Having babies and toddlers was exhausting. Sometimes I trudged through the day thinking it was Friday — only to hear Benny make a comment soon before bed about a meeting he had “tomorrow.”
“I didn’t know you had a Saturday meeting this week? With who?”
“Saturday? No, honey, tomorrow is Friday,” he would respond as my heart sank. How could it be only Thursday? I was looking forward to him being home tomorrow. We were taking the kids to Burke Lake to play football and feed the ducks. And he mentioned his willingness to get up with them so I could sleep in some.
Now all that was another 24 hours away! That meant another morning of school; diaper changes; sweeping up stray Cheerios; refereeing; wiping; reminding; correcting; and dealing with dirty clothes and dishes…by myself. (How many times did I silently salute the heroic sacrifices of single moms on those days?)
As I closed my eyes to sleep the nights when busyness deceived me into thinking there was one less day till the weekend, I realized how exhausting motherhood is. I looked forward to the day when the kids were old enough to get their own breakfast, throw up in the toilet and do their own laundry. Older women I knew never had stained clothes and were able to worship undistracted through every single song! Someday…
Nobody told me this so I want to tell you: the life of sacrifice is for good and is met with all the grace you’ll need.
When I was a young mom the physical and mental weariness was taxing. In just seconds I was answering the phone (that was attached to the wall with a cord…imagine that!), giving a toddler a drink, mouthing “Stop it!” to the child whose cue to misbehave was seeing Mom on the phone, and stretching the cord as far as possible to grab the baby an older sibling abandoned on the couch before he tumbled off onto the floor.
I’m hear to tell you that my kids starting throwing up in the toilet but the sacrifices continued.
I started spending hours driving them to practices, rehearsals, youth meetings and parties. Benny’s and my late-night conversations were no longer about my sadness over tomorrow not being Saturday, but about whether our teens were being open with us about their temptations. The physical stresses of mothering little ones was replaced by the emotional fatigue of parenting adolescents.
Then they started thinking about dating and marriage (a topic for it’s own blog posts!) and late-night conversations became the norm. Just when I had become used to more sleep they starting “coming alive” at 10 PM. Benny and I decided that connecting with our young adults was more important than sleep, so we said goodbye to the house getting quiet by 8 PM.
A new problem ensued. After many of those late conversations with them about pondering this or that guy; confessions of temptation or sin; discussing heart issues about conflicts with friends or spiritual drift in their hearts; or having to bring up to them concerns we had about character issues in their lives they went to bed. And went to sleep.
Benny could fall asleep quickly while I fretted, prayed or sulked. One night I woke him up and said, “Remember those nights when I talked about being so tired after long days of homeschooling and laundry? I want those days back.”
My heart had become consumed with concern for things that were much more weighty than making it through another day of teaching phonics and refereeing sibling bickering. I was worried about whether one was being honest with us — or is he covering deeper feelings about that girll? Is our daughter becoming bitter toward us for not giving in to her requests to wear things we don’t think are modest and appropriate? Oh, Lord, was that child’s childhood prayer to become a Christian genuine or was she just being a “good” pastor’s daughter by asking Christ to forgive her sins? Am I being too strict? Not strict enough? Overly concerned? Gullible? Discerning…or critical?
Well — here’s the good news. I survived and you will, too. If you have young children, the same grace that is carrying you through the physical weariness now will carry you through the emotional fatigue to come.
Remember when having a newborn left you so sleep deprived and fuzzy brained that you went robotically through day after day until you were suddenly planning their first birthday? What got you through was grace. That grace will be there for every season; every challenge; every fear; every disappointment; every moment when you don’t know what to do.
God is faithful. He gave you each of your children. He ordained everything about them: gender; birth order; spacing; personality; gifts; limitations; quirks; appearance. When you look into the eyes of one and see Daddy and notice another has feet shaped just like Mommy’s — that was God’s idea! His signature is on each of their lives and His sovereign plan for them will not be thwarted by anything or anyone. He loves them far more than you do; enough to die so they could know Him.
Now you have grace to rock a gassy baby or a fevered toddler; then you will have grace to comfort a brokenhearted teen or just-moved college student. Now God gives on-the-spot wisdom to govern sibling arguments over toys and food and video game time; then God will do the same to walk them through adolescent jealousy, lust and inferiority. Now you pray they will sleep through the night so you won’t be exhausted tomorrow; then you’ll want to sleep because it’s so much better than lying awake fretful as the minutes click by.
Believe me: this post isn’t meant to discourage you. But I want to be honest. Being a mother is a lifetime of laying down your own life for the sake of your children. Mommy may turn to Mom but sacrificing whatever it takes to be there for them won’t change. Why? Because Jesus Christ set the example by laying down His life for us. He has given we moms the awesome privilege of being like Him by pouring out our lives for our kids. Week after week. Year after year. Decade after decade.
My older, stain-free, worshiping friends had adult kids. As I got to know them better I learned that they, too, were still sacrificing time, sleep and money — sometimes a lot of each! — in ways that weren’t visible on Sunday morning or at church picnics. And while I was envying them they were envying me.
I want to encourage you to avoid the trap of thinking another season of motherhood is better or easier than the one you’re in. Every season has both joys and challenges. Enjoy this season and don’t be afraid of the ones to come. God will be with you…and even if you’re too tired or busy to notice, He’s giving you the strength every day to do what you do and that won’t change.
Certain things about mothering seasons change but there are two things that will remain throughout your years on this earth: sacrifice will always be required and grace will always be there to give you all the strength and wisdom you need.
Jesus lived this way. Why shouldn’t we?