Things Moms Think (But Would Never Admit)

My kid is the cutest (or smartest or most beautiful)…you fill in the blank.

Your kid is more advanced developmentally than mine?  You’re probably exaggerating.

My baby looks tiny next to yours?  You must be feeding yours too much.

My baby is really chunky?  Yes sir, and I’m proud of it!

I could totally blame my indigestion on the baby and no one would ever know.

I’m trying to remember why I would have put the TV remote in the fridge.

I wonder if the other mothers’ bellies look like squishy biscuit dough?

Child, you are about to make me lose my mind.  But somehow I still love you anyway.

If the kids fall asleep in the car I’m totally stopping for a milkshake.

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The Grey Days of Motherhood, Outside Voices, and Joy

It’s late afternoon and I sit in my car on the side of the road overlooking a lake several hours from home.  We were supposed to be enjoying a rare, midweek getaway, but my husband had had some service calls to make and work to do, and I’d had to entertain the kids most of the day.  Both little ones were recovering from a nasty cold and were terribly overtired, and I finally just had to escape the room, thinking I’d get some peace and quiet.  But then the baby screamed in the car and wouldn’t fall asleep, and I couldn’t take it and had to pull over
So here I sit, parked in a dusty parking lot.  In the rearview mirror I watch the toddler’s head sag as he finally drifts off to sleep, and I look down to the fussy baby sitting on my lap.  The grey skies outside seem to reflect my heart all too well.  A hotel coffee mug with strong, black tea sits next to me, getting cold.  I decide to sit here until it’s gone, and then I turn up the music, heart weary.
“Messiah/You’re Beautiful” comes up on shuffle and peace immediately floods over me.

***

My head swirls with outside voices.  Voices proclaiming how strong and worthy working moms are.  On the opposite end of the spectrum, voices proclaiming how you should be able to handle baby after baby in succession and be happy about it.  And all I feel is failure in light of those voices.  Because I trudge away at home.  Because I don’t want to, or feel called to, have baby after baby for the rest of my childbearing years.  
I feel tired…so very tired.  And not just because of how little sleep I got the night before.  I feel soul tired.
Earlier that day I went to Target thinking I would be refreshed and instead spent the whole time bouncing and nursing a fussy baby, and wishing I just had a kid who’d fall asleep and stay asleep in their car seat.  Wishing, too, that I had more money to spend.  Wishing that the tall Starbucks coffee I’d bought wasn’t too small for the nifty coffee cup holder on the cart.  Wishing that I could just sit in a coffee shop for a couple of hours…with just quiet and coffee shop music to distract me.

***
The baby on my lap finally nurses.  I put her in her car seat and sing along to the music playing.  She rewards me with a big, toothless grin.  I realize that I wouldn’t trade a million quiet hours at a coffee shop for that one smile…that I wouldn’t trade a job or being super mom to a billion babies for that one sweet smile from my girl.
And I know that I won’t always be so tired.  That someday I’ll sit in a coffee shop, heart aching for the fussy baby smile.  
And I know that those voices are just voices.  They are not me and they are not God, and all they do is make me lose sight of what God has given me to do…and they steal from me the joy that is found in being exactly where God wants you.
And I know that my days will not always be easy.  Sometimes I may just want to scream and cry.  Some days may seem pointless and rote.  And that’s okay. That doesn’t make me a failure.  Even in those days, I am right where God wants me.  I know that He will give me the strength and wisdom to see them through.  

***
Later, I pause before going back in the hotel.  The sun is setting burning orange in a beautiful painting from the Lover of my soul…the perfect balm for my worn and weary heart.  And He knows it.  I am not alone.  He is what I need.  He is all I need.  
Both babies are napped and happier.  I think of the good food and good sleep that definitely hopefully awaits me inside.  Almost imperceptibly, joy creeps into my heart.  Joy that is only found in the center of His will…joy that cannot be quenched or lost, even on the greyest of days.  A smile creeps across my face.  And inside, I’m smiling too.   

To the Young Parents Out There

Recently, I found myself sitting at a friend’s home on a Saturday night watching a football game.  Truth be told, the little crowd that had gathered wasn’t really there to watch the game.  We were all mid- to late-twenty somethings with at least one or two kids apiece.  In reality, getting together for this football game meant being able to let our children play, eat some good food, and just be able to sit down, breathe, and have some grownup conversation.  By 9 pm, we were all falling asleep and ready to go home.  If you’ve got any number of little ones at home, I’m sure you can relate.
I’m sure you can also relate when I say that there are times that I look at the lives of my childless peers with longing.  Not that I want to be without children again, but that sometimes being a parent is so stinking hard.  And sometimes it’s the farthest thing from fun.
You see, when you’re a young parent, whether through planning or fate, responsibility weighs especially heavy on you.  Many of your friends are still single or childless, and one glance at your Facebook newsfeed quickly makes you realize that your place in life is not the norm for people your age.  You may feel like you’re missing out on all the fun and spontaneity that should come with this age you’re at, overwhelming burdens ever holding you back.  While your childless friends can just up and go out tonight without even a thought, you would find yourself wishing that you had enough money for a sitter.  And even if you did, you’d be scrambling to pack the diaper bag, only to end up having to cancel everything because one of your children had come down with something.  I repeat: sometimes being a parent is the farthest thing from fun.
But sometimes it’s the most ridiculously amazing fun.  
There’s nothing like the joy that floods your heart when your baby smiles at you for the first time, or the pride you feel when your child says thank-you to the cashier at the grocery store.  Your two-year-old can make you laugh harder than any comedian ever could.  And have you ever taken a kid to Disneyland?  It’s like being a kid and seeing the magic for the first time ever yourself.
I’m sure that our single, childless peers would find our Saturday nights lame and boring…proof that you shouldn’t have kids young.  Some may shake their heads and say that we’re tied down or missing out.  And maybe we are.  But I think they’re missing out too.  
If you’re a young parent, like me, your life stopped mirroring a Taylor Swift song a long time ago.  And that’s okay.  You can still have an amazing impact on this world, have fun, and enjoy your youth, even with little ones in tow.  Children and responsibility don’t have to be terrible things to put off and avoid.  In fact, sometimes the most freedom and joy is found when we are  “tied down” with little ones.  We know the purpose God has for us today because that purpose is looking up at us with a crooked little smile every morning at breakfast.  And knowing that gives us the freedom to grow and be and change and do without spending time worrying about committing to the wrong path.   
Someday when our kids are all grown and our peers are still raising theirs, they’ll be the ones looking at our lives with longing.  Meanwhile, we’ll be off adventuring and changing the world.