"What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us." -Emerson

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Because sometimes there are shanks...

I’ve likened motherhood to a cross between having a frat house and prison mixed together, minus the questionable morals, alcohol, and shanks…but sometimes there are shanks. It’s tongue and cheek of course, but it’s pretty much true.

We had a party this summer and one of my children was caught pooping on a pile of dirt. Pooping. With about 30 of our friends at our house.

I got the kids a slip and slide because they hadn’t had that child of the 80’s joy. They started doing it naked.

I texted my husband the other night, saying I had just gotten to the store, and he told me I was lucky because I was missing all the fun. The fun being a two year old peeing in the dog’s water bowl.

I once came home to a trashed house and a mysterious white substance on the dog, couch, floor, and walls. It was Boudreaux’s Butt Paste…which is virtually impossible to clean up with water because it was designed to protect wetness from well, your baby’s butt.

So yea, frat house mixed with a prison sounds about right somedays most days.

It has been a hard season lately. I’ve got three kids in three completely different stages of life: one is a pre-teen who is struggling with being diligent and following directions because she just feels like an adult (her words, not mine), another is a preschooler who can’t seem to communicate much without a whine or whimper in his voice, and one is a toddler who is perhaps the strongest willed, spiciest girl I’ve ever met and that says a lot. I’ve had an anger I’ve never experienced before as I’m trying to navigate three different stages with three very different needs, all the while trying to catch my breath [which I can’t seem to do]. I’m short tempered. I yell more than I ever have before. I mess up so much each and every day. And then I go to bed each night, defeated and discouraged, vowing not to screw up tomorrow.

Lately, perhaps because I’m already so sensitive to my kids and their challenges right now, I’ve started to notice little comments people make about them, just in passing, I’m sure with no mal intent. Just little pricks in an already deflated balloon about their spice or behavior or a little joke at how crazy they are and my momma heart sinks a little deeper. Because at the core of every mother is the raging critic, questioning and telling her she’s not enough. Because no matter how much truth we know, we all equate our kid’s behaviors to our worth and competence as a mom. All of us do. And we lie in bed, counting all the missteps of the day, drowning in the fears about how you are truly messing your kids up and vowing tomorrow we.will.be.better. Please God, make me better tomorrow. But tomorrow comes, and the pre-teen doesn’t listen again, and the preschooler whines again, and the two year old is still a two year old. And you lose it. Again. And all those things you know your kids are struggling with and being pointed out by others seem to suffocate or perhaps worse, highlight the fact that maybe you are just messing this whole thing up.

Motherhood in this generation is more painful than any before it. The fears are greater, the noise is louder, and we have picture perfect, impossible aspirations thanks to Pinterest. We are never going to measure up to the line that has been drawn for us. And our world is filled with so much clamor about how we need to do more and be more when most of us feel like we can’t add anything else to the crumbling plate and we have nothing more to give. This place feels so harsh for those of us trying to raise these beings we’ve been gifted. It seems like we can never win, no matter which way we turn.

I’ve been praying for God to help me in this place, to show me where He lands on this whole motherhood gig and He keeps bringing to mind this simple verse:

He tends his flock like a shepherd:
    He gathers the lambs in his arms
and carries them close to his heart;
    he gently leads those that have young.

{Isaiah 40:11}

Oh mamas, He has such a heart for us. He is so gentle and so patient, even we are not. He is constantly lifting our fallen chin, quivering from the tears and discouragement, and so ever softly whispering, “We are enough.” That lie that you’re not enough, being shouted through the megaphone of this place, is only partially true, you see. You alone will never be enough. But you and Him together, it is enough. He will fill in all the gaps and pour salve on all the wounds that our imperfect flesh inflicts on our kids. He so quietly, so serenely, so calmly calls us to follow Him along the still waters that our parched souls ache to drink to quench our thirst.

One of my favorite quotes that I remind my mama friend’s all the time of is, “Your kids will stop sinning when you stop sinning.” The seasons and challenges will change, but this all-out battle against their own humanity will remain until the end, just as it will for us as moms and as humans. So we don’t place much stock in their behaviors as a reflection of how well we are hitting the mark on motherhood. Instead, we teach them what to do with all this messy sin. We crouch down and say our I’m sorry’s when we yelled when we should have guided. We cuddle the boy who can’t even tell that his voice is whiny. We reassure the pre-teen crying because she knows she messed up again that we still love her so much and that mom messes up, too. And we just laugh at the reality show level of crazy that the two year old brings to our house, because it’s the comedic gold great Facebook statuses are made of. And we carefully speak words of life and encouragement about the children in our lives because we sense that secretly every mama is feeling dry underneath it all and you never know how God may use one kind word from you to help lift that chin up because, you know… sometimes there are shanks.


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