the mothering arts

You learn to lean in…(a 31 days post)

I’m curled up on the sofa here, a fire gently warming my toes and the tip of my nose. For once, I have a hot cup of coffee to wrap my fingers around (because as any mama can tell you, somehow the coffee just does not get drunk while hot in the mornings-too many things going on at once). I’m watching the goregous fall colors shimmer and dance outside my window, a lazy leaf in flight.

It’s been a tough day. It’s been a rough couple of days actually. Elizabeth’s been having quite a time the last few days too. (And can I just say, I am *so* not ready for the teenage injury years…I know it is coming soon with my two bigs, but wow. Yeah. It can get here when it gets here.) Life just has a way of taking over.

It’s often been my temptation in these times to get really, really stressed out. (And super-duper snappy. So not pretty.)  You probably know where this is going, right? We’ve all read a thousand posts about needing to focus on the good when life gets nutty…about choosing gladness over stressed-out-ed-ness. And you know what? I’m almost going to bet that I’ve got a mama reading this right now who is absolutely exhausted and at the end of her rope today, and she’s holding on by a prayer. And she might be reading this thinking that she just. can’t. get. there. today. There just doesn’t seem to be one more thing that could possibly go wrong. She’s trying to wrap it up and hold it together and dry her tears and get the next thing done and try, really, really hard not to crumple into her husband’s arms with tears again today, because she’s done that all this week, and she should be stronger and be able to handle it.

I have been there. OH, have I been there.

Just want to say that I’m wrapping my arms around you, sweet friend. And I’m cheering you on. There are just days and weeks that get tough. You can do it, dearest. I promise it won’t be so tough soon. And don’t worry about what I have to say or anyone else for that matter- just focus on what you need to do to get through the next few hours, the next few days- what your family needs. Not what I or anyone else says. What God has put in your heart for your family. Don’t listen the noise. Don’t guilt yourself because you are exhausted, that maybe if you were a ‘better mom’ you’d be able to keep it all together. Take it to Christ. And then find a nap. And then maybe some take out and paper plates. Let all the chores pile. Fill your tank back up and then fill your kids’ tanks back up, and you’ll see the sunshine peeking back around the corner again. It’s coming soon, I promise.

I was thinking today that this is the first autumn season in nine years that I will not be pregnant or nursing a child. My youngest is a year and a half, almost two, and she’s getting pretty self-sufficient (as she very cutely and loudly reminds everyone)…and suddenly…I’m getting a lot more sleep and I’m handling stress a lot better. Funny how that works.

The thing I’m realizing, two years healing from the double whammy infection of perfectionism and driven-ness- these days are gifts. Each one. Every time, a choice. And the thing I want so much to preach at myself here- lean in. Lean in to the stretch, the curl, this intensity, because it means you are getting stronger. You’re in training, and while it feels awful right now, you’re going to come out of it and realize that God was growing you through it. And you’re going to look back in amazement at where you and your sweet kiddos have been and where you’ve come to. (You’ll remember how sweet when they finally fall asleep tonight, with those long lashes resting on quiet cheeks.)

It is so tempting to rail against the awful days. But the thing is (after a proper bowl of chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream, of course) these days are just as rich as the good ones. I wouldn’t be the mama I am today without these intense days. They have shaped and formed me just as much (if not more) than the good ones; these are the days I either choose to fall on Christ, fall hard on grace, or the days I fall hard in my own pride. These are the days I learn which is the better way. I wouldn’t trade that for anything in the world.

Lean in. Get down on your knees. And watch how the Lord will prove himself faithful, time and again.

I am delighted that my dear friend Elizabeth is joining the Nester for her annual ’31 days…’ blogging challenge– speaking about something that is very near to my heart- Sally Clarkson’s The Mission of Motherhood. This book changed my whole paradigm a few years ago, and I find that I already need a refresher course. I will be joining Elizabeth this month as she chats and journals through what the mission of motherhood means to her.

 31 days Misson

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