3 short years ago, I lived in a barely-above-zombie-like state. I had kids two kids 2 and under, and out little guy had colic. We were in a fierce battle to pay off student loan debt and become debt-free and in that season it meant my husband working full time + and running a business on the side.
Everyday the only thing I knew to do was keep moving. Keep bouncing the baby. Keep working at or towards something. I knew if I stopped, it’d all come crashing down. And I didn’t know what “it all was” but I knew I didn’t want it all over me.
I was in survival mode: my head barely above water as I continued to tread day in and day out.
My oldest got to be about the age where I suddenly felt a pressure to have her DO stuff. I’m still not exactly sure what 2 year olds are supposed to do but I can tell you I felt like I should be looking into art classes, violin lessons, or beginning ballet so that she would be like all the other two year olds who had more hobbies than their parents.
Only I couldn’t imagine adding something else. I couldn’t imagine working up the energy to get all three of us out of the house to get her to a class or something and then still have to entertain/bounce/quiet/calm/soothe the colicky baby, now in front of strangers, without losing what little pieces I had left of my mind.
So from a friend, I heard about this big church in our area that had Wednesday night classes and I thought maybe we’d all go as a family (which wasn’t a bad idea just not a practical idea in the season we were in with all of the working). When I went on their website, I learned they also had classes during the day Wednesday and a Moms’ group one Thursday a month. Both of these offered childcare.
Childcare became my justification for going, but probably not in the way you’d think. Suddenly this weekly Bible study meant I was choosing something for me AND the kids. I wasn’t choosing something for one of us, but something all three of us could enjoy and learn from and grow in. I was in.
I’ve talked about this season of my life a lot because I keep seeing and learning new things from the two hardest years of our marriage.
But today I was reminded of this again as I headed to my first MOPS meeting of the year. I managed to get a shower in the 24 hours before the meeting and because of a surprisingly early nap by my littlest, I had on jeans, a clean shirt, and did my hair. Today, I looked like I had it together.
And then as the speakers welcomed us to a new year and talked about the theme, one told us the story of how she came to love the moms of littles. And it was from being a in a season where she needed hope in her own mothering. When she wasn’t finding joy and she was struggling and she came to a moms’ group over and over again because she wanted to be around other women who were moms, who not only had joy in their mothering, but hope, the real of Jesus.
As she said those words, I flashed back to the disheveled, hot mess I was three years ago. I thought about how she didn’t sleep. How she struggled with joy. How all she wanted was one night of sleep and a massage.
There’s not really that much different these days. I have another baby who doesn’t sleep. I’m still a hot mess. I want a full night of sleep and a massage.
Only now, I’ve spent the last three years being with moms who get it. Who see the bags under my eyes and reach out to grab my baby and share in my burden. I’ve heard more veteran moms talk about walking through parenting to glory of God. And all of these people pointing me back to Jesus over and over and over.
Let me tell you that it’s ok to choose an activity that’s more about you and getting quality and godly interactions than your child being a violin prodigy. It’s ok to take the childcare worker up on holding your screaming baby, even though you know he’s going to scream for the next two hours and he likes to be rocked just so and then, maybe, he’ll not cry for a minute, but letting him be held by someone else anyways so you can have a minute to breathe and refocus on God. It’s ok to not have a clue about how to sleep train your baby or get them to not want to be held all the live long day and to ask the moms around you for some help.
It’s so easy to forget to extend grace to myself. I can extend it to my husband when he works late again, the friend who forgot to text me back, to the mailman who left the important package out in the rain, but not to myself. I have to be perfect. I have to be together. I have to nail being a mom. Or…. I don’t even know what’s on the other side of the ‘or’ and so the unknown pushes me to keep going it alone so no one will see my mistakes.
Can I encourage you today to be around other moms? Other moms who will pick you up when you’re down and celebrate with you when you nail it? Will you jump in with people you don’t know but will get to know in real and super cool ways? Will you take chances, make mistakes, and get messy in your motherhood and in your relationships with other moms as you run the race set before you?
In reality, the mothering part of my life doesn’t look all that differently today than it did 3 years ago. I’m still wiping butts, rocking, carrying, filling sippy cups, answering all the questions, not sleeping, running all the errands, being interrupted a hundred times a day.
But because I haven’t been going it alone, and because I’ve been pointed to Christ again and again, there’s so much joy. So much joy that it spills into all the other areas of my life and makes them more joyful. And that joy spills back over in a sloshy mess of joy that looks like my three year old carrying a cup of milk across the room. Just like the milk, the joy gets on everything.
Is there anything you do that’s a win-win for mom and kids to enjoy, be encouraged, makes friends, stuff like that? I’d love to hear about it!