Peace for the Precious

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Jen Hatmaker posted an article this week about the dangers of “precious” parenting, encouraging moms everywhere to take a page out of the 1970’s parenting manual and let go of the fabricated magic that we are all trying so desperately to create. You can read it by clicking here.

Oh, man. I completely get what she is saying.

Although I have worked through most of the madness by now, there have been birthday parties in years past where I was stressed to the max and antsy for the child I was supposedly celebrating to just get out of the way, already, so I COULD DECORATE AND PUT THE LITTLE CHALKBOARD SIGNS BY EACH PLATE OF FOOD TELLING EVERYONE WHAT THAT FOOD WAS!!!!

Because, honestly, how would my 4-year old guests KNOW that those were cupcakes on the cakestand unless there was a sign next to them that said “cupcakes”???!!!!

Obviously, there were days on the motherhood front when I was a freak whose priorities were totally out of whack. I needed an article like Jen’s to grab me by the shoulders and say “TONE IT DOWN A NOTCH, SISTER!”

Thus, I feel like her latest blog was very timely and needed, for scores of mothers who feel stressed and guilty by today’s parenting trends.

What I ALSO feel, however, is that there could be a lot of mamas out there who need a boost of another kind, and that’s what I am hoping to provide today.

You see, it didn’t take me too long, once I joined the blogosphere, to recognize that my family would most likely be categorized as what Jen calls “precious”.

We are, for better or worse, a family of “snowflakes” and if you HAD to categorize my parenting style as an automobile, it would probably, darn it, be a helicopter.

For instance, the birthday parties.

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The Halloween costumes.

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The earnestness of it all.

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And if I, as a precious mother, am not exceedingly careful in my study of these sorts of personal testimonies and opinions like Jen’s (and VERY exceedingly careful in the comments section!), what can easily happen is that I can take a simple blog post that was meant to encourage or enlighten or entertain and turn it into my own shame.

And that, my precious, is why I want to speak to you today.

Before I move on, I want to make it clear that I am in no way refuting Jen’s article. In fact, I LOVE her take on parenting.

Through her consistent warnings against helicoptering, I have learned to let my kids play in the front yard with me only hovering by the living room windows where they can’t see me instead of the front porch right next to them. I have been reminded to let them make mistakes and to teach them to clean up their own messes. I have been inspired to step back and let them do big things for God when the time comes.

These have been big lessons for me, and I am beyond grateful for the guidance and am ever hungry for more. We need to listen to other moms, moms who are different than us, moms who are the same as us, but most importantly, moms who have actually walked through motherhood. If motherhood is anything, it is a learning process, is it not?

But I am also very sympathetic to those who, with the best intentions, have found themselves feeling lonesome in their zeal.

As a precious mom, there have clearly been days when I needed a voice like Jen’s to help me “snap out of it” and to show me a different path, but then there have been other days when I simply needed someone to lift up my chin and tell me that I’m doing okay.

With the latter days in mind, I want to offer some relief to my fellow snowflakes, and I feel sure that Jen, who is a passionate advocate of sisterhood and who annually takes time out of her crazy life to talk with me about “American Idol” and “So You Think You Can Dance” on Facebook, would approve.

Let us begin.

Are you a Pinterest mom? Are you precious? Are you a snowflake?

Hi. I “get” you.

And while I “get” you, I can also see how the Pinterest circuit can be overwhelming to moms who aren’t wired in those ways and results in mom-guilt galore.

Not a mom on the planet is free from the temptation to compare our weaknesses to the strengths of others, and the strengths of the “precious” are displayed ALL OVER THE INTERNET.

If a non-Pinteresty mom is feeling down about herself and logs onto Facebook to see something like this….

party table

it would understandably come across as very showy and nauseating.

And who knows? A lot of this stuff might actually BE showy. I don’t know. Every mom is different, and even more complicated, every day is different. I’m sure there have been days where I was being showy, and the next day I wasn’t. I’m a sinner who just happens to have a good camera and a knack for color-coordinating. There are going to be issues.

So, even though it can wound the precious person’s enthusiasm, I understand the distaste.

Bunting? Scrapbooks? Shadow boxes and time capsules? To many, this stuff is TOO MUCH. It’s insanity.

But not necessarily to us, right?

Being “precious” is our wheelhouse. It’s not, on the pure days, something we pursue out of stress or one-upmanship, nor is it something we force ourselves to be. It’s just what we do, yo. It’s natural. It’s how we show love. It’s how we express creativity.

And while I am unfortunately not organized enough for a time capsule or crafty enough to sew or patient enough to make shapes out of food, there are traditions and practices and beliefs in my home that make other moms feel like total losers. I know this is true, because I have heard it o’er and o’er again, most usually after a birthday party.

Likewise, I have often allowed myself to feel like a loser compared to the incredible moms I know. Some can sew. Some make amazing meals for their family. Some are so beautifully health-conscious. Some are the epitome of FUN. Some can decorate cakes. Some are budget queens.

