Last week I was washing dishes (from another dinner deemed inedible by my older kids) with the music loud enough to muffle the cries of the two kids who fighting over a toy while Ben changed the baby’s diaper. Briggs had woken up on this birthday with croup, Colbie had an ear infection and was on 100000 of a runny nose and teeth that like to torture her, and Claire was mad that its 6 months until her birthday (enter 1 million rolling eye emojis). We were supposed to go out of town with friends and we had to cancel because of all the germs. A grocery bag with a dirty diaper falls from the second story balcony as Ben breaks up the quarreling older two. Someone falls and starts crying. Colbie yells mama through the stair slats and I take a deep breath and head back to the war zone to wash hair and argue about why the sun is still out at bedtime.
Motherhood is simultaneously harder and better than I expected. I knew I’d love my kids but I didn’t know how much, I knew I’d get frustrated but I underestimated how often, I knew I’d be busy but I didn’t realize I could do 7 things at one time, I thought I had experienced exhaustion, fear and joy but I realize I had only scratched the surface of the meaning of the words. I thought all these things about becoming a mom and what it would look like but mostly I thought it would be easier.
Even when it is just ordinary it is hard work. I had an older man tell me recently that being a stay at home mom was not nearly as hard as “real jobs” and Ben said he saw steam leave my ears like one of those cartoons. I’m sure there is some truth in that statement but I told him if he wants to come potty train my son who has no problem with diapers but thinks the toilet has monsters in it and I’ll head to his catered meetings (in my head this is what jobs consist of….lies I know) I wouldn’t complain.
Stay at home or working aside, being a mom is tough and most days it takes everything in me not to just survive until 7pm. On family vacation my sister in law encouraged us moms not to just wish these days away and survive until your next break. I was functioning on about 4 hours of sleep when she said it so I didn’t give it much thought but I circled back around to it recently. I’ve been thinking about all these hard things we have to do in life, mother, marriage, work, teach, give, care, about how when we really inconvenience ourselves for others we actually live a better life.
I keep thinking about my amazing brother and sister in law who just spent 3 weeks in china adopting their third child and how there was nothing like that moment when they walked up the escalator holding their son. Nothing like the moment their girls met their brother for the first time. Nothing like watching my own babies be born after 9 long hard months of pregnancy. Nothing like working through the hard times of marriage to get back to the really good ones, nothing like forgiving someone just because it was the right thing to do and feeling utter freedom yourself. Nothing like feeling the urge of to be obedient to God when it seems ludicrous and watch him show up. Nothing like these hard, grin and bear it type of days, where you give your it your all and then some. The hard days are the ones that make you. None of us were made to sit on a beach and sip pina coladas… forever. Why? Because we have a greater purpose and a greater God who asks us to see him in the hard unbearable days.
The way I see it I have five years to teach my kids all the basics of life, faith, manners, kindness, compassion, giving, loving, what’s important, and self-control. Sure I’ll have time after they turn five but these years are scared. They are simple, uncomplicated, and yet incredibly challenging. Most of life seems to operate that way. Work hard to get what really matters. Push through the pain for the payoff.
It kind of sucks sometimes though. Sometimes things are harder than expected. The diagnosis is worse than
predicted. The road ahead is even rockier than it appeared. In these moments I find myself asking why? I come up empty with the exception of these two thoughts, because we need him more and because this isn’t permanent. In the light of forever this life seems manageable but keeping our eyes on eternity is a tricky thing. We ache for a better outcome only to be met with reality and sometimes we have to just keep going.
I won’t wrap this one in a bow I’ll leave with this ,” We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.[a]Because of the joy[b] awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.3 Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people;[c] then you won’t become weary and give up. (Hebrews 12:2-3)
We can’t give up. I believe there is more riding on it than we know.