The Great Mother

reflecting on life: stories, wisdom, inspiration, aggravation

This Is Awesome February 25, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — emlott @ 6:16 pm

My friend Valerie called before my son was born (maybe early March 2006) to chat but to share some of her wisdom from caring for her newborn son born that January.  I remember she said a friend of hers vowed early on not to complain when things got rough in the middle of the night with her newborn; instead, she and her husband would simply say, “This is awesome.”  I thought of that often when my son was a newborn and am remembering that again not just in the middle of our newborn sleepless nights but in our transition to three-years-old and transition to managing two children and transition to no time for grown-ups to hang and on and on and on.  Oh, it’s so easy to whine and to give in to the grumpy.  I let the nights get the best of me sometimes, and it’s not pretty.  I want to remember Valerie’s friend, though, and just hold onto a nicer password even if it’s mumbled through clenched teeth: This. Is. Awesome.

(Happy Birthday to Valerie, by the way.)


Reflecting on Lessons February 24, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — emlott @ 5:24 pm

We are more than one month into the new family dynamic of learning life with two children and less than one month away from life with a three year old.  I have been thinking for some days now about how quickly the last three years have passed, how long away another three years seems, and how I have been changed by this passage of time.  My pastor/friend is always quick to ask after crises or in the midst of life change, “What lessons are you learning?”  He asked me this question when my son was a newborn, and I think I was probably too tired and too new to offer much of a response.  Here I am again, sleep deprived and thriving on autopilot, and still considering the question.  What lessons have the past three years taught me?  What lessons am I learning?  How has my son shaped me into a mother?  How will my daughter continue that shaping?

Be still.  This may seem at odds with preschool life.  My son does move  and talk amazingly fast these days, and now it is my daughter who pulls me back down onto the couch for the reminder to be still, to nurse, to rock, to hold.  Then my son remembers he wants some of those things, too.  But both the newborn and the three year-old teach me to be still against the dominant culture’s invitation to move rapidly.  The culture around me asks one of its favorite questions: “What are you DOING?”  That question bothered me in the first months of life at home lived at a slower pace because I felt lingering guilt about not DOING enough and moving fast enough.  I was also fearful that professional peers would leave me behind while I stepped back or slowed down.  But the call to be still continues to be much stronger than the invitation to go faster.  I am learning this lesson; learning to be present and in the moment, learning to breathe when I’m moving too fast, learning to still myself and my reactions to the world around me.

Enjoy this time.  It is easy to focus on what is hard about parenting young children.  At three in the morning when both children are calling for attention, it is far too easy to think of what is achingly difficult.  But as my son gets older, I am learning to really, really enjoy my life.  I am not a great newborn mom.  They smell like heaven and doughnuts, their grunts of contentment are addictive, and I do love the way a content and warm little body feels all curled up on my chest.  But I continue to enjoy each stage of the early years more than the previous one.  This morning I sat with my son and painted, talked, laughed at his jokes, and genuinely enjoyed his presence.  He is saying funny, clever things.  I am amazed by these rapid changes and small exchanges.  So then I look at my daughter and remember those same early days with my son.  I get excited about her growth and the great days to come.  In all of life it is easy (for me, at least) to focus on what is hard and frustrating and not as I want it to be.  It is easy to look at what’s ahead or around the corner or in my dreams rather than what’s in front of me.  In all of life I want to learn to enjoy what is right in front of me.

Create breathing space.  Let me emphasize again that I am learning these lessons rather than mastering them.  They present themselves to me over and over, and many days I simply acknowledge that I have much to learn.  When I was finishing seminary and working part-time, I had the privilege of meeting two lovely women who cared for my son part of the week.  One family came from the Solomon Islands and miraculously managed to bring that island life into their seminary housing.  Just as soon as the weather approached warm, the windows were all thrown open and the curtains blew in the breeze.  I always enjoyed the space that this family created.  Without words, their home welcomed all to come inside, relax, and breathe.  I need more of that.  I want to live in that kind of home.  It was 19 degrees in Richmond this morning, so I cannot throw wide the windows just yet, but I long to create a welcome breathing space for my family and all who enter here.

