Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Being Real

Honesty is the best policy, right?  Isn't it good and right and godly to tell the truth?  I am rapidly learning in my years as a stay-at-home-mom that while yes, honesty is good and right, it is also shaded into an area of grey.  Maybe it isn't really honesty I'm talking about, but more like transparency.  Stay-at-home-moms are not transparent.  They don't share what it's like, how the job wears them down, or how they sag into the couch each night feeling defeated and wondering why God gave them this job to do.  No, moms don't delve into those details.

When you go out and about and take your kids places you see plenty of moms out too...at the library, the mall, the grocery store, the playground, the picnic table, etc.  Sometimes you just smile and nod and sometimes you sit and chat a bit.  Always the moms are happy.  Always they LOVE their job.  Always they feel fulfilled and satisfied.  Always they think their children hung the moon.

No one talks about it.  And when you experience it, you feel terribly alone and isolated.  Like something is wrong with you.  Like you're failing as a mother.  What is it?  It is job strain, the perpetual wearing down until you feel as though you are a broken record doing the same thing over and over again.  Get up, make food, clean up food, clean up children, dress children, discipline children, make more food, clean up food that no one ate, clean up children (again), discipline children (again), do house chores, make more food....  You get the idea.  The same thing.  Over and over and over and over.  Like a broken record.  I've had broken record syndrome now for the last few months and I'll be totally honest and transparent.  It is HARD.  Some days I wake up and I know what is before me and I wonder how I'll ever even make it to that moment of sagging into the couch feeling totally defeated by the day.  How can I put one foot in front of the other?  How can I do the same thing day in and day out and fight the same battles with my children day in and day out?  When this started happening to me I felt even worse as a mother.  No one wants to feel like a failure, least of all as though they have failed as a parent or mother.  I felt very alone and very isolated.  I felt like I couldn't share my true feelings with anyone because they'd look down on me as a mom.

Then I decided to be transparent.  This job, this thing I do all day long, it is HARD.  And I'm not going to say I'm down in the dumps defeated every single day because that isn't true, but I'm also not going to say I'm peaches and cream delightfully overjoyed to do this job everyday either.  Some days are easier than others.  Some days are happier than others.  And some days are downright ugly.  Yes, I love my kids.  But in real life, I don't always sweetly correct them or joyfully give them a five minute warning before we have to leave the park.  Sometimes I yell.  Sometimes I get angry.  Sometimes I lose my temper.  I don't always point them to the gospel when I correct them and I don't always have the perfect verse memorized to apply to every discipline situation.  I don't think well on my feet and give snap responses that aren't always the most logical or the best.  I am NOT a perfect mom.  I do NOT have it all together.  The more I found myself being truthful and honest...transparent...with other moms, the more I soon realized I was so not alone in how I felt!  Then why do we do that?  Why do we try to cover up and hide how it really is?  Why can't we moms just get real with each other and support and encourage one another like we should?  We are all so wrapped up in this image of the perfect mom and we're so busy try to attain that form of perfection that we don't stop and look around.  We want to only portray the "facebook" mom image--you know the one I'm talking about.  The one where you only post witty things your children said, talk about how ooey gooey in love you are with your babies, and post only photos that show just exactly how perfectly prim and proper each member of your family is.  No one ever posts a photo of their children throwing their lunch on the kitchen floor for the 15th time, or shares a video of their six year old begging and whining to watch one more video on TV.  Your status update never reads, "I yelled at my kids today.  Bad."  Let's get real!  This job is hard.  I struggle sometimes.  My friends struggle sometimes.  Why can't we be more transparent and honest with each other when things are tough?  That just seems too easy.

God has really been convicting me of many things in my life as a mom--one of them this battle within me to maintain a certain image to those around us.  Never asking for help because asking for help is a sign of weakness.  Never sharing a struggle I'm having, but only offering advice to those who seem to have it worse off than I do.  I think God's been trying to share this message with me for some time and I've been too busy keeping my image up to hear Him.  Then He decided He needed to get my attention.  Loud and clear.  With a five year old who is relating to me as I would expect to relate to him much later in the teen years, with a two year old who acts like they don't know their name, and with another two year old who giggles when discipline comes and sweetly says, "yup!" when asked if discipline is needed.  Things are hard.  Answers aren't there.  And we aren't a perfect family.  Nothing like having your image come crashing down around you to realize how wrapped up you've been in your identity as wonder-woman, super duper do it all, accomplish it all mom.

It's time to get real.  Honest.  Transparent.  God, I cannot do this without You!  I cannot accomplish this task of mothering these children alone.  I am desperate, God.  Desperate for you, your wisdom, your insight, your answers.  Speak to me and I will listen.  No more image.  No more identity as a "facebook mom."  I want to be me.

So what is life like with three ages five and under?  I'm going to be transparent.  It is a hard job!  It is tiring.  I sag into the couch each night and often I admit I feel defeated.  I struggle against feeling like a broken record.  I get angry with my kids.  Sometimes I daydream about running away.  I don't have the answers.  I battle with ugly sinful hearts.  I battle with my own ugly sinful heart.  I cry.  I try to hide my realness from others.  I sin against my children and have to ask them for forgiveness.  I lose my patience.  I feel lonely.  I feel like I've lost a sense of who I am.  It is hard.  But it is so, so good.  Not the ooey gooey facebook my life is wonderfully perfect kind of good.  Or the "I met you at the park and isn't being a stay at home mom wonderful" kind of good.  It is the hard, deeply satisfying good that comes when you see God's hand at work--His Spirit moving.  How can it be good in the midst of all the struggle and heartache?  Because I realize how needy I am.  How thirsty I am.  How desperate I am for a Savior.  I see my broken attempts to parent and my failures as a mom and without His mercy, His grace, I'd have nothing to show for it.  Thank you, God, that you can take these broken pieces, this pile of dust, and make it into something beautiful.  Thank you for this struggle, Lord.  And thank you for helping me to get real and be transparent.  I cannot--CANNOT--accomplish anything apart from You.  Anything that drives me closer and into a deeper realtionship with the Lord must be good!

Moms, be a friend to the other moms around you.  Be honest with them.  Open up to them.  Share and be transparent.  Then pray for one another.  Point each other to the gospel.  Help us keep Him from getting lost in the shuffle, lost in the struggle, or drowned out in the battle.  He promises to be ever present in our battles.  Don't face them alone.

"And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up."  Galatians 6:9