Probably because it was yesterday.
I resolved to read to my children, yet again, during the hour when the afternoon sun pours through the delicate lace IKEA (two panels for $15!!) curtains adorning the windows of our old farmhouse. It feels right to engage in such a wholesome activity with my five offspring and for about the 57th afternoon of this calendar year, I resolve we're going to watch less and read more. Good mothers read to their children. Children with good mothers grow up with intellectual curiosity and a surprisingly deep vocabulary given the hours set aside to devour books. To punctuate my intellectual resolve, I bypassed my normal cold coffee drink and instead poured myself a cup of Earl Grey, what with the reading to the children and lace curtains and all.
My humble, but energetic crew (ages 6, 5, 4, and 3 year old twins boys) were herded to the couch for yet another attempt at mass book consumption hosted generously by their beloved tea-sipping mother. By the time we turned to page three of The Berenstein Bears and Blame Game (I just love the classics, don't you?) it was announced this book was too babyish, a lego man was beheaded and kidnapped, little hands repeatedly tried to skip pages and we were all treated to a mooning by one of our cheeky members. I restored order, several times, before we F-I-N-A-L-Y for the love of all that's holy, came to the end of book with only one child left on the couch with me. There. I did it. I read them a book during daylight hours. Check, check.
Even though I do read to them at night after they are tucked in and listening to me is a means of stalling sleep, I stop to consider why it is I feel I MUST force reading, to all of them, during the time of day when all they want to do is be set free outside, rain or shine. The truth is, in MY STORY, the one where I am a mom to five very spirited little ones born quite close together, things like reading time, craft hour, play dates and visits to the library--all good things-- are akin to reigning in a tornado with a fishing net. I've tried, and I get tangled up in frustration every time. I think it is this: I'm holding my story, and it's present setting, up to the light of another woman's whose words I have read and taken to heart. Try though I subconsciously might, the lines just will not line up. I forget that they were not always meant to.
The details of our stories are being shared by the millions on blogs, websites and e- books. No longer is our only option a trip to the nearest bookstore to buy another women's story. We now hold in our hands (literally) millons of written opinions on relationships, parenting and heartfelt essays based on personal experience on every fathomable topic. Don't read me wrong, it is good and freeing to tell our stories. The exchanging of ideas can be empowering and used for great good. I have often been refreshed and challenged by the reading of well-timed words to the work God is doing in me.
Yet right below the surface of all that free-flowing information is an undercurrent that can so quietly suck me down into it's pressuring and guilt-laced pull. The problem lies with me. It becomes harder to resist succumbing to that invisible current when I:
1.) Take in too much information (the sheer amount of voices can almost leave little room for my heart to absorb anything else. When I start hearing myself say aloud "Shut up already!!!" to the voices in my head, I know it's time to retreat from the masses I'm just one password and three clicks away from).
2.) Remove or widen the filter (in Proverbs, Solomon calls this "wisdom") that sifts Truth from what is good-but-not-necessary (Did I think the idea of three gifts per child at Christmas as a reflection of the Magi's gift to Jesus a good idea? Sure! How meaningful. Did I feel we must do exactly that? No, I did not. There were two magi's gift that got intercepted somewhere along the journey from Bethlehem to our house.) from what resembles the substance that come out of our chicken's rear ends (there's plenty of that out there too).
3.) Try to cram good-but-not-necessary information into my story and grow exasperated when it won't fit into my personality, my skills or the season of life I'm in. This gets tricky because there ARE many good recommendations out there, ones with educated research behind them and those composed with deep spiritual undertones, softly suggesting its what the better mom does. There are those that can be helpful and applicable to me, to someone else and then those that, well, see aforementioned chicken reference.
God has been and still is writing my story. All the little bits and pieces from my past and present (such as my childhood, personality, abilities, weaknesses, etc.) create a storyline that looks different than anyone else and will uniquely affect how I go about my daily living. These amazing people I've been undeservedly given to raise might not remember hours their mother spent read to them in patches of sunlight, but they will readily recall the pajama-clad dance parties held in our kitchen by the light of silvery moon.
There are so many little variables that we can read as standards that are NOT, and we must be able to let them sift through so we can live FREE to go about our stories in the ways God designed for us to. If you consider the rest of His creation, you'll note He's not into mass production. The same is true of us. Your story, and the ways in which you love those living with you in it, might reflect a completely different scenario than mine. It is not only perfectly fine, it's absolutely beautiful for our stories were meant to be different. It is my responsibility to learn from where God leads me (be it from a book or a circumstance), let go of what was not meant for me or my family (even if it might be the best thing for another person) and stay true to the story God is writing with you.
Here is to the sharing our stories, learning from each other's and yet being free to let the lines be uniquely our own.