It’s early on a Sunday morning and I’m supposed to be in bed.
I stayed up way too late last night with Alex, whom I haven’t seen in days thanks to his insane work hours, planning a trip to Australia that we can’t afford instead of editing the hundreds of photos from last weekend’s 11 photo sessions. Instead of folding the laundry. I can’t remember the last time I cleaned the apartment, in fact, I’m not sure if I’ve ever cleaned the apartment…have I? The tub really needs scrubbed and I can carve my name in the layer of scum in the kitchen sink. Every night before falling asleep I lay in my fancy sheets that I scored for next to nothing on a black Friday sale and just appreciate how it feels to relax. I don’t have much conscious time left but I dare to rest fully in God in the rare moment of quiet and give thanks.
Thirty minutes after I went to bed, Owen woke up screaming in a night terror and tried to go out the door of our apartment (thank goodness for chain locks). An hour after I got him settled back down, Della woke up to nurse and then again two hours later. She must be teething. I closed my eyes briefly and woke up to Owen standing next to me at 5:30 am demanding we begin our day. And that was just last night. It’s not a far cry from what an average night looks like for me.
The last few weeks have been a little overwhelming and every day I feel like I’m on a hamster wheel. I love mothering my children, they are such lights in my life, I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Motherhood can be a very isolating place. The constant pouring out of oneself for others can be physically/mentally/spiritually exhausting and it redefines every area of a woman’s life – in a beautiful way – but not necessarily in an easy way. While motherhood brings great joy, it also ushers in great change. I have six years of college education, a masters degree in aerospace engineering, but I spend my days reading Brown Bear Brown Bear, covered in dried spit up and probably little bit of someone else’s poop too, if I’m being completely honest. I don’t even know if I can still do a partial derivative… But hey, we’re still alive.
One of my biggest failings is that I always desire more. Wait, let me back up a minute and say that I am grateful for my life. My people are healthy. We have a home, food, and I am blessed with love. So why is it that I always want more? Without realizing it, I’m always wanting to fast forward my life and be further along. A bigger family, student loan paid off, a more successful photography business, more vacations, less stress, a kid who isn’t so strong willed, a baby who sleeps through the night, etc. This is ridiculous because I’m always saying how grateful I am for what God has given me. Who am I to say what God gives me? I’m working hard to start being fulfilled with exactly what I have right now. It’s what He chose for me and it’s cosmic, it’s great and all things wonderful.
GRACE. I think about this word often. It really is the perfect name for a child, I can see why so many people use it. I have never been more sure of God’s mercy and grace than as a mother. Not all of my desires are petty. I also desire to be the best that I can be. But unlike the other desires and wishes, this one is nothing if not tempered by His grace. I know it’s okay when the kids go to bed without a bath. I know it’s okay that I put the kids to bed early not because they were tired but because I was tired of them. It’s how I let her cry so I could take a quick shower. His grace surrounds me in everything I do. It’s how I get up each day and try again. Grace is like a constant loving hug.
Mothers are a huge demographic of women who struggle – often silently – to “keep it together” while giving ourselves fully to this life calling of raising small humans. I am so grateful for voices of other women who understand my world, small as it may seem, and reorient me in hope and truth in parts of my everyday. I am enough. I’ve been hunkering down on the promise that I don’t have to do anything special for God to love me more. I have to believe that when I’m running on empty (which is almost always), the creator of all knows me and sees me as the person He created me to be, not the mess that I sometimes feel like I am.
I’m in awe everyday of how motherhood has changed me. In how I see myself, how I present myself, and what is important to me. I worry less about how I look and what people think and more about being a good person, especially in the eyes of my children.
I focus less on my desires for “one day” and more on today. “One day” will happen on its own, whatever it may be. I’ll relinquish that to God, I’m not in control. I appreciate time to myself more than ever. I am more patient, more loving, more confident. I live in the moment, even the trying ones.
Motherhood is all the good things and all the hard things wrapped into a humbling little gift. This exhilarating, exhausting season of my life has taught me how sanctifying motherhood is. It shines a light on my imperfections. The great thing is that God lavishes love on us when we need grace, patience, reassurance. It allows us the ability to give to our babies from a bottomless well. With this in mind, I know that I am enough, I am doing okay. I’ve decided there is nothing wrong with desiring more, as long as I focus on the desires and dreams God has placed in me.
This journey is processing me…changing me, forming me, molding me…into what God created me to be. My heart changes every day, feels more compassion, more love, and is able to give and receive grace. There’s that word again. I’m thankful for everything I’ve endured so far in my short time as a mother and know that it is going to make me come out as good as pure gold for as long as I live.