Originally written for a baby shower, adapted for my blog.
When I was pregnant with my first child, I fully expected to be a great Mom. I'd been babysitting and working in church nursery since junior high, teaching Sunday School since High School, and when I was 17 my parents adopted a one month old baby who I loved taking care of. I was pretty sure I had the “baby thing” down.
Then 3 am of our second night home rolled around, she couldn't latch on to nurse, we were both crying and suddenly I was a “failure”. I realized that being a Mom is so much harder than babysitting and nursery work and even being a big sister to a baby. At least then I got to sleep all night, in my own bed, alone.
No matter how confident we are about our abilities to be Moms, eventually we find ourselves crying out to God in our bedroom, surrounded by wads of tissues and an empty bag of chocolate. We pour out our tears and probably some snot onto our husband's shoulders. If he's wise … he'll tuck us into bed and tell us we are wonderful and it will all be okay. And it will be. Because no matter how much we feel like failures, we are not. If we're trusting in God and doing our best, it will be okay.
Five years later, I was struggling as a young homeschool Mom. I felt like a failure that my five year old wasn't “getting” the whole reading thing, my 3 year old didn't want to potty train and could throw a tantrum to end all tantrums. I had a new baby and I just knew I was FAILING THEM ALL.
It was at that point that a friend shared some very important truths with me.
- God gave these children to ME for a reason. He chose me for them, and them for me. It wasn't a random thing.
- More importantly … God loves my children even more than I ever can. He cares about their future even more than I do. It's not all on my shoulders. He's there to lead me, to guide me, and to help draw my children to Him.
- I have a responsibility to take care of them and to teach them about God. But it isn't my responsibility to be perfect or do everything just right.
- God can redeem my mistakes and work out His purpose for my children, despite my failures and weaknesses.
I have clung to that truth over the years. It was so freeing to know I wasn't solely responsible for my kids' spiritual future, their health, or their success.
But, when I am tired and when I neglect my relationship with God, I find myself trying to take on that burden again. I look at my own weaknesses and mistakes. I look at my children's behavior, their sinful hearts, and I blame it all on Steve. And myself. I just know those wicked kids are bound for juvenile detention and headed straight to Hell. My house is going to be condemned and my kids all taken away from me.
After 19 years of motherhood, Steve has this figured out now. He knows exactly what to do. He sends me to bed. Sometimes I stomp my way to bed, angry that he thinks I'm the one with the problem. Sometimes I run because I know I am exhausted … and I can cry in bed without having to explain myself.
But God is gracious and loving. The Bible says He is a tender mother, who gives grace and peace and wisdom when we seek it. After one of these meltdowns, I always wake up feeling more hopeful and joyful. The house magically looks cleaner (and not because elves cleaned it in the night) and my kids are suddenly transformed into good kids once again.
I know that nothing has really changed. It is entirely my perspective that has changed. As Moms, we have to take care of ourselves physically and spiritually. We will give in to negativity and depression if we don't.
I don't know if you have seen the movie Moms' Night Out. I just saw it last week. It is the story of four different stressed out moms, but mainly one woman (Allyson) who is struggling with finally having her dream of motherhood but feeling like a failure. She isn't happy, can't seem to get her act together, and is just beyond overwhelmed. She's "stress-paralyzed", to quote her.
Two sections at the end of the movie stuck out to me. At one point Allyson receives a blessing from an unlikely source – a tough biker named Bones. She pours out her heart to him about how she is such a failure and she's just never enough. He tells her about an eagle cam he saw of a mother eagle caring for her young. Bones says:
“It's a beautiful thing to watch one of God's creations just doing what it was made to do. Just being an eagle, and that's enough. Y'all spend so much time beating yourselves up, it must be exhausting. Lemme tell you something, girl. I doubt the good Lord made a mistake giving your kiddos the mama He did. So just be … you. He'll take care of the rest.”
Later on, Allyson passes the blessing on to someone else. Her young sister-in-law, Bridget, who is a single mother says that Allyson must think she's the worst mother ever. Allyson tells her that she knows exactly how that feels and confesses that she doesn't have the Mom thing all figured out either. Then she tells Bridget, “This mom thing is crazy hard. But you're doing an amazing job.”
This Mom thing IS crazy hard. It's harder than I ever thought it would be. But we aren't expected to figure it all out on our own. We have God's grace and wisdom to guide us, husbands to encourage and walk beside us, and church family to help us.
Don't get discouraged by all the different view points out there re: feeding babies, diapering babies, getting babies to sleep, vaccinations, education, and whether Barney is good for kids or not. Just be yourself. Research. Pray for God's wisdom. Seek your husband's advice (and listen to it). Do your best. God will take care of the rest.
Jeremiah 33:3 says, “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.”
Psalm 145 also says,
“ The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love. The Lord is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made ... The Lord is faithful to all his promises and loving toward all he has made. The Lord upholds all those who fall and lifts up all who are bowed down ... The Lord is righteous in all His ways and loving toward all He has made. The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. He fulfills the desires of those who fear him; he hears their cry and saves them. The Lord watches over all who love him.” Psalm 145: 8 – 20.
Call on God. He will hold you up and show you everything you need to know to raise your children in your family. It won't be exactly like your sister's family, or your pastor's family, or even the way your parents did it. But that is just the way God wants it to be.
He placed your children in your family for a reason. And He says “it is very good.” So just be you, and don't try to be perfect. Trust in Him and He will take care of the rest.