Motherhood is hard and it never seems to get easier. It just gets different. Motherhood can wear you down physically, mentally and emotionally.
Even though I survived the sleepless nights, the terrible 2s, and 3s, and whatever else they talk about, I now have a conglomeration of ages: littles, middles, bigs and teens. My family currently almost fills every stage of parenting… other than having adult children or a newborn baby in the home. We have a toddler, a preschooler, a young elementary, an older elementary, a middle schooler and two high schoolers.
Last week, I was having an “off” week. It was the kind of week that I felt like nothing went right and I just needed to crawl under my fleece blanket and take a long afternoon nap.
One afternoon, while I was not napping, but was fixing a nice dinner for my many kids, I overheard a conversation between our 7 year old and are almost 9 year old. The younger one was planning out how many kids she would have and what type of mom she would be when she grew up.
My little one told her big brother that when she grew up she wanted to have 12 kids and her house would always be perfectly clean. Always. And she would clean it constantly. She would also take her kids to the park every day and have a huge pool and playground in the backyard. My son glanced up at her and said, “I just want to take my family on a trip to Italy.”
After the giggling ended, and I recognized their distinct personalities in those answers (one is the list maker – tidy-upper – everything in it’s place kind of gal … the other is an adventure seeker who endlessly talks about the places he’ll go one day), I looked around my semi-neat home, filled with shelves of books put away rather clumsily by little hands, clutter like countless toy blocks and dolls with wild hair and marker scribbles, in a split second I was enjoying a pity party. Although I usually feel firm in my convictions, that day I suddenly felt unsure of myself.
I wondered —am I doing enough? At times I feel like I’ve sacrificed so much for my family — giving up a career, sometimes my free time, some days even a shower. I get up early and I stay up late in service to them. I live my life exposed — nothing hidden — seven days a week and it isn’t always easy.
Do you know what is easy? It’s so easy to look through the glass of discontentment and to see what could be or what should be. It’s another thing to lift up and encourage and to see the truth about what is real.
You might be reading this right now and be having a bad day, like I was last week. You might dream of the what ifs and experience discontentment as a mom.
- Do you wish for a cleaner home or more organization?
- Better curriculum or more structure during your day?
- Perhaps a bigger yard
- more bedrooms
- or a beautiful living room?
- Maybe you are beating yourself up over your kids activities
- or lack there of
- Or you question if you should have said this
- or you should have done that
- You should have bought them this
- You should have been working — furthering that career
- you might have wished you had stayed at home instead
- You might know you are doing everything the wrong way
- and maybe (if you have older kids) they’ve told you about something they wish had been different
It is incredibly easy to see all the reasons you have messed up this thing called parenting.
Can I tell you something? I’ve been doing this mom thing for almost 17 years. And no, I’m not perfect. And I definitely don’t have it all figured out. And that list up there? Throw it away. Sometimes everyone is irritated and and grumpy and then there are times, when I bake them homemade chocolate cookies for dessert, I’ve been told, “You are the best mother,” (in the best 4 year old serious-and-dramatic voice with a slight Boston accent you can imagine.)
So today, after my little 7 year old wasn’t feeling well and was running a fever. She cuddled up to me on the couch and just wanted to know she would be ok.
As I held her I began to pray over her. It was then that God showed me the most important gift a mother can give her children. It wasn’t in the cleaning and the homemaking, it wasn’t in the micromanaged schedule, it wasn’t in the read aloud or fancy field trips, it wasn’t in the cloth diapers, it wasn’t in the day to day grind of being a stay at home mom, it wasn’t in the endless years of breastfeeding, or birthing, it wasn’t in the time consuming hobbies, it wasn’t in the fashionable wardrobe, it wasn’t in the mega sized Christmas gifts, and it wasn’t in the dream vacations. The most important gift a mother could give was simple and yet so easily forgotten.
The most important gift a mother could give is prayer.
We know that he listens to our requests. So we know that we already have what we ask him for.1 John 5:15
When I think of my own mother I see her beauty as a child of the King. When I was younger I noticed her flaws, her mistakes. As time marches on only her beauty remains. The parts of her that I hope I pass down to my kids. The absolute most important thing my mother ever taught me or did for me was to pray often, to pray silently, quietly, in secret, and to pray boldly over our family with her children as witnesses. She prayed believing He heard. I can testify to that. I know God heard her prayers and He will hear yours too.
Never worry about anything. But in every situation let God know what you need in prayers and requests while giving thanks.Philippians 4:6
My mother has been in Heaven for 16 years now and I’ve been doing this parenting gig without her love, and without her support, and without her wisdom. But you want to know something the Lord confirmed just a few weeks ago? Her prayers were spoken, they were heard, and somehow as if defying space and time they are still being answered. And for that, I’m incredibly grateful.