The Gospel According to Mom

As I sliced the red onion before me, I tried to surpress a smile. I was aggravated. My five-year-old refusing to do her homework, instead, distracted herself with a book, and I was tired of walking back and forth to the table trying to refocus her. Except, this time, she held a French cookbook and began instructing her imaginary audience. My aggravation momentarily subsided as I heard her lecture.

“This is the Word of God. The Word of God is very important.”

Okay, little theologian, I thought. What are you going to teach me today?

The spirit in us is God.”

Impressive, I thought. She’s tackling some very complicated issues.

But then her sermon took a strange turn.

“Restaurants are bad. Not all of the food there is healthy. We should eat healthy things. God wants us to eat the healthy food He has given us. You should eat protein. Cheese is protein, and milk is protein. Anything that comes from an animal is protein.”

At this moment, I didn’t know which feeling to embrace–the one that wanted me to laugh or the one that wanted me to close her ‘Bible’ as I listened in embarrassment.

“Fish is healthy. Now, I don’t like fish, but fish is healthy.”

And the lecture continued, a weird mix of our Bible lessons with the Food Network.

At that moment I had the fear that all parents have when they realize that their children really are listening to them, and I had the discomfort of knowing that they could take my words and morph them into some heresy that I’ve never uttered.

I pictured the scenario of Hannah Grace telling her classmate, “My mom thinks your mom is going to hell because you have red jello in your lunch,” or Caleb sitting in therapy crying, “I want to please God, but I just love Doritos too much.

And then there’d be Chloe who would just say, “Mom’s crazy. Pass the fries.”

I hadn’t recalled weaving any talks on the Holy Spirit with facts about hydrogenated oils, but apparently my daughter made the connection.¬†And, frankly, that fact made my vegetables rest a little uneasy in my stomach last night.

I’m thinking this weekend we’ll order pizza….

picture via

The Bike

I hate that I’ve gone so long without writing, not because I have to keep some writing schedule, but because I enjoy it. Nonetheless, between school starting, a new part-time job, and all the other tasks that fill a mom’s day, I’ve struggled a bit. But here I am! My daughter turned five a couple of weeks ago, and I would be remiss to not write a post for her.

I was six when we moved from New Jersey. ¬†Thanks to my dad, I was also terrified. I didn’t understand the humor in his joke that I would have to learn ‘southern,’ so I was already wary of this new place that would be called home.

The difference between these southerners and me was magnified every afternoon when the neighborhood kids took their bikes to the street. I had never ridden my bike in front of my house before, and I was eager to join this new group of kids, even if they did speak another language.

I sat in my pink mound of plastic, three wheels surrounding me, my knees bobbing close to my ears with each push of the pedal. The sound I made on the asphalt as I zoomed by was of a child going a hundred miles per hour, yet every other kid on their big bike flew past me with ease.

I remember the day when my parents took me to the bike shop, the day when I finally became a big kid. I sat on two wheels of glitter and purple, and I felt like a new person. I would no longer ride close to the ground; I would feel the wind touch my face like the kids who flew past me every day.

Almost 30 years later, I feel the magnitude of the moment, the rite of passage attached to riding one’s first real bike. The moment feels a little different this time, though.

I smile as I look on at that little girl who has become a little bigger, moving from four to five in what seems like overnight. No longer a preschooler, she joined the ranks of other kindergarteners a couple weeks before, and now she is ready to speed away in a flash of pink and peace symbols.

Yet when I look at this big girl, I still see the chubby cutie who would exclaim, “I running! I running!” while her feet barely left the ground in what amounted to not much more than a slow speed-walk. When the big girl before me who lost all her baby fat smiles, I still see the dimpled beauty with sparkling eyes who I held in my arms and squeezed close to my neck.

I smile at this big girl who is ready to feel a little bigger, to grow into her age five. I remember my own excitement, and I feel hers.

And I feel what the life of a mom is–pushing my children toward independence while my heart clings all the tighter to their little hands.

And now that I’ve thoroughly depressed myself, I’m going to wash a wet bedspread to remind myself that pushing kids toward independence is not a bad thing! Tell me about your first bike in the comments today.