Thanks to The Inconvenient Poop for publishing my post, Poop and Glory, this week.
And speaking of the joys of motherhood, I was up for several hours last night with my son who has pink eye. Ugh. Have you ever tried to put those eye drops in a three-year-old? I need octo-arms just to hold him down, keep his eyes open, and aim the medicine towards the eye. I just gave it a try without my husband’s help and pretty much got the meds everywhere except his eyeballs….and on top of all that, I am still bitter about Lady Edith being stood up at the altar by Sir Anthony. These Downton men are just too earnest for their own good at times.
All that to say, I come to todayâ€™s post tired and slightly crabby.
I read an article a couple of days ago from USA Today with this heading: “Are parents happier? Dads, maybe, but not moms…” Apparently, out of several studies done on happiness in parents and non parents, it concluded that mothers (especially mothers of young kids) are altogether physically and emotionally unhappier than dads, singles, and non-parents.
So, there’s that.
Iâ€™ve had similar conversations with several different women this week:
1) Concerned with her own tendency to go from zero-to-sixty in seconds, she feels guilty for yelling at her kids.
2) A neighbor told her that she is too hard on her oldest child.
3) She organized the bathroom just before the sitter came over, so the sitter would think her kids were bathed. When in fact, it had been a few days. (That one is just hilarious.)
4) She spanked her son harder than she meant to and is feeling like the worst mom in the world.
5) She feels like she is setting the emotional tone in her house and it is uneven, unbalanced, and bitterâ€”as if her family has to walk on eggshells around her feelings.
When I set out to become a mom, I always envisioned that it would be difficult. I even joked that because I thought it would be hell, it couldn’t possibly be worse than what I imagined.
But, if I’m truly honest, there was a part of me that imagined myself as a mother who had infinite attributes in the following:
- The skills needed to accomplish homework gracefully
- The ability to teach my children about life, art, music, literature, and culture in engaging ways
- Cookie recipes
- Picturesque moments, ie: reading while under blankets by the fire, picnicking, playing ball outside
- The ability to thrive with little sleep and zero me-time
- A body, mind, and yes, even hair, that bounced back miraculously from pregnancy
- The desire to go on nature walks and teach my children about flora and fauna
In other words, I’d concocted a syrupy cocktail of Mary Poppins mixed with Mr. Rogers, Mother Theresa, Mother Earth, Doctor Seuss, and Robin Williams in Dead Poets Society.
I have good mommy moments, and for those I am thankful. But, when I pictured myself as a mom, I never envisioned a woman who, having not had time for a shower or a warm cup of coffee (I always seem to make it just before they all need something) would be yelling, â€œI CAN’T DO IT ALL RIGHT NOW. GIVE MOMMY A MINUTE, OKAY!?”
I never dreamed of the dark moments, the weak moments, the I-canâ€™t-wait-until-these-stupid-kids-go-to-sleep moments, the infinite in failure moments.
Paul David Tripp, in his book Instruments in the Redeemerâ€™s Hand writes, “As I drove home that night, the more uptight I became. I was thinking, Wouldnâ€™t it be nice to come home just once to a house that wasnâ€™t full of problems I needed to solve?â€¦I wanted children who had never suffered the effects of the Fall and who possessed the innate ability to make all the right choices. I wanted family devotions and a few lectures to produce children who would do quite well on their own. I lacked self-sacrificing love essential in a family full of sinners. I saw my children as being in the way of the plan, rather than the focus of it.â€¦That night, I knew I was going to be called to love my family more than myself. I knew I would need to incarnate the love of Christ. But what I wanted was a good meal, a relaxed encounter with my newspaper, a nice conversation with my wife, and a few moments reading in bed before the lights went out. And I knew that the people in my house would surely step over my plan.”
How often do I view my children (and even my husbandâ€”which weâ€™ll talk about more next week) as an obstacle to my calling and ministry, rather than the objects of it?
Last night, up at 3:40am with a kid would wouldnâ€™t sleep, I wrote this prayer:
“God, you are slow to anger, abounding in love,
and do not treat me as my sins deserve. I am so grateful to you.
Please help me to be motivated by your unfailing love, as I mother my children.
Help me to be verbally affirming and encouraging.
Increase my patience.
Help me to discipline my children with wisdom,
but never make them feel invaluable, or as if theyâ€™ve lost love from me.
Help me not to withhold affection, or to speak in unkind tones.
Help me to be full of gentleness, and without sarcasm.
When I feel myself getting frustrated, help me to walk away,
examine my emotions, and respond without volatility.
Help me to choose activities and conversations that are intentional towards my children.
Make me welcoming, as you are welcoming.
God, I know this is impossible without you.
Forgive me for how drastically I fall short of caring for these precious lives
youâ€™ve entrusted to me.
Please erase from their memories any of my failures
that would damage their understanding of your love.
Please make me soft, patient, gentle, playful, and full of gratitude for them.
Make me warm.
I will never be perfect. But one day at a time,
may I be an evidence of your love to my children and husband.
May their tender hearts be safe and full of your love,
and always know that my heart is their home.
Make me an evidence of your love to my family.
May even my imperfections be the place where you shine your light and love.
As I fail (and I will) may I continually return to you.
When my children see (and they will see) that I cannot meet all of their needs.
May that point them to a deeper understanding that you are the only one who can.”
Today I need grace (and those octo-arms for administering pink eye meds).
Iâ€™m thinking you probably do too (hopefully not the octopus arms/pink eye meds part).
I’m praying grace for moms today. Grace, for you.