I’ve made many pledges in my 24+ years of being a mother. I’ve pledged to never discipline out of anger – then pledged to forgive myself when I’ve yelled so loudly the lampshades shook. I’ve pledged to pick up the house every night before going to bed – then pledged to give myself a break for leaving the clutter to greet the morning’s faithful dawn with me. I’ve pledged…well, you get the idea; that is, motherhood is a perpetual balancing act of discipline and dogged refusal to be overcome by guilt over failures of discipline.
I thought that I’d finally hit upon a pledge I could live with when I pledged to take as my motto, “Shut up and pray.” But this hasn’t been easy, either. I have to say, it works better with sons than daughters. My sons, while capable of indulging me with inspiring mother-son discussions, more often than not tend to prefer to plow ahead and forge their own way in this world. I like those words – plow and forge. They bring to mind dirt-smudged farmers and sweat-drenched blacksmiths, strong and persistent workers. I hope my sons will be strong and persistent, but perhaps it’s even more important that I be that way in keeping my motto in regards to them. Plow, forge, shut up and pray.
My daughters are a different story. They are like beautiful potted flowers that need to be pruned with gentle admonitions and watered with words of encouragement. Yes, it may be a myth that talking to your plants helps them to grow, but it’s not a myth for daughters. Daughters really do need face time. And that makes “shut up and pray” challenging, but all the more necessary. Talking things out is helpful, but also dangerous. There is the temptation to just keep on talking, as if our words alone will solve every issue. They can’t, and so I vow to plow and forge, prune and water…shut up and pray.