Fit to Burst : Abundance, Mayhem, and the Joys of Motherhood, the "sequel" (if you will) to Loving the Little Years, by Rachel Jankovic, is now available to moms everywhere.
Jonathan, my very kind and generous husband, took advantage of Canon Press's pre-sale option back in December and kindly stuffed my stocking with this newbie so I've had it for a bit. I've been sitting on it, waiting to talk about it until it's release.
Loving the Little Years still ranks as my favorite book for mothers of young children because I feel that it offers a good balance between relating to the challenges (while making you want to laugh about them, even if you can't in the moment) and reminding you that life isn't all about you and it was never meant to be so.
Fit to Burst continues with that train of thought, making it an equally valuable read.
Rachel writes in the Forward:
"I don't pull punches or hold back in this book, because I am writing to myself as much as to you. I know that as mothers we face very similar temptations, and we have a unique opportunity to sympathize with each other over those challenges. We have a common bond. We are the sisterhood of the people who know about long days. That is true. But the fact that we all face the same temptations should give us a burning desire to conquer them, not to wallow in them. I write hard-hitting things to myself, because I want to grow in grace. I'm sharing them with you in the hopes that they will strengthen your faith and encourage you to mother in a way that honors Christ."
It is this attitude - the kind that says, "Yes, but so?" - that first, makes me feel safe to read this book. I know that I'm not going to be allowed a pity party. Yes, mothering is hard but obedience to the Lord in my thoughts and attitudes is still required. Secondly, it's easy to throw a pity party without any encouragement whatsoever. It is helpful to have someone come along and tell you to snap out of it. Yes, indeed, the days are long. But the years are short and God works both in long days and short years. It would be good for us not to forget that.
Can Jankovic adequately appreciate the trials of motherhood in order to be able to write to herself and to us, helping us to keep a watch on our thoughts and attitudes about mothering? She has six children all under the age of eight (one set of twins!) and so I think she has a pretty good idea of how motherhood feels. She also has a good sense of humor to describe it. Check out this passage:
"Have you ever noticed that when there is more than one straw in a milkshake, everyone sucks faster? Everyone knows they are competing, and every sip by someone else means less for you. People start breathing through their noses to minimize lost time.
I have felt for a long time that little children have straws that tap directly into their mom's energy. The milkshake up is me, and the milkshake is my energy, and every child is armed with a straw." (Chapter 6, When the Milkshake Runs Low, page 46)
Now, I can laugh at that because we all know what sound a straw makes when it's reached the end of the substance it's sucking up. The sound of desperation is nasty to listen to. And it's nasty to feel depleted without the reserves to continue mothering. (Where is the time to sleep? To rest? To be alone? To not be touched for five seconds!?) Jankovic gets it, but still she doesn't allow us to wallow. She acknowledges emotions but meets them with truth.
"When we are at home with our children, this is the means of our sanctification. This is the testing of our faith. And it is Christ's faithfulness that enables ours.
. . .
We need to be faithful because He is faithful to us. We can trust him to fill our milkshakes, because He never runs low. And just to set the record straight,
Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every wight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the thrown of God. (Heb. 12:1-2) (Chapter 6, When the Milkshake Runs Low, page 48)"
Janovic handles fears and failures well - pointing her readers always to the cross of Christ. She talks about weariness, the need to correct (your children as well as yourself), learning and applying wisdom, and also about how we as wives and mothers are to be treating the husband and fathers in our homes. The chapters are short and easy to comprehend, yes, but the challenge she lays out for becoming a mother saturated in scriptures and grace is not quite so easy. Not easy, but doable. Wrapping up the book she reminds us that gratitude for all that we have, are and do is important in order to come the women and mothers that God would have us to be. She writes,
"Our gratitude for our problems does not just enable us to troubleshoot more effectively, or get through the day with fewer emotional headaches, although it does do those things. Gratitude enables us to do our daily work as unto the Lord. It makes the little things that we do every day an offering to God. When we do the dishes, when we correct the children, when we mop the floors, when we sort out the clothes and clean out the basement. When we do all these little things full of gratitude, we are making a difference in the kingdom of God." (Chapter 18, It Ever Shall Be, page 119)
Once again I found myself encouraged by Jankovic as I continue on in my mothering and also as a wife to Jonathan. I recommend this one to you as well.