I'm an amazing mom when my kids are well-behaved and our day goes exactly as planned. I smile, I laugh, I have joy, I'm bubbly. I amuse my children with songs and stories and silliness and sometimes even a well-planned craft. We get along famously, a happy, albeit sometimes ragtag because even on the best of days hair isn't always combed or pajamas aren't always lost, bunch. I go from one task to the next with a nice little rhythm all my own, and I can't help but feel how much I love, JUST LOVE, being a mom. It's awesome, people, simply awesome. Super-mom high five!
That's a nice little word picture, isn't it? Are you wondering why I wrote this blog post if I was just going to toot my own horn? Welllll........
Hang on, friends. It's about to take a turn towards the ugly.
Let's get real. How often does our day go exactly as planned? How often are all of my children well-behaved at the very same time and we are living in perfect harmony? How often do I not get interrupted when trying to accomplish something, even if it's just trying to go to the bathroom by myself? How many times do I feel completely on top of it, "it" being house, kids, schoolwork, projects, errands, etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. (too many? Just making a point. I may have gotten carried away.)
These are all rhetorical questions, and I'm sure you can guess the answer to each one: Hardly ever, if at all.
That's normal, I'm pretty sure. (raise your hand if you feel the same way!) That's just life.
But what really bothers me is how easy it is to go from happy super-mom to frustrated, grumpy, impatient, snappish, stressed-out, frazzled, crazy, no-fun-at-all mom. Don't get me wrong-- I love being a mom, and that really is all the time. I realize that the hard parts are just included with this job, and even on our very worst day I'm so thankful I get to do what I do.
The problem is, I just need to show that, that attitude of gratitude, even in the hard moments. It's too easy and common to let the circumstances dictate my mood and the person I choose to be.
It's good to revel in the great moments and to take our reward, whether it be a sense of accomplishment or an extra bit of pure joy. We all need that. I think God gives us those shining moments or days of pleasant ease when we need them most, not so we can feel prideful or puffed up, but so we can simply keep going. It's His grace.
Grace. There it is. The quality I want to have and exhibit not only to the world but also and especially to these small ones under my care. Grace under pressure. It's easy to be happy and loving and speak in a kind tone when everything is going my way. But, oh, how hard it is at other times.
When an entire bowl of cereal and milk gets spilled all over the table, chairs, and floor.
When your four-year old throws her third gigantic fit of the day just because you gave her the pink lunch plate instead of the purple one.
When you're desperately trying to get ready to actually be somewhere on time and there hasn't been a moment to just breathe and the kids won't stop fighting and bickering and the toddler won't stop making mess after mess after mess.
When everyone gets runny noses and colds all in the same week and there is so much whining and snot and lack of proper sleep that all you want to do is curl up on the couch by yourself to nap, but oh look, you can't, because there's another kid who needs something and also, a giant smear of snot on your favorite pillow.
When you've had to tell them to do the same chore four times and you start to feel like Naggy mcNaggerson, which I just hate.
When the third dish of the day gets broken and you know it's because they were goofing when you told them not to.
When the seven-year-old spends an hour grumping and pouting because she didn't just want quesadillas for lunch, and you, being the horrible mean person you are, made her eat them anyway.
When naptime for little one isn't naptime at all, but instead cry-and-scream-and-be-miserable-and-grumpy time... which, coincidentally, is what the whole day has been like. And the day before that. And the day before that.
When your nine-year-old argues and talks back and throws down bad attitude like it's her business.
When you've gotten the baby all clean and fresh after a long bath and are just ready to pull the kid out, only to discover he's been sitting in turd-water for the past five minutes.
When you're woken up repeatedly at 4:30 in the morning to more snot and more whining and crying.
When you feel behind on everything and you can't help but compare yourself to all the other moms our there who must have it more together than you.
When you have a lot on your mind and you're feeling a little lost or worried.
When you're sad.
When you're stressed.
When you're weary.
When life gets heavy.
We've all been there. Perhaps you haven't had some of these exact same situations (these have all actually been a part of my week, YAY BEST WEEK EVER HAHAHAHAHAHA NOT REALLY), but I bet you've got your own set of "whens" that make it hard to carry on with a calm spirit of love and grace or at the very least a smile.
This is what I'm working on, friends. I'm working on being a great and graceful mom not just when it's fun and easy to be a great mom, but even in the nitty-gritty of it all, in the awful and hard and challenging moments and on the really crappy (you can take that both literally and figuratively, how neat is that) days too. I want to nurture and bless my children even when they don't feel like blessings to me (which they are, of course). I want to glorify my God every day, not just on the good ones.
And I can't do it alone. I know if I try that it's only going to get worse. I'm relying on my God to soften and shape and sanctify me, to take my efforts and bless them and give me the strength and will to just keep on trying. To take His grace and cover me, and then to allow me to share that grace all day long with my family. It's going to take prayer, and it's going to take a lot of me looking into my kids' eyes and asking forgiveness in the messy moments, because I know I'm only human and perfection is impossible.
Parenthood. Good grief. It is so sanctifying and humbling, like nothing else.
And it is such a gift.
> > > Here's one other little thought to tack onto the end of this messy post about motherhood... since we know we've all got our own set of struggles and I think it's safe to say that no one finds parenting an easy task... how about taking the time to encourage another mother today? Write a note and send it snail-mail style. Drop off a Starbucks or a plate of cookies or some flowers from your garden. Call just to say "I love you and you're doing a great job". Ask how you can pray for her specifically. Plan a park date and spend some mommy time together. Share a Bible verse or two that you once found encouraging. It can even be as simple as a text message, just to let her know you're thinking of her, right down there in the trenches where you are too. I know from experience that these sorts of things, no matter how big or small they are, can make the day just a little bit more bearable and joyful.
(this post is specifically about moms, but this idea of intentional and simple encouragement is something we can practice with anyone and everyone, no matter how different our circumstances. It's such a lovely and wonderful thing! Bonus: if you take the time to encourage someone else, you almost always end up being encouraged yourself. BAM. I know, because I can't even tell you how many times this has happened to me. Isn't God good?) < < <
> > > ps. speaking of lovely and wonderful things, check out my new blog look! It's so purty! courtesy of the one and only sweet Molly June, she's the bomb diggity, y'all. < < <