Coming Up For Air

It's sort of funny, that my blog would go dark for several days and the picture I would leave at the top of the last post, is one of me with my two babies.  One wearing his day-old jammies, the other grinning through a hat, covering dirty and food-crusted hair.  Both needing baths, showing signs of a day well spent, i.e.-dirt.

And then there's me.  Goofy grinning and with hair that hasn't been washed for days.  No make-up to hide the (ever growing) list of imperfections and a recent, garage-sale purchased sweatshirt covering what is a spit-up soaked t-shirt.  It's horribly messy, really.  A picture I wouldn't necessarily choose to show the world, and yet, such a clear picture of the reality I live in right now.  Of the intensely exhausting season I am trudging through, gasping for air, in between some very deep breaths. 

I am tired.  And my world is messy.  A constant pouring out of every ounce of energy.  A straining for patience, for a kind reponse to a glass of spilled milk.  Nerves that are fried, body that is worn out.  Love that needs refining.  Exhaustion.

But...I'm grateful.  I know there are many women all over this globe, I used to be one of them, who would trade ANYTHING for a baby that cries and a toddler who calls me Mommy.  Women who ache for this journey, for this daily pouring out.  And so, in the thick of the grind, I'm working on being thankful, in all things, in all circumstances.  In fussy babies.  In little girls who challenge my boundaries.  In houses that seem to lean toward disaster at all times.  And through that gratitude, my eyes are opened to see...

The raw beauty of this season.

The little eyes that behold their Mommy, in all her failures and mistakes made.  The giggles between siblings who are being made more aware of each other's intrinsic value each day.  The embrace and gentle kiss of a good man, who loves his wife, despite the empty fridge and the leftover food stuck to the bottom of his shoe, while standing in the very unkept kitchen. 

There is beauty in this walk.  Sometimes I have to search high and deep and wide to see it, to truly open my eyes to take it in.   Sometimes I even have to sit at my table, headphones on, to drown out Dora with my own music of choice, Bible open and coffee in hand, to meet my precious Savior...My Savior, who is willing to sit at my dirty table and drink slow and long with me.  My Savior who sees the sorrow in my eyes, when I've snapped at my daughter and expected too much of her.  Who knows my blood boils at the sound of another cry, only minutes after his nap was supposed to begin.  Who hears the muttering under my breath, of "I can't do this" and answers me with a clear, "No, you can't.  So when you're ready, let me help you do it." 

Nothing has really driven me to my knees like motherhood.  Especially now that there are two little souls under my care.  I've not had much time to sit and think of posts to write, because honestly, I have been reading like a crazy person lately, soaking up any widsom I can find to help me in this journey.  Ava is a handful right now, much like a teenage girl in fact.  You'd think living with a youth pastor would come in handy, but because she's our daughter, often we are left looking at each other (mid meltdown) thinking, "what in the world are we going to do?"  She's increasingly emotional, irrational, demanding, a boundary tester and largely focused on herself.  I'd like to say it's because she's two and this is just a phase, but as I was typing that list of her "challenges" I'm realizing that really, most of that could be said of me too.

Waking up each morning to parent, has gotten incredibly more intense.  It requires stamina and intenionality, wisdom and patience.  I can't just "show up" and hope that the job will get done.  I know that from experience, some days I've tried that and it's left all of us frazzled in its wake.  In order to do this well, to shape and mold her heart and character, I have to really engage like never before.  And honestly, sometimes I just don't feel like it.  I'd rather just stay lazy and threaten, bribe, or distract.  It takes work to put direction into the language of a two year old.  It takes effort to praise with words that build up and point, as opposed to words that are empty and untrue.  And it takes energy and Biblical wisdom to lovingly correct, to tenderly discipline and to restore a relationship. 

As I was reminded in Church on Sunday, it's a high calling to be a Mother.  Anybody can be a Mom, but not as many will choose to be a Mother.  I'm incredibly flawed in my delivery, I wrestle with a sinful nature minute by minute and I have learned first hand that I do not have what it takes to do this.  There is a good reason I am tired all the time.  Two good reasons, actually.  However, I do have a gracious and faithful Savior who is with me, helping me engage and providing pockets of relief in order to catch my breath.  I have to work hard to hand over my "mess" and let Him teach me how to rest in Him, how to abide in Him, how to find the raw beauty in the thousand gifts He offers me every day.  Gifts like, how to model my own obedience to Him, when my daughter needs to see why I ask her to obey.  Gifts that include thanking Him for opportunities to grow, for lessons demonstrated, for grace that is undeserved and unexpected. 

There is serious growth happening in our house, and it's not coming from the two littles.  It's happening in the heart of their Mom, who is reaching the end of herself in this role of motherhood and falling hard and fast after her creator.  Much like a gardener, planting seeds and waiting for harvest, my hands are dirty, my knees ache at night and my head hits the pillow in expectation.  Expectation that my little seedlings will plant and sprout and grow.  That one day, I'll see the blossoms and know that my broken-record instruction was profitable for their soul. 

For my soul. 

In parenting them, I see how beautifully I've been parented.  For 21 years under my parents' roof, for 31 years under my Savior's gracious hand.  No doubt I've worn all of them down, thankfully none of them, out.  This is messy work.  Intense work.  But it's beautiful in it's own regard and worth it.  I know that it's worth it.  So back to my knees I go, back to the fields to plant. 
 Yes, I can say with certainty, they're worth it. But even more than they, our Savior is worthy of it.


anonymous said...

this is absoluteyn honest and beautiful! as a mom of three tiny ones (3 and under) i feel like you have mirrored myy heart in your thoughts. thank you for sharing your heart; your words have encouraged and motivated me. sometimes we need a reminder that we cant do this mom thing on our own strength (or anything for that matter!). i really enjoy your blog, stephanie!

SM Anderson said...

I agreee with the previous post Stephanie. I so enjoy reading your posts. You are so transparent and willing to share both struggles and victories. I too feel encouragned in my parenting after I read your posts and direction on how to move forward one step at a time. Thank you! You are a blessing to so many. See you Friday!!!!!

Toni :O) said...

Hang in there...the days are definitely long but the years are short. I have a 12 year old and an almost 8 year old. It shocks me to the core to think I will have a teenager residing in my house come December. There are some days that even I still have that are so hard, so very, very hard. However, the good days tend to outshine those hard ones. I appreciate your honesty...we're all in this together and thank goodness for blogs to give each other support and definitely takes a village!

Darla said...

Beautiful, raw, and genuine. I love your honesty, Stephanie, and the way you so desperately cling to Christ. I couldn't decide if a laugh or a tear was more appropriate when you mentioned whispering, 'I can't do this' under your breath...glad I'm not the only one. A broken and contrite heart is exactly what God is looking for...praying for some relief and regained strength.

Is it weird that I'm writing this from your own home?!

Kendra said...

Beautiful. And so true. As our twins turn 14 months, I find myself more aware of my need to follow through and be active in my discipline. I still worry I expecting too much of them? Not enough? But it drives me to my knees. I can not be perfect for them, but I can model a woman who looks to a Perfect Parent for guidance.