Friends, can I tell you a secret? Being a mother has been one of the most exhilarating, joy-filled experiences of my life . . . but it also has been the most heart-wrenching, confusing, frustrating thing.
Some moments are wonderful, bliss-filled snapshots of this blessed life I live. Some moments I hope to always remember.
There are moments, early in the morning, when my toddler cuddles up against me, clasping his cup of milk, and we read some of his favorite stories, content in the 5 o’clock morning light.
There are moments when my preschool daughter and I laugh, dancing around the kitchen, letting the music reverberate through the house, swinging from side to side, twirling around. The laughter in those moments starts in the eyes and makes its way down to my heart.
There are sunny afternoons lazily spent in the backyard, going down the slide, blowing bubbles, racing through the sprinkler, or taking lazy walks down the sidewalk, discussing everything thing we see—each flower, each tree, the features of each house we pass by.
But I think too often the good is celebrated, while the struggles are hidden. It’s easy to post only good pictures on social media, to document the happy moments, the moments when you can actually get your kids to pose together, smiling.
Something is neglected in those moments: transparency. The reality that life has its ups and downs, moments both easy and not.
I think too often the good is celebrated, while the struggles are hidden.
I crave transparency. I crave relationships where I can be honest about feeling lonely and insufficient. I crave relationships where I can be honest about the mornings when we wake up, have our leisurely time reading books on the couch and are faced with struggles from then on out: toys breaking, siblings fighting, tantrums unavoidable and unending.
With the chaos, my anxiety spikes. I panic. I start to shut down, to feel shaky, frustrated. I make rash decisions, hasty decisions, angry decisions. I tell myself I’m doing everything wrong. I wonder why my life is like this and why we face this week after week, year after year. Why I was placed here, in our home, day in and day out, to mother these children? Why?
It gets gritty, friends. It gets dirty, rough and downright ugly.
There are days when I feel so lonely. Lonely, living so far away from family and friends. Lonely, when I feel like my child is the only one who has tantrums like this. Lonely, when the only people I talk to in an entire day are under the age of 5.
There are days that are so filled with frustration. Frustration over my children, their disobedience, their tantrums, their less-than-perfect natures. Frustration over my inability to guide them to calmness, to divert the meltdowns I can see are coming.
Those are the days when I feel so insufficient, when I feel like I don’t measure up. On days like those, I’m sure that somehow I’m messing my children up forever. I’m sure that they’ll hate me when they’re grown.
And today I feel scared. Because I actually just admitted to those things above. They aren’t pretty, but they are honest. It’s easy for those dark moments to take control. It’s easy for me to dwell in the negative.
But God is there.
God’s there when I panic, when I’m huddled in the corner of the room. God’s there when I cry out for help, for a steady heart when I feel it breaking, for direction when it comes to parenting. And He reminds me I am created in His image. He reminds me I’m beautiful, I’m loved and I’ve been placed in this messy, imperfect family for a very specific reason: to love and raise my children to know Him.
Sometimes, that moment in the corner is exactly what I need. Yes, at first it’s a moment of loneliness, of desperation, of fear. But then I turn to my Creator, and I ask Him for help. I ask Him for peace when I can’t see it on my own. I ask Him to show me how to discipline my children in love.
And I often return to this specific portion of scripture:
Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable—if there is any moral excellence and if there is any praise—dwell on these things (Philippians 4:8, HCSB).
I once had a Bible study leader who told me to replace the negative lies in my life with God’s truths. She reminded me we have a choice where our mind wanders. Others have reminded me of this truth, as well. I’m often guilty of dwelling on these negative areas of my life instead of replacing them with God’s truth. This verse has become a favorite of mine, because of this. It becomes an easy filter for truth versus lies in my life.
Lie: I don’t belong here. God made a mistake.
Truth: He created me to mother these children.
Lie: I’m all alone.
Truth: He is always present. Nothing escapes His knowledge.
Lie: I’m messing them up.
Truth: He will equip me to raise up my children in His ways.
The problems of life don’t always immediately disappear when I do this. But it’s a good practice; practice at getting my wild feelings and my brain under control and reminding myself that God is there beside me through it all.
It really will be OK. I’ll make it through today and then tomorrow and then the day after that. He will give me the wisdom and strength to mother my children each step of the way. My job is to focus on Him and His truths along the way.
One of my words for this year is peace. It’s a hard one, but it’s something I desire more of in our home life. Peace in the midst of crazy. Peace that will help my children learn to calm down and to understand the reasons for rules and order in our life. Peace in my heart as I raise these little ones up to know Him and His truths. Peace that I can’t always express or explain, but peace straight from God up above.