“Did Jesus really lie in a manger?” My friend put the question out there and let it hang for a bit. “Because it’s basically a cot, isn’t it?” she smiled.
Three of us sat with cups of tea and our five children with whom we probably all sleep or have slept with at some point. I suddenly saw my nativity set in a whole new light.
We agreed it seemed unlikely that he wouldn’t have slept beside his mother. I look at the figurines I bought before I had Talitha. They now look strange to me.
This mainly boils down to my own experience. Since my newborn wouldn’t be put down and because I hardly ever put her down, I actually find it strange to see a small baby anywhere but in arms or in sling.
Others may find it odd to see me carrying a toddler everywhere, I suppose.
I look at the nativity scene and want to put the Son of God back into his mother’s arms. He was still a baby, after all.
I’ve experienced the last two Advents in a wholly new way. In 2010 I was pregnant and I imagined Christ as an unborn child, wholly vulnerable, attached to placenta, preparing to be born.
The next I had just come through six of the most difficult and rewarding months of my life. I wondered what kind of nursling Jesus had been, when might he have sat up and did Mary sometimes tear her hair out wondering why he wouldn’t stop crying.
This year, I think about the fact that he was probably breastfed beyond infancy. I wonder when he began to talk.
I’m preparing to consciously observe Advent with Talitha for the first time, to build traditions and guide her through a season of beauty and light. Motherhood has coloured the world I live in.
I see it in the pages of the Bible. I throw off my Protestant anxieties around Mary and find myself curious as to what her mothering was like. I notice God’s mother-heart.
This Christmas I feel like I’m really beginning to find my way. It’s our first Christmas as a family in our own space (well, in the majority – we’re going away at some point).
I’m ready to start laying down traditions that Talitha will remember in years to come. I really want to make it special for her just as my mother made it special for me.
It’s just another part of the huge responsibility and privilege I’m discovering my role in her life to be.
I’ve also now been blogging at Circus Queen for over two years. I can hardly believe it.
Lately, I’ve been so busy and emotional that I almost decided to say goodbye to it.
It may have been hormones as my cycle returned (don’t you love that I tell you everything?). It may have been a bit of insecurity over what I’m doing as a mother now that someone else is looking after Talitha for a few hours each week.
I think I started wondering whether what I write here is worth saying. I’ve hesitated because gradually nappies, milk and all the other small bits of life with a baby began to seem too trivial to blog about. And that’s bizarre because I still religiously read other blogs that write about those things.
Then, while I was musing about the thing with Mary and Christmas it hit me that perhaps there’s a part of me that’s started to undervalue motherhood and childhood. Do I subconsciously think that these little things we do together from day to day are not really important and that’s the real reason I’ve been hesitant about getting my thoughts out on to the screen?
The truth is, I don’t think that at all. It may not feel like I’m doing much from day to day but I’m shaping someone’s history. I’m sending her the earliest messages about who she is. That’s huge.
Mothers have immense value. After all, God thought even Jesus should have one.
Oh, and I’m not leaving. In fact, I’ve decided to post more regularly.