For the Mom Who Hates This Stage of Life
A few years ago our family took a giant leap of faith to move to start a new church. With four kids, two dogs, and (at the time) a hamster, this was not an easy task.
One of the small sacrifices we made was selling our house and moving into a “cozy” three-bedroom apartment. By cozy I actually meant small, if not a bit cramped. Who was I kidding?! Our “cozy” apartment didn’t have a basement or attic like our house did. The kids’ gathering space was our gathering space. Six of us, plus the dogs, sharing a tiny family room to “hang out” was not always relaxing. Apartment life proved to be a great way to meet new friends for our children, but that also meant our limited space became even more crowded when they invited their new friends over. We had no yard. The kitchen was super tight. Everything was smaller, louder, and hotter.
I have to confess I really didn't enjoy that stage of life, so I spent a lot of time mentally living somewhere else. The “somewhere else” was a home with our own backyard, room for the kids to run around, a garden, and a kitchen with cabinet space so we didn’t have to store dishes and pots and pans in boxes.
Daydreaming about what I believed was ahead of me seemed like a good idea, but I was missing out on the time right in front of me. I was missing out on the closeness we enjoyed in that apartment. With limited space, we were together more. I was missing out on the opportunities to get out of the apartment, go for walks, and spend time at the park. There was no need to paint the walls or decorate. This was a temporary space for us. Which meant more time for us to enjoy being together.
Instead of savoring our time in the present, some of us spend our time living for “somewhere else.” When momming turns from fun to frustrating, it is easy to rush through the motions of being a mom without really being present. We declare, “I hate this stage of life!” and instead of making the most of the opportunities in front of us, we look forward to another time. A time when we will have more money or more time or better health; when the kids will be older and more self-sufficient; when we will have a bigger house or a better car. We look forward to the day when our kids will feed themselves, when they will talk, when they will be capable of using the toilet, when they will be able to stay home alone, when they will drive, or even when they will finally leave home.
It’s tempting to want to push the fast-forward button on our lives. Instead of experiencing and enjoying and learning from the time and experiences in front of us, it is easy to wish it away for another day—a quieter, less busy, or more convenient “somewhere else.” However, trying to fast-forward to somewhere else is one of many ways we try to escape the hard reality of life.
When I say “escape,” I’m not talking about packing your bags in the middle of the night and sneaking out while the kids are asleep to enjoy a week-long vacation on the beach! That’s obvious. But escaping is choosing to disengage when life gets hard, and we can find many subtle ways to escape, from surfing the web, to watching TV, to working more, to checking our phones. Although there are many ways we try to get through a tough stage by avoiding the reality of our circumstances, is that really what we want?
God wants us to pay attention, to take note, to be “all in.” There is more going on when we are moms of young children or energetic teens than just getting through the day. God is inviting us into a different kind of life, a better life, that is characterized by who we are becoming in Christ. When we live for somewhere else or choose other ways of escaping, we can miss what God wants to do in us right now. God wants to use all the circumstances of life to make us more like Christ. When we live for opportunities to escape, it robs us of seeing what God wants to do today.
We must resist the temptation to escape, running from the race God has marked out before us. We must be careful of wanting the easy road. We must value this season for what it really is—good and sacred. It’s a chance to increasingly experience the abundant life Jesus talked about. There is a better way—and it starts with a choice. It starts with embracing the work God wants to do in each of us. Right now. In this time. At this stage of life.
Motherhood is a gift because God is at work in you—even using the challenges of being a mom to shape you into who he wants you to become.
P.S. This is a sneak peek into chapter 9 of The Better Mom book.
There is more to being a mom than the extremes of striving for perfection or simply embracing the mess. Just as God is using us to shape our children, God is using our children and motherhood, to shape us. It’s okay to come as we are, but what we’re called to be is far too important to stay there! The way to becoming a bettermom starts not with what we are doing, but with who God is inviting us to become.
Join me and thousands of other moms as we learn to grow in grace between perfection and the mess.
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