My sister has four children, six and under. That’s a lot. but she looks at my little girl and laughs and says, Goodness, Sarie! You’ve got your hands full! And my mama says, I don’t feel sorry for you one bit! You were just that sort of kid yourself!
But mother, do pity me. Life has worn me down already, and after Helen is raised I will be the softest smoothest most worked of all the rocks in God’s big river.
I was in a miserable mood. I always feel that way after comparing myself with another woman. This particular woman had an even tan and nice calves and a big paycheck. I could walk to Idaho and not have calves of significance. All I had on this woman was being more of a full-time mother, and so I started saying how hard this job can be, because if you can’t be better than someone, being a martyr is the next best thing.
We were planting in the garden, and Mama shouted to me over the kale and roses, “We all think we’re doing the right thing, and yet we all spend way too much time trying to justify ourselves. Why is that?”
And although I did move several garden beds away from her, I know it is God’s mercy to give me a friend like this. There is no one better able, on God’s green earth, to shut me up.
I got off facebook when my daughter was born because I was struck by the solemnity of my calling as her mother, and how my choices would affect her. I don’t want her to be on social media herself as a young adult, because I believe strongly in the damaging impact this has been shown, time and again, to have on the soul, the self-image and the capacity for contentment and joy.
I know life goes by fast, and so quickly she will be watching me scroll and copying me. So quickly she will understand how things work and how we get our joy of living. I don’t want to tell her to be different from me, a strength few children have. I want to walk this particular road ahead of her, see the pitfalls and put her down at a better place. I know she will see my sins as she walks with me, but I want those sins to be the old ones, the ones that Sarah and Rachel and Rebekah had—wrong, but familiar—we disrespect our husbands, we tell easy lies, we laugh at God, we regret it.
But the struggle of social media, from what I’ve seen and experienced, is something else, something new, something that shrinks the heart two sizes too small, like plants grown without soil, under artificial light. It is a life less than life.
Sometimes I wonder how writing is different, though. What is the praise of man? A snare and deception. (Words shared and valued.) But would we write unless we thought there was someone out there who would care to read and value our words? Probably not. We can’t speak into the void like God does, we never have and we never will— He didn’t make us capable of this, but I have come to believe with all my heart that neither did he make us fit for an instant visual audience, for likes and loves and notifications.
My daughter is growing up so quickly. Who loves her? A handful of people. Who keeps this child from eating rocks and bark and snails? Who gives her roses to pull apart and to smell? Who scrubs the avocado out of her neck? Who loves to take her picture and capture all the fleeting moments? Who prays wonderful things for her, and some days, just for her to survive? Who desperately wants her to be free from the self-ridden and confused spirit of her age? It’s me, her mother.