I have reached what is probably a delayed conclusion, seeing as how my oldest is four years old. Motherhood is the interrupted life.
I think the delay in this realization is in large part due to my mentality shift over the past year or so. Throughout Hadley’s early years, I viewed her very much as an interruption, but I packed her up and dragged her along for the ride. I continued to work, and it often felt like vacation – getting to work uninterrupted while she was entertained by childcare providers. Looking back as a once-single mom, I am deeply grateful for those childcare providers, but their presence in my life then is shedding light on how difficult life at home with an infant is now. When Hadley was four weeks old, I (sleepily) returned to work. Now that Adrienne is eight weeks old, I realize I owe my mom much more gratitude than I probably expressed for taking care of Hadley during that time. I thought I had the hard job with Hadley – I got up with her in the night and then valiantly managed to endure work the next day. But it was my mom who figured out how to put her on a schedule and willingly embraced the interruption to her life and tasks every day. It was the childcare provider who purged the pacifier, who coaxed first steps and first words, who informed me of Hadley’s likes and dislikes. Looking back, I missed so much, and had it so easy. I spent my weekends “enjoying” Hadley, though it mostly consisted of hot coffee and CNN while Hadley entertained herself nearby. I had worked hard all week, after all.
An infant has no concept of time, nor does she seem to care that I just poured my nice, hot cup of coffee and am sitting down for some sweet time with Jesus. She doesn’t care that it’s time to make dinner, or that I’m sick of having to be constantly. touched. by some (sweet) little person. She doesn’t care if it’s a day that I really needed to nap, or if I really needed a full night’s sleep, or if I wanted to mosey through a store instead of rush home to feed her. She just doesn’t care about me.
So as I microwave my coffee for the third time this morning (and it’s almost 11), I thought I’d reflect a bit on interruptions. Because lately they’re raising my blood pressure and causing lots of inner grumbling. Time for a reality check.
I think it’s rather fitting that I just had to step away and retrieve a fussing baby from the swing, and Hadley just entered the room and decided it’d be fun to “just be together,” so she’s hovering over my shoulder. 🙂 To be continued…
I’ve heard many times that Jesus welcomed interruptions, but it’s really sunk in as I’ve read the Gospels over and over through the Bible reading plan I’m doing. My favorite story is in Mark 6. First, Jesus sends out the twelve apostles, and upon their return, “[Jesus] said to them, ‘Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.’ For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. And they went away in the boat to a desolate place by themselves.”
(Can I just say that I relate to having no leisure even to eat?)
In Matthew’s account of this same story, Jesus has just been told that John the Baptist was killed. At the news of this loss, “he withdrew from there in a boat to a desolate place by himself.” It wasn’t just the disciples who wanted to get away.
Both accounts say that their plan was foiled – they were followed, and in Mark it even says “they ran there on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them.”
If it were me, the blood pressure would be raised at this point. I’m tired, I’m hungry, and I just want some time with my Jesus. And yet there are people, people, people everywhere. But it says about Jesus: “he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. And he began to teach them many things.”
The disciples followed more along my line of thinking. As evening grew near, they approached Jesus and said, “This is a desolate place, and the hour is now late. Send them away to go into the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat.”
Jesus’ response? “You give them something to eat.”
There are a few things that I love. It’s not that Jesus was belittling that the apostles were tired. If fact, he whisked them away for some time of rest and refreshment. But he did not allow their exhaustion to become an excuse to ignore the “sheep without a shepherd” who happened to follow.
In a similar way, my little sheep follow me around, encroaching upon all my space and time and plans and I look to Jesus in distress, expecting him to excuse my snappiness and irritation and impatience at the interruptions, but instead he just says, “You give them something to eat.”
Pour out more of yourself. And when you think there’s nothing left, keep pouring.
But it’s not like he asks us to give without offering something too. He didn’t send the disciples into town to buy food for the masses, like they thought he would. Instead, Jesus took what little they had and made it enough.
Keep pouring, he tells me, because I will fill you up. I will make what little you have enough for today.
I sincerely hope that someday I will embrace the interruptions without clenched teeth and a forced smile. I hope that someday, I will look forward to them as moments where Jesus allows me to see him a little more closely and reminds me of how deeply I need him. It’s not that he doesn’t know I’m frustrated, it’s that he wants to teach me how to walk through it with him.
Have you ever noticed what precedes the often-memorized Philippians 4:13 (“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”)?
Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
Maybe it’s not that profound for you, and I can’t really do it justice since I’m now typing this with my left hand while nursing a baby and hearing little feet exploring upstairs that should be fast asleep. I feel like I write about this all the time but the reality is, it hasn’t sunk down deep enough to not still be really hard. It’s not just that Jesus gives us the strength to do the impossible (I think of quoting that verse to myself as a 6th grader trying to run the mile in P.E. 🙂 ) It’s that Jesus gives us the strength for whatever he puts before us. There are good days and bad days and time to myself and time I think should be for myself that is constantly interrupted. But there’s grace for it all.
I’m getting used to the interruptions. Maybe I’ll even learn to enjoy my coffee cold. Or at least praise the Lord for microwaves.