The Part of Motherhood I Least Expected

I know you were expecting to dig deeper into Exodus today. I was too, until yesterday when I realized the little talk I shared with my church on Sunday about motherhood, might be beneficial for you too. (With a few extras because well, I thought of a few more things.)

So let’s just start with how motherhood isn’t quite what I expected. Don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful to be a mom. I love those little peanuts. But the need to dig deeper for godliness in the midst motherhood – the part I least expected.

After all, my mom made it look easy. Patiently redoing my ponytails over and over, because I was just sure it was crooked! Keeping her cool when I stomped to my room angry because life just wasn’t FAIR! Taking me shopping when I insisted I had absolutely NOTHING to wear.

So easy in fact, when Kreg and I had our first son, I confidently told her we’d be fine our first night home. “We’ve got this, he’s such a great baby. We’re good. Go home.” But she knew and wasn’t surprised when I called sobbing at 2 AM because for some crazy reason my perfect baby wouldn’t go to sleep!

Little did I realize, how much motherhood would challenge me. How much it’d change me. How it’d blaringly point out all the ways I was selfish. How it’d be the hardest thing I’d ever done. The long days, the even longer nights. The exhaustion, the perseverance, the necessity of patience – none of which I registered for at Babies R’ Us.

Then came baby number two. Our precious little girl. I was elated, but how in the world, I ask you, do you grocery shop with two? How do you even get out the door? By the time you get ready to go, it’s time to come. Let alone, how are you supposed to take a shower? (With a vibrating baby seat and a Curious George episode – that’s how.)

Then, another boy – our Ethan. And not long after that – our Tyler. Four beautiful babies – my heart so full it could burst. Yet at the same time – so did my days explode with the needs and wants of four little people. The word mommy screamed, cried, yelled, spoken, whispered, whined, and repeated. And me running in four different directions for four different reasons at any given moment, racked with guilt for dreaming of a hotel someplace far away – maybe just for a night or two or seven.

Why was I not any good at this? (Ever felt that way mom’s?) Why did it seem as though motherhood brought out the worst in me, and the best in everyone else? (Because doesn’t it seem that way sometimes?)

Yet again at my breaking point I made another phone call. “MOM – How do I do this? I can’t do this.”

Her calm and familiar voice: “You’re right honey, you can’t.” (Not quite what I was expecting.) “But Jesus can.”

“But you did it mom, why is it so hard for me?”

“No that’s not true. I didn’t do it. I just clung to Jesus and let him do the rest.”

Words never truer, I’m grateful for her honesty and wisdom.

It’s funny, or perhaps ironic, or maybe more like astoundingly perfect, that the very things I was lacking, desiring, and in desperate need of were the very fruits God promised if I’d simply abide in him – joy, patience, kindness, perseverance, gentleness, love, peace. God knew I couldn’t do this life, this job, without Him, and He never expected me to.

It wasn’t more sleep I needed or time away or better behaved children or a housekeeper (though I wouldn’t mind that one), but the presence of He who tells the waves to come this far and NO further. The strength of He who holds this world tightly together. And the love of He who died for it.

It’s tempting to think the things that come most naturally to us, are the very things we shouldn’t need help with. Thinking our abilities should sustain us, and our instincts carry us – it’s there at the edge of independence we often fall short and then wonder what happened. “Guess I’m not as good as I thought.”

But it’s not our ability that matter’s, it’s Christ’s. It’s not our instincts that carry us, it’s Jesus. His word a path to victory no matter the road, the job, the disappointment, the difficulty. Paving the way for all of us whether a mom, a wife, an employee, a leader, a student, a friend.

Verse after verse spoken to the church or through the prophets or for the people of Israel thousands of years ago still pertinent today. Encouraging me. Directing me. Uplifting me.

Phil 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” I can be a godly mom amid chaos.

2 Timothy 1:7 “For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” I can keep my cool, when no one else is.

Colossians 3:17 “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, [even diapers] giving thanks to God the Father through him.” I can get up with gratitude and do it again.

1 Peter 5:7 “Cast all your anxiety on him, because He cares for you.” And I can do it without being anxious.

Phil. 2:3-4 “Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves” [even your children]. “Looking not only to my own interests, but also to the interests of others.” My mantra for motherhood.

And so on and so forth. I could go on forever. His word giving me the courage to write weekly devotionals and post them for the world to see. His word guiding me as I parent. His word softening my heart in some areas and making me braver in others.

So that today and tomorrow and the next my very full cup can runneth over not just with craziness but godliness. Because contrary to popular belief, I don’t have it all together. I just seek to cling to the one who does.

 

How Motherhood Has Changed Me

Next week we’ll tackle Genesis 36 but if it’s ok with you, this week – my thoughts on motherhood. Because it has changed me in ways I never saw coming. And it’s just the funniest thing to step back and take a look. So I hope you enjoy. I hope you laugh. I hope you read this and think: Yay I’m not the only one who has a phobia of highchairs!

Quite honestly I don’t think I could do this journey without humor (or Jesus). Who has held me together from the moment we brought our first bundle of joy home and I suddenly turned into a Schizophrenic vacillating every five minutes between  “I just can’t believe how much I love this little peanut” and “Oh good grief what have we done. My life is so over.”

