Then there's flu season. Some of you remember a post I wrote recently about our family having the flu 9 times in two weeks with a weekend hospital stay tucked in there for good measure. That was . . . how shall I say it? EXHAUSTING!!
Of course there's also the less dramatic, but even more draining reality of living day in and day out with little people in your midst. The spilled apple juice on FINALLY just-cleaned floors; potty training; soccer games; dentist appointments; "Mama! Mama! Mama! Mama! Mama! Mama! Mama!"; potty training; sibling . . . hmmm, let's call it, interactions; car seats to buckle; phonics; grocery shopping at 8 months pregnant with 3 kids, 6 and under in tow; and, however it can be possible - more potty training!
(Every mother knows I left 729 additional stressors off of that fairly impressive list!)
So here's the thing I've learned, girls. For as much care as we mamas pour out every day, day after day and many nights as well . . . We need care too.
I think it was Abraham Lincoln who gave us a quote about "sharpening the axe". (Forgive the loose reference - I've been potty training for the past 11 years!!) Anyway, the point is that a tool only works if you take care of it. An axe needs sharpening if you are going to expect it to cut well. A car needs a periodic oil change and fluid flush (or something . . .) if it is to run well. And Mothers need care if we are to pour out well.
OK, so I know we're there now so I'm just going to acknowledge the elephant in the room: "But I feel so guilty when I take care of myself!"
Mother Guilt. It is one of the devil's favorite ways to cripple God's anointed shepherds in their very own homes! If you feel guilty for taking care of yourself I'm going to say one very gentle, very important thing to you. Are you ready?
I'm not saying that "stopping it" will be easy, like a switch you just flip, but will you just entertain for a moment the idea that Mother Guilt is a burden you ought not to bear? I won't do a big, fleshed out thing right here and now about how conviction comes from God and guilt comes from the enemy, but here's the thing: motivating, liberating conviction comes from God. That depressing, paralyzing, defeating, miserable wet blanket guilt we mamas tend to carry around - yeah, that comes straight from the pit of hell. Resist it. Refuse it! Shrug it off and run the other direction into the loving, grace-filled arms of Jesus. I intend to show you how . . .
Isaiah 40:11 says, "He tends his flock like a shepherd. He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young."
Jesus takes care of His people like a shepherd cares for his sheep. That means he is here to protect and provide for all of us in every way. This verse, however, speaks specifically to mothers with young children. Here, you and I are "those that have young". A shepherd knows that mother ewes need to be lead gently because they are tending to their young. Their lambs move more slowly on weak, spindly legs and they have to stop frequently to nurse. The shepherd doesn't rush or drive them; he is gentle. I love the part that says "he gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart". As mothers don't we pull our babies close to us and press them to our heart? Jesus is not only gentle, but he is loving and tender with the lambs. The ewe's lambs are the Shepherd's lambs! My babies are His babies and He is far more capable than I am of caring for them well.
This takes so much pressure off of me to be the perfect mom. Newsflash, girls, I'm not a perfect mom. You're not a perfect mom either and that's OK! It's OK and it's the only reality there is ever going to be! There is no such thing as a perfect mom but we do have a perfect shepherd who is intent both on giving our lambs everything they need, and protecting them from everything they can't handle.
He is also intent on taking care of you, Mama. He is gentle and kind and He wants to tend to you; care for you; protect and provide for you.
In the coming posts I would like to share with you some of the redeeming things God has taught me during my years of having young children. Some are practical coping strategies while others address the very real "head game" of mothering, but my central goal is to encourage you with this: There really is hope! There's hope that you won't always be exhausted and there's hope that you can let go of the mother guilt. There's hope for rest (both body and soul), and there's hope that your children will grow up to be amazing - even though you're not perfect.
There's hope! Even for tired moms.