This week has been rough behaviorally. I actually have been behaving myself pretty well I think. Except for a few small losses in patience, I have had a pretty good attitude and have been very purposeful in how and why I discipline my kids. It is my two bigger kiddos who have been giving me a real run for my money this week! Oye! You know it is bad when you step out to get the mail (with wind chills of 7 degrees and gusts of snow…in April) just to get a vacation and a place to shed a few quick tears of frustration. I have tried so hard not to be defeated, so hard not to say “I can’t do this.”, so hard to be displaying the loving kindness of Christ as I discipline with the hopes of reaching their hearts.
It is days and weeks like this where bed seems like such a safe haven in the mornings. I literally have to will one foot in front of the other as I start my day. It is days and weeks like this, days where I am spent by 11am and still have 9 hours ahead of me, that the clock just does not seem to move and I find myself stalking the driveway waiting for Peter to pull in with some reinforcements. It is days and weeks like this where I wonder if me being “on my game” even has any effect at all. I wonder, if I was mute would it really make any difference? Why do I try to discipline purposefully ? It is so much more draining to parent the right way! And its only Wednesday! It is days and weeks like this where I run to God and pray without ceasing for my kids, for myself.
God has been true to His promise that He will draw near to us when we draw near to Him (James 4:8) . He has not made the kids behave better or sleep longer. But rather He has given me encouragement through His words of scripture. Sometimes I wrestle with my identity being “just” a Mommy. Sometimes I struggle with feeling inept in the only job I ever wanted to do. This is when I need some gentle truth:
“The word of the Lord came to me, saying,
‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
before you were born I set you apart;
I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.’
‘“Alas, Sovereign Lord,’ I said, ‘I do not know how to speak; I am too young.’
But the Lord said to me, ‘Do not say, ‘I am too young.’ You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you,’ declares the Lord.
Then the Lord reached out his hand and touched my mouth and said to me, ‘I have put my words in your mouth. See, today I appoint you over nations and kingdoms to uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant.’” (Jeremiah 1:4-10)
Maybe my “nations” and “kingdoms” build their castles out of mega blocks and rule over Barbies and Beanie Babies, but none the less I know God has called me from before time to be the Mommy to Hayleigh, Braxton and Royce. He has called me to build and to plant in my own home, the hearts and lives of my little ones! What an encouragement to know that He gently touches my mouth to silence me, and to give me new words to speak-words that are His!
As I struggle in my identity many days and weeks being solely wrapped in diapers, tiny fist fights, temper tantrums, play dough masterpieces, 5 am feedings, and peanut butter kisses, it is easy to see why I would be so exhausted. Some times it easy to see why I would sometimes feel like trading in the snot covered sweatpants for a new identity-one more glamorous, more instantly rewarding, more about me. It is those moments lately that I have been immersing myself in the truth of scripture. I have been drawing near to God begging Him to show me more of who he really is. I long to better understand his gentleness, his patience, his fierce love for me. It is out of moments of complete weakness and necessity, moments where I feel I am losing the daily battle to win the hearts of three kids who are sucking me dry (literally and figuratively), that I throw myself at the feet of God. Who would have thought that the fulfillment of the desires of my heart and my lifelong passion would be the most challenging aspect of my life? Who would have thought it would make me feel the most alive but also the most weak? I want to be the parent my kids need, the parent my God calls me to be. In my weakness I need his strength. I need to learn from the Perfect Parent. I need to see more of who He is so I can learn more who I am, and who I am supposed to be-in all areas of my life, but in this season specifically, a mommy.
I used to feel that Ephesians 2:10 was almost a lecturing reminder that “We are God’s handiwork, created in Jesus to do good works, which he prepared in advance for us to do.” So get out there and do them already! Now I look at more as a comfort. God created me with this stage of my life in mind. He prepared the works of changing diapers and wiping noses, reading books and teaching right from wrong…over and over again, reminding people to pick up their puzzle pieces from all over the floor and putting band aids on imaginary boo-boos. He knew it would and should be me who would help a four year old get hold of her overpowering emotions, a two year old learn to wrestle his rebellious nature and win, and a four month old learn how to nap. He had these tasks ready-not just ready to be done by anyone-but to be done by me. And even when I feel unequipped or unworthy or such tasks-He has told me I am the best person for the job. He created me with the bent to motherhood. He created me to be a young mommy. He created me to be my kids’ mommy. And he promises that “No temptation has overtaken (me) except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let (me) be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” (I Corinthians 10:13) This includes my temptation to despair or to believe lies or to give up entirely. And sometimes that temptation is pretty strong, especially days and weeks like this. Then I remember “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13. Even this.
(artwork by my dear friend, Erin.)