Friday, March 13, 2015

For the Days We Feel Crushed by Motherhood

(As featured on Mom Babble)

This calling of motherhood is hard. For years, I dreamed, begged, pleaded for children. I imagined days twirling through green fields between mountains–The Sound of Music experience. Other dreams included casually strolling the mall with a quiet, sleeping baby, braiding a daughter’s hair, throwing the football with a son. For this, I deeply longed.

Books told me it would be hard, being a mama. Oh yes, I pridefully and knowingly nodded my head, reading all the right parenting books to master this thing called motherhood, years before I was pregnant. It was if I was studying for a PhD. I thought I would be prepared, you know. My heart wasn’t the sterile coldness of words on the pages of the books I read, but brimming with yearning for a family.

Well it happened.  Eight years after our wedding, we conceived and birthed three children within three years.  It was often crushing and suffocating, and not the picture I imagined– the life of newborn feedings, sleep deprivation, toddler tantrums, and isolation from friends. God’s grace seeped in, and I began to soak up the daily rhythm and adjust to sleeplessness, baggy sweatshirts smeared with the things of babies, and body odor (my own). Obviously, motherhood was far from my pretty picture of frolicking through grassy meadows, but I was grateful to be living my dream. 

Still, some days, I seemed to lose myself, and who I was. Anger could sink in fierce, as I craved peace and control. As a homeschooling mama, it has been a constant challenge to carve out quiet moments for myself.  Each day I enter high weeds of pandemonium. Cleaning breakfast dishes and juggling math word problems is mentally draining for me.

In the midst of schoolwork, it often feels like I'm juggling wild tigers, claws ripping my flesh, as I balance different ages and stages, and each child’s individual needs. It is fascinating the amount of havoc that sneaks into a room the moment I exit to help another child. Not surprisingly, I typically do not return to perfectly behaved children working on assignments.

On a particular day last spring, I stepped away for five minutes while my daughter was instructed to complete a handwriting assignment and my son was told to work on math. 

When I reappeared, the atmosphere had shifted from a schoolhouse to a surreal comedy sitcom.  My daughter was standing with her weight shifted to one foot, her head tilted with a play phone to her ear, as she was an adventurer who had to take a phone call.  To her credit, it was a very animated pretend conversation, jammed with expression and hand gestures.  So absorbed in her conversation, she was oblivious to my presence.

Her brother was just a few paces away, submerged in his own world, as columns of numbers lay bare on the table.  Somehow, he unearthed a rope and tied his foot to his school chair, his body flung over the couch.

These moments often send me reeling into control and anger.  By God’s grace, on this particular day, I laughed.  Hard.  I was sinking deeply into their insanity.  My son informed me he was a dog tied up.  How about tying your body to the table and finish those mathematical digits?

A series of events later in the morning involved three soaking wet children in a bathtub, while I was in the kitchen multi-tasking.  The bare feet, bodies submerged up to their knees in water, and the soaking wet bathroom floor, sent me to that crazy place.  I was undone.  Windows were open, and I'm sure neighbors heard my freak-out.  The faces of my children certainly registered the state of my heart towards them.
One child fled the house wounded by my words. Slammed the front door, rattling the foundation. I peered out the kitchen window to see him barefoot in the front yard, forcefully stomping dandelions with both feet. 

Through the bright springtime grass and knee-high weeds, I chased him around the house, in an attempt to repent for my outburst.  He ran jumped over our six-foot wooden fence, scaling it like Spider Man.

In a last ditch effort for fear that he might truly run away, I jerked open the front door and bellowed loud that I was going to dial 911, because I had a runaway child.

Thankfully, that boy came back when he heard the authorities might get involved. Sure, he’s only nine, but you know. He came inside and we had a sweet moment together.  Because God enters into our chaos. He is bigger.

I went back to re-warming lunch for everyone and felt a presence approach near my elbow.  A little voice shyly inquired, face downcast.  Asked if I’d have lunch outside in the sunshine. On the patchwork quilt, alone with him. And I said yes.

I was reminded that day, and many days since, that I don't have to do it right. On the hard days, when I feel crushed beneath the weight of motherhood, sin entangling my ankles, in the weeds of piercing noises from children, and my body flailing underneath craziness, I can choose to remember that I already have Someone who’s done it perfectly for me. The One crushed for me.

So, I laid on that patchwork quilt and rested with my boy while he ate his lunch. Sunlight spilling on our upturned faces. Yard thick with clover, wild onion, and crushed dandelions. Under twisted limbs of oak with hints of spring– bright green leaves unraveling overhead, pink azaleas in full bloom behind us, and yellow dust covering everything, he smiled a sly smile to have me all to himself.

Because our days are about the resurrected life.

Empty tomb.

New life.

New hearts.

Tastes of heaven in the mess.

Hope in the storm.

Grace in the moment. 

Joy in the crazy.

Laughter through the tears.

Because He is risen.


Michele Morin said...

We really are dust, aren't we. Your post takes me back years to my own homeschooling experiences with four lively -- and fallen -- boys. I had more than one day of chasing kids into the yard, and wishing someone would just send me to my room. This is my first link to Soli Deo Gloria, and I'm your neighbor.

Jen Ferguson said...

I was a teacher before I was a mama and I thought often "When I have kids, I'll do this..." Somehow I thought there was some perfect combination of words and rules and love that would create perfect children. Oh, girl. I was so wrong. And there have been many days I have been crushed. I love how you equated this with how even in our crushedness, we have the One who has been crushed so that we might become alive again in His grace.

Melanie Singleton said...

Totally different ballgame and oh so humbling, different as a Mama. :)