It was day one, leg one of the trip and a series of events caused us to leave for our move eight hours later than we planned.Couple that with the exhaustion from loading furniture all day and you’ve got yourself the perfect storm of parental weariness.
So, when we pulled into the motel at midnight, unloaded our overnight bags and very shaken up cat, we all just wanted to go right to bed. Having a dinner of crackers, cheese, apples, and chocolate kisses- we were thankful for the continental breakfast offered in the coyote ugly bar attached to the motel (yes, y’all there was a for really real bar with a dance floor and animal heads. I’m pretty sure there was a broken mechanical bull in the corner- don’t worry I steered clear of the hard boiled eggs). We all were looking forward to breakfast, except my oldest Tyson, a dried, salted meat aficionado who ate (and soon paid for) a whole bag of turkey jerky in less than an hour.
Around 1am, I fell asleep and it seemed like seconds later when my son’s running and retching an hour later, yanked me awake. My poor son had food poisoning, or sour stomach, or something, but he threw up for the next days.
Because I’m a Mama, I stayed by him through the night.
To say, I was weary would be an understatement.
Lying on the edge of the double bed, half asleep/half away, waiting for the next moan or scurry to the bathroom I wanted to give up. Not on the road trip- we were already too far in, plus we effectively had no place to live since we turned in the key to our Cambridge apartment. . No, on the seemingly absurd idea of blessing people along the way. At the moment of bone deep, soul aching weariness, I wanted to be the one blessed. It felt so easy to grab my phone and start emailing all the future bomb recipients that we’d stick their bombs in the mail instead of meeting up. I mean- Google Maps said we were less then seven minutes from a post office. I could slip out at 7 while the family slept, slapped some postage on those babies and be done with it.
And no one would blame me. In fact, I was sure that my most trusted mentors would have applauded what seemed like a very wise decision.
But this is where I remembered my go-to phrase for motherhood. “Do you, Mama! Do you.”
I had to stop and access my heart. I wondered if giving up on the love bombs would be the best thing for me. Not necessarily my kids, but me. You see, while it’s true that our babies are affected and, hopefully, changed for the better by our choices, so are we. I knew if I chose to give up, or change the plans to cut out the personal connections between my family and the people we were blessing, I’d miss out on becoming a better person and, by extension, a better mama.
Lying there on the pukey, smelly floor I realized, that I just had to do me in my weariness, for myself. I know I thrive on personal connections, and my love language is gift-giving, and I enjoy big elaborate plans. This I know about myself. And while practicing shalom is always a good idea, I had to do it in a way that brought a glimmer of joy to my heart. That’s how we leave pathways to Jesus for our babies, we walk them in our own strides, with confidence that he knows and loves us just the way we are.
I knew if I put those packages in the mail in the quietness of the morning, it might quiet the still small voice of the Lord in my babies’ lives when they’re faced with the weariness of giving to others or the temptation to avoid people when vulnerability feels too excruciating for them. I had to do me, and let them see it, and so I emailed and changed some of the logistics of the drop offs and shortened our time with each person/organization, but I stayed to true to myself. I made sure to value face to face meetings, good conversation, and most of all fun.
The “fun” the next morning, post-Puke Apocalypse was simply hot cocoa with whipped cream for all non-sick children. But it was something and the kids met our good friend who nominated, Rise up Rochester. Even though I was exhausted, I was also inspired.
Do you, Mama. Do you.
I think we often come to motherhood trying so hard to fit into another mama’s example. Something works for your friends, so it HAS TO WORK for you and, y’all, let me tell you something… that’s crazy.
Maybe you’re so tired and it’s a complete triumph that you remembered to microwave edamame for the kids on their eighth consecutive night of chicken nuggets for dinner. You’re teaching those to be babies to be creative, flexible, and content. Do you, Mama. Do you.
Maybe you’re can’t help but laugh at your tween’s theatrics. He’s chocked full of hormones and indignation. Oh good, Lord. Laugh at him. Let him see that this too shall pass and he’s not the center of your universe. Do you, Mama. Do you.
There is grace from heaven offered when you humbly accept that your way, is just that: your way. You know what else? There’s strength for those moments of weariness when you doing it your way rubs up against another mama doing it her way. Strength to find a common ground and offer respect that comes from knowing yourself, your limitations, and your worth.
While I laid on that nasty motel carpeted floor, I though of Galatians 6:9.
We love quoting that verse because it’s a promise. Don’t give up and eventually you’ll see the finish line.
I like that, but it seems ambiguous, doesn’t it. What is this good, Paul keeps talking about? When is this “proper time”? And tell me more about this harvest? Because seriously, mama wants a baby to get in to Harvard.
Maybe if we looked at the context and read a few verses before we might find some, not all, but some answers to our questions.
“Carry each other’s burden and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. If anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves. Each one should test their own actions for each one should carry their their own load. Nevertheless, the one who receives instructions i the word should share all good things”
From that passage there are three ways I want to move forward when I talk about motherhood on this blog and in my daily life.
1: I want to carry your burden because I love you.
Tell me your hard stories, your funny stories, of ohmygoodness Imma bout to hurt a child stories. They are safe in my arms. This is a judgement-free zone. When we gingerly carry each other’s mama burdens, we fulfill that law of Christ that’s bedrock is made of indestructible love. Christ carried our burdens, in fact, this week we’re remembering it. We’re remembering that He first opened hands and said, “tell me your hard stories of living in this broken world, your grimy stories of past failures, your horror stories of sins you can’t break free from and let me carry in my arms. They are a safe with me and will nail them to my cross.” My approach to motherhood is Do you, Mama. Do you. Be real with me about who are you and trust that I’ll be real with you.
2: I’m not going to be anyone or anything than myself.
I don’t have time for deception. I don’t for time to wade in the dirty waters of pretense, scheming, and shame that comes when I try to be someone I’m not. I laugh at my kids when they act a fool. I make silly jokes to break tension. I talk about the poor and lonely because I once was poor and lonely. I love epic, grand gestures because I’ve got a house full of drama babies who take after their drama mama. This is me. It’s probably not you and that’s ok. Do you, Mama. Do you. Be big. Be bold. Be still. Be quiet. Be passionate. Be silly. Be you. Do you, Mama, Do you.
3: I’m going to check my heart before I share about my motherhood and I’m going to share only what I think will make you smile, grow, or sigh with relief.
Because, yeah, I’m flawed and learning. My oldest is twelve, so I’ve only been a mom for twelve years. Somedays, I rock. Somedays, not so much. But I know me. I know I love my babies with a fierceness that can take my breath away, this is good because love, sacrificial, Christ-center love always brings the dawn of resurrection morning. I also know that humility, Good Friday afternoon, stretched out thin and broken humility, reflects the inclusive love of Jesus for all mamas and makes space for all of you as you Do you, Mama, Do you. I’ll never share on Facebook or this blog anything about my mothering that doesn’t whisper to your fragile, Mama heart, “you are loved and there’s space of you here”. Do you, Mama no matter how broken you feel. Do you.
This place is safe and any suggestions I give or stories I tell on motherhood come from my experience, my love for you, and my excitement in the ways Jesus will meet you as you mother your brood.
Do you, Mama. Do you.
Seeking Shalom of Doing Me,