I don’t know much of what it’s like to be a mom, but from my observations over the years, I gather that it’s not easy.
The only thing I can think to compare motherhood to is my own experience with babysitting, and even then, it’s a stark contrast. My longest stint spanned a mere 72 hours, and let me tell you, it was crazy. The ratio of children in my care to the number of eyes I had to watch them with was 3 to 2, which had me at a clear disadvantage from the get go. I had watched more than 3 children before though, so I wasn’t worried. It became clear to me as the parents were pulling out of the driveway that I was not equipped for all that assuming the role of “mom” would entail.
As we stood in the driveway waving goodbye, the oldest of the three began crying. What do I do now? I can’t even handle this, I thought. If she were to have had a mild abrasion or something, I would have known exactly what to do, but she was just sad and emotional. Handling emotionally sensitive situations is not my gift, so I stood there in that driveway staring at this weeping child, wanting to shed a few tears myself, praying this was no indication of how the rest of the weekend would play out. Thankfully it wasn’t, and the following days went by peacefully, aside from the occasional sibling brawl. Though it was peaceful, it wasn’t easy. Keep in mind; I had three kids, which meant: three baths, three meals, three different bedtimes, and three very different personalities – for three days. And I didn’t even have to help with homework! I was only there to assist with basic day to day tasks and ensure life preservation, and as much as I LOVE these kids, I must admit it was exhausting, and at the end of it all I was left wondering…
HOW DO MOMS DO THIS?
How do you fix breakfast with a child on your hip?
How do you change a diaper in the car?
How do you get children into the car that refuse to put shoes on their feet?
How do you have clean plates to serve dinner on when the ones from breakfast and lunch are still in the sink?
…do you actually serve dinner to your family on plates not made of paper?
…you serve dinner at your house?
How do you walk with a child on each ankle?
How do you talk on the phone with the dog barking in the background?
How do you stay dry during bath time?
…How do you remember that there needs to be a bath time?
If you’re a mom, I’ll bet your plate is full. I bet sometimes it’s full of take-out, because there weren’t enough moments in the day to make another home cooked meal. You wear a lot of hats – you’re Santa, the Easter Bunny, and the tooth fairy – but I’ll bet the hat you wear most often is the baseball hat, the one that covers the greasy hair that didn’t get washed…yesterday. Your job description is extensive– you’re the driver, the chef, the janitor, the teacher, the mediator, the referee, and the coach. You’re the glue; you hold everyone together.
I can’t help but wonder if somewhere in the middle of the busyness of life, in the middle of holding everyone else together, if you ever feel like you’re the one falling apart. I wonder if bitterness ever gets the best of you. I wonder if some days the floors look like the streets of a third world country and the laundry pile seems insurmountable. I wonder if you’ve ever put your head in your hands and wondered if you’re really cut out for this whole “mom” thing. I wonder if you ever doubt your ability to love and nurture and raise up children that will love the Lord. I wonder if you ever question how things got to this point or how you will make it through another day – but then you do.
As your children learn and grow, so do you. You learn how to effectively reach their hearts; you learn how to love them better. One day you teach them the alphabet and before you know it, they’re teaching you some words – words that you’ll instruct them to “never say EVER again.” The little boy that rides his jeep up and down the driveway will soon be driving a truck of his very own. Princess dresses will turn to prom dresses, and in the blink of an eye you’ll wonder where the time went. It’s true what they say – some days will drag on, but the years will fly by. You’ll wonder how they got so big. You’ll wonder how you did it.
I’ve been blessed to know so many moms that model motherhood well. These are a few of the secrets they’ve let me in on as to just how they do what they do:
With prayer. Yes, it may be a prayer said under the warm cascade of shower water because that’s the only place you’re ever truly alone, but that’s ok.
With sacrifice. It’s the kind of sacrifice that stays up until the wee hours of the morning sewing that costume for the school play.
With determination. The kind that walks briskly in pajama pants through the grocery store with 4 children in tow and coffee spilled on her shirt.
With hard work. It’s being elbow deep in the laundry pile or the dirty dish water. It’s prying cheerios and French fries from the floor board.
With joy. The kind that can laugh over spilled milk and missed dentist appointments. The kind that can overlook the dirty toilet for another day in order to wrestle with the kids in the floor.
And lastly, with grace. Lots of it. Grace changes bed sheets that have been thrown up on at 3 am. Grace writes notes for the lunch boxes. Grace sits at basketball practice for the 400th time and attends every showing of the school musical where her daughter plays a townsperson. Grace covers words you can’t take back. Grace covers impatience and a biting tone. Grace is for the good days and the awful days alike. Grace is for you. Tired, exhausted, weary mom, if only you had for yourself a fraction of the grace the Father has for you, you’d see that you’re doing an extraordinary job being mom.
So on behalf of all the children that cant, don’t, or won’t say it – I will. THANK YOU. Thank you for constantly denying your wants and needs in order to satisfy ours. Thank you for expending every last ounce of energy that you have pouring into those you love. Thank you for always knowing where we misplace everything and always having the right words to say. Thank you for apologizing when you get things wrong and always striving to get them right. Thank you for never letting us know how exhausted you are. We may never know how many nights you rocked us to sleep or how many boo boos you’ve kissed. We’ll never remember how many times you let us crawl into your bed, affording us a peaceful night of sleep while simultaneously robbing you of yours. We can’t count the trips to and from practice or the number of meals we’ve enjoyed as a product of your labor. We’ll never know how many kind words you’ve spoken to us or about us or how many times you’ve whispered, “I love you.” We’ll never know the way your heart swells with joy when you hear someone speak highly of us. At the end of the day, all we can do is need you for something else and hope that somehow “mom can you wash my uniform?” translates into “I love you.”
But on the days when it doesn’t, you are still loved and you are still needed. When you feel unnoticed and unappreciated, He sees all that you do in secret. Always know that you are so important, so loved, so cherished. And one day when your babies have babies, maybe then they’ll have a taste for just how much you give. Then they will understand more fully the extent of the sacrifices you make and of the love you have for them.
One day soon you’ll mop the kitchen floor and it will stay clean. There will be no more little fingers to smudge the windows, no more food in the crevices of the car. The chaotic, messy days will just be memories and pictures in the scrapbook (because you’ll have time to scrapbook now). You’ll miss the days of sippy cups and potty training and playing the same DVD 16 times in a day. In the end when it’s all said and done, it won’t matter how many times you vacuumed the house or how clean you kept the bedroom. No one will remember that room that never got painted or the book you never finished. You’ll be remembered for the way you loved. It might just be that your greatest contribution in this life is asleep upstairs in polka dot jammies, and she just might call you mom.
So to all the mommas out there – to one child or ten, young, old, single, married, working, stay at home, homeschooling or not – you are beautiful, exceptional and treasured. Your love is important – it is never replaced, never duplicated. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.