All posts by Tania Alden

About Tania Alden

Tania is a wife, mother and watercolour painter (when she has the time and brain space). She currently lives in Bryn Athyn, Pennsylvania but holds a special place in her heart for Westville, South Africa where she grew up. She and husband Micah are delighted and exhausted parents to three young children. As the daughter of a minister, married to the son of a minister, New Church ideas have always formed a central and important part of Tania’s family life, but now as a mother, finding ways to communicate and teach these values to young children has given them a new meaning and power. And it is exciting, and daunting, to know that the journey of spiritual understanding is just barely beginning!

Growing Pains

I’ve been thinking a lot about parenthood: how much of it is about letting go, and how the early years so ill prepare you for this reality. Ultimately we raise children so that they can walk off into the world, equipped to meet whatever challenges they face. We don’t raise them to keep them in our arms, but I imagine a part of us takes a lifetime to accept how much they are apart from us. Babies are given to us, but were never really ours. 

It’s a bittersweet reality. On the one hand it’s so clear that this was the Lord’s design, and that it is beautiful and complete and the only way to true eternal life for any of us. And it’s also a bit of a heart wrench to accept that the child who was once a babe in my arms is now supposed to be walking further and further away from needing me, into independence and free choice. 

It can’t but make me think of the Lord and His relationship with us all. As the ultimate parent figure, this process of nurturing and letting go encompasses so much of His relationship with all of us. And it gives me a real pang for how that would feel: needing to let us walk away, sometimes very far away, so that we have the chance of one day choosing to walk towards Him. 

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Poems on Motherhood

“Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord” (Psalm 127:1

Motherhood is such a mix of blessing and labor. Mundane and ineffable moments are all wrapped up together in this daily grind and daily magic. And how easy it is to lose sight of the magic midst the grind! I wanted to share these two unpolished poems of mine which help me to focus on the bigger picture, and the gift it all is. 

Dimpled legs as you stretch
on tiptoe to the bowl placed carefully out of reach 
of your curious cocked finger. 
Your chortle, a babble of indiscernible gifts, erupt around
your two-toothed smile, 
and then you turn to me, and raise your hug-soft arms 
And your need is the easiest wish I ever could fulfill as I 
scoop you up to my chest and 
for a moment
your sweet-warm head rests beneath my face and I breathe in
And then you are wriggling down, away from me, to a ball, a cup, a block:
any of the undiscovered joys of today.

And I watch your supple body squat and crawl and stand and grab and reach. 
There is such impossible perfection in your tiny form. 
And I can only wonder that it is given to me–
this stumbling, seeking, striving me–
to witness
your being. 

I Said a Prayer Today 
I said a prayer today 
as I stroked the sick head of my first baby 
lying listless on the couch, 
her eyes watching me with solemn trust 
as her younger brother chattered at me from the kitchen 
certain that I can see and know and fix,
because I am 
All while their baby sister nuzzles warm head into my lap with small giggling grunts 
as if to burrow her whole being into mine. 
Lord, I pray, 
help me to catch these moments 
that are dropped 
as Gold
into my lap

If only I notice. 

“An atmosphere of innocence flows into little children, and through them into the parents so as to affect them… Little children have this innocence, because they do not think from anything interior; for they do not yet know what is good and evil, and true and false, so as to think in accordance with them. Therefore they do not have any prudence of their own, nor any design from a deliberate motive, thus are without any purpose for evil. They do not have a character acquired from love of self and the world. They do not credit anything to themselves. All that they receive they attribute to their parents. They are content with the little things they are given as gifts. They do not worry about their food and clothing, and are not anxious about the future. They do not pay regard to the world and covet many things on account of it. They love their parents, their nursemaids, and their little companions, and play with them in a state of innocence. They allow themselves to be guided; they listen and obey.
Such is the innocence of early childhood, which occasions the love called storge.” (Married Love 395)

Not Fair

Life isn’t fair. 

How many people relate to this? All of us? On a global scale it sure isn’t fair: massive inequality, poverty, war, distaters, disease. Some children go to bed hungry while others are fed, some families grow up safe and sheltered from war while others do not, some people face crippling disabilities or illnesses while others live life in strong, healthy bodies. 

In my world the playing field is a bit more level: we can all afford a warm place to sleep, plenty of food, clean water, education, and a certain standard of safety. But still things aren’t “fair”. Why does one couple struggle with fertility while another conceives child after child? Why do some people find their forever partner while others keep searching? Why does one family suffer a devastating car accident? Why must some battle to stick to a budget while others suffer no anxiety over the price of groceries? Why is she facing depression, and why is he recovering from trauma, when the next person over is doing neither? And on and on.

Life isn’t fair. And sometimes I have an easier time accepting this. Right now is not one of the easy times. Maybe because in the last year, between the pandemic, anxiety, and social unrest right around me, these unfairnesses feel closer. Maybe I’ve just seen more hard things happening to people I love lately. Maybe both. And maybe the Lord is calling my attention to how much it’s not about fairness, at least not fairness in this world. 

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I’m Grateful For

It was a very ordinary Sunday. A depressingly ordinary, grey, rainy day in Covid February. And yet I went to bed feeling uplifted and alight with a glow of gratitude for how blessed our life is. What made this possible? 

I borrowed from a friend the brilliant idea of writing down daily gratitudes, and for the 28th of February, that meant 28 gratitudes. 28 gratitudes noted and written down throughout the day. And it pretty much felt like a magic trick. The simple, the everyday, the small moments, when noted altogether, somehow took on a surpassing sweetness. I found myself looking for the good moments, and in the end had to delete some of my previous items because I had well over 28! 

Here is the list I came up with: 

1. The baby only waking to eat once in the night (after several bad teething nights too!)

2. Getting back in bed for a sweet snuggle with husband and baby after feeding her at 7. We used to do this all the time with our first, but don’t have as many opportunities anymore.

3. Husband (Micah) taking all the kids and letting me sleep in past 9!

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