On Being Imaginary Awesome

Today’s guest post is by my new friend and fellow hope*writer, Carrie Stephens. I connected  with Carrie right away because I could tell she’s a person who likes to laugh, but also isn’t afraid to get deep. I’m thrilled to share my space with her because I just know you guys will appreciate her words.

After you’re done reading this post, head on over to her blog and show her some love! (Sorry, did I just get bossy?) I didn’t mean to. It’s just that I’m still on the road-trip, its past midnight, and I’ve technically walked over 45,000 steps in the last two days, so once again I’ve lost all ability to be genteel.

I know you’ll understand. Because we’re comfortable with each other like that.

Without further ado, here is Carrie’s post!


When I was six years old, my friend Dayna and I liked to play hospital. One of us was the pregnant woman, the other was the nurse/Doctor/entire hospital staff. I had seen an episode of General Hospital at a friend’s house (yes, my mother was appropriately horrified), so I knew everyone made very dramatic faces in hospitals. We made sure to do likewise.

Nurse: No! No food for you! [insert maniacal laughter]
Patient: [Languishing with hand over forehead] Surely this will be the end of me!
Doctor: [Heroic face] “Don’t worry…I will save you and your baby!” [Pulls baby from under the blanket over my stomach.]

The narrative always went this same way. Mean nurse. Heroic doctor. Easy-to-deliver baby. What we lacked in our understanding of reality, we made up for in imaginary awesomeness.

Dayna and I had not yet learned the traditional way of removing an entire human from the belly of a woman, so the baby was always born c-section. Once birthed, the plastic baby was quiet and never needed a single thing to ensure survival except one fake orange juice bottle.

We immediately moved from the hospital game to pretending we were dress designers using my Fashion Plates, and then airplane pilots who flew those dress designs around the world. Like proper daughters of the 80s, we were capable of greatness and the world was our oyster. As long as we Just Said No to Drugs and practiced good self-esteem, we knew we would grow up to be Madonna or Jackie O or Princess Di. It was a done deal.

Thirty-four years later, I find myself living a slightly different story than Dayna and I imagined. I don’t work in a hospital or fly a plane, I write words. My four babies came out the old-fashioned way- which is to say, squeezed through the ring of fire. They needed a lot more than one bottle to thrive. Basically, reality has taught me that all a child needs to survive is every ounce of your being on a platter for the rest of your life. Motherhood is so easy!

Last week I went on a trip all by myself. It was fabulous. When I got home I had his conversation with my twelve year old:

Him: “I missed you, mom.”
Me: “Aw, buddy. That’s sweet. I missed you too.”
Him: “Yeah. Now that you’re back, the house will finally be clean and the laundry will get done!”
Me: “Um… that’s a little less sweet, bud.”
Him: “Whoops. Sorry, Mom. I really did miss you- not just the stuff you do for us….”
Me: [Hug him so I don’t fall down dead.]

This gross rudeness isn’t really his fault, though, I’ve trained him to be dependent on me by being imaginary awesome. But I can’t live up to my own hype for much longer. “Preteening” and “teenaging” should be things like “weaning” and “potty training” are things. He’s figuring out who he is, and strangely, so am I. It’s comforting to remember that we survived the Pacifier Wars of 2005 and the Macaroni and Cheese Famine of 2009. We shall endure again.

This new season seems harder because while I always knew no kid went to college with a diaper and a binkie stashed in his backpack, lots of kids go to college totally dependent on their mothers for every decision they may have to make. This is all for keeps, and that is terrifying.

As horrific parental pressure presses down on me, I must admit that when I was the imaginary awesome six-year-old mother/fashion designer/pilot I didn’t realize that in the future I would be a real life person with dreams, plans, a career, and a soul that needs tending. I thought adults knew what they were doing back then. But alas, that cosmic joke was on me.

I can pretend to be imaginary awesome, but I can’t fake being a whole person. After forty years of trying all kinds of ways to avoid the mess that is called reality, I finally know what I really want: I long to be human-made-glorious by God’s grace.

This life is for keeps. This is our one chance to choose to follow Jesus here on earth. I don’t want to waste a minute, do you? I don’t want to hold onto my comforts and dysfunctions and miss the chance to to live for love and justice and goodness and sacrifice. I definitely don’t want to lose myself in motherhood and my career because I didn’t pay attention to my own soul’s need to live for something more than myself and my little family.

We can hide our ashes and brokenness in the hot hustle of everyday, or we can cast them upon the waters of the gospel, trusting Him to make something out of the mess. This road leads one place: to eternity. When we arrive, all of our “todays” will become the chance we had to bravely live in a broken world and build God’s kingdom one loving act at a time.

Along the way I think we should use many dramatic faces, though, because it’s still fun after all these years. Also, we need to teach our darling, clueless children how to use the washing machine. Because seriously. It’s time, kiddo. Grab the detergent and watch the magic happen!


Carrie Stephens is a pastor’s wife, blogger, wanna-be-artist, and mom of 4. She absolutely adores Jesus and his church. Her faith clings to God’s way of taking our small lives and building His vast kingdom in us and through us. Grace, wisdom, and laughter are Carrie’s favorite things to share, especially if there’s coffee involved. She and her family live in Austin, Texas. She writes over at Carrie’s Burnt Toast.

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