The Dark Days of Motherhood

There’s not much thoughtfulness or wisdom in my words today… not that I claim a corner on wisdom even on good days. I guess what I mean is that failure is looming larger than success in these afternoon moments on this cloudy, autumn day. I’m sitting here typing in the semi-darkness of my dining room while my kids watch shows because today has been one for the birds. And I’m tired and frustrated and a crying mess because of all the things I can’t do or say right, and the children I can’t seem to be kind to or love well. Which leads me to how the heck am I going to do this with ANOTHER baby? Cue the overwhelming, joyless glimpses into my future life with two preschoolers and an infant. All I can think about is how I’m preparing them well for a life of expensive therapy.

Why did God choose me to be their mom? That is the question turning circles in my mind. Because clearly I can’t do this right or well. At least that’s the lie I’m allowing my heart to latch onto in my weaknesses amidst today’s hard. Obviously there’s been some sort of supernatural mistake that heaven and I are just over here trying to make the best of because now it’s too late and these precious, innocent, tender-hearted babes are stuck with a controlling, frustrated, cold-hearted, prickly mom.

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I know it’s a lie. But it feels like honest reality in the ugly, heated moments; that surely there’s another woman out there better suited to love these boys properly, the way they deserve, because I continue to fall short. I spent a good amount of time searching for inspirational quotes about motherhood to include in this post- one that would speak me into a state of grace. I didn’t find one. Because the truth is I don’t feel like I wear motherhood very gracefully. I have come to recognize that I maintain unrealistic expectations- like subconsciously expecting my four year old to act and reason like a ten year old and getting upset when he doesn’t. It’s a problem.

But here’s the truth that’s working hard to edge out the despairing lie even as I write these words: God doesn’t make mistakes. And for as long as I am present on this earth, these boys are my gifts- flawlessly designed and paired with me as their mother. God knows that my sons are perfectly suited to sharpen the dull edges of my blade and refine the rough surfaces of my calloused heart to reveal my false securities and character flaws in order to bring about a greater dependency on HIM and strengthening of character. (Also not to mention their own grand life design and purpose here on earth of which I get to bear witness to and take part in.)

I like believing I can do it all by myself. And that right there, I believe, is a large portion of the problem. But that’s how I’ve lived the majority of my life; making sure I don’t have to be dependent on anyone or anything else. I don’t want to be vulnerable. To me, feeling vulnerable is akin to might as well be dead. Not a super healthy perception, I am aware. But having children has thrown all kinds of curve balls and cracked that mentality. I am now extremely vulnerable when it comes to their health and wellbeing. I will lose myself in all the worst case scenarios and weep over situations that have never even happened. Clearly I’m missing the healthy balance.

But this allowance for vulnerability has turned the tables on my false sense of independence. It has been made undoubtedly obvious that I am incapable of walking this journey alone. But that right there is the point. We were never meant to. We cannot do it all or control it all. The grace and strength to face a new tomorrow after a painful today again and again and again can only come from one source- and that source cannot be my own depleted soul.

29 He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.
30 Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
31 but those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.
(Isaiah 40:29-31 NIV)

crying mom

In the eye of the tornado is where I usually meet God. It’s often after I’ve slammed the door and lay crying into my pillow, telling myself that I am the worst mother in the world, convinced that it’s hopeless and they are destined to be broken, angry, cold-hearted adults because I’m destroying their tenderness. It’s in those weighted moments of total despair that I speak the lies as questions out loud to God. Am I…? Will they…? How can I…? Don’t they deserve…? And I know the answers already, but they just can’t be right. So I ask them again. And again. And each time the words “grace” and “enough” are burned across my heart. I don’t necessarily feel their heat right away, but the words reverberate in my brain… reminding me, comforting me, stilling me… until I do.

But he [the Lord] said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10 NIV)

Everything about me feels weak today. And on such dark days of motherhood when the exhaustion is all-consuming, the frenetic energy of my children threatens to do me in, and my frustration peaks, God’s promise to me is grace; that even still, I am enough to make it through one more frustrating meal time, one more botched bed time, one more day that displayed all my ugly stripes. And I am such because my source of life doesn’t depend on me. It’s Christ’s power at work in my spirit that splashes the hope of a beautiful rainbow across my rain-soaked, stormy skies; reminding me that even though I’ve failed, He never will.  And because of that I can look forward to a new morning- a clean slate- another chance to love better than the last. It’s the hope of tomorrow that allows me to forgive myself for today.

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And so I continue on this journey very imperfectly, yet still hopeful.

Peace & Love, Amy

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