Desperate was the word that captured my feelings as a young mom of three under five years old.
Becoming a mom at 31, I did absolutely adore my precious children, but I was exhausted every day, never quite on top of the messes, sleep deprived and often short tempered. For a few years, I gingerly held life together, but seemed to become more weary and exhausted each passing day.
When my third child, Nathan, was born, he appeared perfect. An easy delivery, he slept through the night immediately and I thought, “This is going to be an easy-going baby!”
That lasted for three days.
From that moment on, he was absolutely unpredictable. He did not sleep through the night until he was 4 ½. When I would try to put him to sleep at nights, even as an infant, he would arch his back and scream and yell for thirty minutes.
From time to time, he was that child in a restaurant who would throw a chicken leg across the room, lay on the floor and kick and scream.
“No!” was his favorite word when Nathan was five years old. As the third child and second boy, it seemed he had to do something every day to get attention to be sure he was not overlooked.
“What am I supposed to do with a child like this?” I prayed every day.
I felt torn between loving my children and feeling inadequate and frustrated most days.
One day, I sat down in total defeat, a sense of darkness hovering over my soul, and wondering what I was doing wrong, I opened my Bible and read…
“Children are a blessing from God, the fruit of the womb is a reward.”
Slowly over the next days, as this verse began to capture my imagination, I began to ask God to show me my children from his eyes and to help me to know just how I was supposed to mother them.
Little by little, I fell in love with each child, and began to understand their unique personalities. Working diligently on patience, gentleness and giving them encouragement through thoughtful words, I began to see that I was changing and growing in my ability to manage and give grace to my children. But they were also changing, too. Slowly, they became more delightful, and more responsive.
God lives in my home, but sometimes I ignore Him and don’t hear the music He is playing just for me. This journey of mothering is a challenging marathon of moments, hours, days, months, years, and decades. And yet, in each moment, God has sprinkled across our paths beauty, love, and joy. We have only to cultivate eyes in our hearts to observe this Artist’s work of life.
Recently, as my new book Desperate – Hope for the Mom Who Needs to Breathe came out, I received a surprise email from my son, Nathan, who had first challenged my life so very much. It read:
Hey, sweet Mom,
I just wanted to take a moment and thank you from the bottom of my heart for living the kind of life you led. I realize now I really did have the best mom in the world.
I never knew how much it would mean, that in the mornings as we spent time reading the Bible together, how much those words would guide me as an adult. You always believed in me and gave me a vision for living my life to the fullest. Spending time being my friend when I know you had a zillion things to do meant more than you will ever know.
It was the feasts–every night, no matter what we ate, candle light and music and talking and talking.
Saturday night pizza and movie nights.
Bedtime rituals every night with back scratches and stories and one mama song
Washing dishes to Christian rock music to make it easier
Taking me into your room with hot chocolate and mama Nathan times to tell me how special I was.
More things than I can count, but, Mama, I always thought our home was the best in all the world place to be and you made it that way be being an artist of life.
As I am here in Hollywood, I see so many prodigals, searching, lost and hurting, because most of them have little support or love from home. I can’t tell you how honored I am to call you my mom. The work of moms really makes a difference!
But honestly the most amazing thing to me is the 30+ years you have given your life to serving God, by taking the time to serve all of us. I am so blessed to have you, and the work of your hands will pay off forever in HUGE ways.
Thanks for choosing the hard path of raising me, and putting up with all my “things”, and loving us enough to give up your whole life.
Love you, mama, you are the best!
Being an intentional mom has stretched me and challenged me more than I ever imagined, but the deep rewards of seeing my adult children become my best friends and watching them flourish, has been more fulfilling than I could possibly have ever known.