“I think the Holy Spirit has left me,” I texted to my best friend late one night after getting my kids into bed. I’d lost my patience with them throughout the evening as they fought over who was more stupid, who really had Jesus in their heart, who made the mess, who loves the dog more, who the dog loves more, who peed on the toilet, who’s driving mom crazier (it was a draw) – you get the idea. I’d repeated every command 3,000 times before getting any response, and at that point the caliber of my voice rivaled the sound of an artillery range. I was ready to trade in the whole wife and mom thing for a beach towel and a suntan.
A week or so later my best friend called an emergency meeting. Because she lives four hours away, this included her loading her three small children into the mini van and trekking across the mountains. She brought dark chocolate, which she hates, just for me. She knows my love language is chocolate. We talked for hours as all our kids ran in and out of the house, never once closing the door behind them. Soon there were more flies than children.
We talked about all the big stuff: the challenges of marriage, the exhaustion of expectations, the fears of failure, and all the things that we feel are slipping through the cracks as we try to be the best we can be.
In a moment of weariness she confessed, “I just don’t like being a mom anymore. Am I a terrible person?” She was on the cusp of crying, and I knew it would be only a moment before she would succumb to feeling guilty about her statement. Because that’s what always happens when we voice the heaviness of our heart out loud.
“No,” I reassured her, putting my hand on her arm. “We all feel that way at some point. You just need a break.” I thought again about my own suntan fantasy.
We all have moments when our plates are so full that we feel like our calling to be a wife and mom is an elaborate plot to make us feel like we’re failing at something – if not everything.
After all, here are a few truths I’ve discovered about being a mother:
- We all lose our patience. And when we don’t, we can slink into bed at night and celebrate being a good mommy by eating a piece of dark chocolate.
- Our frustration will sometimes spill out as we speak to our husbands in a way that would make Jesus scold us for being hypocrites. After all, we’re trying to raise children who speak with respect.
- We all have days when we catch ourselves muttering words like, “I just don’t want to be a mom today.” We all have days when we catch ourselves muttering words like, “I just don’t want to be a mom… tell a friendBut what happens next? Our newsfeed on Facebook is filled with stories about parents losing their children or the sweet faces of toddlers dying of cancer. Perspective comes to burn us with guilt hot like lava.
I’ve lived through many parent’s worst nightmare, crying myself to sleep for months, wondering if I’d know joy again. And then somewhere along the road it all became normal and complaining felt comfortable again, even after all that perspective. Despite my own personal tragedy, I’ve muttered, “I can’t be a mom today.”
As normal as those thoughts are, they’re a reminder that we need to step aside, take a day away, eat the chocolate in a hotel room or on a beach – anywhere but in our own bed with the socks on the floor beckoning us to pick them up. Because the laundry doesn’t ever stop. And our kids are always hungry. And our husband always needs help finding something in the cabinet. Without rest we’re a mess. We forget that the best in this life is often also the hardest. And most importantly, we lose sight of the promises and the blessings God has given us.
Here is what I imagine Jesus would tell us in our moments of motherly weariness, when our hands are open, wondering when we’re going to have it all together – you know, like all our friends on Facebook:
Dear sweet daughter. I will always love you as much on your days of weakness as I will on the days when you spend time with me, keep your home perfect, and don’t yell at your children. As for my Holy Spirit, when you believed, you were marked with a seal, and I will never leave you. You are in me, and I am in you. Nothing you do can separate you from me. Remember that Facebook isn’t real, but the people I have placed in your life are. They are an extension of my love for you, and if you let them, they will show you love and bring you rest.
And maybe, my dear friend, they will also bring you dark chocolate.
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