the exact time that I needed it. I mean, I'm not an expert on being a mom, I'm still learning a lot about this role every day, but, from what I can tell, anticipating needs has a lot to do with mommyhood. I think it just comes with the territory.

Mothers anticipate the needs of their children. It's what we do. That's why our bags are stuffed with wipes and snacks and hand sanitizer. That's why we schedule our outings around nap-time. That's why we're always exhausted. But this week, I was reminded of where that instinct comes from.

I know that the Bible tells us that God is our Father. God decided to reveal himself through that chosen role, and I think there's a lot of significance in that. Jesus came as a man, too, and I don't take that lightly. I figure that a lot about God is best revealed through masculine characteristics. But, I think limiting God to our human idea of masculine characteristics and roles limits who He is.

I'm not saying that God is a woman. But I am saying that when God created humankind in His image, He created us male and female for a reason. He intended for there to be dads and moms. And I think there's something really significant in that. All of humanity has significance because all of it is made in His image, which means that women, especially moms, represent some aspect of who He is. And that's pretty amazing when you think about it.

I spend a lot of time thinking about Story's needs. She had chicken twice yesterday, should I give her something else today? How spicy is that? Does she feel warm to you? Does she have enough clothes for the summer? Should I put her in a sweater, it's sort of windy outside? Is the TV on too much? Is it too loud? How long did she nap? Does she need to stay up a few more minutes before I put her down so that she will be on schedule? Does she need some Tylenol before she goes to bed because that tooth is coming in? When was the last time she had a bath? Does she need to be changed? And on and on and on it goes. But that drawer getting propped open for me this week reminded me that Someone is thinking of me in a similar way.

When I get Story dressed up for church, I tell her that she is beautiful, that God made her fearfully and wonderfully. We love that part of Psalm 139, don't we? But today I'm reminded of a verse a little further along that tells us that God thinks of us so much, so often, that His thoughts outnumber the grains of sand (Psalm 139: 17-18). And that just sounds so maternal, doesn't it? Mommas are always thinking about their children. I am the one who tiptoes into the nursery and watches Story sleeping. I'm the one who sends Andy text messages mid-day saying, "I miss Story." I know that Daddies love their children, too. But it's just different. And I think it's cool that the difference tells us something more about the image of God.

Like, it's amazing to think of the Creator of the Universe thinking something sort of like this, "Meredith's students have that AP Bio exam on Monday. She still hasn't remembered where the calculators are stored. I need to make sure that she gets them. Did I prop that drawer open enough? Maybe just a half inch more? Is the box visible? Maybe if I show a little more of that Amazon tape?" It humbles me even more to think that I didn't pray about this situation. I didn't even think to. It's not like I even asked Him about the calculators. He just made sure that I had them, because that is His nature, as a Parent, as a Provider, as One whose thoughts are always for us.

Another reason it's important to remember this about God is that being a mom is super hard. It's exhausting, and, even though the whole #momfail thing is a joke in our culture, when moms actually do fail, it can be a pretty devastating thing. I know people whose lives have cavernous holes in them their mothers left behind. Moms, as people, we're infected with the same self-centeredness and insecurity that infects all of humanity. Even when our intentions are good, we can utterly fail our children. And yet, we are, in many respects, the foundation upon which lives are built.

So God, please help us. Keep up with us, so we can keep up with them. Pour into us your Spirit, your love, your energy, your peace, your understanding, your wisdom, your patience and your kindness. Help us to anticipate their needs as you anticipate ours. Give us eyes to see them, in all of the beauty with which You created them. Train us to worship You instead of them, because making them our idol is to inflict upon them a life-wound. They need to learn to worship You alone. Keep us from fearing failure or the criticism of others, and free us from the burden of comparison. And for those of us who have been wounded by mothers, heal us and give us a vision for what You would have motherhood look like. And thank you, for this incredible opportunity, to take part of this revelation of Yourself to the world. Thank you for letting us be moms.

Happy Mother's Day.

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