I remember when John Paul was barely a year old, and I met a woman who briefly shared something with me. I don't remember her name or how many children that she had in total, but I do remember that she said, "It took five children before I could fully surrender to motherhood..."
I've never forgotten those words, and while I know that every woman is different in what they can handle (or at least think that they can handle), I wondered if I, too, could surrender to motherhood at five...
So the question is not so much, "Have I surrendered to motherhood yet?" as much as it is, "What does surrendering to motherhood look like?" Well, lately I feel like the answer is being revealed to me... I am at my wit's end. (Warning: the following contains the spilling out of the contents of my heart. You may be scandalized by the raw information)
I am thinking, saying, and doing things that I swore I would never do and scoffed at mothers who thought, said, or did these things. I am tired of hearing my name at the end of the day. I raise my voice way more than I would like, sometimes because everyone's combined voices reach the decibel level of a vacuum cleaner and sometimes because I have down right lost my... uh patience. I get shaky with fear when I think about the truth that God is still calling us to raise a big(ger) family and get nervous when I've incorrectly assessed by daily fertility... what if I mislabel the day and we get pregnant and God's plan comes to pass before I've jumped on board?
We can't really go anywhere in public without someone throwing a tantrum. We were at the library today for all of 5 minutes before one of the children had a meltdown and I drug him by one arm to the corner while he continued to scream (and yes I got looks). So we basically don't go anywhere all day, and I'm that mom seeking out any neighbor who pokes their head out the door just to have an adult to talk to...
The baby has reached the "4 month sleep regression" stage of infancy, and while it's most definitely easier to handle than the first four children, it certainly was nice only waking up once. I said "the d word" when one of the kids tore open the band-aids in the grocery store and was immediately repeated... that's actually the first time, which is a miracle! And the kids have discovered the CD player in the classroom and how to work it, not to mention that most of our library books come with a read-a-loud CD. So from sup up to sun down (or when Daddy comes home) there is some form of music playing, and it ain't Paul Simon... BECAUSE IT KEEPS THEM OCCUPIED!
ANYWAY... let's take a break from this negativity for some cuteness
Cow Appreciation Day 2015... we got 5 free meals out of this cuteness!
Mary Clare- can't get enough of this precious girl!
Therese loves to dress as animals! MEOW!
Her creativity far surpasses mine... it's always interesting to see what she does with it!
Obviously it's exhausting
The Spidy is going to be 7 next month!
They're a little different in size.
With all this cuteness, what could possibly be the source of my woes? I share all this not for sympathy, but to provide a context for you. I have come to the realization that I can no longer get through the week without having a total "I'm going crazy, we're not having any more kids, and I'm not home schooling ever again" meltdown. If I'm honest -and I'm pretty sure that I'm being honest- I hit that place by Wednesday afternoon.
The truth is that I can't even make it through the day without realizing that I'm toast unless I FULLY open up to the Lord and put myself in a position to receive his CONSTANT grace. I wake up afraid to open the door and face the onslaught of kids and their needs. I reach the end of the day empty and with nothing left for my precious, handsome, loving husband. I've reach the point of needing to surrender...
In praying with Scripture today, I read this:
“No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment. Otherwise, the new piece will pull away from the old, making the tear worse. And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins.” Mark 2:21,22
HELLO!! Spiritually knocked of my horse! Each new child brings a new season, and with each new season, the old cloth JUST WON'T WORK! I can't have the same expectations of myself (or of anyone else for that matter) when the season changes. I have FIVE children now, not four. I have two who don't nap- not one. I have two children who have a tremendous need for quality time and physical touch- not one. I have a newborn who is actually a PERSON and not just a cute little peanut who should do the same thing EVERY day and respond the same way to the same set of stimuli each time. If I apply my old self and my old ways to this new season in our family, we will ALL be in big trouble.
It has also been part of my paradigm shift to remind myself as often as possible that THESE CHILDREN ARE GIFTS!! I am NOT entitled to them NOR do I deserve them... when that mindset is properly in place, I treat them a little (hopefully a lot) more like the gifts they are than the burdens that I sometimes treat them to be. And what is it that I feel like they stop me from doing? Folding clothes? Making a meal? Messing around on the computer? Typing a blog post? Talking on the phone? Sitting on the potty in silence? What I do IS ALL FOR THEM, with few exceptions, so why is their actual, physical presence burdensome?
"The great thing, if one can, is to stop regarding all the unpleasant things as interruptions of one's 'own' or 'real' life. The truth is of course that what one calls the interruptions are precisely one's real life- the life God is sending one day by day; what one calls ones' 'real life' is a phantom of one's own imagination." -C.S. Lewis
Maybe this season means that we only go a few places a week. Maybe this season means that I don't sleep in the middle of the day and that I don't get up to exercise and/or pray BEFORE the house rises (which is a daily goal of mine). I shouldn't go to the grocery store with everyone when the listen has more than 5 items on it. This season means that we have NOBODY over 7, and 2 1/2 potty trained kiddos, and one who actually listens the first time... this is the season. It won't always be this difficult I'm told. But even if it is, then the grace will be there if I open myself up to it. And I don't mean reading a book that encourages me and gives me some nuggets to chew on and a shot in the arm. A family retreat won't cure my sinfulness and weaknesses (we will have gone on two in the last 3 months after next week) Because although those things are super important and helpful, they don't take the place of grace and what God can provide for a FULL BLOWN PARADIGM shift... God's big enough. How many times has He done that for others?
If you see me out in public, know that we may not be able to talk because one of mine WILL run into oncoming traffic with glee... but maybe just remind me that I have tossed the old cloth because the "garment" is new and needs something/someONE different. Fully surrendering to motherhood might be defined as the DAILY taking advantage of grace or crash and burn. If I know what surrendering to motherhood looks like, then maybe I can take steps in that direction.
This is the season...
I should note that the timing of this particular post represents the beginning of this realization need for paradigm shift. I'll let you know when I feel like can say with confidence, "I surrendered to motherhood once I had five." It's a tall order, but this isn't the first time God has had to do something drastic with me.