Much fuss and complaint has been made by struggling mothers about those "perfect" mommy bloggers who put us all to shame. We visit their blogs to glean wisdom and inspiration and sometimes leave feeling a tad inadequate. It hurts at times to feel that way and to see our domestic vision realized not in our own home...but in someone else's. It's not really true, of course. I mean to say it's not true that there is any perfect Christian mother or home out there. Most people don't post the ugly parts of their lives, their dirty dishes or their disappointments and failures. Allusions are made...but this is generally the place where people come to celebrate successes and share snapshots of joy. It's too hard to live failures and then relive them again and again in digital form. We want to see the beauty and treasure in our lives and share it with others in celebration.
That, I think, is the real reason that I continue to blog at all. After a busy day with a thousand small failures and discouragements, I can come here and post a snapshot of blessing. As I sort through the photos and moments of memory, the blessings grow...or rather, recognition of them increases...I am reminded of what I have almost missed. It's as if I'm taking a few moments to deliberately sit down and sort through the clutter of bustle and worry in order to find His fingerprints. They are always very obviously there but I am not always disposed to seeing them if I don't take that moment. That has been the blessing of blogging for me. "Yes, this is my life...the life He has given to me. I had almost forgotten. I had almost missed it."
It's techno-mom scrapbooking. Each moment is precious and placed "just so"...not just for the sake of memory but to make sure we understand the moment.
We had a huge scrapbooking moment yesterday as our littlest one was Baptized on the Feast of Christ the King. What beautiful and romantic time, so full of celebratory possibility! But the day comes and the possibilities are flanked by exhaustion, sickness, crying baby and various other sticky elements of real family life. We walk through such days knowing, believing the goodness and fruitfulness of it all and humbly accepting the snags.
In spite of my best efforts to meet baby's needs prior to his Baptism, he still cried from the beginning of the homily all the way through the end. I wanted to "feel" the moment and enjoy the beauty of the ceremony. Instead, I missed most of it since my attention was absorbed with the baby. I heard Father's words but not well. And that's okay because God is bigger than my attention span. I know my experience of the sacrament does not affect how well it "takes"...and that's a mighty good thing. I checked my pride and expectations at the door (mostly anyway) and just did my best to be a good mom. Someone approached me and said, "You look so happy!" How funny, I thought, because I am tired and a little stressed and distracted...but I really am happy. I am grateful that it was visible to someone.
I am also grateful for family who took plenty of photos and video which are providing for my scrapbooking moment. It really was a beautiful day and pouring over the pictures just melted my heart. I haven't seen the video yet but I hope to before the sweet smell of chrism is gone from baby's soft head. (Any other moms feel a little reluctant to bathe the recently anointed child?)
I have kept baby record books for each of my children and was "scrapbooking" in them (more or less) before it became such a huge fad. With my first child, I recorded every date and time for every tooth departure and arrival, every first and every baby milestone. My fifth child's book has noticeably fewer of these things. Teeth come and teeth go and we cheer and take pictures but forget the date because we never really took note of it in the first place. Blogging is a little like that. Maybe a gap-toothed smile goes in...maybe not. Ultimately, the project will be that snapshot of joy that sacrifices perfect detail in favor a broader work.
I recently spoke with a mother of many children who was commenting about event planning. She said: "You'd think that I would remember by now that nothing ever really goes as planned. After all these years, I still imagine that meticulous preparation will guarantee success. I still romanticize future events and smile beforehand about what wonderful and meaningful memories these moments will make for the children. Memories are made but never really in the rose-tinted way I've planned it. I've been disappointed so often but I wouldn't be if I could just remember how life really plays out!"
I don't think it's a bad idea to dream and plan. I just think we have to temper that with true humility and trust in the Lord. Each moment is packed with beautiful potential and it is not necessarily for the bodily eye to see it but rather for the eye of faith...
...And it never hurts to have several people on hand with digital cameras.
At the end of the day, I looked back with gratitude for the real blessing and sweet fellowship of ceremony and celebration. I also looked forward with tremendous desire and hope to the moment when I could lay my head down for the night! Will it be for long? Will his stuffy nose make this a brief reprieve? I could not say...but the awareness of the precious privilege of motherhood overwhelmed me and prepared me and I was able to smile when I awakened to his first nightly squeaks.