Do What You Want To

Suspicious yellow puddle next to the toilet.

Toilet leaking or another culprit?

My mom instinct says to call my second born into the bathroom to ask his take on how that yellow liquid could have gotten there.

He comes in and sits on the stool he uses to reach the sink to wash his hands.  He sits there in his yellow (ironically) oversized pajama shirt, thinking very carefully about how he will respond.  The silence grows more and more awkward as does my certainty of his guilt.  I’m trying very hard not to smile because he looks so cute sitting there on that stool looking so pensive.  Every silent moment that passes assures me that our toilet seal is just fine.

Finally the kid speaks, “I think you will be mad at me.  I think I will have to go to the corner, but…I wanted to…pee in the trash can.”  He WANTED to pee in the trash can.  The confession of a 5 year old.

That smile that I was trying to hide erupted into laughter.  The little boy sits there nervously laughing along, ducking every few moments to check my face to make sure I am still laughing as I sit on the floor in front of him and in front of the condemning puddle.  I keep laughing, turning my head toward the wall because that is my only hope at getting it together and figuring out how to convince him that this really is a naughty thing that he did, not a hilarious thing to be repeated.

Oh the teachable moments.

I am thankful I could laugh about the pee puddle I found just last night.  I will confess, I started a blog a month or two ago that was titled, “Why I Hate Being a Mom.”  I chose the title because I knew it would grab the eye and people might read it out of shear curiosity.  The reason for writing the blog was because I was really struggling with being a mom, especially being a stay at home mom.  I never published it, because I really don’t hate being a mom.

But being a mom is hard.  There is no other calling in life that will demand so much of you, that will call you to die to your own desires and dreams, more than being a mom.  Of course, every mom has a choice.  We do not HAVE to die to ourselves.  We can still blaze forward, every bit as selfish as we were the day before, but two parties suffer:  Us and our children.

If you want to be a good mom, and I believe deep down every mom wants to be a good mom, then you will have to put the needs of other tiny people above your own.  You just have to.

I have been walking the mom road for 9 and a half years, and I have certainly learned a lot.  I can see evidence that God has grown my character tremendously (Thank you, Jesus).  My third is almost 8 months old and the sleepless nights with him compared to the sleepless nights of my firstborn have a lot less loathing and fear and a lot more cherishing and trust.

The circumstances taking place in the quiet (and sometimes not so quiet) of the night are no different, but I am different.  Branches have been pruned and some have been completely cut off.  God has been doing a good work in me.

Yet, there I was, about a month ago, pulling myself out of bed in the morning with nothing to look forward to.  What awaited me was the same routine of feeding the baby, pumping the extra milk, writing lunchbox notes, making lunches, checking the weather so my kids would know what to wear that day, pouring breakfast for the older two, reminding them that they can’t go to school in their jammies, reminding them of what needs to go in their backpacks, reminding the daughter for the 200th time that if she does not brush her hair, we will have to shave it because it will get so tied in knots, using spare moments to straighten up the house before loading everyone up and taking the older two to school.  That takes me to 8:20 every morning.  The rest of the day has been a tangled mess of feeding, playing with, and trying to help the baby nap while also trying to remember what the floor looks like near the washing machine because it’s been so long since I’ve seen it, constantly cleaning and straightening around the house, mowing the lawn and caring for the many four-legged animals outside, weeding (I really hate weeding), running errands so my family can eat, have money in the bank to pay bills, have clothes to wear, gifts to give, etc.  Sounds like a blast and a half, right?

If you long to be a mom, then I imagine you would read that and think yes, I would LOVE that.  If you are a working mom, you might be thinking, I do all that and more every morning.  If you are a fellow stay at home mom, you might be thinking, I get it or I love this life.

The truth is, we all have our own unique set of circumstances and the grass is not usually greener on the other side of the fence.  Grass stays green if it is watered and cared for.  You can’t jump the fence and enjoy the fruit of someone else’s labor.  If you do, it will not take long for your new lawn to start looking a lot like the side of the fence you left if you do not take responsibility for caring for your lawn.  The problem is not with the grass, the problem is with the owner of the grass.

I don’t hate being a mom.  I really am beyond thankful for the privilege of raising the three wonderful gifts God has given us.  What I realized as I sat at the computer a month ago, pouring out why being a mom is hard, is that I had not been doing a very good job of taking care of myself.  I had being pouring myself out every day, with nothing pouring in.  I was completely tipped over and I had three tiny mouths standing underneath looking for the last drop to fall out.  They needed me, but I had nothing good left to give.  I had a lot of yelling and impatience, but nothing good.

This has been a very full year for us, which explains how I found myself completely drained, but it does not excuse it.  There are seasons of life where it is easy to make time for yourself, and there are other seasons where you really have to fight for it.  It comes down to priorities.

Priorities.  What is important to you?  We make time for what we value.  Sometimes we have to readjust and reallocate our time if we notice that, though our heart might have started in the right place, the product is not what we hoped.  For example, I want to be a good mom, but by dying to myself constantly without doing things that bring me life, I have just been dying.

A big piece of being a good mom, is dying to yourself, but you also have to water the plant and keep it alive.  I’ve learned that I need some alone time with God, and I need to make time to do things I enjoy.  I came to this conclusion from looking at Jesus’s life.  Jesus regularly had alone time with the Father.  Jesus did fun things that I like to do, too.  He did crafts (he was a carpenter).  He went for boat rides.  He travelled.  He helped people.  I see that he enjoyed life, but he never lost sight of the Kingdom of God and his purpose for walking the planet.

How are you doing today?  Are you alive and vibrant or are your leaves and branches a little wilted?  It is not selfish to feed yourself and take care of yourself.  The people around you need you healthy (physically and spiritually).  God is THE source of goodness and health.  If you are a little wilted, make some time TODAY to spend with the Father and do something you want to do (that will bring you joy)…even if it’s peeing in a garbage can.

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