Always is A Lot
I am mom.
I am so very very mom.
I’m pretty sure I could officially change my name to “Mom” and no one would flinch.
I even get junk mail addressed to me that way (thanks, infant-formula-marketing people).
It’s pretty much my identity.
The four year old was quizzing me at bedtime a while back (because, as all four year olds know, this is the absolute best time to ask deep probing questions.) He had made cards for Mothers Day, and wanted to know why Grandma had gotten one too. “Well, for one thing, Grandmas love homemade cards more than almost anything in the world,” I explained, “But also because your grandma is my mom.”
The four year old looked at me, clearly skeptical. “YOU are mom. YOU don’t need a mom!”
I thought of the mashed potatoes congealing on the dishes in the kitchen sink, and tried to back out the door without a major explanation. “Everyone needs a mom, honey,” I replied. “And when you grow up and get married, your wife will be mom and I can be grandma.”
“When I grow up I’ll marry you because you’re mom!” He explained pedantically and stuck his thumb in his mouth to end the conversation. I sighed, hoping he would break the sleepy thumb-sucking habit soon, but glad it signaled a chance for me to escape.
“I will always be your mom, dear. I love you. And stay in your bed!”
The door shut firmly and I headed down the stairs to feed the baby and read a chapter to the older boys before they headed to sleep. The words echoed in my head, “I will always be mom…” Always…
Mom is the most stupendous, amazing, rewarding, wonderful job in the world. I’m proud of the title. I’ll own it. But… sometimes, if I’m honest, I think the title of mom owns me.
And I don’t love that.
Oh, my kids rock. They’re wondrous little humans on every stair step of growth from infant to adolescent, and I’m honored and awed to be along for the ride. There is no sound in the universe as delightful as a baby’s laugh. There is no pride greater than seeing a child hit milestones that he’s struggled to reach. There is no feeling better than an impromptu hug from a (clean) guileless child. My cup runneth over. Indeed.
But what if it drowns me in the process?!?
I feel it more when I have a baby. And a toddler. And a preschooler. And the four others. I’m physically being touched All. The. Time. I’m stepped on, spit on, tugged on, wiped on, hugged on, fought on, and on and on it goes.
There are constant questions. “Why do mosquitos bite? Can I have a drink? Do I have to do math today like I do every day? Can I watch something? Can I have a friend over? Can you keep me company in the bathroom?”
And the brotherly feral fighting. “He took my lego! He sat on me! He licked me! He won’t play with me! He won’t leave me alone! Why does he get to go? Why does he get to stay? He ate my hot dog! MOOOOM!!!”
And the smells. Dirt. Diapers. Sweat. Food. Farm. Ramen noodles.
And the clutter and mess. Shoes. Clothes. Legos. Pencils. Books. Cups. Plastic army guys. Nerf bullets. Half-eaten sandwiches. Papers. Sticks. Gum. And that’s just my husband! (I’m kidding; mostly…)
On top of that there’s the daily planning and prepping for school, for meals, for social stimulation (since we all know homeschoolers are horribly deprived), for health and medical care, for a tight budget, for some semblance of order and cleanliness, and the underpinning desire for my children to know God…
You guys. It’s a lot.
I get overwhelmed.
Don’t say it’s because I’m busy. I hear that every. single. time. I go anywhere with my crew. Busy is a lifestyle, not a number of offspring.
And don’t say it’s because God only gives us what we can handle, and I should mom up and handle it.
God gives us what we can’t handle. Very much on purpose. Because He’s mean.
No. Wait. That’s not why.
Perhaps He has a greater reason.
Perhaps He wants me to trust Him.
Because He is God.
He is so very, very God.
He even gets junk mail prayers addressed to Him (thanks televangelist marketing people).
It’s pretty much His identity.
It is beyond my ability to build good humans. I try. And I constantly fail. But it is not beyond Him. We know we’re supposed to trust God in the big stuff (the choice whom to marry, the emergency hospital stay, healing the drug addict, curing cancer, saving us from Hell) but what about at three in the afternoon on a rainy Monday when the toddler discovers where you hid the glue sticks and the chickens escape and cross the road (why?!?) and dig up the elderly neighbor’s nicely manicured lawn and you lose your cool and sit on the laundry mountain and cry (just hypothetically speaking of course)? Maybe that’s just as good a time to remember – it’s His work then too.
I see ads and slogans all around us glorifying motherhood. I get why. In this work particularly, we experience a hint of the unconditional love – and suffering – of Jesus Himself. It is unique and often defies understanding. But the glory isn’t in the job title. It’s in the One who is the power and presence behind the job. Motherhood is holy work – and therefore heavy and deep and overwhelming to our very small-by-compairson beings. We cannot come through unscathed. We earn our c-section scars, stretch marks, brow furrows, white hairs. Children break us. But surviving them doesn’t make us deity. It simply makes us remade people, a little more whole than we were before. It isn’t being a mother that is Godly. It is God who is Godly – and He uses motherhood to make us – as well as the children – more like Himself. My cup, my sink, runneth over because this work is, by necessity, more than I can handle. If I acknowledge that, then I will trust Him with my little humans, knowing that every nose – and counter, and backside – that I wipe, is in His power, in His name, and for His glory.
So that overwhelming drowning feeling must actually be baptism – full immersion, hold your nose, running mascara – baptism. I’ll come up. Made over. Made better. Love handles and all.
Now if you’ll excuse me, someone is calling…