Winter in Tennessee is not our best time for offering beauty. The grasses are mostly brown, the trees are bare and the sky is more often gray than blue. Thankfully, seasons change, they don’t last, and though I wish fall lasted longer, and that spring would come earlier, and that summer weren’t so hot, and that we could have more control over those changes, we can’t. We are living at their mercy, and we have to learn to make the most of each one.
Motherhood is a season. Sure, you’ll wear a mom label the rest of your life, but the act of motherhood, with it’s day to day care and responsibility, is a season.
Infancy is a lot like spring. We wait for each new development, watching over crib rails for smiles and acknowledgment, like a gardener waits for sprouts and buds to burst through soil. Summer brings the growing years. Legs and arms stretch beyond fabric sleeves and minds blossom into colorful ideas and invention. We see more and more who they are and it’s fun, exciting, and hard, hard work. We feel the sun on our back in the summer. We watch them make decisions and sometimes shade them from consequences that are too harsh, or move aside to allow the sun to reveal to their own minds the extent of what they have done. We watch them learn new things and we cover them with protection. We sweat with them over homework and ballgames, and we rest with them under the broad shade of grace, knowing bare feet and cool grass are as fleeting as the light of the fireflies.
As I watch my boys approach their teen years I see the beginnings of the fruit I expected. It’s beautiful. The color that shows, the fullness that is pushing through the covering I have held over them, the freshness of new understanding becoming ripe for others to enjoy is so very exciting. With this ripening fruit I see that the leaves are changing color and I know that this is the beginning of my mothering season ending. I am far, far from done, but I am seeing their eyes look beyond the door and I know they will feel the urge to leave my arms as bare as winter branches.
I must learn to respect motherhood as a season. I must be ready to pour out when my most prized vessels are gone pouring on their own. I must know what to give myself to.
This past weekend was Super Bowl Sunday. We watched helmets and pads crash on the playing field and men who were so recently boys, lived out their dreams to the bitter end, only half of them going home with the prize. During the game I remember seeing part of one of the commercials. Peyton Manning was doing an ad for Universal Parks. I really didn’t even see enough to know if it was a good commercial or not, but I have almost always found him funny in ads. I am going to go out on a limb here to say that when Peyton Manning was a little boy, I’ll bet he didn’t dream of becoming an actor in commercials. The son of a well respected professional football player, he likely dreamed in gridiron. I know I’ve seen video of young Peyton with his brothers playing backyard ball like their careers depended on it. He fulfilled a great dream, with great success, but no matter how successful it was, it couldn’t last forever. He was an active football star for a season.
Mothers are like professional football players.
Now that Peyton’s football career is over, he has moved on. He has successfully transitioned from great to great fun. He is not a has-been, because he is a still-doing. It’s not the same work, but it was catalyzed by great work.
We need to mom like Manning.
Let’s give ourselves to this task, as if it were the only thing we’ll ever do, but let’s remind ourselves daily that we are individuals beyond this season. That there will be many years beyond the harvest where we will want to see more growth, more fruit, more success. What I love about Manning’s career is that no matter how well he sells pizza, insurance, or Universal tickets, it’s our respect for his football genius that keeps us enjoying him.
I want my mom success to catalyze my further goals. I want people to see me and see my talents, and my work and I want them to say, “she’s good! Isn’t she Ivan Kelso’s mom.” I want the fact that Owen, Ivan, and Aron are great men to be a greater success than my writing or whatever else I do. I want my role in the lives of three great men to be a powerful platform.
I know I’m in a season. I know it will end. I can’t focus on the next one until this one passes, but I can give myself so fully to this one that it carries the next without strain or deep uncertainty. I’m going to dig into these hot, hot summer years and I’m going to work the harvest with all diligence, knowing what I produce is more than simply another adult. What I’m producing is men of God, men of knowledge, men of compassion, and character, but beyond that I’m producing a unique mom muscle in myself to carry out the calling that bears fruit beyond my first calling. I am going to mom like Manning.