We're so excited to share this sweet book with you all, along with some photos of B making a mess outside (her specialty!) in her "booz." My friend Emily Springer illustrated this children's book, and we absolutely love everything about it. It's a story about a little boy who learns that God makes our hearts clean from the inside when we get messy. And like so many children's stories, it's giving me some powerful feels that only simple messages can.
As a first-time parent, I've been dealing with all these pre-conceived ideals and expectations. And after year one of that first child's life, you think you've been tested in that, but ohhhh you haven't even begun. We're almost to age two, and B has been teaching me so much more about expectations and patience with a toddler. She's busy, smart, incredibly sweet, and she's also learning how to communicate and how to navigate those big toddler feelings. And OH MY GOODNESS, it's a roller coaster for us both. I'm learning so much about myself in the process, and to be honest have been since that second line showed up on the pregnancy test.
If I have learned one thing in my short life it's that expectations are the root of a lot of unhappiness. We don't always realize they're there, but expectations can live deep in your heart and grow roots over a long time. And then one day you're married with a sweet little girl, and you realize that some of the uglier parts of your heart are mixed in with some well-meant, and some very unrealistic worldly expectations. Like maybe I had an expectation that I would be able to keep a fairly clean house while coordinating a Pinterest-worthy day for my well-rested toddler, but literally no day of my life has looked like that. And that expectation has the potential to rob me of some serious joy. (P.S. B totally drank the watercolored water and then dumped it all over herself, so #PinterestMoment or...? She's still a little Picasso to this mama, but thank goodness for non-toxic paints.)
I babysat quite a bit growing up, and I had a front-row seat to many different ages and personalities of children throughout the years. Not trying to toot my own horn or anything, but I felt like I could diffuse a lot of sibling situations or unhappy kiddo moments without sweat. I loved the time I spent babysitting, and it shaped a lot of my own ideas about how I might parent someday. But that expectation has been wildly changed by a 24/7 365 responsibility for a tiny human who completely depends on me (and my husband) for guidance and protection. No big deal. This heaviness immediately sunk in when they put B on my chest and I knew she was 110% depending on me. It's the scariest thing I've ever done without a doubt. It turned a very laid-back me into a very freaked out new mama.
I spent a lot of nights with my frenemy Google when I was pregnant. Insomnia would rear its ugly head, and I would be gripped with this fear that something was going to go terribly wrong with my pregnancy. I don't fancy myself to be a very controlling person - I'm not even close to a Type A personality. I'm usually on the laid-back end of things in a group of people. But when I got pregnant, my total lack of control over my body and my baby's development became a deeply rooted fear that stole quite a bit of joy from those nine months. Even so, in the middle of it all, I saw my prayer life become more honest and raw, and I felt God's nearness as I wrestled through those moments.
Sometimes I look at B and I think I couldn't possibly love her more. What a powerful responsibility I have to this girl - to guide her and love her in all the "right" ways. I'm constantly questioning little and big decisions that I'm making as a parent, and living in a modern world full of scary articles does not help. Another expectation God's currently redeeming in my heart: The expectation that I can make right choices as a parent in very gray areas. A huge fear in my heart is that I’ll make the "wrong" choice that won't show negative consequences until she's much older, and then it'll be too late. It's that kind of dirt, mess and grime that often distracts me from being fully present.
And in spite of all that massive potential to fail this little person that I love so, so deeply, God is bigger. He is gracious to cover my unrealistic expectations, and He is good enough to love me when I fail like a sinner (Read: Impatient, missing joy, hurrying a curious and innocent girly through learning moments.) He washes away all the ugliness, and is redeeming my heart in the middle of a chaotic and fleeting season of life. He pours out peace, and brings reassurance in the sweetest of ways. He is constantly cleaning up this mess I'm making, like kitchen counters that are never 100% clean from clutter, and I am so thankful.
I know faith seems like a complex thing to teach to children, but my fears aren't mixed in with this area of parenting. I have seen God wash, redeem, and hold me tight through some very messy seasons, and I imagine B will wrestle with Him in her own ways too. All I know is, He will meet her there. All I have to teach her is that He is able.
I am so thankful for talented people like Becky A. Johns and Emily Springer who have really made something special with God Made Me Washable! You can order the book and see inside the book here https://www.godmademewashable.com/