Well, I have fallen in love with an old friend. That old friend is also a time-honored past time. I have fallen in love with reading.
During high school and college my reading ability completely digressed. I taught myself to skim materials for the sake of completion and basic fact recollection versus reading for the depth and comprehension that I had spent my foundational years perfecting.
4 years later, I have taught myself to read again and am currently working on a FABULOUS book called, "Spirituality in the Mother Zone".
You don't realize it as you are adjusting to all of the practical aspects of motherhood, but your spirituality changes drastically as you come face to face with the realities of being a mom. Going to church becomes truly a sacrifice because you spend most of the time trying to keep your little one quiet without taking them out of church. The cry room is not an option because it is full of toys and snacks and only provides one participation via a tiny TV screen. Not my idea of full participation. Even if I do keep him quiet, I still get the old ladies who gripe afterwards because he was such a distraction. Look, I'm sorry, I realize that you didn't bring your kids to church at this age, but mine will come to church. You want me here as a young married mom and that means you are going to get my FAMILY. I am teaching my children to go to church and understand what church is all about...maybe if you had brought your children to church when they were young we wouldn't be facing an unprecendented drop in church attendence and involvement.
Christianity through history has painted a very strange picture of Christian moms. We are supposed to be wonder women; quiet, humble, demure, forgiving, nurturing, and all out perfect. We keep perfect homes, perfect bodies (be they at some points in history, curvy), perfect marriages and perfect children. Those dark times of motherhood are forgotten about, perhaps simply not talked about, and one is left feeling lonely and removed not only from one's faith community, but in many ways from one's God.
In "Spirituality in the Mother Zone," Trudelle Thomas paints an amazing picture of the changes to our minds, our hearts, our souls and yes, even our bodies. She suggests that the Old Testement view of God and Spirit as Wisdom and Sophia might be a more appropriate sense of God for many women in "the Mother Zone". I am not one who visions God as Mother, but I definitely have a new sense for the feminine qualities of the Spirit as I venture into my own motherhood.
I wish I could write the whole book right here for all of you to read because not a page goes by that I don't say to myself, "Wow, that is amazing." Here are a few snippets...
She talks about the experience of first-time mom's being "cracked," as with grains of wheat, in order for us to grow into our new identy as mother.
She talks of the new image of body that mothers gain. "This is my body, given for you," takes on a whole new meaning when a nursing mom leaks through her work clothes and laughing causes unexpected jiggling in areas that were at earlier times taut and firm.
She talks of composing versus juggling. How many of us view life as juggling, as though the events of life are something unintentional?
She talks of the Ignatian examen as a way of processing one's day in an effort to energize and inspire healthy habits and focus on one's passions.
She writes of the vibrant and powerful tiger (or in my case I like to envision a lioness) inside each woman that can drive a woman's rage to productive forms like cour-rage and out-rage. These forms can be used to effect change for our loved ones. Anger is just another expression of love.
And that is as far as my Mother Zone has let me read, but I can't wait to read the rest. Trudelle Thomas has an uncanny way of nailing the isolated, conflicted, confronted but intensely spiritual feelings of motherhood. She does it from a feminine, but not feminist perspective that upholds the dignity of both motherhood AND womanhood. The difference in Thomas' style compared to many "parenting" books, is that she doesn't bemoan and labor on the realities. She writes of the realities with concise, honest and moving words and then presents positive, spiritual and forward-moving methods of facing them.
I am energized and encouraged by the up and downs of this book and I cannot wait to finish it and read it again with my highlighter in hand. If you get a chance, even if you're not a mom, read this book. It is such a transformational piece of writing.
Next time Kevin asks me what I want for a gift for a special occassion, I am going to ask him to read it. The perspective it offers is unusually unique and universal at the same time!
So continues my re-acquaintance with a long-lost love...