Mothers are among the least nurtured folks.
We often treat ourselves as simultaneously subhuman and superhuman. We don’t allow ourselves rest or sustenance and we expect more productivity and efficiency than is humanly possible.
I can remember in my early mothering years that days could go by without a clear liquid passing my lips. If I was stopping to drink, I told myself I needed to make it count...either in caffeine or a sugary escape or both. At the end of the day, of course I needed that glass (or bottle) of wine to be able to release my grip. I had unrealistic expectations to meet or die trying.
When I found myself in the bottom of the pit, women held me up and helped me remember my belovedness and personhood by the way they cared for me. They nurtured me until I could nurture myself. The care they poured out on me was hard to receive at first because of the fiercely individualistic narrative I had made my own, but once I softened, their nurturing changed me.
I think mothers tend to pour from an empty cup until we get so dry and brittle we just turn to dust. We cut ourselves so little slack. We don’t even realize we are depleted until we can’t function.
Last night, my friend Jill brought me soup. A few years ago, I would have rejected her offer. She has people of her own to care for and feed and sometimes it’s uncomfortable to let people nurture me. I wouldn’t have wanted her to see me weak.
But I’m learning that our giving is all tied up with our receiving. Jill’s gift of a pot of soup on my stove was a gift to me for sure, but it was also her act of rebellion against the world that presses in on her. She hears the same voice in her head that I do. It tries to get her to tighten her grip on her time and resources, always whispering never enough. But she participated with God in the Kingdom coming to our broken world as she simmered and seasoned and created and drove the two miles to pour from her pot into mine. Nurturing others nourishes us, this she has learned.
And I think that’s why I’m writing. I think of myself as a homemaker, primarily, even though I work 40 hours a week outside my house. My greatest desire in life is to raise a strong bunch of kids who know who they are and how to live and move and find their being in their God. I want to create a space for them to rest and learn and grow and become and return to. I’m realizing that as I write and share my words, my chief desire is to make people at home in the world and to offer nourishment and nurturing and light and relief from suffering.
And so, here it is...my charge to you this cold Monday. Open your eyes to see the mother in your circle who needs a pot of soup, or maybe just a bowl. Open your heart to her. Open your pantry and fridge and make a simple meal to share. I promise, it will be good enough. Lighten her load and see how it lightens yours. She will pour herself a quart of water and take a picture of her bowl and thank God for you. This can be our act of holy rebellion, we will have our small share in the big work. This is how the Kingdom comes. Do you see it coming?