She sat at the table staring out the window, waiting for me to get my coffee. Her eyes were distant when I slipped into my chair, and I sensed something was wrong.
“Renee, how do you do it? You seem like you love being a mom and I feel like I’m sinking. I have no idea what I am doing.”
It was the beginning of a vulnerable conversation and a gut-honest confession: I love my kids, but I haven’t always loved, or liked, being a mom.
When my boys turned into toddlers who wouldn’t listen, I panicked inside. All the other moms looked like they knew what they were doing. Secretly, I wondered, What is wrong with me?
I was young, and my expectations were high. Surely, I should know how to stop my three-year-old from trying to climb out of the grocery cart without causing a scene. And why couldn’t I get my five-year-old to understand we could not buy every item his little hand could touch?
I felt like such a failure.
Almost daily, I compared how I felt on the inside to how other moms looked like they had it all together on the outside.
Holding up my feelings of inadequacy and insecurity in contrast to the moms who dressed their children in matching outfits and clothed themselves with attitudes of grace and wisdom, I wondered how in the world they pulled it off with a smile? I could barely get a shower, get my kids dressed, and get us out the door before lunch.
I wanted to quit.
One afternoon, I came home from running too many errands with two tired and fussy kids. After putting my boys down for an early nap, I searched our house for pink construction paper so I could write “I QUIT” on it and turn in my “pink slip” when my husband got home from work that day.
While the boys were napping, I pulled out my journal and wrote down all my disappointments and frustrations, questions and fears. I’ll never forget how I felt inside as these words spilled on the page, “Lord, I can’t do this! I just want to quit.”
The worst part was believing God was just as disappointed in me as I was in myself. Yet in that messy place of surrender, it felt like His peace came and sat beside me. Like a deep breath, His presence calmed me.
Opening my journal again, I wrote down what I sensed God whispering to my heart: You’re right, Renee. In your own strength and with your own perspective, you can’t do this. But with My promises, My perspective, My presence, and My power, all things are possible. I will help you become the mom you want to be, the mom I created you to be, the mom your kids need you to be.
Turning the pages of my Bible to a familiar promise, I found comfort and courage in these words: “You give me your protective shield; your right hand supports me; your willingness to help enables me to prevail” (Psalm 18:35 NET).
I needed a new place to start.
The day I wanted to quit became a new starting place for me. It was the day I started to realize how unhealthy my critical thoughts and comparisons were and how much of a residual effect they had on me and my kids.
It was the beginning of God unraveling my false beliefs about Him and unrealistic expectations of myself. In the days that followed, as I set aside time to evaluate what was shaping my perspective, God reshaped my understanding of His heart towards me as His daughter, and how He wanted to parent me as His child. Over time, His grace and truth transformed how I saw myself as a mom and shaped the ways I began to parent my children.
Wherever you are, God wants to meet you there. If you’re in a hard place and feeling like you want to quit, I’m praying for you today, asking Jesus to help you find your own new place to start.Wherever you are, God wants to meet you there. -@reneeswope: Click To Tweet