Where’s the lip gloss?

On Mondays at lunch, we fast and pray that men would walk uprightly with God, that women’s hearts would be softened, and that God would grant marriages to those who long for them.

“May I have some lip gloss?” my 3-year-old niece asked me last Saturday during our girl’s weekend. I handed her some lip balm and she responds, “What is this? I wanted lip gloss!”

I find that life sometimes hands me things I didn’t ask for or expect, as well. Like my recent bite into a slice of bread expecting the sweet savor of chocolate, only to discover an olive. Yuck!

Mother’s Day, beyond honoring our own mothers, can serve as a reminder of an expectation, an “ask,” a prayer that has gone unmet. I often receive a flower in church in honor of general womanhood on Mother’s Day. While I appreciate the sentiment, it feels a little like getting a gift on someone else’s birthday.

So, in a way, I feel like I was handed “lip balm,” when I asked for motherhood.

It was Hillary Clinton that made the statement “it takes a village to raise a child” popular a few years ago. I believe those of us without children have an opportunity to be members of the village offering a “balm” of sorts to parents in support of their efforts to train a child in the way he/she should go. We can babysit, volunteer time in the children’s programs at church allowing parents to sit in the service, be another voice of wisdom in a child’s life, or coach a sport; anything to provide extra support to parents.

Perhaps it’s because I’m an aunt, but I’ve always regarded my role in the world to entertain other people’s children, since I wasn’t blessed with any of my own. I think being an aunt is awesome! I get to relieve the parents for a night or two, giving them a welcomed break and me the kid-fix I need without the long-term ramifications and expense of parenting the child.

With my oldest nephew I implemented the “turn 11 years old, get an outing with Aunt Michelle” idea. For the first 11-year-old’s adventure we headed to an amusement park and rode a 120-mile per hour roller coaster, then went into NYC for another day of exploration. My second nephew turned 11 years old in January so we are heading to the beach in several weeks to get some sun and make stop-motion movies with Lego creations. I have several friends offering me their children for 11-year-old outings; perhaps I could turn this into a profitable venture.

I really thought/expected/prayed that my life would deviate from the career path at some point and land me in motherhood where my days were filled with diapers and play dates (plus other stuff, I know), but it hasn’t happened. What I’ve discovered though is the “mothering” skills and desires don’t go away. I need to find outlets where I can allow that part of being a woman to be nurtured. I realize having one niece and six nephews affords me a sort-of built in opportunity to take children on adventures or teach them about lip gloss, but I know many other parents (especially single ones) would welcome an adopted aunt to dote on their children.

For those of you that desire motherhood but have yet to realize it, how have you handled the pangs? Are you like me and need to find outlets for the mothering urges? Is it easy or hard to find ways to invest in children’s lives? If you are an aunt (or uncle), how do you get creative with your time with nieces and nephews?

Happy Mother’s Day to those of you with children! And to those of you desiring motherhood, I pray that the Giver of good gifts blesses you with the opportunity to invest in the life of a little person (and the not so little too).

Michelle

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12 Responses to Where’s the lip gloss?

  1. theageorge says:

    I have to admit that Mother’s Day does not cause me any pangs. I suspect it is because: 1. children are tied up in marriage 2.I have known since early 20s that I had bad endometriosis so I have had many years to adjust to the reality 3. I am not very maternal
    But your post made me laugh because I feel like God has been handing me a lot of chapstick and vaseline and well large cups of nothing lately when I am really asking for topshelf lip gloss; the nothings – no husband, no property, no kids, still have tons of student load debt, now health issues, etc. But the chapstick – a relo out of a city I was miserable to a city I am happier BUT it came with a client that is making me miserable and unhappy and it is more expensive (I ask Him why couldn’t I have had one perfect situation for once? e.g. The relo came with a raise and a better client?). And I get friends news every week – a new relationship, an engagement, a wedding anniversary, the purchase of property, a book deal, a promotion and my soul just dies a little more.

    • fast. pray. says:

      I’m glad this brought some laughter your way! It’s hard when desires go unmet and circumstances seem to direct us farther from them. Chapstick and Vaseline are useful and have their purpose, it’s just different than the lip gloss we expected. Reconciling the switch in our mind and heart is often where we get stuck. I’m glad God is patient with us as we learn to trust Him and trust Him some more. My experience says this isn’t something we conquer, but a continual challenge to trust God through the journey, whatever it might bring. My friend is pregnant at 39 yrs old despite endometriosis and years of disappointment and loss. Another reminder that God is at work, just not always when we expect! Will be praying for you. After all, those cups of nothing just might turn into something you only dreamed of.

