I’ve had very little time to write, journal, keep up with my blog, etc., but sometimes, I need to just get stuff out. And why do that publicly? I think it’s honestly just a bad habit. And yet I also think that in this digital age of online communities, which are really poor replacements for real community and relationship, we need to do know that others are going through the same things that we are. And more importantly, we need encouragement on how to get up and get through the hard stuff. This is one of those posts.
I have been thinking on motherhood a lot lately; mainly because my kids are so little, and each one is in a different, yet difficult, stage. I have days where we get home from work and school and we stay home, even to the point of driving all of us crazy, because I can’t handle taking all of the crazy out into public. Then other days when we have to get out and run errands and just cope with the baby being into everything, the two year old having multiple meltdowns, and the four year old not wanting to do one thing I ask him. We get home from those days and everyone goes straight to bed for naps, mom included. And every once in a while, we have a really great day that includes a successful trip to the library, or the bookshop, or out for ice cream, and I love motherhood on those days. Those days remind me of why I’m in this thing of parenting. Yet those are more rare than the others.
The days that are most common are the ones where I end up having a meltdown after 11 hours straight with my kids. I end up showing my ugly side and needing to go bed early. On those days, I have to face my reality, which is that parenting is hard. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done, and I am no where near being an expert or even on some level of being a great parent. Parenting multiple little ones requires more hands, more feet, more eyes, and maybe less ears than I have or ever will have. It requires more wisdom than I have and more love than I currently walk in. It also requires a lot more grace for myself and for my kids, and on most days, I forget to extend grace. I forget to breathe before losing my temper. I forget to just walk away for 10 seconds and then react. I forget that they are only little once, and I am still learning how to do this.
And it’s great to read all the parenting advice, great to hear all the stories of how it’s so much better if you just sit and play with your kids, just hug them, just go outside and play with them, and on it goes with the fluffy advice. But that’s not my reality. I do hug my kids, I play with them, I take time to read, to build things, to teach them how to make pasta and cookies. I love them and make time for them. Yet it wouldn’t be real life if we didn’t have to clean the house, get out the door on time, get the laundry done, or learn how to respect one another, take care of our things, take care of each other, and learn to walk in love, forgiveness, and peace. I feel like the busy, ratty moments are more the learning moments than the fun days of playing out in the yard or going for ice cream. The days when the house is trashed and HAS TO BE CLEANED so that we don’t start a bug infestation or the days when we have work + school + doctor appointment + grocery shopping, and we need to work as a team to get all of that done are the times when the real learning moments occur. Those are the parenting in the fire types of days. And those are the days that I usually feel like quitting as a mom . . . it’s overwhelming, it’s consistently difficult, and every one of my imperfections flares up in the trying times. That’s reality.
Yet I think my feelings are quite fair. We all feel like quitting on bad days. But we all get up again. When things go wrong, we can face them, evaluate them, and learn from them. It’s okay to feel like quitting; it’s just not okay to quit. 🙂 I’m not a quitter, and most moms that I know are not quitters either. We have bad days, our kids have bad days, and that’s life. Life goes on. It’s just a matter of sitting down with your kids and saying, “okay, so yesterday was kind of a disaster for all of us; why don’t we try to make today a better one?” When I have those conversations with my kids, I get lots of “great! yes! and mom, I want to be a good boy today!”
I want to be a good mom today. And my bad days don’t disqualify me from being the best mom possible to my kids. Bad days don’t disqualify us from anything, especially when we’ve got the grace of God on our sides. He just picks us back up, shows us how to go forward, and gets on with it. We should do the same with ourselves and do the same with our kids. Receive grace and help, and in turn, extend grace and help. Remind ourselves that even in the midst of our parenting failures, grace is there for the giving and the taking. Our kids don’t expect us to be perfect; they just want to be loved. It’s good for them to learn that they are loved unconditionally and mistakes happen. And in those mistakes, mommy also makes mistakes in her reactions. So my kids learn how to love unconditionally as well. Again, that’s life.
In conclusion, I’m preparing for a six day leave from my kids. And as we’ve been planning and preparing for my trip, my almost five year old has been facing some anxiety. Up until now, he has been adamant about never wanting to go on an airplane again. Yet this morning, he told me that he now loves airplanes and really wants to go on my trip with me. His sweet face about broke my heart. He’s my child who deals with lots of anxiety, and I know it will be hard for him to say goodbye to be me for a few days. Yet I know he’ll be fine, and I know it will actually be harder for me to go than it will be for him to stay. Both of us will learn a bit about trusting each other to God; both of us will will also really appreciate one another when we’re reunited. And that’s really what I’m realizing right now. Let the hard days be hard days, but don’t let them sum up life. Let the mix of good moments and hard moments make up life. The mix of the two makes us really appreciate the good moments, and the good moments get us through the hard ones. Growth is never easy whether you’re a mom or a young boy. But in the end, it’s so much more beneficial. So let it be what it needs to be. Enjoy the good, admit that the hard is hard, and receive more grace, more love, more patience, and more help. God’s got it. He’s on our side, and He knows we can do it. He’s never overwhelmed! So just lean on the everlasting arms . . . they won’t drop us or our kids.