I’m going to be flat out raw with you.
Being a mom is so hard.
From the outside, especially if you’ve not had kids yet, it’s so easy to think, “How hard can it be? You wipe noses, go to parks, cut grapes into quarter-sizes to prevent choking and post pictures of your perfect life on Facebook.”
But from the inside? *deep breath*
Oh from the inside….
Recently my husband had to go away for several weeks. As in more than a month.
This meant, of course, that I would be mothering AND fathering by myself. Normally this wouldn’t be a problem because I’d look at his absence as an opportunity to do the things I’d wanted to do in and for the family (like be a die-hard sleep disciplinarian, bedtime policewoman, and dietician) that I was less able to do when my beloved was home (hey, he loves spending time with the kids until way past bedtime AND likes Doritos… gotta cut the guy some slack… he works hard!). But this time NOTHING has gone as planned. N.O.T.H.I.N.G.
We had prayed that this time apart would be fruit-bearing for all of us; restful for him and great relationship-building time for me and the kids, while it HAS been fruit-bearing, it wasn’t in the way either of us expected. AT. ALL.
Instead of me being able to pat myself on the back at how awesome I did (you know that’s what I expected to be able to do), I was forced to face the fact that I can’t do this job by myself.
The first 3 nights I slept for 8 of 72 hours. TOTAL. 4 kids got sick; two double ear infections, two sinus infections…one had it all PLUS croup.
Throughout the next week we had teething, hormonal teenagers and tweens. Ants decided to take up residence INSIDE the house. The toilet broke. The power went out. The kitchen sink started leaking… but by God’s grace we made it.
After that really difficult first 10 days I was looking forward to my planned respite… getting my hair done. The first outing I’d have by myself since Phoebe’s birth 6 months ago. I had been longing for this day for several weeks and was going to relish in every minute of it…
…until the color turned out several shades darker than I had requested (chocolate instead of chestnut) and my “Lob” became a “bob”.
Read: I lost 8″ when I had asked for 4″.
*Cue the crying*
While processing the new appearance and grieving the loss of ‘Me’, I proceeded to back out of the parking spot in the salon’s garage and tear the driver’s side mirror off the van and scratch the door up courtesy of a cement pole that was in my blind spot behind the baby’s window shade.
What was supposed to be a life-giving, restful day turned into very expensive, very BAD hair day.
And I had to go home and do my job alone for several more weeks.
My house was a wreck. My car was a wreck. My hair was a wreck. And worse? SO WAS MY HEART.
After getting home and grilled about my new “black” hair (“Mom. What did you DO?! You look like that professor from Harry Potter!), I sat in the middle of the world’s largest laundry pile and cried. Not out of weakness, but because after all that, I had nothing left. I felt defeated.
I am NOT Superwoman.
I know you all know that already, but you know what? I kinda thought I was. I mean, I have six kids and my socks match. That’s really a big deal when washing 56 pairs of socks a week.
Truthfully, the hardest part of the last weeks hasn’t been the difficult events that have taken place but the realization that the view I’ve had of myself (fully capable of succeeding at anything I tried if I truly applied), is all wrong.
You see, I CAN’T do it all. I mean, I think I knew it at a sub-superficial level, but facing the reality of my inadequacy has been incredibly humbling in a very real and raw way.
It is painful to my heart that others have seen me “weak”. Our society only praises those who *can* do it all. The ones who can’t or express weakness are frowned upon in a major way. (Major pride issue here… I want to be one of the ones praised, but motherhood is often a praiseless job).
It has been hard on my pride to have friends offer meals, knowing full well that we all need a hand sometimes, especially with life and kids. Rather, it has been hard for me to accept the lovingkindness of those who truly want to be there for us because they LOVE us and know life is a struggle. (Again with the pride)
I’ve felt incredibly unworthy and even guilty of receiving help, gifts of dinners or coffees or even a random floral arrangement “just because“.
WHY?! It is RIDICULOUS that a person should feel guilty because of the generosity and lovingkindness of others. Why isn’t gratitude and joy my first response?
I am surrounded by amazing women who have stepped up and filled in the gaps that I have tried so hard to keep hidden… not just from them, but from myself.
I am not perfect. Not even close. Everyone has known that but me… and they not only love me anyway, they want to do life with me because of and through it.
Each one of the women who has stepped in to demonstrate true friendship during my beloved’s absence has been instrumental in reminding me of God’s provision.
It would be so easy for me to wallow in self-pity and get angry and bitter at my husband for leaving us for so long, even if it WAS for work, but through these friends God has lovingly shouted at me, “I AM HERE. I AM WITH YOU. I told you I’d never leave you or turn my back on you. If I take care of the sparrows and the lilies of the field, how much more will I take care of you?” (Hebrews 13:5, Luke 12:27)
That’s right. My circumstances, as difficult and frustrating and embarrassing as they’ve been, do NOT CHANGE THE TRUTH that God’s love for me is constant. Just because I’ve had some really bad days and sleepless nights does NOT mean He’s left me to fend for myself. The enemy would have me (and you) think that though.
See, that’s the thing about the enemy; he is THE deceiver. He says, “God didn’t hear you this time. You’re all alone. God LEFT you.” But God says, “You know those friends who brought you coffee on Days 2 and 3 of minimal sleep? That was Me loving you… and those friends that brought you meals on the same day? I was providing in ABUNDANCE for you BECAUSE I LOVE YOU.”
THAT is my God.
He doesn’t leave His children; in our hardships HE. IS. THERE.
And He’s not only there, He is ACTIVELY WORKING IN FRONT and ALONGSIDE us to get through it successfully and in such a way that we are stronger and more beautiful because of it.
In this crazy-hard job of motherhood; in those overwhelming, draining, exhausting, flat-out difficult days when we just want to quit… He is right there cheering us on, equipping us to finish well.
We just need to listen. I just need to listen.
“Mama, you’re doing great. Keep running the race. The reward will be incredible. I love you…”
–Your Father in Heaven
So, fellow mamas, I’m telling you too… You’re doing great. Keep running the race. The reward will be incredible. You are SO loved.
After another really rough day one of my girls gave me this:
Maybe it’s going to be alright after all 😉