I saw a post the other day a friend of mine posted on facebook and I could have written the whole thing myself. I didn’t comment on it at the time because it made me think about my own life and how similar things were in my life compared to hers. It’s been a little less than a month since she posted that update and I still can’t get it out of my mind! I think it is so easy to feel as though I am the only mother in the world who is having troubles with my children or struggles with keeping up with my life. I begin to feel guilty, selfish and worn down. I look around my house at the unfolded piles of laundry on my couch, the piles of dishes, and the mix of shoes and toys laying next to the back door and think to myself, “I’ve failed!” Walking through the grocery store I see “that mom” with her three perfectly behaved children, quietly following her through the store. obeying her every command; their hair neatly brushed and braided, faces clean and clothes neatly ironed. I flash to my children; hair used to be braided (before they crawled under the beds trying to find their other shoes) and now it is half in and half out, peanut butter all over their faces (because handing them each a sandwich once they are in their car seats is the fastest way to get them to buckle up and get on the road before lunch time), and even though they are separated into different rows in the van they kick the back of the others car seat and irritate them till they are BOTH yelling at each other. After the 3rd time of saying “LEAVE HER ALONE” I just turn up the radio as loud as I can until we can get to our destination!! Yes we all have days like this! Weeks like this!! Sometimes MONTHS like this!!
We all went out yesterday for the first time together in the new van. We were able to have some lunch together at Cici’s. While we were there I met a lovely homeschool mom with three children who stopped by our table to compliment us on how well behaved our children were and even asked if we gave parenting classes! lol She really just caught us at a good time because we are human and our children do not always behave that well! But I began to think about myself and how when I had 4 kids, I would look at my friends who had 6 children and think, “I wish they would just go home with me for ONE day and show me how to do everything!” Now that we are expecting baby 7, I realize that having more children does NOT mean you have it all together (and that is by no means why I wanted a large family).
As my friend said in her facebook post, having a lot of children means sitting on the sidelines a lot and saying no to a lot of things you want to do. After our 4th child, I believe that was our biggest transition. That was when we went from being an average family to a Large family! We also were transitioning from being young and in our 20’s with lots of energy, to being worn out and in our 30’s with lots of night-time feedings. During that time in my life I remember God bringing to mind a woman in my old church who gave a testimony once. She said that she was struggling because she loved singing in the praise team at church, however; she had to give it up because it was running into her time with her children and other family issues. She said the Lord helped her realize that it was okay to give that ministry up for right now because for that season her ministry was her children! It was her season to pour into her own children, minister to her own family, teach her children about the Lord and guide them as they grew up to be amazing men of God. He also reminded her that that was ALSO a SHORT season and to enjoy it and cherish every moment!
I relate so much to sitting on the sidelines. When we first started homeschooling I thought it was awesome that there was so many homeschooling families in our area and that we could do so many homeschool activities!! As we got involved and had more and more children- our activities decreased little by little. Last year I realized, it had been over a year since we did any activities!! I mentioned to another homeschool mom how guilty I felt about it and she said, “You know, homeschooling is just that– HOME….SCHOOLING. It doesn’t mean you have to run your child all over the state!” I felt a huge burden lifted after that! I also found myself just trying to “get through the day!” When I have classes that I’m taking at night, I realize that I begin to get very goal oriented. “Okay today we are going to get this done….and then we are going to clean this!!” I end up cleaning and organizing all day long and at the end of the day realize, I’ve just been trying to get through the day, finish what I was doing and get the kids to bed before I pass out going up the steps!
This last month I’ve realized that my focus has been more on getting things done, then taking time to spend with my children. I can spend all day with them and at the end of the day feel like I haven’t spend any time with them. I have to remind myself often to cherish the young years, don’t just try to “get through them because things will be easier when they are older,” I have to really stop myself and make a conscious effort to have a real in-depth conversation with each of my children throughout the day. It is so easy to get caught up in, “did you do your chores?” “Did you finish your math work?” “go take a shower” “let the dog outside” and not stop to say, “so has your relationship with Jesus been? Has the Lord given you any dreams recently? Are you struggling with anything that you need me to pray for you about?” or just sitting down and doing a craft together and talking! My children love to hear about when I was younger!! I’ve been trying to make a conscious effort to spend time with each child talking together daily even if it is only 10 minutes and about a favorite blanket that I have neglected to wash for over a week!
These children are my ministry and only for a season! I may miss out on events I wish I was invited to, or wish I could go to, or just having ME time to do what I want for once instead of trying to come up with another craft that I might be able to make some extra cash by selling in order to pay for homeschool books, but it is worth every second!! I know when it is over i will miss it, I will wish for just ONE MINUTE of those hard times back! I want to enjoy every second of this ministry God has trusted to me!! Comparing our life to others, my mothering capabilities, the fact that that mom gets to have alone time DAILY but I don’t, doesn’t do anything for us moms because WE all, whether we have one child or twenty, try our best, and have the SAME daily struggles!! We are just comparing Apples to Apples! We are all the same struggling one day at a time to do the best for our children, and guide them down the path to be the best adult they can be.
Pour all you have into this season even when you feel you can’t do anymore….Ask the Lord for strength,and guidance daily to be the mom your kids need, not the mom that YOU THINK that they need!!