Motherhood Mantras: Stories of Survival

{Above image from here}

I started writing about the words that I clung to during the first few months of the babies’ arrival, and then the middle months, and the later months, and…now pretty much all day everyday I rely on a variety of them to keep me from losing it or running away. Some come to me spontaneously, and then I can’t remember them the next day or week. Some come to me from Scripture, poems, Facebook and Pinterest, blogs, books and stories (even children’s books).

So far, the ones that have stuck with me are:

Survive and advance (during March Madness 2011 when the babies were tiny).
Accept the mess.
Savor it.
When in doubt, air it out.
It is what it is.

There’s nothing really inspiring about these words per se, and certainly they are not remotely poetic or even eloquent. Or even interesting. Borderline cliche, probably. But, because these mantras are simple and straightforward I remember them. And I realized these words took root because there are stories – drama, adventure, obviously, tragedy and comedy – that surround these words, and they remind me that these words are anchored in humanity. These words have flesh and blood and tears.

Mantras. I wiki-ed it for my first post, and fell in love with the following definition:

A mantra is a sound, syllable, word, or group of words that is considered capable of “creating transformation.”

Perhaps this isn’t totally sound theologically. Still I think there’s something to be said about the power of logos – it’s not a coincidence that I’m ordained as a Minister of the Word and Sacrament. While these may not exactly be efficacious for salvation or justification, both word and sacrament are definitely necessary for our sanctification…the daily impacting of our lives. The power of the word to shape, destroy, renew, and save is immeasurable. And certainly, I would say, clearly transformative…and surely, not only within Christianity. No one would argue that the beauty of the poetry of Sylvia Plath, Maya Angelou or Langston Hughes speaks just as powerfully and deeply as the words of Jesus, Mohammed, and Buddha.

But, a big piece of what makes mantras so profoundly necessary is community. Words are not spoken in a vacuum and the stories I hear and receive from others are also life-giving. So, I felt inspired – and absolutely and pathetically desperate – to have a series in the month of May on the various stories surrounding mantras from those mothers that encourage – nay, hold me up – regularly. Our amazing writers will have posts up all month.

They include (not in order of schedule but alphabetically):

Larissa Kwong Abazia: The Days Are Long
Galit Breen: It’s Just a Small Moment
Micha Boyett: Have Grace With Yourself
Alice Callahan: Forget Perfection. Embrace Goodness.
Brea Carlson: I Don’t Have to Like Them.
Natasha Chaim: Happy Mama.
Theresa Eunyoung Cho: It’s Good Enough
Laura Choi: Run to The Garden
Maryann McKibben Dana: The Harder Thing is the Easier Thing
Julie Emery: Yell Less. Laugh More. You’re Not Alone.
Katie Loop Foshea: Just Listen and Obey
Christine Julian Gough: You. Are. Loved.
Yena Hwang: Let Go.
Kristin Ireland: I’m Gonna Miss This.
Lauren Joujan: Go Play With Her.
Amanda Medlin: Sow. Weed. Water. Wait.
Carol Howard Merritt: It Goes by Fast
Katie Mulligan: What’s The Other Option?
Katherine Willis Pershey: Hold The Railing
Laura Viau: I Can’t Do This
Kate Wiebe: Keep It Simple
Courtney Mills Jones Willis: This Too is Calling
Caela Simmons Wood: I Can Only Control Myself

I’d love for this series to be a source of rootedness for you in some way, whether you have children or dogs, whatever babies take over your days…a reminder that both words and community can make all the difference between life and death.

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