Fires, Earthquakes, Thunderbolts, and Fathers
In his excellent book, The Magnificent Story, James Bryan Smith shares a true story from Japanese culture that illustrates just how demanding strict disciplinarian fathers can be.
The Japanese have a traditional saying that the four most dreadful things on earth are “fires, earthquakes, thunderbolts, and fathers.” The father, in Japan, is supposed to be (and most are) strict, authoritarian, and judgmental, while the mother is suffering, nurturing, and caregiving. As a result, the Japanese—especially men—revere their mothers.
“Look at These”
Davon Huss tells the story of a boy who came home one hot afternoon, anxious to take a cool swim in the pond behind his home. He lived in south Florida, so taking a quick dip was a common way to cool off.
He was so anxious to get in the water, he didn’t even go inside to change clothes. He just raced for the pond, dropping his shoes, shirt, and socks along the way. His mother spotted him diving off the dock, and went outside to check on him.
As she watched her son swim toward the middle of the lake, she also spotted an alligator moving from the far shore, toward her son! She began screaming the warnings, and the boy stopped in mid-swim. He finally understood the danger, and began racing back toward the dock. Just as he reached her, the alligator reached him.
It was a tug-of-war from a mother’s worst nightmare. From the dock, she pulled his arms. From the water, the alligator held his legs. The water was quickly stained with blood.
A farmer driving by heard the screams, and ran to help. He shot the alligator and helped the mother call for help. The boy survived, and after several weeks of hospitalization, was ready to talk with a news reporter.
The reporter asked the child if he could see where the alligator had bitten him. With the typical pride of a boy, he showed off his healing wounds to the interested reporter. “But wait,” said the boy, “look at these!” With that, he showed the reporter the scars on his arms. “I have great scars on my arms, too. I have them because my Mom wouldn’t let go.”
“Mom, You Shouldn’t Have Children If It is too Hard for You”
In her compelling memoir Still Life, author Gillian Marchenko recounts her struggles with depression. In this excerpt, Marchenko shares a funny but poignant moment as she deals with the challenges of battling depression and raising children:
One morning when Elaina was around three years old, she came into our bedroom and crawled up in between Sergei and me in bed.
“Mom, Zoya’s crying,” she said, placing her little hand on my cheek. Zoya had been fussing and making noise for the last fifteen minutes or so in her crib. “Honey, I know. I’ll get her in a minute.” Elaina quieted down next to me, and I sighed into the pillow. What mother doesn’t relish a few more stolen moments of sleep?
“Mom, you shouldn’t have had children if it is too hard for you.” Sergei and I cried with laughter. But years later I still ask myself, Is motherhood too hard for me? Is that what made me fall apart? Although I realized a dark cloud has always hovered over me since the clinical trial, I also nurse a suspicion that I’m a bad mom. My inability to mother my kids is one of the culprits of my depression.
“She Knows Now”
A mother ran into the bedroom when she heard her seven-year-old son scream. She found his two-year-old sister pulling his hair. She gently released the little girl’s grip and said comfortingly to the boy, “There, there. She didn’t mean it. She doesn’t know that hurts.” He nodded his acknowledgement, and she left the room.
As she started down the hall the little girl screamed. Rushing back in, she asked, “What happened?”
The little boy replied, “She knows now.”
Joke a Day Ministries Group
Taking Inventory: Essential for Life, Especially While Raising Kids
Parker Palmer’s book Let Your Life Speak arrested my heart a few years back. It begins with a poem by William Stafford, “Ask Me”, that begs this question: “Some time when the river is ice ask me mistakes I have made. Ask me whether what I have done is my life.It was the first book that challenged me to take inventory of my days, to consider my thoughts, actions, and daily routine. I began to ask myself, Is the life I lead the life that longs to live in me?
When I first asked myself this question, my life was consumed with Target returns and Chick-fil-A playdates. It had been a decade swallowed by Pull-Ups and pacifiers and poop. Though these motherhood moments weren’t the whole of my life’s longing, they were largely the makeup of my days. I’d never considered the life that longed to live in me. Fast-forward eighteen years. I’m not only organizing playdates; I’m navigating first dates.
We’ve moved from Pull-Ups to outfitting our kids in sports jerseys and athletic gear for summer camp. Raising four children, three of whom are now teenagers, comes with a boatload of bustle. But no matter the season—whether new motherhood or raising teens—pausing to take inventory has saved my life. When I find myself too busy for it, I’m lost. When I make time for it, I gain critical perspective.
Still Looking for inspiration?
Consider checking out our quotes page on Motherhood. Don’t forget, sometimes a great quote is an illustration in itself!