Our day started with a tantrum paramount to the eruption of Mt. St. Helens. The sun hadn’t even risen, and already our house was filled with stomping and tears and spankings, followed by prayers and tender repentance—then yet another round of tantrums, time outs and more tears. We were exhausted from the battle before anyone had gotten dressed. All because my daughter didn’t want oatmeal for breakfast.
Parenting is hard. Yes, there are many moments full of sweet cuddles and belly laughter and uncontainable joy, but the work that is required in the day to day training of little humans often leaves me discouraged, frustrated, and wondering if I’m doing anything right.
This year is the last time I’ll have both of my kiddos at home together before my oldest starts kindergarten next fall. I’ve felt a sense of urgency to make the most of this short season, because the cliché seems to be truer than I want to admit in the midst of the longest days of my life: time goes by too fast. More than anything, I’ve felt the weight of responsibility to use this year to pour as much of Jesus into my kids as their little bodies can contain.
My heart longs to dive fully into the work God has given me to do as a mom, but hard days often make me wish I could do anything else.
Don’t get me wrong, I begged God for my children. I longed to be pregnant, crying out desperately for God to give me the desires of my heart, then waiting impatiently through the longest months of my life to see their little faces. I wanted my babies more than anything. Brooklynn awakened my heart to depths of emotion I’d never experienced, and a couple years later, Connley expanded my capacity to love more than I’d even thought was possible.
After months of aching for my longings to be fulfilled, for God to give me kids, life turned upside down when each child was born. Suddenly, my world revolved around the little people God had entrusted to my care.
I threw myself fully into the work of mothering, reading books on sleep training and following all the rules about tummy time and talking to my baby and making myself a bit crazy in the process. I knew I was investing my time exactly where I needed to be—mothering is the most important job in the world, after all—but I felt so…well, so unsatisfied by how I was spending my days.
It was clear from the beginning that God was using my mothering journey to mold my heart into a new shape. It would take me a few years to recognize how He was also forming my children into a protective boundary around my life. Never again would I have the option to pursue a lifestyle of achieving, performing, and striving for my worth—my kids need me too much to spend so much time seeking the approval of others. (Not that I don’t still try, to my own detriment.) They guard me from my natural inclination to seek recognition for myself.
Sometimes their neediness feels suffocating, like I am drowning in the inescapable sea of their demands. Sometimes their neediness feels validating, like I have an important role that no one else can fulfill. Always, their neediness strips away my selfishness (or brings it to the surface for examination), as I’m forced to again and again lay down my own desires for the sake of meeting theirs.
I often catch myself dreaming about “someday” when I can do something else with my time, something that fulfills that inner craving for significance. Those moments are clues that I have much still to learn from this season.
My significance isn’t found in being recognized by others, but in being seen by the One who appointed me to this role. The more I look for satisfaction in what I do, the more I’m going to have to do to feel satisfied. And the harder I work to gain the approval of others, the more I will be held captive by a goal that does not exist.
For Connley’s third birthday this month, he suggested that we go on a date to Starbucks while sissy was at preschool. “Yes, son. I will absolutely take you to coffee,” I told him. As we sat by the window watching cars drive by, Connley eating his cake pop and I drinking my caramel macchiato, I was overcome by the gift of this season. That endearing smile, those twinkling eyes, that precious little boy voice, those soft little hands on mine—there was nowhere else I would rather be, nothing in the world that could bring me such deep satisfaction.
I don’t know what next year will look like. I have dreams of pursuing writing more seriously while the kids are at school, but for now I’m holding them loosely. No matter what tomorrow holds, I’m certain of this: God is calling me to be faithful with the life He’s given me today.
As much as I long to use my gifts and passion in places that are exciting and sexy and fulfilling, God knows my temptation will still always be striving for recognition that will never satisfy. No matter how important is the work that He calls me to do, nothing will ever be as worthwhile as my pursuit of Jesus.
He is using my babies to teach me dependence on Him for all things.
He is using this season to show me how to rest in His approval over anyone else’s.
He is using motherhood to train me to die to myself daily.
He is using my struggle to remind me that He is refining me moment by moment.
He is using my joy to teach me that surrender is the path to abundant life.
God doesn’t ask us to go out and change the world. He simply calls us to live a faithful life, one day at a time. Where is God asking you to be faithful today?