There are other lessons and thoughts to share, but here are a quick top three.  Perhaps this will come with a Part II when I have another good night’s sleep.  The boy is up from his nap, so I’m back to work.  Be still, enjoy this time, breathe.


The Full Family February 13, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — emlott @ 6:15 pm

I long for time to sit and reflect on the changes brought by the past few weeks.  But I also long for a hot shower and a good night’s sleep.  Our daughter arrived in the afternoon of January 20, 2009, after a smooth labor during the inauguration.  Laboring during such a spectacular event was powerful.  I was proud to participate in birthing peace into our world and pray our family will continue to be instruments of that peace.  

Much ado was made before the inauguration of Rick Warren’s invocation, and I found his words to be rather boring and exclusive.  By the end of the ceremony I was in a strong labor pattern but still present enough to be deeply moved by Rev. Joseph Lowery’s benediction.  What great words to birth by!

God of our weary years, God of our silent tears, thou who has brought us thus far along the way, thou who has by thy might led us into the light, keep us forever in the path, we pray, lest our feet stray from the places, our God, where we met thee, lest our hearts, drunk with the wine of the world, we forget thee. Shadowed beneath thy hand may we forever stand — true to thee, O God, and true to our native land.

We truly give thanks for the glorious experience we’ve shared this day. We pray now, O Lord, for your blessing upon thy servant, Barack Obama, the 44th president of these United States, his family and his administration. He has come to this high office at a low moment in the national and, indeed, the global fiscal climate. But because we know you got the whole world in your hand, we pray for not only our nation, but for the community of nations. Our faith does not shrink, though pressed by the flood of mortal ills.

For we know that, Lord, you’re able and you’re willing to work through faithful leadership to restore stability, mend our brokenness, heal our wounds and deliver us from the exploitation of the poor or the least of these and from favoritism toward the rich, the elite of these.

We thank you for the empowering of thy servant, our 44th president, to inspire our nation to believe that, yes, we can work together to achieve a more perfect union. And while we have sown the seeds of greed — the wind of greed and corruption, and even as we reap the whirlwind of social and economic disruption, we seek forgiveness and we come in a spirit of unity and solidarity to commit our support to our president by our willingness to make sacrifices, to respect your creation, to turn to each other and not on each other.

And now, Lord, in the complex arena of human relations, help us to make choices on the side of love, not hate; on the side of inclusion, not exclusion; tolerance, not intolerance.

And as we leave this mountaintop, help us to hold on to the spirit of fellowship and the oneness of our family. Let us take that power back to our homes, our workplaces, our churches, our temples, our mosques, or wherever we seek your will.

Bless President Barack, First Lady Michelle. Look over our little, angelic Sasha and Malia.

We go now to walk together, children, pledging that we won’t get weary in the difficult days ahead. We know you will not leave us alone, with your hands of power and your heart of love.

Help us then, now, Lord, to work for that day when nation shall not lift up sword against nation, when tanks will be beaten into tractors, when every man and every woman shall sit under his or her own vine and fig tree, and none shall be afraid; when justice will roll down like waters and righteousness as a mighty stream.

Lord, in the memory of all the saints who from their labors rest, and in the joy of a new beginning, we ask you to help us work for that day when black will not be asked to get back, when brown can stick around — when yellow will be mellow — when the red man can get ahead, man — and when white will embrace what is right.

Let all those who do justice and love mercy say amen.


REV. LOWERY: Say amen —


REV. LOWERY: — and amen.

AUDIENCE: Amen! (Cheers, applause.)

The audience–people of deep faith, diverse faith, and no faith–burst into applause and shouted, “AMEN!  AMEN!”  What a beautiful moment and what beautiful words.  Let those who do justice and love mercy say amen.  May it be so in our new family of four–fullness, abundance, beauty, generosity, hospitality, justice, kindness, love.  Amen.