I might live big on birthday party days and catalog the fun for Pinterest, but what about all the days in between when I’m shuffling through the mess and buying chicken bits at the gas station for our supper?!

And I just can’t help but think that what all of us mamas have GOT to start recognizing in the midst of all this learning and growing and blogging and discussing, and what we HAVE to rest in at the end of the day, is this…

God has wired us all so very differently.

It may sound ridiculous, but for some of us weirdos the joy is actually found IN the magical details and the stress comes in feeling like we are alienating others with our decoupage. (I don’t actually know how to decoupage, but still. You know what I mean).

As a thoroughly precious person, I sincerely love making some extra magic for the world. I love whimsy. I LOVE CHILDHOOD. I am a Victorian, at heart, and even though I can learn from their chill vibe and use their strengths to help me be a better parent, I will never, ever be a 1970’s style mama whose kids roam around the neighborhood. I admire those types of moms. I love them. I kind of think they’re hilarious! But they are not me.

Do you know what?

We get excited about birds at our house. Like, we cluster around the living room windows and we count robins, for crying out loud.

We “fly” through the house listening to the score from the 2003 live-action “Peter Pan” movie.

We have special clothes just for the pumpkin patch.

We sing the soundtrack to “Les Miserables” AS A FAMILY, 3-year old included.

We discuss our family Halloween costumes all. year. long.

We even love photo shoot day! Well, most of us, anyway.

We are precious.

But here’s the thing that I have learned to hold onto after going through a very awkward and reclusive phase concerning my mothering skills, and I hope it will encourage you today, whether you are precious or not.

Get ready because, if you are a believer, this is the best news you’ll ever read (post gospel, of course)!…

God gave my kids to the exact type of mama they would need to grow up in the fear and admonition of the Lord.

You see, there is a reason that Gideon, Rebekah, Betsie and Shepherd Gore have been placed under the wings of a precious mother. My influence, my heart, and my wiring is apparently a sovereign part of their story, and there is a great peace that comes with that knowledge.

If you poke me too hard, I will bleed. If you say mean things to me, I will cry. I’m not hard. I am a soft person and my heart aches just from opening my eyes in the morning.

And if you squeeze me, do you know what will happen? A birthday party is going to shoot out of my ears like confetti. It’s just who I am!

And because He is good, I fully believe that God will use all of these things to craft the adults that He intends my children to become.

I don’t want to lazily rest in my preciousness. There is a LOT of room for growth here, and through voices like Jen’s (and, okay, my husband’s), I have learned to not rush in and scoop up a crying child every single time they fall. (Even though I am dying to!). I have learned the difference between celebrating God for creating the child rather than making an idol out of the child. I have learned to very carefully toe the line between raising entitled, narcissistic kids and grateful, God-worshiping kids.

And so I will be the first to admit that, if a snowflake indulges completely in her snowflakiness, she can totally handicap her kids! THIS is the point Jen was making, and I have tucked it away to guide me. Listening to the un-precious ones has kept me from becoming a slave to my natural tendencies.

But there is a balance that keeps me from despair.

There is a place for my sort of oozy tenderness. There is a use for the sentimental creativity. There is maybe even an outlet for time capsules! We need more softness in this scary world, don’t you think?

And that’s where the precious ones can shine.

That was a lot of talking, but I share all of that to say this: if you, as a mama, are being true to the daily leading of the Spirit and are finding your parenting manual in the living and active Word of God, are your kids going to be okay?

Even if you have themed birthday parties?

Even if you still slather your 8-year old in baby lotion after his bath? (What? Did I just say that out loud?)

Even if you do photo shoots and start planning for holiday wardrobes months in advance?

You betcha.

It takes all sorts of mamas to make the world go round, and even if we never line up on the tertiary subjects, we can relax in our common anchor, the most important thing in the motherhood equation, the gospel of Jesus Christ.

If we as precious moms have that, if our earnestness is based on a heart that adores children and this magical season of life, if our over-the-topness springs forth from a heart that finds the sanctify of human life something that starts at home, if we are humble enough to listen and grow and change, then we’ve got nothing to worry about.

Let’s listen closely to the wizened voices of the ones who have blazed the path for us and draw from their unique strengths and add their wisdom to our arsenals…

but let’s also never be ashamed to be the sort of precious that God created us to be.

Pinterest is counting on us.

~

Three cheers today for all moms, and I hope this brings relief to any readers who needed it. These motherhood topics can be so very sensitive, so please use extra discretion in your comments! I see all comments, but only those that lead to edification will be published. Thank you for visiting, and if you’d like to receive almost-daily updates and stories from Mrs. Gore and family, find us on Facebook!

If you’ve never commented here and your comments are not going through, I am away from my computer. I’ll try to have everything moderated by tonight! Many thanks!

