I vividly remember the tired eyes and that sleepy soul starring back at me in the mirror …
The smudges of mud on my jeans from crawling through stifling tree forts or playground tunnels have left their mark forever. I hear the sigh you didn’t heave after changing your third diaper in twenty minutes. And now I can finally laugh when you shout, “No, Luke Skywalker and Spiderman cannot swim in the toilet” for the hundreth time.
Been there. Done that … Really.
I watch the way you race through the grocery store when your baby screams from the shopping cart seat. You just want to leave the cart and go home—but you can’t live on a bag of salad greens, yogurt, and pretzels—or maybe for some of you, frozen pizza and a jug of iced tea.
Or can you?
You drive to three different schools, football practice, and ballet classes every day. You brush your teeth in seconds and barely swipe on deodorant before you leave the house. And once or twice, you forgot to buckle up your toddler—but no worries, your other child reminds you halfway out the driveway. Now you both know what whiplash feels like.
I know you. I was—and still am you … four times over.
You fix imaginary wounds with Tinker Bell or Superhero Band-Aids. You jam out like a teenager to classic rock tunes from Bon Jovi—or a current Adam Levine hit. It doesn’t matter that the kids are riding with you. They know you’re weird. And sometimes they sing their own version of these tunes with you.
You need these moments to unwind.
You try to prevent a few trips to the ER almost every day, yet your pinky will never be the same after smashing it into the kitchen cabinet … and neither will your child after he hears the word that just came out of your mouth.
What’s the use?
You scrubbed the kitchen floor every day this week, but it still looks filthy. Sometimes you resort to throwing shoes down the hallway hoping they reach the children’s bedrooms—And sometimes, after your diva three-year-old screams for thirty minutes about the shoes she refuses to wear, you threaten to throw every last pair in the garbage.
Then you take a breath …
You say you may have to send her sneakers to a nice child who would appreciate and cherish them … and you laugh at how much you sound like your mother—or worse—your mother-in-law. Ugh.
Then you smile. You come to your senses and realize you’re right where you need to be.
Here’s what usually worked for me—and still does, now that my youngest of four boys is sixteen …
Hug the child and open a bag of your stashed M&M’s. Tell yourself it’s okay to eat ten. Remember to stop at ten. And don’t forget to share.
Because that’s what good moms do. Right?
After all homework is finally finished, the first-grader’s face is smashed close to your iPad. Dinner is on the table. Soon baths are done. You thank God the little ones will be in bed soon. And the house—is finally quiet. You could read a book. Catch up on writing. Take a shower. Or cuddle your husband while he watches a TV show you hate. Or …
And as you lay your head against the cool pillowcase, you might wonder in the amazing silence,
How did I get here? This is not what I imagined happily ever after to be.
By now you know there’s not much glamour in mothering. Most days it’s gritty and dirty. Your amazingness goes unnoticed. Your only friend’s name might be, ‘Loneliness’.
Trust me. I’d never be able to finish this race without some me time … and lots of prayer.
After all, if we can pray our children through every test, sporting event, horseback ride, recital, or every friend lost—why don’t we pray for ourselves too?
I’m thankful God hears my prayers.
He generously gives me energy and endurance. He knows raising children is our most important work … because … we don’t know the future of the children we raise. Only He does.
Billy Graham’s mother didn’t know she was raising the greatest evangelist our world has ever known. Budda’s mommy didn’t know her big boy would become a great teacher of centered peace. Ghandi’s mom didn’t know she was bringing up a father of non-violent independence for a nation. Mother Teresa’s mommy didn’t know she was raising mercy and unconditional love wrapped in skin and bones. And though Jesus’ mom did know her son was the son of God—still, she pondered, how and why she was chosen to carry The One who would carry the weight of the world on His shoulders. The Only One who became a living sacrifice to save you and I.
Wisdom says motherhood is noble.
It doesn’t need makeup, because it’s real. You’re breathing love and beauty into the life of a innocent child who will one day affect the lives of many. You (and I) can change the world. One life at a time. And one sleepless night at a time.
Hang on for the roller coaster ride. Don’t be discouraged or dismayed. Your children need to see you having fun with them. Play with their Legos. Play with their dolls. Enjoy the chaos before it slips away.
They need us to teach them to be compassionate, kind, and trustworthy. They need us to teach them who Jesus really is—not just tell them who we think He is. We need to show them. And it’s not always easy. Or fun.
This is the most important work we will ever do. Mothering is a gift from The Father of all that ever was, is, or ever will be. It is a beautiful, sacred, amazing calling.