Thursday, May 7, 2015

To my overwhelmed mom friends

In less than two weeks I graduate my man-child. He's 6'5", size 17 shoe. He can see the dust on the top of the fridge, reach things I have to go up 5 rungs on the ladder to grasp.  He's smart, witty, creative, gifted, loving, gentle, kind, strong, brave, encouraging, daring...he's also challenging and stubborn.  He is 17, after all, and learning how to be himself apart from me.

But once upon a time, he was a part of me.  He grew within my belly, and when time came for him to emerge into the world, he came out at break-neck speed, leaving "skid marks," as the midwife called them.

And it looks like he's going to leave home the same way he left my break-neck speed.  Where did the years go?

I've read over the past year many posts and blogs in response to the "older mom telling the younger mom" to enjoy these years because they pass by so quickly, with the younger moms saying "yeah, we know that, but look at this overwhelming amount of parenting I'm having to do right now.  This isn't helpful!"

I wish I would've listened to those older moms.

Here's what I know, what I'm learning, now that I have one child living on her own, one about to head out the door, and four more still in my daily care...I wish I would have known how to do what those older and wiser women were encouraging me to live life present.

As I young mom, I was tired.  I had six babies in 10 1/2 years which is a lot or a little, depending on who you are.  I was also a perfectionist and therin lies (and continues to lie) the problem.  I was tired and overwhelmed not just in body, but in heart.

You see, my heart was carrying a burden that it was never meant to carry...the burden of making sure my children were consistently well-behaved, were up-to-speed on all of their age appropriate skills, obeyed the first time every time, ate healthy foods (with the definition of healthy always changing...), went to bed on time, got up on time, nursed enough, played enough outside, had enough play dates, slept through the night, had shoes that fit well, got their check ups, were spiritually disciplined, were well-read, could play musical instruments, had a chance to play sports, etc., etc., etc.

Now I know some of these things are my responsibility because it's what a mom does, but where my downfall came was in thinking that if these things weren't happening in the way I expected them to or the way I believed they should in the time frame that I gave them, then I had to figure out what I was doing wrong and fix it before everything went to hell in a hand basket.

I put pressure on myself, was critical of myself, put pressure on my children, was critical of my children...All of this internal and external striving caused me to miss God's grace that was present in every single overwhelming moment if only I would have known how to take time to breathe and look.  I did get it sometimes, but I was truthfully stuck in an unhappy loop because I could only be happy if everything was going well, or at least if I could see progress in the right direction.

When my oldest daughter was 10, I had a major light-bulb moment: she no longer was asking me to hold her, to rock her.  Up until about that age, she daily asked to be held and/or rocked.  I was tired and overwhelmed with lots of young children, so more often than not, I told her "no, honey, I'm too tired.  Maybe tomorrow."  And I did that enough times and suddenly there were no more tomorrows.

And I thought: "OH!!!  They aren't this way forever..."  So I slowed down as best I knew how...

That was nine years ago, and it's been a slow process of allowing God to teach me how to unwind and to let Him untangle me from some faulty ways of thinking that led to a tired-hearted momma.  He has set me free, mostly, from the tyranny of time that says that things have to happen at a certain time, in a certain way, or else... He has moved me into learning what love really looks like, that love takes time, slows down, doesn't pressure, doesn't cajole, doesn't threaten, doesn't hurry and scurry and go this way and that way...

Love breathes, love trusts, love hopes, love believes, love doesn't worry whether or not the dishes are done, the floors are clean, the laundry is folded and put away.  Love doesn't get bent out of shape or harried or scared.

I do, though.  But HE never does.  He holds time in His hands and His plans and purposes never fail and since I didn't learn to slow down and appreciate the moments then, I'm going to learn it now because these people in my care...they leave quickly...they grow up and they move out and they do great and amazing things in spite of and because of their time at home with me.

I want each of my children no matter their age, when they walk into the room, to feel my complete and utter delight in them.  They don't always because truthfully some days are hard and I'm still overwhelmed and still not trusting God and I still sometimes stress because they aren't where they are "supposed to be" academically or spiritually or physically or whatever measure I'm looking at in the moment...and I go down into this whirlwind of unbelief and doubt and fear and stress and anxiety until I catch myself or, rather, HE catches me, and I remember that these moments don't last forever...

I breathe, I hand my fear to God, I choose to trust His timing...I choose to not let my heart be led by fear and anxiety that's ever present in the moment and choose to remember that He's got God is big and strong and good and He loves me and loves my kids.  Most of all I'm learning to remember that He redeems and He restores and He makes all things new.  He really and truthfully does.

I miss moments because I am too worried in those moments to believe the truth: God is love and is all the things that love is and does and while what I do IS important it never overrides His power, strength and purpose.  He doesn't give stones. He gives bread...

So, my overwhelmed mom friends...take a moment.  Breathe.  If your kids are newborn, toddlers, elementary-age, teens, adults...God's got this.  Love them.  Be present with them.  Ask the Holy Spirit to show you what ideals and expectations and pressures and standards are you holding onto that He never asked you to.  Let Him take those burdens.  Let Him lift the heavy load today so that you CAN treasure these moments, be present to those He has placed in His care, be kind and compassionate to're doing the best you can and He is alive and active and working in and through and outside of your efforts.  Ask Him to take your fear and your overwhelmed so that you can see where His joy IS your strength and how HIS power is made PERFECT in your weakness.

Cry out to Him who is able to make all grace abound to you.  He's got new mercies for you today. Know that you are loved, that His love is carrying you even in those moments you think you are alone or have made a mess of things or can't possibly fathom how this is all going to work out for good.  It does.  He is.

Take a listen to the song below...let it reach into the marrow of your bones.
"Take a Moment" by Will Reagan

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