My assignment today is to pick a person and write to them specifically. I picked myself, 10 years ago when I had a three year old and a toddler and my days seemed to be much ado over very small stuff. I am writing this as it pops into my head. It’s definitely not some holy writing or aged-to-perfection and prayed-over piece.
- It doesn’t really matter what else is going on, soul care is still the most important care. You might feel crosseyed in all your places from the weariness of not enough sleep and being a food source and having to constantly be everywhere, but if you keep your soul fat, you will be fine. This is not a season of heavy Bible study. Just let that go and find a promise for a lifeline for this day. Listen to an inspiring song until you know all the verses and they loop through your head the whole day long. Pray short prayers that come from your heart. “Help me, Jesus,” is a great start.
- Lighten up. If you have never learned to laugh at yourself or at life, you had better start now. Maybe you find yourself fuming about the dribbles on the toilet ring. Think about it. You, the smart and capable woman who knows exactly where the Lysol wipes are, having a fit about something that will take 5 seconds to wipe away. It’s hilarious, isn’t it? As a bonus, your children are endless sources of amusement. They haven’t learned how to be sophisticated. Like the time your little girl asked if she could have some peaches. You were occupied at the moment and told her she can get some, and she sidled up a bit later and said, “Mama, my belly feels quite plump full of peaches.” That’s when you realized that she ate the whole quart. You had a choice of either having a conniption or just being chill about it. Who knew that a very small girl can hold 4 cups of peaches anyway?
- Learn to kneel down to the level of short people. Take a walk and be okay with every stick and shiny rock is that is of such absorbing interest. “You are right, son, that stick does look just like a gun. What are you going to shoot?” Look at the jelly bread with the bite out of it and say, “Sure enough. It is a hippo!” Who really cares if they scrutinize their bread one methodical bite at a time? Don’t squish the joy just because you are such a grown up.
- Slow down, like way, way down. Telling a toddler to hurry with his boots is like saying, “Here is a great handle to pull Mama’s chain.” It is commonly known that children become all thumbs as soon as you start to scurry around. They can’t find anything and have to go potty and need a drink, etc. etc. Does getting to church on time really matter as much as a wounded spirit in a small person? If you have a time sensitive appointment, give yourself a half hour per child just to get out the door. It’s all right if it takes all morning to get to the store and buy groceries. Perks of the job: you take all the time it takes.
- Accept the fact that you will fail sometimes. It is much better to apologize to your child promptly than to castigate yourself all day because you messed up and are such a loser mom. You may feel like saying, “You kids just really got on my nerves, and I shouldn’t have yelled at you.” That’s a rationalization for your sin, not an apology. Instead you should say, “I was wrong to yell at you when you pulled the curtain down. I am so sorry. Will you forgive me?” Help your children to understand how to keep the air clear in your home by demonstrating repentance yourself. You will not lose face. You will gain respect.
- You will be much happier once you stop looking for praise. Remember that day you tallied up the approximate number of snaps you had done up for your onesie-wearing, sleeper-clad babies in their lives? You were exasperatedly proud of that number but nobody else seemed impressed. This job is never-endingly repetitious and nobody else notices (the baby certainly doesn’t care) that you just wiped all the goo off the highchair for the third time today. They really have no idea how hard it is to wipe things all the time. (Laugh at yourself right there and go eat some chocolate.)
- Give it all freely, the face washing and the cup of water and the storytime with the same favorite book you read 20 times already. You wanted to be useful in God’s kingdom, didn’t you? Well here you are, grown up and useful as anything but it doesn’t feel like you expected it to feel. There is a verse just for you in 1 Cor. 15:58. “Therefore, my dear… sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” Maybe it still seems odd to you to say, “Lord, in your name I offer this snack of fish crackers and milk in a sippy cup. Be pleased to accept it with my love.” But that is the reality and you will freely receive for everything you freely give.
I write these things to my younger self, but here’s the thing. Every day I am still learning, and I have been working at it for over 13 years. It has gotten easier, just like any other job where you practice daily and get better at your work, but I am still learning and expect to keep on until I die. Mothering is not a sprint. It’s the marathon of a lifetime. I have a very patient Life Coach who loves me enough to not let things be easy all the time so that I grow stronger. I wish like crazy that the learning curve wasn’t so steep for new mothers, but just know that you will be given exactly what you need in the moment when you need it. He promised it. You are not alone. We are all in this together. Keep going, for Jesus’ sake!
And just for fun even though it’s not mother’s day, because it actually is if you are a mom: