This morning I was prepping a big meal in the kitchen, listening to the sermon I missed in church on Sunday. Elijah is working through a baby virus, so I stayed home with him to rest while Dan took the older boys on a play date. While Elijah slept fitfully I figured I'd use the time to prep tomorrow's 9-person dinner. At least cut up the vegetables, I said to myself, so I can pop them in the oven tomorrow when I'm dealing with three kids at once.
I often miss the sermon on Sunday because I'm working in kids' church, and then dealing with my children's nutritional and social/emotional needs afterward. Once they all get lunch and juice and playing on the playground we sometimes get a chance to do a little worship together. It makes for a lovely morning but not exactly a growing-in-God type of regimin.
So when I get a quiet moment during food prep I try to catch up on whatever the church is teaching. Not for my own sake, of course, but because I lead a small group and I have to be up on the message for the benefit of others.
I live on a very high ivory tower and that is the subject of my blog post today.
So I turn on the sermon while dicing potatoes and I hear our pastor ask this odd question: If you had a t-shirt emblazoned with a phrase that represented your identity, what would it say?
I have a friend who exercises in a tank that reads, "I want it all!" She exercises pretty hard.
My neighbor's daughter has a shirt that says, "Princess." She comes into our house and demands cookies.
So what would an accurate t-shirt say for me? I reflected for a moment, scrolling through all the phrases that reflect my hippy parent self-presentation. "Local milk supplier" for example, or "Powered by stevia and not cane sugar!"
And then it hit me, the phrase that I'd never put on a t-shirt. The phrase that describes my personality 100%.
LEVEL UP, BITCH.
What are you doing, pouring glycerine soap into cute little sheep molds? Make your own soap! LEVEL UP, BITCH! What are you doing, attachment parenting one single child? Homeschool three! LEVEL UP, BITCH!
What are you doing, trying to rest with your sick kid because you haven't slept in three days? Cook a day ahead and write a blog post! LEVEL UP, BITCH!
In my own mind, I can never stop working. In my own mind I am never trying hard enough.
I am not alone in this, I find. This is an American mothering thing.
I came across this article the other day while I was nursing sick Elijah for like ten million hours. It made me laugh because it put into words the way I think about domestic tasks. "Bento Boxes That Will Establish Your Dominance Over Other Moms."
'But this is taking me too long!' Waaah waaah waaah. What are you, a little bitch? Set an alarm for 3:30 am and get it done!
Dan says I'm attached to the praise of others. "You're so AMAZING" and "How do you DO it?" I say, haha that's generous. Caring what others say would mean having a genuine relationship with them. Instead I have a genetic inability to process compliments. What matters to me is my own definition of winning, a warped view of Christianity in which Jesus loved Martha better and demonstrated it by ordering more sandwhiches.
I have thought: "I am the fucking Michael Jorden of giving myself to others."
Dan says this is a spiritual issue and I need to repent. I guess I'll have to, because I am the fucking Michael Jorden of obeying my husband.
Anyway, let's wrap this up so I can go back to cooking.
What should you do if, like me, your self-concept is a little unhelpful?
Go back to God for a different t-shirt. Ask him what he thinks it should say. If I honesty ask God how he sees me I hear, "Oh honey, you are sooooo tired. You're afraid that you're a loser and you'll always be a loser. This not eating sugar thing isn't going to help."
Maybe instead he'll give me a pink t-shirt that says "Princess!" I wonder if my neighbor has any cookies...