Mommy Mayhem is a blog series leading up to Mother’s Day 2013 meant to encourage and bless women as we experience the good and bad chaos that comes with being a mom. This series has many guest blogs from women in many walks of life: stay at home moms, working moms, moms with grown children, and moms with young children. My request in this is that my readers use the comment section to bless woman with encouragement and blessings. These woman aren’t professional writers, they are just like you (and me) women simply sharing their journey! If you like, feel free to share and bless other Mom’s experiencing the mayhem of life! (See Posts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 here)
As beautiful, wonderful, and exciting as it can be, being a mom is hard. Really hard (as you mothers already know). As in, why wasn’t anyone brave enough to be real with me about just how incredibly hard it is to be a mother, especially of very little ones?
I thought I was prepared to be a mother, and quite confident that I was going to make a pretty darn good one, thank you very much. I considered myself a fairly steady personality, patient, creative, with years of nannying experience to help me out. Ha. When our beautiful daughter was born, although life was very different from what I expected and things were hard, I knew I was going to be ok.
Even in the midst of doubting my ability to be a mom, I knew deep down I could do this, I was cut out for this, and I loved being a mother. There were many moments of joy, watching my little girl play and learn and grow.
When our son came along, it was quite the surprise. We had definitely wanted another baby but hadn’t expected to have our children 14 mos apart! I kept hearing helpful motherly advice that littles so close together are really hard in the beginning but then it gets way easier as they get older. I suppose I’m just at the beginning because….it’s still really hard.
I mean, yes, it’s been challenging trying to figure out how to care for a home and manage to get everyone fed and clothed and semi-clean, while clambering over mountains of laundry, and digging your way through piles of dishes. But I’ve been learning, and each fear is conquered one at a time. Giving them both meals at the same time. Taking them both on outings by myself. Giving them both a bath at the same time. Some days I do okay, other days I feel like a failure.
While things things have been hard. The hardest part of mothering has been….me. They say motherhood changes you, and that is as true as true comes, but what happens when you don’t realize how hard you’re fighting the change, even while loving being a mom?
What do you do when the change is an emotional roller coaster, transforming you into someone you don’t recognize, someone short-tempered and critical, frustrated and ungentle, easily angered….without grace?
Suddenly, I found myself with my beautiful baby boy, all light and smiles no matter what was going on around him, and I was being rough and harsh for no other reason than I was frustrated. It frightened me, so much so, that I found myself in tears more often than not. What if my children remember me this way, this joy-less, irritated, angry person?
One day, after curled in the fetal position under my covers as my children were finally, if briefly, asleep, I called my sister in desperation. Wise, gracious, gentle, she herself had fought her way through post-partem depression so severe that she had reconsidered having more children. She put words to what I could not. “You feel like…you’re drowning.” But how could I, me, possibly have post-partem depression? Six months after my little guy was born? I was the least likely person I could think of, and yet, it was true.
It’s hard to mother the way you long to when you don’t know if you’re still…you.
I would find myself trying to put my sweet little man to bed, and he was telling me his needs the only way he knew how – crying and crying and crying – and anger would spring up in my heart so suddenly it nearly took my breath away. More than once, I had to slowly set him down and step back, breathing a desperate prayer for God to free me from the anger that had no place in my heart or home.
How was I to teach my beautiful son how to be gentle if I offered no gentleness? How would he ever learn about grace, the overwhelming all-consuming grace that our heavenly Father holds out unreservedly to us, if I never gave freely of it? I felt so ashamed. Yet, I’m so thankful that God in His wisdom saw fit to make me a mother –not just so that I could help my children grow up, but so that He could help me to grow up.
I used to love working with ceramics in high school – it was one of the best classes I’ve ever taken. As we were working with the clay, little by little it would dry out and harden, even if we tried to keep it wet and soft enough to be pliable. If a piece of work wasn’t forming right and becoming too hard, we had to break it down, crush it completely, and throw it into a big bin full of ruined projects and water…a sloppy, mucky mess. After a few days at the bottom of the bin, the clay began to soften again, and could be scooped out, the water worked and kneaded out of it, and once again it was soft, pliable, willing clay.
The challenges of motherhood have allowed me to see that I’ve been that piece that hardened before it could be fully made, dried out by my own apathy and busyness, made unyielding by my pride and need to be in control. The only way for me to be made into Christ’s likeness is to be completely unmade out of mine. And here I am, at the bottom of the muck bin, a broken version of myself, but I am being remade. One day at a time, one failure at a time, one humbling moment at a time.
In that remaking, the prayer of my heart is that God would fill me to overflowing with His astounding, undeserved grace so that I can pour out grace to my children.
I am not the mother I want to be. I don’t know how. But, I was made by a great and loving Father who desires the best for me and my family, who created this role of motherhood, and formed me with my children in mind. He is faithful to answer our cries, to give wisdom when we ask, and to change us when we cannot change ourselves, to teach us how to mother our children, to grow us up.
We need Him as mothers, desperately.
I suppose there are a few lucky ones out there who figured that out early on and perhaps have had a smoother journey into motherhood, but for the more stubborn ones of us, He loves us enough to let us journey down into the dark pit of self so that we can realize the empty road we’ve taken alone, and find that we cannot accomplish our calling as mothers this way. Then we find ourselves on our knees, finally, crushed and broken and a mess of tears and sweatpants and leftover Cheerios, and our need for Him is finally, truly known. It is acute. It is devastating. It is freeing. It is the only thing that can unmake us so that we can be made again into the mothers He alone has called us to be. And He kneels down next to us, His own precious children, with outstretched loving arms and grace-filled eyes, waiting for us to finally run to Him instead of away.
The truth of it is, when you get down to the core of things, being a mother is a high, hard, beautiful calling. The truth is we are only human; our efforts alone will always fall short, but we serve a big God full of grace with whom all thing –all things- ARE possible!
In all my free time (haha), I’ve been reading a book by Sarah Mae & Sally Clarkson called Desperate: Hope for the Mom Who Needs to Breathe. If you are a mom, and life is hard and you don’t have it all figured out like you’ve convinced your fellow playgroup moms you do, you need to read this book.
This season of my life has challenged me to fall at the feet of the One who loves my children even more than I do, who loves me even at my worst moments, who is faithful to change me and remake me. In one of the first chapters, Sarah Mae says, “My kids don’t need to see a supermama. They need to see a mama who needs a Super God”, and later adds that “godly parenting is fueled by God’s grace, not my efforts.” This has resounded over and over in my mind and heart – I am only human, and my efforts alone will always fall short, but I serve a big God full of grace with whom all things – all things – are possible. Part of the gift of this book is the encouragement that we do not have to do this high, hard calling of motherhood alone. God meant for us to travel this journey with other moms, being real and teaching and learning and edifying one another for His glory and for the sake of our families. It has reminded me again of all of the beauty of motherhood, made more exquisite as He grows not only our children, but us as well, and He gives grace abundantly to those who ask.
About the author:
Heidi is 28 years old and lives in Stanwood, WA with her wonderful husband Isaac and their two beautiful children, Jolie & Gideon. She’s a stay-at-home mom who gives piano lessons during naptime, loves music and late-night singing with her husband, and enjoying God’s magnificent creation outdoors. She grew up as a missionary kid to the Marshall Islands in Micronesia and in Laos, next to Thailand, before moving with her family to CO and then adventuring out to the great Pacific Northwest to study music in college. Isaac & Heidi met at Northwest University, and have now been married for 5 wonderful years.