The youngest of my four children is almost five years old, and I feel as if I am finally able to breathe (a little). However, I do remember those days of exhaustion – those sleepless nights which made it a struggle just to get through the day… especially when the days included battles with strong-willed children. Like when I walked into the kitchen to find my oldest daughter carefully pouring a thin stream of lemonade. In an artful line. Around the ENTIRE. PERIMETER. of the kitchen FLOOR. Or when this same child would stand at the point where the hardwood floor and the carpet met, one foot in the kitchen and the other in the dining room (where food was forbidden), holding a glass of juice over the carpet, pushing herself (and me!) to the very edge of insanity. Yes… moments such as these blurred into the next and into the next… and suddenly days and weeks had passed in a hazy fog. Needless to say, I was definitely a physically weary mom. Adding to the fatigue was the emotionally taxing devastation of pregnancies followed by miscarriages… five times!
So let me be the first to admit that total and complete exhaustion – both of the physical and emotional variety – makes me grumpy, makes me act out, and makes me withdraw. How about you? Here are a few bits of wisdom… things I wish someone would have shared with me during those demanding days…
Steal moments with God. I say steal, because we all know that with small children running around, you will literally have to snatch moments when you can get them! Keep your Bible on the kitchen counter to read a passage as you prepare dinner; get up before your children to pray; read scripture out loud to your kids at meal time; post scripture on the bathroom mirror or on the laundry room wall. Whenever possible, get into the Bible and talk to God.
Lean into the work. Mothering is hard work. Period. Why do we fight that? Instead, we must lean into the labor, understanding that shaping hearts demands diligence and persistence, care and attention. There is nothing easy about it. Welcome the calling, expect it to be challenging and enjoy the journey.
Find an encouraging friend. Share this time in community with another mom or two who can lend support and cheer, and even inspiration and example. It will double your joy and divide your pain.
Embrace the motherhood mission. In her book aptly titled The Mission of Motherhood, Sally Clarkson says, “Saying yes to the mission of motherhood has certainly not meant giving up my ministry. To a great extent, it is my ministry!” When we see our very own children in our very own homes as our very own special ministry from God, amazing growth takes place… in our children and in us.
Friends, God picked you to shepherd your precious children, and that gives you great responsibility and deep purpose. My prayer is that – on those especially draining days – these few suggestions might help you be a little less grumpy, a little less apt to act out, a little less prone to withdraw. I created this printable below as a reminder for you (and me)!