There may have also been a few dinners I wept at the table while repeatedly assuring my husband I was infact truly happy. #seeyouaretotallynormal #becauseididittoo #andweallknowiamnormal Anyway, one particular development I totally did not see coming is my undeniable germaphobia. I’m not exactly sure when it happened. But I’m pretty sure it had something to do with ordering deli meat and turning around to find my baby sucking on the side of the cart.

Scared he might grow an eleventh toe or contract some rare disease that would further my sleep deprivation, I called my mother, and formed a battle plan that included clorox wipes (in her bag and mine and one for the car), a clip-on hand sanitizer, a cart cover – that could double as a highchair cover, and a package of those plastic disposable table toppers that are just plain awesome.

I’m not gonna lie though. I about had a nervous breakdown the first time we forgot the cover and my one year old had to sit in a naked highchair a previous child had probably just wiped his snot all over. (Which meant sleepless nights were obviously in my future.) But I am happy to report I’ve relaxed some with kid number four. I no longer twitch when said child eats popcorn off the floor at elementary basketball games. (I honestly don’t know how fourth children survive.) But Aldi is still a stretch for me. I fight the urge to beg and plead to keep my cloroxed cart every time they make me switch at checkout. (I know I have a problem.)

But as it turns out my phobia has real merit. Kids get sick, A LOT, with illnesses I did not know existed. Like the hand, foot and mouth virus. (Um excuse me, what did you say doctor? I promise we haven’t been to Europe.) But the one that gets me everytime. The one that makes me want to lock my children in the closet until spring is absolutely the stomach flu. If you or anyone in your family (or your third cousin whom you saw a week ago) has had it anytime in the last month, then please don’t be offended if I keep my distance. (Just kidding. Maybe.)

But for real my kids will probably grow up to be like Monk.On the bright side they may get their own TV show. On the downside they may accidentally pee their pants because they are so scared to use a public restroom.

But the crazy thing is – when duty calls – I will catch snot rockets in my hands, hold feverish little  ones close to my chest, eat pretzels after my 2 year old ralphs for the 6th time on a drive home from North Carolina, and stand outside in my nightgown because of a crazy thing called croup. Because I have this insanely strong love for these people God has given me. A love some days I don’t even understand.

Apparently since adding the “mother” title to my repertoire I not only have a strong desire to love but a temper to boot. I did not know it was possible to swing from “Just look at my precious little love bugs, what a gift from God” to “If you want to live to see another day you had better get out of my sight” in 4.5 seconds but it is. It really is.

I actually use to consider myself quite level headed, even tempered, calm feathered, however you want to say it. But I’m not so sure anymore. Not too long ago I admit to you, for the purpose of encouraging another sweet soul who has also found herself on the edge of insanity, that I did in fact yell at my children with all the ferocious intensity of a seething hyena “IS THAT HOW JESUS WANTS YOU TO ACT?” Well now. If there was ever a moment the kettle called the pot black – it was that one.

I also use to be quite reserved. Prior to motherhood there were just some things I preferred not to talk about. As in womanly things or bathroom things or things you just don’t discuss when you grow up with a house full of boys. But now – well – something about breastfeeding and breast pumps and postpartum and explosive baby diarrhea or a constipated toddler that just makes you throw caution to the wind. I can now talk about poop like it’s a paint color. Or any other manner of bodily reactions or fluids without even blushing. Apparently this is a perk to motherhood.

I have also said things I never thought I would say. Like the “p” word otherwise known as “potty.” I once promised my mother that word would never be spoken in my house (don’t ask me why). I now say it 35 times a day at octaves I did not know achievable. Along with things such as “Stop hitting your brother with that hammer.” “If you put your finger in your nose one more time I’m cutting it off.” “No you can’t just eat banana peppers for dinner.” And my personal favorite “Is that poop on your hands?”

I just never in a million years thought I would ever string the English language in such a way. Nor did I anticipate the prayers I would utter. Please LORD, if you would just put this baby to sleep, I will offer whatever organs I can and still live. Please LORD, if you keep them healthy and allow me to go on my getaway weekend, I will memorize the entire New Testament.

Albeit motherhood is surprising. So very surprising. Like in how much my heart hurts when they hurt. How overcome with pride I feel when they succeed. How quickly worry can take me to imaginary places I don’t ever want to go in real life. Or how often I have to fight the urge to pee because I am laughing my head off.

But most of all I have gained a new understanding of what it means to unconditionally love. I don’t care how many messes I have to clean up I cannot, will not, ever stop loving them. It’s opened my eyes to God’s unconditional love toward me. Something I know I can only slightly grasp even now – because who in their right mind would sacrifice one of their own children? God, that’s who. For me. For you. And for all our little peanuts. “For God so loved the world he gave his one and only son that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

Dear LORD, Thank you. From the bottom of my heart thank you for the privilege of being a mother. And for teaching me just a little more about the depth of your love. I am filled to the brim with gratitude. Thank you for your sacrifice and thank you for the little love bugs running around my home in their underwear. Overflow my cup that I may overflow theirs. And help me not beat my head against the wall. At least not too many times. In Jesus name, Amen.

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P.S. My third grader just brought this home to me. image
truth.