      Michelle

  2. Anita says:

    Handled the pangs? Sometimes crying is the best way to live well. To be honest, and not run away from the pain. Good things happen in honesty and open-faced-ness before God and His people. I’m single, 40 next month, and recovering from a hysterectomy. Today I walked past a beautiful, hugely-pregnant lady, and all I could think was how beautiful she was, and that I’ll never be that. The pain nearly took my breath away. But admitting the hurt seems healthier than denying it–tho it’s not a place to camp out at.

    I live abroad, and far away from my nieces and nephews, but I try to hard to touch and stroke any child within my reach, and look deep into their eyes and smile back at them.

    • fast. pray. says:

      Anita, I’m reminded of the song “Beauty for Ashes” taken from Isaiah 61:3: He gives beauty for ashes
      Strength for fear
      Gladness for mourning
      Peace for despair

      I’m glad we can come honestly, openly to a loving Father and He replaces the tears with joy. I will be praying as we both stare at 40 that this decade will be beyond expectation, and most of all may we grow more Christ-like.

      Michelle

  3. Karis says:

    I appreciate this encouragement. For me, the desire to be a mother is not simply the desire to “spend some time with children.” Sometimes the babysitting/kid time/adventures with nieces & nephews is actually more painful. I want to be the one they go home to, and I to them; not the one who goes home to my little apartment. But still, the times I do spend with children of friends and family DOES bring joy, laughter, adorable moments, and they ARE a blessing to all involved. So I need to remember to seek out these times, to give and receive blessings in them. Maybe I will still one day be a parent and dream wistfully of the days I would wake up alone, at whatever time I wanted to.

    • Karis says:

      sorry for the grammatical errors–you’d never guess I do editing for my job, and actually rather well! haha.

    • fast. pray. says:

      Hi Karis! I know what you mean about it not being the same, but glad you can find joy in the time you do get spend with the children of family and friends.

      Michelle

  4. Anna says:

    I am not an aunt yet, but maybe someday. 🙂 In the meantime, I love to occasionally babysit, serve in the nursery, and stay connected to my friends with kids. It’s obviously not the same as having your own kids, but it does assuage my fear/sadness/disappointment over not being married and having children.

    (Especially, when parents serve in the 1.5-2 year old nursery with me and walk away dumbfounded that I can get a group of 14, 30 month-old children to stand quietly eating goldfish for approximately 8.4 minutes. Haha.)

    • fast. pray. says:

      Anna are you like the Pied Piper with goldfish instead of a flute? Share your talent!!

      I agree it’s not the same as having your own kids but it does help!

  5. Melody says:

    Thanks for this post Michelle!!! In the past few years, Mother’s day has been a hard one for me. I find it hard to deal with these unmet desires of relationship and motherhood as well as with the bitterness and sometimes jealousy I feel as I see my friends being celebrated. This year, however, something shifted. I am actively involved in the kids programs at my church which is great. It gives me the opportunity to get to know the families there but it is so easy to stay just at the surface level of interaction. I am an aunt now (technically) but I will not have as much opportunity to be an “aunt” to my nephew as he lives halfway around the world. I have made an effort to get to know families in my church, have dinners, take children on ‘special days’ (currently I have five kids of friends’ families that I rotate through), make a point to plan day trips with families (it’s helpful when I”m friends with the parents), and have had the privilege of even vacationing with families. I think this year I’ve realized how lucky I am to have these children in my life and have been told by numerous parents (even teary eyed ones) how they appreciate other loving adults in their kids’ lives.

    Remember! We are valuable to these families, not just for extra childcare support, BUT for being other adult examples journeying together, for loving their kids and having patience, energy, and excitement for them, for reminding the parents that they’re still people and not just parents (they need nights out with girlfriends too right?).

    We must not be afraid to change the normal paradigm of family vs. single life. We as single adults need relationship and there are families out there who want to be in relationship with us! We can initiate fun dates or outings, we can invite families over to our one bedroom apartments (it’s squishy but fun!).

    I am happy today was different for me and that I could celebrate the moms around me (including my own) without, anxiety, fear, anger, or resentment. This is a sign of Christ’s resurrection in my life.

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