Parenting can completely exhaust me.
I won't lie.
I try diligently to always be authentic; and this is authentic.
My children, sometimes, suck the life out of me!
Yes, Yes, Yes.... I will be one of the first to say and agree that your time with them is fleeting and you must cherish every moment. I totally get it and I have spent countless hours, days even, feeling guilty for failing to do that very thing.
Our children are truly gifts from the Lord and though exhaustion may taint this truth at times, in my heart, I never forget it.
As I have had a recent spell of "Mommy Malaria" I have prayed each and every day for God to; A) take it from me and B) show me where the exhaustion stems from.
He has faithfully spoken.
My exhaustion does not come from the day to day parenting and mothering I am called to do. I delight in raising my children and I feel humbled and honored that God has entrusted me with these precious lives.
My exhaustion comes from..... ME.
Yes, me. My unrealistic, worldly comparison expectation of being a "good" mom.
When I forget the basic principles God has taught me through His word on what HE expects from me as a mother, I begin to unravel in a fury of exhaustion
I CANNOT possibly keep up with the expectations I put on myself as a mother to these four children.
Here is my shortened list:
So... there is my ridiculously impossible to achieve, exhausting list!
Oh, believe me, I know how ridiculous those expectations are and now that they are written down for me to see, they look even more absurd!
But, truly, these are the thoughts I go to bed with and wrestle with every day.
I will tell you from my personal experience, the more children you have, the more your parenting journey evolves. Different seasons call for different strategies and activities. I was able to do far more things with my children when there were just 2 or even 3, than I can with four. I am also much older now than I was when I first started having children and my home and prep time needs much m ore attention than it did with 1 or 2 kiddos.
I spend half my life making food and washing clothes. And I am ok with that, truly, but the struggle and exhaustion comes in when I allow myself to feel guilty for doing those very things, rather than spending intentional time with my children.
When you scroll through your FB newsfeed or surf the net, there are countless I mean COUNTLESS articles talking about the time you are wasting with your children. To put down the broom and go to the park. That you are going to live with regret your entire life if you do the laundry rather then do a craft.
And while YES, it is absolutely important for us to spend quality time with our children, that was never the focus God gave us in His word.
As a parent....
My Purpose.... Is to Teach Them Their Purpose.
There you have it.
I have to root myself back to God's calling for me as a mother. And while He wants me to be patient, loving and attentive to my children; nowhere in scripture does he tell me to entertain, be perfect, sacrifice to exhaustion, never be real, place my children above all household duties or give them a top notch flawless education!
Those are MY expectations, not God's.
Here is the thing. God has a purpose for my life and He has a purpose for my children's lives. He knew their purpose before He created them. My children may have no clue, what on earth their purpose is and why God placed them here. And though, I may not be totally aware of God's purpose for each of my children, I am assured of this.... it was to use the gifts and talents He gave them... to serve Him.
That's it. That is their purpose. And my job as their parent is to help them recognize what those gifts and talents are and help to build them and nurture them so one day, they can and will use them to serve the Lord.
My job is to train them...to live a life... glorifying to God.... not to live a life full of self focus and self indulging.
By me, completely exhausting myself to serve my children, I am teaching them they are the focus of my life.... not God.
By retreating to my room at night, for some much needed quiet time with God and to rejuvenate my soul for the next day of service, is not neglecting their needs, it is teaching them their needs are not number one. That other's have needs as well and they need to be sensitive to other's needs.
What happens with me, is I give to the point of exhaustion, let guilt consume me and inevitably become the "ugly mom." The cranky, exhausted, discontent, barky mom, even I hate!
By replacing my ridiculous expectations with God's purpose and desire for me as a parent, I become the intentional, loving mom God created me to be. A mom that uses every day activities to interact with my children. I can have a meaningful conversation with them on the car ride to school or while folding laundry and that is just as meaningful as a planned date.
Removing the Pressure.... Reveals my Purpose. And my purpose.... is to teach my children.... their purpose.
I pray today... for all the parents that struggle with self defeating guilt. You have to shut out the world is you are going to raise your children God's way.
Our world is self focused and very much self indulged. I think we can see the consequences of that in our current generations.
Our children are not here to be served.... but to be trained to serve others.
And THAT... is what will make them successful.
Peace and Blessings
Hi there Mama.
Yes, you! The one with the pony tail and faded raccoon eyes from yesterday's eye liner.
The one with the beautiful smile.
Yes, I know you have a beautiful smile. You know.... that smile you get when you watch your child hit a home run or see your children laughing together. Or that soft grin you make, when your husband recites a joke so stupid.....' you can't help but grin.
You probably are wondering how I've seen you smile. You are thinking to yourself..... I really don't smile much anymore. In fact, I may have cracked a slight grin... but I don't know if I really, authentically smiled at all today.
I know I've frowned, I know I've been close to tears and I certainly know I've shown a scowl or two.... but I am not sure I ever smiled.
I've seen your smile because it is hidden in the same place mine often is.
Beneath the demands....
Beneath the noise...
the endless laundry
the around the clock eating
the last minute requests
the pile of bills
the missing shoe
the missing pants
the missing homework
the missing I Phone or I Pod
the sink full of dishes
the ungrateful back talk
the pile of vomit covered sheets
and the pile you will soon have from the next child
I know it's there beautiful mama. And I know deep in your heart.... you hope for the moment.... it is set free.
A moment when you can curl up on the couch with your favorite fuzzy blanket and watch that movie that makes you laugh until you can't breathe. A moment when you can start or finish that book you've been staring at on your bookshelf, while soaking in a hot bubble bath. That moment.... when your husband comes home and tells you he got a sitter and he is taking you out.... FAR AWAY from the piles that bury you. That moment..... when you reach your hand out for a little attention and smile at your hot pink fingertips that are usually buried in dish soap.
That smile is priceless mama.... That smile brings peace to your family.
I want you to focus more on that smile.
You matter too Mama.
You may struggle to remember that..... and others may fail as well....but you matter.
Sacrifice is not beautiful..... when it makes us ugly.
I know.... I have become ugly too many times.
The ugly mama.
That mama that gives and gives and gives without much reprieve..... and never takes those moments to find my missing smile.
That mama..... whose tank runs on empty way too long...... and with one little spark.... a flame erupts from the fumes of exhaustion that linger.
Those ugly eruptions would die..... by simply remembering.... I matter.
I need..... You need..... those smile producing moments.
Those moments are not selfish. Those moments are as necessary as breathing.
No one was made to "do it all."
And those that make the mistake of believing they are the exception to this........ will eventually trade in beauty for ashes.
There should be no guilt in self care.
But we often feel.... massive guilt when ugly mama makes her appearance. Ugly mama steals precious moments from out lives.
Put ugly mama to death.... today.
Find your smile mama.
Take care of you. Refill that tank that is running on fumes by the end of the day.
Jesus.... the perfect human.... in every way.... took time for Himself. He knew in His infinite wisdom.... He needed that to accomplish God's greater purpose.
You... have great purpose mama. Your smile is a healing balm to your child's soul. When they see you smile.... their world seems safe and okay.
Smile today. Take time for you. Don't you dare feel guilty.
You..... have earned every minute of it..... and my guess is....... then some.
Peace and Blessings