I storm through the kitchen, on the verge of tears. It is day four out of six of solo parenting, while my husband is away on a business trip. This is the second, week-long trip he has had in the past month and the exhaustion has finally caught up to me. All day long, I’ve responded to the needs of others – parents, teachers and students at work, a few minor tasks for church, and the end of the day finds me with an irrationally fussy eight month old who has recently been drowning in the pangs of separation anxiety.
“Baby- I don’t know what you need. I have fed you, I’ve changed you, I’ve held you and you’re still hysterical. Mama needs to eat.”
I plop the baby down into the play gym and he throws his head back and flails his arms in rebuttal. The screams grow louder. I send a quick video to his daddy via text. “This is what I am dealing with. He is so upset and only wants to be held. Freaks out every time I put him down.”
“Alexa- play Mozart!”
I cue the calming music, partly in an attempt to order peace into the atmosphere, partly in an attempt to drown out the crying so that I can eat my reheated Bojangles. The grand plans of meal prepping healthy dinners for the week have been obliterated by these long days and nights that have left me depleted.
With one hand on my head and the other on my buttery biscuit, I close my eyes and hum with the melody, ignoring the chaos that engulfs me. I look over my shoulder and the baby makes eye contact with me, sending him into a bigger fit. He is red in face, a waterfall of snot is cascading down his nose and colliding with the tears that are trickling down his cheeks.
Mid biscuit bite- the mom guilt ensues. I toss my food into the box, pull my baby out of the play gym and hug him tightly. He melts into my chest, transferring bodily fluids from his face onto my work clothes, but I don’t mind.
The truth is, this attitude I have is about more than the baby’s discontentment. It’s about me missing my husband and missing another set of hands to help and take turns. It’s about me being tired from so many needs on the job. It’s about me longing for the long gone days of quiet dinners. It’s about my feelings of inadequacy in balancing everything this week.
“Jesus- please. Help me. I need you.”
I utter this prayer out loud- this prayer that I find myself repeating more often than not. It is the cry of my heart, the melody that accompanies my weakness.
Am I selfish for wanting to meet my own needs? Is it too much to ask to feed my hungry body with free hands and a little peace and quiet? Or to wish that I was able to pack up and go on a trip? Or to long to attend concerts or conferences, on a whim, like I used to, before the baby was born? I grieve the loss of selfish spontaneity while being deeply grateful for this new life as a mother. There is a tension that creates undeniable friction between the two.
In steps Jesus. My rescuer- my mediator between what is, what was, and what will be.
Each time I cry out to Jesus and present him with my honest thoughts, he meets me and molds me.
“But he said to me, My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me” (2 Corinthians 12:9).
He gently convicts my heart of selfish desires, without shaming me for my human nature to desire these things. Instead of pointing me to feelings of condemnation, he points me to the face of Christ.
“For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45).
In this season, we prepare to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. As I stand in awe of the fact that he has risen, I find hope in the ways he is resurrecting dead places in my life and making them new. With resurrection comes refining- constant removal of impurities and unwanted elements.
Motherhood is one battlefield for this refining process- the war between the desire for convenience and the constant need to serve our children. It’s a daily death. Our natural, self-serving desires are experiencing a daily crucifiction.
“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20).
On this side of heaven, we will never “arrive.” We will never find the secret formula that equates to being a perfect mother. But although our motherhood will not be perfected on earth, what a joy that our faith and sanctification will be perfected in eternity.
“And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Philipians 1:6).
This truth frees us. When motherhood doesn’t allow us to operate from a place of physical freedom from demanding schedules, we can walk in the spiritual freedom of melting into our Father’s arms when we are weak and overwhelmed.
So, rise mamas.
Walk in his resurrection power.
Embrace the refining work he desires to do in our hearts.
Seek daily renewal as he breaks the chains of imperfection and resentment and pieces them back together with grace and mercy.
“Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert” (Isaiah 43:18-19).
Every day is new.
Accessible and free to us all- a gift that overflows from the blood that he graciously shed.
Remain hopeful. Stay anchored. Refuse to sink.