Before children, if asked what physical attribute I liked best about myself, I would have absolutely chosen my hair. It was thick, straight, long, and blonde. While I knew it didn’t define me, it was definitely part of my picture. I imagined myself someday holding angelic babies, as my hair lay ever so gently at my side, a peaceful smile on my face. It was a beautiful image.
Reality was a bit different. My hair began to curl during my first pregnancy, not a soft wave, mind you. Kinky curls draped the back of my head and then slowly worked their way over the rest. The in between was quite a sight! It actually gets thicker and curlier with each pregnancy. (Have I mentioned I have 6 children?) What was once smooth and sleek, is now big and crazy.
My first baby was a sweet little guy, but colicky. The vision of my angelic baby, soft hair, and any sense of peace vanished as quickly as my full nights of rest. It was a rough wake up call.
Here I was, blessed to hold a baby who was said would never fill my womb, and yet so overwhelmed. God worked a miracle and blessed me with the children from my little girl prayers. He made it clear through the curls, that His vision was different than mine though.
A few weeks ago, I sat at a picnic with church families and began talking with one of the moms. My hair had been straightened by a flat iron. It was after church, so we were all well dressed. My kids played well with the other kids and remembered all of their, “Yes Ma’ams.” It was a brief moment of Norman Rockwell for this mama who tries to embrace the kinks.
With the exception of a tired, fussy baby on my lap, all was going as smooth as my hair once was. The other mom looked at me and asked where my cape was. It was a sweet question really, meant to encourage and compliment. I instantly felt sad, though.
How many times have I inadvertently made another mom feel less than? How many times have they looked at my life and seen straight and smooth, rather than the reality of a big, crazy and yet beautiful mess? I remember looking at other moms and thinking things like this, all the while feeling inadequate myself.
I told the other mom that I had no cape, just a lot of time on my knees.
The truth is, I am not that overwhelmed in my day to day life like I once was. Oh, we have our moments. I have bad days like anyone; days when nothing seems to go my way, when the kids are squabbling over who gets to use the grey blanket on a 70 degree Hawaii morning, days when babies cry, toddlers tantrum, Nerf wars get too real, and not a bit of school is accomplished. We do have those days.
I have 6 kids. I homeschool 3 of them, do preschool with another, and juggle 2 babies. Life is far crazier than it was eight or nine years ago. And yet, I remember then wondering how I would possibly face another day of mothering. My heart was so heavy on many of those days.
Perspective changes everything.
So, what exactly has changed, other than the addition of 5 children? I see now I can’t do it without Jesus. He is the key to every day. I loved Jesus in those early days of mothering, but I didn’t lean into Him like I do now. I give my days to Him, and He shows me the joy.
I see what a blessing these kids are even when they are having a rotten moment. Stepping back from those difficult moments, my heart bursts for this appointment, messes and all.
We don’t always get everything accomplished that we’d like. Homeschooling with babies and toddlers is not an exact science. We roll with whatever comes our way, something I didn’t do as easily back when I only had one.
When days are hard, we pray and start again. We take deep breathes and snuggle up together. We do school on Saturday if we have to, but we put each other above our to-do lists. We worry less about laundry and more about hearts. We keep our days slow, avoiding the pressure to join 10 activities, and just rest in the moments He has blessed us with.
The thing is, our days aren’t perfect. Our house isn’t always as clean as I’d like. And although I have the most amazing kids, angelic isn’t the first word that comes to mind. I have one highly spirited and a few others with a strength that tests. I suppose the apple doesn’t fall far or something like that. I am not a super hero. I have no cape. The only things I leap in a single bound are tall laundry piles.
But, on this side of mothering I’ve let go. I no longer feel the need to control every detail or know how everything will turn out. I worry less about the future and focus more on the callings the Lord has right in front of me. Today that was loving on my 6 kiddos, cherishing my husband, celebrating a productive school day, haircuts and baths, and a relatively clean house.
There were some tears and some squabbles, maybe a few drenched kiddos from a hose debacle, a couple ignored laundry piles, a spilled box of cheerios, and a teething baby…but all I really remember is the joy.
So if you find yourself gazing at a mother, certain she must be wearing a cape, take a closer look. You’ll find a sweater draped ever so gently over her shoulders because spit up is on the other side.
Perspective changes everything.
You’re doing great, kinks and all!
Be joyful always, pray continually, and give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
If you enjoyed this post, check out some of Brandy’s other writing…