I was sitting at the kitchen table of a older friend pouring out my heart about how tired I was. Having five children in less than eight years had taken a toll on me. With tears brimming, I asked her to tell me everything would be okay and I wouldn’t die from sheer exhaustion.
“Honey, you’re gonna miss this,” she replied.
Miss this? Never going to the bathroom alone? Remembering at 2 PM that I haven’t eaten all day and having to settle for a half eaten hotdog lying on a now-hard roll on the kitchen counter? Waking up numerous times a night to nurse a baby or comfort a nightmarish toddler? Leaving malls or grocery stores with nothing I intended to purchase because someone decided to throw a temper tantrum for all to see? Falling into bed exhausted but not being able to fall quickly to sleep because I’m already dreading the undone tasks I’m now mentally adding to tomorrow’s already-full day? Reminding and disciplining kids who then keep interrupting, bickering and whining as if they’ve never been taught otherwise?
“You’re gonna miss this” wasn’t what I wanted to hear that day. I wanted to hear that a magic day was coming (soon!) when tantrums and whining and messes and undone task lists would end! I wanted to hear that now that my youngest was three I could at least start sleeping….
Now I’m that older woman — and let’s pretend you’re sitting at my kitchen table. I know you’re tired. I remember how hard it was to train and discipline and teach kids who seemed to have either hearing deficits or serious memory issues. When I see the newly pregnant look on a mom’s face I can actually feel the nausea churning in my stomach. As Granma to eleven, I’m back to bathroom breaks being interrupted with “I’m thirsty!” or “Why is the door locked? Can I come in?” And I know how long those nights are when your newborn decides it’s finally time to be awake….and your love of sleep is temporarily suspended because you’re captivated by staring into little eyes that seem to be saying, “Wow, my Mommy is really pretty.”
You are gonna miss it. All of it. Even the hard times and the days when all you can think about is bedtime and the weeks when the laundry pile never shrinks.
Why? Because you’re Mom. You live for them. Hurt with them. And, yes, sometimes yell at them. You planned them…or learned to except God’s plan when they weren’t on your radar screen. You couldn’t wait for them to say your name — and even though you now sometimes wish you didn’t hear “MOM!” so often during the day, they will someday leave and you’ll eagerly anticipate hearing “Hey, Mom!” on the other end of the phone or when the door opens and they’re back home. You fight through your fatigue and anger and selfishness because being Mom means more to you than not having little people in your life that demand more of you than you have the strength to give.
The reason you will miss this is because your life is making more of a difference than you ever thought possible. In spite of the fatigue and bouts with anger you are being used by God in more ways than you know. Who would have thought you would be shaping the lives of such adorable little sinners and have the breathtaking joy of pointing them to their need for a Savior? Do you see how often you are showing them Mommy also needs her Savior to give her strength and to forgive her when she sins…against them? How is it possible that you have been entrusted the amazing privilege of molding, shaping, teaching, and nurturing future adults who will take what they’re learning from you and pass all those things along to one generation after another as your legacy of godliness makes it’s way to those you will never know?
You are doing what God has called you to do. He is using you — a flawed, weak, sinful, tired vessel — to pour out to them what has been poured into you by the One who says, “Come to me all you who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest.”
You won’t start sleeping again soon. It may be a long time before you see real fruit from your training and discipline. Tired days will continue because whether you’re a stay-at-home-mom or are juggling work and motherhood, being Mom is the hardest thing a woman can do with her life. And even when they get older they will yell “MOM!” when they can’t find their homework or basketball shorts or the car keys they know they left hanging on the peg by the door.
But one day you’ll be sitting alone in your quiet house. No toys strewn about. No fingerprints on the sliding door. No school books sprawled on the kitchen counter. No lost keys or clothes. For awhile the quiet will be sweet and comforting. You’ll be able to have leisurely times with God and actually have time to think about what needs to be done today — and get most of it done! You’ll get through the grocery store in less than 30 minutes because you’re alone and you don’t need to buy as much stuff anymore. But then you decide to walk down the cookie and candy aisle because your son is coming home this weekend from college or you want to stock up on goodies in case the new little people in your life come by this week.
You’re happy to put gummy bears and goldfish crackers and Fruit Loops on the conveyer belt…oh, and Windex!…because soon there will be finger prints on the sliding doors again. And you’ll look forward to Friday night when a grandson will be spending the night and maybe, just maybe, he’ll have a nightmare so Granma can hold and comfort him or he’ll get a boo boo that needs kissing.
You’re gonna miss this, young mom. That doesn’t mean today won’t still be hard. But try to remember to think about the older lady who gave you some advice that perhaps you don’t wanna hear…but that you’ll be sharing with your daughter or other young mom someday because you found it was true.
P.S. This post is dedicated to Jaime, Rachel, Rebekah, Lauren and Canada. Thanks for the fingerprints on my doors.