Monday, July 25, 2016

To the Tired Mama from a Kindred Heart

To the beautiful heart of the tired mother who thinks her job of mothering means little or is loosely regarded (and my own heart),

As the mother of five children, I've learned what it means to be truly tired and truly discouraged. Even during the days of having one newborn, I became well acquainted with the weariness of exhaustion that came with motherhood and the constant giving of myself only to move into new moments of constantly giving of myself.

Nine years into this journey of motherhood with two biological children, one hosted daughter, three daughters who grew in our hearts through adoption rather than in my own womb, spanning from preschool age through teenagers, I don't just know exhaustion and weariness on a new level; I also now know the beauty and joy and fulfillment of motherhood on a new level.

And much of that beauty has come from God revealing to me His heart, His design for motherhood and family-- the beauty of it, the grace of it, the sacrificial love of it and the shear importance of it.

I've often felt like mother was synonymous with unnoticed and undervalued. And all of this was wrapped up in many of my own thoughts as I took personally the disrespect and irritation of my children and soaked in a view of motherhood from a sometimes hostile culture that sends the message that we're darned if we do and darned if we don't across wide and varied circumstances. 

I've felt unimportant and irrelevant and so stinkin' uneqipped and judged many days, and it's not only disheartened me but it's stolen the zest of life and robbed my family of God's intended goodness.

There is an exhaustion that comes with motherhood that drives beyond the sleep deprived and stems from the disregard of the importance, beauty and relevance of our roles as mothers.

So if I could, if I had the chance, I would tell mothers, each of them, what God has been revealing to my heart -- that they are by God's design a gift of beauty, grace and wisdom to their families in their perfectly imperfect lives.

 "A wise woman builds her house; a foolish woman tears it down with her own hands." Proverbs 14:1

As mothers we are builders of our home. We are creators. We are nurturers, keepers of memories, tellers of story and ones who see character beyond behavior. 

So if I could, I would tell each mother that her repetitive, often selfless albeit imperfect tending to the needs of her small and big people means much more than what the eye can easily see when she's in the thick of the motherhood journey, surrounded by thick and tall walls of needs. 

I know this intimately well because of what I don’t see in my children and what I do see in my children. I know this intimately well because I see the aftermath of what happens when a mother did not or could not engage in mothering her children. Of course, there are reasons beyond my understanding about the whys behind this, and this is not a blame game; this is a moment of revelation for my heart about the important of mothering the children God has placed in our lives in any way -- adoption, birth, hosting, fostering, nannying.

If I could, I would tell mothers that every time they respond to a need of their child they build a pathway of trust in their child's brain. "I need water! I need snuggles! I need food!" A loving response to these expressed needs starting at the very first cry as a newborn and spanning all the way through to teenage years builds trust and security. And the ability to trust another human being who is worthy of being trusted is an absolute gift. The aftermath of not being able to trust trustworthy people, which I see on a daily basis in my own home, is in the least heart wrenching and in the most wholly destructive to relationships and self worth. 

If I could, I would tell mothers that every time they gently redirect or lovingly correct a disrespectful or destructive behavior, they are not only establishing manners for how to treat others but also establishing boundaries for how their children will expect others to treat them. This baseline of treatment with basic dignity and respect will manifest in the relationships our tweens, teenagers and young adults engage in, and I see daily the struggle in my home and in my children's friendships who want so desperately to be accepted that they'll put up with much destructive treatment. 

If I could, I would tell mothers to laugh and laugh often with their children. I would say to them, celebrate lavishly the glimmers of people these kids are becoming when it's hard to like who they are in the moment. Bless them with your words and time and listening ear. Fill their buckets before they go looking for their buckets to be filled elsewhere. In my home, the buckets are so leaky from years of missing out on the celebration of their personhoods, their souls, their inherent worthiness as people made in the image of their Creator, that their buckets need the work of repairing as well as filling.

Remember: the words we use, the actions we express, the way we listen and look and see either helps us build our homes or break them down. 

This is as much true for our children and spouses as it is for the way we treat ourselves. 

If we I could, I would tell mothers that they matter, too. Their needs, their wellbeing, the entirety of their persons -- body, mind, heart and soul -- are of the utmost importance. And that empty cannot pour in to make full. When we take time to refill, refresh and replenish, we are not acting out of selfish ambition, but rather we are working to live lives of overflow that fill the buckets of those around us. 

Sally Clarkson says it like this, 
I thought again about how ministry and the need to help another, soothe a child, confront sin, share wisdom from scripture never happens at convenient moments. It happens amidst the craziness of life. And whenever we are squeezed, what we have stored within will come out.

So if I could, I would tell mothers to take the time to store well. 

If I could, I would share that our most important job won't come with great insurance, a paycheck or three weeks of vacation per year. 

In fact, it will probably come with the opposite. 

But the bonus plan for this job is out of this world when these people, these precious souls we mother, begin to love God, value themselves and then do the very work God has called us to do in loving our neighbors as ourselves. 

Probably none of us will ever win a Noble Peace Prize for Motherhood. 

Maybe we should. 

"If you want to change the world go home and love your family." -Mother Theresa

But perhaps we don’t need it. 

Perhaps each of these souls is the living embodiment of such a prize, walking around the world, filling it with the goodness they've got in them from God overflowing out of them. 

My prayer has largely become that God would help me live in the fullness that was intended for me as a mother, caring as tenderly for my own soul as I do for those who call me mom. 

If I could, I would tell every mother

You are important. 

You are sacred. 

You are chosen. 

Your being a mother is not a mistake.

So let us mother with the purposes and passions of our Father's heart. 

May we each know our inherent value and deep worth first as beautiful creations of our Father and also as the mothers He has created us to be. 



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