He leaned over and pushed a tiny Christmas decoration made out of the letters H-O-P-E with a tiny angel watching over a baby in a manger. My mom had given it to us the Christmas we got married, saying that our relationship gave so many people hope in God’s presence. We keep it out year-round. When Kylie pushed it, the letter E did not move with HOP.
I went back to the book, only to see little fingers curl around the edge of it, pulling it down. I don’t think she actually destroyed our HOPE, per se, but she certainly destroyed the ability to finish a book over morning tea. (The ability to read, however, is still alive and well, thanks to late night wake-ups and the Kindle app on my phone.)
This tiny girl with wisps of curls at the nape of her neck, with a growing vocabulary of animal sounds, and a breathy “hi!” has totally altered my life.
Usually for the better, but sometimes for the frustrating.
No matter how perfectly I plan her day, every day always ends with that last hour and a half—the witching hour—in which I usually turn on a favorite show, and in which dinner ends up on the floor. Dinner ALWAYS ends up on the floor.
We have arrived at Toddlerville, and I’m starting to fear a life of permanent residency here. I know it’s going to seem permanent, even though it won’t be. Sometimes I don’t know how I’m going to survive it.
This week, I found the #wholemama mini-movement on social media by watching Esther Emery’s beautiful interview with Sarah Bessey on Prayer. In the interview, Esther mentions an early blogpost Sarah wrote about the spiritual side of picking up food off the floor and I knew I found some like-minded people. I’ve been following Sarah Bessey and her Dr. Who obsession for a while now, so it shouldn’t have surprised me, but it did.
#Wholemama is about being your whole self—physically, emotionally, and spiritually—while being a mom. As someone who finds Jesus in the embodied practice of yoga, this idea of being a whole mama resonates with me. That when I’m picking up food off the floor, I’m participating in something greater, not turning off who I am in order to serve my kid (sometimes it feels that way).
Listen to this quote from Sarah: “I have heard that the part of me that worries is the part of me that can pray constantly. And if I can worry constantly, then I can pray constantly.” I worry constantly, and I try to pray constantly through my breath, by slowing my breathing and trying to let the worry go. And that is prayer.
And I can pray while picking up dinner of the floor, pray that Siena always finds room to make mistakes and be herself. Pray about how I’m raising her, about the wisdom to know how to discipline a child who seems older than she is. Pray, breathe, clean, love, be.
Maybe the #wholemama thing resonates with me because yesterday I had a bad day. It maybe felt like Siena had destroyed my hope, or at least my ability to get things done. We had a moment where we were both sitting on the kitchen floor, and I was crying. I really really really wanted her to not act like an 18-month-old for about 20 minutes. Just 20 minutes so I could weed the front yard without her walking into the street. As I talked to her, I heard how ridiculous my request was. I couldn’t ask her to not be who she was.
So I told her that I wasn’t mad at her. That I was having a bad day. That sometimes we all have bad days. And I asked God for the grace to have my own bad day without destroying my family. To give Siena the grace to have bad days too sometimes.
And so we abandoned the yard and cuddled on the couch, watching Doc McStuffins make it all better. Now, I realize that while we cuddled, drinking in the physical presence of the other, we were praying with our bodies and our togetherness.
Having a child did not destroy our hope. She turned our world askew, moved the E away, recreated our hope, helping us experiencing God and prayer and being in new ways. I want to be fully present with her for all of it, being her #wholemama so that she will also be a #wholeperson.