HOLLY MACKLE|CONTRIBUTOR AND LAUREN DENTON|GUEST
“I want to show you something.”
They looked at me, and then down at the box, and then up at me again. Deep down my suspicions whispered, trying to snatch at the joy and telling me their imaginations are running wild thinking it’s the American Girl stable complete with swinging doors and miniature pony corral…or maybe just a huge box of Laffy Taffy… I pressed them down hard and continued.
“That project mama’s been working on…the funny book for mommies…the first copies came today, and I want you two to see before everybody else.”
I unflapped the flaps, dug my fingers down the side and lifted a copy out of its perfectly puzzle-fit placement, turning a freshly-printed front cover of Same Here, Sisterfriend toward their expectant little faces.
They squealed. Loud. The little piglets, they did squeal.
Telling another adult that I had this dream to write a book felt like one step too far in the world of appropriate sharing. Who admits to such crazy dreams, especially when all you have to show for it is a hundred pages of a manuscript and a notebook full of scratched-out ideas? Especially when you’re someone who tends to hold her super personal cards close to her chest. I told my daughter instead. She was only four when I started writing The Hideaway, but I felt free to share this hare-brained idea with her because in her eyes, I was awesome and could do anything. So when I said, “Kate, I’m writing a book,” her eyes grew wide.
“Like a book on the shelf at the library?”
We’re library people, and to her, it wasn’t real if it wasn’t at the library. So we took a trip.
Wandering down the D aisle in the Fiction section, I pointed to a shelf about shoulder-high and said, “That’s where it’ll go.” She was only a couple years past diapers and yet somehow, letting her in on this dream–telling her what I hoped my work would result in–made it feel more real. More natural. Of course this is what I should be doing with my “free” time, I thought. She’ll get to see me do it.
If you’re afraid you’re about to dive into a treatise on working women, don’t fear. The only safe place for any one of us is smack dab in the middle of God’s perfect plan—his individualized, perfect plan, based entirely on a story that is so much bigger than the sum of any of its parts. But we, as girl-moms and writers, are passionate about letting our daughters—our children—see us working hard at something outside of their daily care and maintenance. Something totally outside our Mom-role.
As moms it’s typical for our girls to see us waking them in the morning, feeding them before school, welcoming them home, feeding them again, housekeeping, running baths. Rinse, repeat, and repeat again. And as we go about their nurture and admonition, we long to be the kind of mamas who inhabit the plea of Deuteronomy 6:7 to diligently teach the ways of the Lord to our kiddos. But as writers, we have this other life that takes place any time they’re not at our sides, and it’s not often a life they haphazardly run into. We have to intentionally introduce them to this part of us.
When we’re not on the mom-clock, our work as writers is quiet and inward. But what might happen if we let our kids see this part of our lives that they normally don’t? What would they think if they knew that while staring at the computer screen, we’re actually searching for just the right word to capture and communicate redemption? Or that those Post-Its stuck to the kitchen cabinets are our attempts to grab story inspiration, even if it hits us while trying not to overcook the chicken? Our hope is that they see us as more than just mothers, but as women who have a deep craving we can’t ignore. Women who believe God has given us a talent he wants us to use. Women who love our kiddos as much as we possibly can, and also feel our hearts stretched to hold another kind of dream.
Does this have anything to do with the gospel? Absolutely. They say confident girls are prettier. Well, maybe. But girls whose confidence is in the completed work of Christ on their behalf are unafraid to talk to others about things that matter, namely the completed work of Christ on their behalf. And what does it take to foster confident, unafraid girls? Probably a whole lot of stuff, but it certainly can’t hurt to watch a confident mama chasing after her own dream.
Do you have a dream, mama? Own it. Not in a “you got this” self-help kind of way—no, not one bit. But own it in the confidence of a daughter of the King who knows she isn’t judged based on her success or failure, but on the completed work of Christ; a daughter who’s been asked to mother other daughters by that very same King.
Can we take our daughters to work every day? Can we talk to them about us—our day, our accomplishments and strides, our fears and mis-steps, showing them how to deal not just with success, but with failure, hurt, and disappointment in a professional realm? Can we celebrate professional success with them, inviting them not only into our home lives but also into our work lives, even asking them to pray for us in specifics? Inviting them in will impart dignity, and not just in the kindness and obedience of having them snacked and pottied and shimmied into tights and on time for ballet class—but in imparting dignity to them as our (already or hopeful) sisters in Christ, and calling them deeper into the community that is the church universal. A church where women have much to offer.
About the Authors:
Holly Mackle is the curator of the mom humor collaboration Same Here, Sisterfriend, Mostly True Tales of Misadventures in Motherhood, author of the family Advent devotional Little Hearts, Prepare Him Room, and editor at engagingmotherhood.com. She is the wife of a handsome, mama of two flower-sneaking bitties, and a fairly decent gardener and hopefully better humorist for joegardener.com. She spends most of her free time explaining to her two young girls why their hair will not do exactly what Queen Elsa’s does.
Lauren K. Denton is the author of USA Today bestselling novels The Hideaway and Hurricane Season. She was born and raised in Mobile, Alabama, and now lives with her husband and two daughters in Homewood, just outside Birmingham. Though her husband tries valiantly to turn her into a mountain girl, she’d still rather be at the beach. Website: LaurenKDenton.com; Facebook: LaurenKDentonAuthor; Twitter: @LaurenKDenton.