10 thoughts on “Peace for the Precious

  1. I read Jen’s article and it really struck a cord with me. I have tended towards craftiness all my life. I just enjoy sewing and scrapbooking and creating tablescapes. It’s just a part of me that I can’t control and naturally spills over into my mothering. I always wanted to be a good writer too but that wasn’t my strongest natural gifting. I took AP English all through HS but I wasn’t the best writer but probably because I didn’t practice at it like I did crafting. But Jen is an absolutely amazing writer and her kids will get to enjoy her words as they grow up. You are an excellent writer too! I think every Mom has that thing she does so well that her kids remember it into adulthood and sometimes wish they or their spouse could emulate it. My Mom was great at painting free-handed. She enjoyed it and I use that talent of hers a lot whenever I need something painted. My father can build things with wood so easily. My husband tries his best but it’s not his natural talent and that’s ok. My mother-in-law reupholstered furniture as her career! Talk about something I wish I had some talent in! I very much think the two kinds of Mom’s can exist and be good for their kids. I am very conscious of trying not to do things that my future daughter or son-in-law will cringe at. LOL

  2. I never thought I’d be a precious parent till I actually became a mom and though I’m not at Pinterest level yet, I’m close enough to be giving myself guilt trips when I didn’t have time to bake muffins and gave my toddler store bought ones instead.

  3. Ah, Mrs. Gore, you’ve nailed it again. I loved Jen’s article, but I love yours even more. So gracious, with that dash of humor. Yes, God has made us each unique and has placed our children in our homes for a reason, whether biological or adopted. They need our kind of crazy! Thanks for reassuring moms of all types that they are enough, especially with God’s help. Live in your strengths without apology. Bless you and your family.

  4. I love your preciousness…is that a word and I adore Jen too. It does take lots of different mamas to make the world go around! I’m planning an Avenger party for when the movie comes out and my kids are grown, laughing, so my friends join in my madness!

  5. Beautifully written. I absolutely agree that it takes balance, and we each mother how we know best. I was raised how Jen describes. Yes, I knew I was loved, and my childhood was happy, filled with imaginative outdoor play and neighborhood friends. However, I am hard-pressed to recall a fond childhood memory that involves my parents, and that seems a shame. I feel like that dynamic really impacted the relationship I have with them now. While we are friendly and keep in touch, we certainly are not close. So I want something different for my daughter. While we’re not “precious” (I barely remember most holidays, and she’s never had a special occasion outfit), I definitely tend more toward attachment parenting. I want her to remember that mom climbed trees, splashed in the creek, and played on the floor with her.

  6. Oh, I so needed to hear this! Thank you for following Gods lead in the personality he gave you. It’s been a long time since I was a mother to younger children (my youngest is 26, lol) but as I watch my oldest mother her 3 year old I am reminded of how I used to be.

  7. I love your preciousness! You make me want to go hug my own kids! I used to be much more into special parties, etc, but as our family size grew, I often focused (focus) on ‘good-enough’ for survival. Your sweet personality and love for your family shine through in your writing. I love seeing all the different kinds of good Mamas out there!

  8. AMEN. I so appreciate your perspective/response to Jen’s article. We are just all so different and that is OKAY. Just now, while at lunch with Jon and the kids, a man we knew from years back took a look at us and said “Wow! Whole family here, huh? Do y’all homeschool or something?” We said yes, or something and he said his wife would kill his kids. HA HA HA HA!! Oh goodness. But really, you know what? That’s cool. As you said, God has uniquely equipped us and gifted us! (I did spend WAY too long after he walked off explaining to my precious children that home days with them have been the joy of my adult life and it’s not a burden!!!!)

    Anyhoo…..if you were not, as you say, precious. Well, you would not be Lesley. And if you were not Lesley, my heart would break. I love you so stupid much.

  9. I am SO not precious. Helicopter, perhaps. Well, yes. Yes, I am a helicopter. But precious in terms of crafts and birthday parties and tea times with baked goods? Certainly not my style. I have no pinterest account, and indeed, have only peeked at pinterest twice — by accident, when it has come up in a google search. It’s just not part of my world.

    But when I see blog posts that are all precious and crafty, I do not feel discouraged. That’s not who I am, and it’s not even who I want to be. If mothers are doing that kind of thing, and enjoying it with their children, fine, great, more power to them. It’s fun to peek in and see how the crafty-half live. But I would not enjoy it. It looks not at all fun. It looks like horrible, frustrating time spent on endless minute details. Yuck! (Fun for some, beautiful for all to look at, but definitely not something I want to do.)

    We all have different gifts. That’s what makes us so diverse. I think it’s sad if a mother feels a need to measure up to another mother in an area that’s just not her area.

    And I absolutely agree with you. God gave our kids to us — yours to you, mine to me, hers to her — because He knew what those individual children needed. And if I am doing my best for my children, I have no reason to feel discouraged.

  10. I love this! I have to admit that I am in Jen’s category. I don’t enjoy crafts and am not precious at all in that way. Pinterest-y things work for you because you enjoy them and they are part of who you are, and you do a great job capturing them on this blog. I am happy not being a Pinterest mom, but honestly, if everybody was like me, the world would not be as pretty a place. I like how you captured that Jesus didn’t give either one of us our kids so we could strive to be more like the other. 🙂

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