How Being a Mom is Like the Relationship Between Earth and Jupiter

In science this week, the boys and I have been studying Jupiter and the curriculum we are using, Apologia Astronomy, compared Jupiter to a mother protecting her children. Jupiter’s size and position in space are crucial in protecting Earth from rocks and debris that would otherwise threaten catastrophic destruction.

As we were reading through these comparisons, my mind started to wander (as it so often does!) and I started thinking about my relationship to my kids and how often I have sought to protect them from the hurts of this world. A great deal of the pain I have experienced in my adult life is the result of absorbing the “rocks and debris” that have been hurled at my kids.

This morning, my husband hung a picture of our 2 1/2 year old daughter and 6 month old son from a photo shoot eleven years ago. As I once again gazed upon this picture, memories were stirred from that day. The rocks that were hurled at me on that day no longer sting, but they are still firmly embedded in my memory. It was my first attempt as a mom of two at getting pictures of my kids taken in a studio. It was Ethan’s first Christmas and I wanted a picture of my two little ones dressed in red for Christmas cards.

I was perhaps a little too optimistic about the results of this shoot. Optimistic and naive. I was still adjusting to the stubbornness and sassy behavior that Lindsay was beginning to display with the advent of a baby brother, but it hadn’t been enough time for me to forget the angel baby she had been for the first two years of her life. She had always done well when I took pictures of her (and I did this rather frequently, posing her with flowers and dolls and books! Certainly her baby brother would be no different, right?!!).

But there were a few things I did not anticipate. The studio happened to be in the middle of a department store and the room they put us in was walls of windows on three sides. In addition to this, the photographer didn’t seem particularly comfortable with children. Huh. I can hear all of my fellow mamas groaning. You know where this is going.

Lindsay was incapable of sitting still in this scenario. She wanted to explore all of the new equipment, not sit next to a baby and smile when prompted. Every time someone walked by (which was often!), she HAD to see what they were doing and where they were going. No correcting or cajoling was working with my precocious child and I could sense that the photographer was beginning to grow irritated. I kept attempting to get Lindsay to cooperate, praying that she would sit still for at least a moment. I was feeling frustrated with Lindsay and with my inability to get her to do what the photographer wanted her to do.

And then the stones were thrown. The photographer told me that I should probably reschedule the shoot and inferred that I was not a very good mother and my daughter was a horrible kid. This was when I kicked into Jupiter mode. The thoughts that went through my head at break neck speed were these- this woman must not have children! Does she have any idea how much work it took for me to get a 2 1/2 year old and a 6 month old to a scheduled appointment on time and dressed perfectly? Does she know that trying to attempt this feat again is like expecting a comet to appear twice in a lifetime?

I quickly moved from the mom who was seeking to let the photographer do her job to the customer who was not being treated respectfully. I asked to see the manager and with an eye roll, she acquiesced. I think the manager may have been a mom, because when I explained the situation, she offered to take the pictures herself and moved us into an enclosed studio.

The results? Great pictures of my kids and one that became an 18 x 20 portrait that is once again hanging on my dining room wall.

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I became like Jupiter that day, absorbing the harsh comments and the poor treatment of myself and my child, but not allowing them to destroy me. The depths of my heart and my love for my children mean that I am able to fight for them when they are too weak (or little!) to defend themselves.

In addition to Jupiter, God has provided the Earth with an ideal atmosphere that protects the earth from meteoroids and asteroids. Likewise, my children are blessed to have adults in their lives who care about them and want the best for them. But there are still people who for whatever reason are like that photographer and are quick to throw rocks and stones at my children. As they get older, my role is changing. I can’t absorb or deflect all of the rocks coming their way. In fact, I must not. They need to learn that “in this world you will have trouble” (John 16:33). It is crucial that they learn that they must depend on their Creator the one who has “overcome the world”!

The craters in their lives, the hurts and the heartaches, are important for their spiritual growth and so I must be careful not to be overprotective of them. But I will always be a Jupiter (sharing their hurts, protecting them from catastrophic destruction) in their lives and I pray that my children would “shine like stars in the universe.” (Philippians 2:15).

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A picture at home from that same memorable day! Lindsay still struggles with distractions and unfair expectations, but she thrives when adults are willing to meet her struggles with compassion. When they do, they get to see a beautiful girl, dimples and all!

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