I have shared before that my induction into motherhood was not at all that I imagined it to be. Prior to having children, I thought, surely, as soon as I held my baby boy; the heavens would part, a bright light would shine down, my heart would grow three times its size and all the knowledge of raising a child would fill my head. Instead, after the nurse plopped my slimy baby on my chest the only bright light I saw was the delivery lamp hanging overhead and the reflection of the Dr. stitching me up staring at me in the lens of her glasses. I didn’t start off the mommy gig as “together” as I had hoped for. After a few weeks of relentless crying on both of our behalf(s), I pulled my big girl panties up and decided I would figure it out one way or the other.
This is the deal, we all kick off our mothering journey a mess. We are that little girl, shuffling around in our mom’s high heels that don’t quite fit right. It doesn’t matter if you were “surprised” with your role as mother, or you started off well planned, prepared and eager; we ALL start off wobbly and unsteady. Still we pretend that we have been walking in these shoes for years, but in reality, they are uncomfortable, too much to handle, and a bit out of our control. We have all been there, and if you are scooting about right now, still trying to find your strut, it comes eventually, I promise. Every year that passes, the shoes become a little more my size and my shuffle has become more of a stride. Let me insert a disclaimer here … it’s all a refining process and I know, there is never an arrival point… but we mothers, we do get our sea legs at some point and the journey feels more normal.
As I was discussing motherhood with my friends this past few weeks, I was reminded of the odyssey I have been on these last 8 years. I have spent the majority of every minute buckling and zipping and tying and velcroing and snapping and wiping and pulling up and getting down and pouring drinks and cutting crust and … doing alllllll of the things… for myself and three children. I haven’t lifted my head from the grindstone in a long while, but lately the load seems easier to bear because my children have become much more independent. In the last few months, I feel as if I have turned a corner in motherhood. We were getting in the car one day and something hit me; I had just sat down in my car with the kids in tow, and I did it all without putting on one shoe, with out straightening out one sock, and without zipping up one jacket… my three children did it all THEMSELVES. I drove out of my driveway dumbfounded and confused because I didn’t know if I should celebrate or cry… but I decided to celebrate 🙂 Then it happened again a few weeks ago. It had snowed at our house one morning and the kids wanted to go play. I told them if they got their snow clothes on… with coats, hats, mittens and boots….they could go out. As I sat on the couch in my robe, drinking my hot coffee and watching fixer upper, I look over to see all three kids traipsing about the back yard in their snow gear… my jaw nearly dropped to the floor and again, I was left celebrating because the deepest (most physically draining) waters seemed behind me.
We were talking about how hard those younger years are. The waters seem so deep for so long in the beginning. I was there too, taking on the billowing waves of sleepless nights, and round the clock feedings day in and day out, night after night. Some days, the tide rose so high in the sea of life, that I could hardly stay afloat. The gazillions of little questions hit me, one after the other and the monotony of the days washed away at my spirit. I was tossed back and forth in the routine of laundry, dinner, bedtime, laundry, dinner, bedtime and far too quickly the waves carried me away and I had lost sight of the shore.
It’s easy in those wee little years to lose our focus. So much of our life is “out of control” because we are dealing with tiny humans all day, so it is natural for us to fixate on the things we can control; the laundry, the dishes, the groceries, the toys everywhere. But, as soon as our priorities flip, and we begin to value the controllable variables, instead of embracing the little ones we are raising, we set ourselves up for overwhelm. Inevitably, if this happens, we will start to see our children as a hindrance, standing in the way of the things we “value”. We are lost at sea, when the purpose of our days boil down to tasks, lists and to-dos and we can only tread the water for so long before we will be consumed with bitterness, anger and hate.
I have been there, drowning in the vast waters of motherhood, alone, and screaming for help… more than once. Most of the time it is not a person, or an event, or even a revelation that brings me back… it is the simple redirection of the Lord. As I flail about, taking on water, he stands me back up, and turns me back to the shore, showing me that it wasn’t as far away as I had feared. As I press into Jesus during those times of deluge, His word always cuts deep, right to the heart issue I am struggling with. He shows me that all this “stuff” I busy myself with is the fluff, and the real aim is the three little bodies running circles around my home.
“Children are a gift from the Lord, they are a reward from him”
“A wise woman builds her house, but the foolish one tears it down with her own hands.”
We must remember, in every stage, motherhood is our foremost act of ministry and sacrifice to the Lord. Not the clean house, not the perfectly balanced bank account or the delicious menu you’ve planned for the week, but the loving and caring for these tender souls HE has rewarded us with. We have the power to build up, or tear down our heritage that HE has given to us.
My prayer always is, that I might come to the foot of the cross daily and pour myself out, so that HE may fill me back up… so that as I serve and pour out for our family, it is not me, but HIM. Mothers, in our own flesh, we cannot do it. It is impossible for us to navigate the deepest of seas, or the simplest of streams without our eyes fixed on HIM. We must constantly refocus on our purpose and resist the pull of the tasks, to-dos and lists that lead us out to sea. Of course, the things must get done, but our greatest value must lay on the soul-health of our families.
Here is our family verse that we use to refocus our purpose.
“He has shown you what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”
May we not get lost at sea sisters. The trenches are deep, but we shall never lose our footing if our eyes are fixed on HIM. Come to HIM daily and pour all of your sinful self out at his feet and let him fill you, and refresh your soul, so that you may be ready for your greatest ministry of all.