I understand that I should not complain that motherhood is hard. That I should remember that I signed up for this. That I dreamed of it my whole life. I know that the days are long but the years are short. I know that someday I will miss all of this. I understand that I should be enjoying every. single. second. I'm trying. But sometimes when I'm on my third week of sick kids, my fifth night of sitting upright the whole night while holding a baby who can't breathe through his nose and who needs to scream for an hour and a half every three hours, sometimes, I'm just not enjoying myself. I've spent the long night hours reminding myself that there are barren wombs wishing to be in this position. That there are Mamas listening to their babies cry because they haven't eaten for days. That I am under a roof, in a warm house with plenty of blankets. I have Internet access and can look up 24 hour Urgent Care options at 3:00 AM if I want to. I have a husband who gets up at 5 each morning to march off through a nasty commute on an over filled bus of coughing humanity just so that he can provide that warm house, those blankets, the Internet access, food for the hungry bellies and pay the doctor bills for sick kids. My head knows these facts. My heart works at being thankful. But my arms feel like limp noodles, my feet stumble as I walk miles around and around the dark kitchen. My throat is dry from singing "Jesus Loves Me" and my heart is racing while I tell myself to be calm. I can't honestly say that these are the moments I dreamed about. I can't honestly say that I will miss these exact moments. I am not enjoying myself while I'm at the Urgent Care alone with four children...for four hours. But I am thankful for many things during these moments. The afore mentioned warm house, blankets, etc. For a big 8 year old boy who can hold the baby while I pin down the kicking, screaming 4 year old for the nurse. Thankful for kind and knowledgeable nurses Thankful for a vehicle. For medical insurance. And for a Saviour Who can breathe calm into me when I don't have any calm within myself. For a Friend Who holds my hand at 0 dark thirty and Who strengthens my arms when I am terrified that I will drop the screaming, thrashing, heavy baby.
The past few nights I've been propping pillows under my arms before I start my night time vigil and I keep thinking about two things. First, this verse from Deuteronomy 33 "The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms." And second, it makes me think of the story in Exodus when Moses is in the desert standing on the hill top with his helpers propping up his heavy, tired arms so that the Children of Israel could win the battle against Amalek. Exodus 17:12 ends by saying "and his hands were steady until the going down of the sun." Except in my case, it's until the rising of the sun. And please, do not think that I am in any way comparing myself to that giant of the faith, Moses.
The Lord gifted me these children for a time. He hurts when they hurt. He created them for a purpose. They are his. It is simply my job to be an example of Him to them. But how is that simple? How is that simple when I want to scream and yell and use the excuse that I'm tired. That this is hard? It's not. Unless I give up trying and yield fully to Him. Maybe that's what the long nights are for. Maybe it doesn't all have to be for naught. Maybe my thick skull can finally open up and learn something.
Last Sunday when I was home from worship for my second Sunday in a row, we had a family reading from the book of Luke and we read about the Lord getting into the boat with his disciples. He asked them to get in the boat with him. They obeyed. He went with them. Life should have been peachy--right? I mean, they obeyed. They should have lived happily ever after. Isn't that how I live my life? God asks me to do something and I either fight, fight, fight and then finally yield. OR, I obey right away and then expect a reward. When my kids do that I laugh at them. When they obey the first time and say "Do I get a treat, Mommy?", I laugh and say something like "for doing what you were told? Sure, you get the treat of not being punished!". But I somehow miss the irony that I live my life before the Lord that very same way, more often than not. Back to the disciples on that boat. Everything is not just peachy. They are in the boat with the Lord and a storm comes up. What is going on here???? Tadd poses the question to the kids and Ezra answers "The Lord is testing them." Yes he is. And they fail. He has to ask them "Where is your faith?" Just as he has to say to me every. single. day. At least the disciples listened to him. I'm often too busy not listening to hear His voice saying "Where is your faith?" I forget that He is in the storm with me.
These days of motherhood might be what I dreamed of for many years. And we did not enter into parenthood without much prayer. But there still are trials. And they are hard. And I don't enjoy every single. second. We got in the boat when He told us to--and He got in with us. When He tests us, it is to teach us to trust Him better, to love Him more and to help us enjoy this life He has gifted us--and someday Heaven--more fully. I was not sure how to stumble through this post about the messiness of motherhood. And it is messy. Broken bowl, box of cereal scattered on the floor with only 10 minutes to eat breakfast and run out the door to school messy. Mommy wearing mismatched pajamas and slippers in the drop off line at the school messy. Snot running down the face and eye lashes stuck shut from goop messy. All I know is that this post has been chasing through my mind all those awake hours in the nights. And, more importantly, He's in the boat with me. He's holding my hand. And underneath are the everlasting arms. He reminds me with the chubby hand wrapped around my neck and the soft cheek resting lethargically on my shoulder. He reminds me with the whispered word "Mommy". He reminds me with the monkey-bar calloused hand holding mine while we walk across the playground. He reminds me during the storm. He reminds me what a blessed privilege it is to be the only one who can comfort this precious little scrap of humanity when he is miserable.
I'll leave you with this gem of a quote from a very dear friend of mine who I look up. She was admitting what she considered to be a fault in her parenting and she ended by saying "Don't judge me! I do feed them!" It made me laugh. And laughter between sisters in Christ is just another reminder that underneath are the everlasting arms!