Written by Melanie Singleton
This calling of motherhood is hard. For years, I dreamed, begged, and pleaded for children. I imagined days twirling through green fields between mountains– The Sound of Music experience. Other dreams included casually strolling the mall with a quiet, sleeping baby, braiding a daughter’s hair, throwing the football with a son. I deeply longed for this.
Books told me it would be hard, being a mama. It was as if I was studying for a PhD. I thought I would be prepared, you know? My heart wasn’t the sterile coldness of words on pages of the books I read, but brimming with yearning for a family.
Eight years after our wedding, we conceived and birthed three children within three years. It was often crushing and suffocating, and not the picture I imagined– the life of newborn feedings, sleep deprivation, toddler tantrums, and isolation from friends.
But God’s grace seeped in, and I began to soak up the daily rhythm and adjust to sleeplessness, baggy sweatshirts smeared with baby mess, and body odor (usually my own). Still, other days I seemed to lose myself and who I was.
Anger could sink in fierce, as I craved peace and control.
Then I entered into the high weeds of pandemonium, and a homeschooling mama’s life– slipping in conversations of Proverbs 9, Amos, and Jeremiah, while praying in the mess of cinnamon toast crumbs, jelly biscuits, and orange juice. Cleaning breakfast dishes and juggling math word problems is mentally draining for me.
In the midst of schoolwork, it often feels like I’m juggling wild tigers. I try to balance different ages and stages, and each child’s individual needs. Children are normally placed in different rooms to limit distractions; however, it is fascinating the amount of havoc that sneaks into a room the moment I exit to help another child. Not surprisingly, I typically don’t return to perfectly behaved children working on assignments.
One day last spring, I stepped away for five minutes while my daughter was instructed to complete a handwriting assignment and my son told to work on math.
When I reappeared, the atmosphere had shifted from a schoolhouse to a surreal comedy sitcom. My daughter was standing with her weight shifted to one foot, her head tilted with a play phone to her ear, as she was transformed into an adventurer who had to take a phone call. To her credit, it was a very animated pretend conversation, jammed with expression and hand gestures. She was so absorbed in her conversation that she was oblivious to my presence.
Her brother was just a few paces away, submerged in his own world, as columns of numbers lay bare on the table. Somehow, he unearthed a rope and tied his foot to his school chair, his body propelled over the couch.
These moments often send me reeling into control and anger. But by God’s grace, on this particular day, I laughed. Hard. I was sinking deeply into their insanity.
My son informed me he was a dog tied up. How about tying your body to the table and complete those mathematical digits?
As I was making lunch a little while later, I felt a presence approach near my elbow. A little voice shyly inquired, face downcast, if I’d have lunch outside in the sunshine. On the patchwork quilt, alone with him. And I said yes.
I was reminded that particular day, and many days since, that I don’t have to do it right. On the hard days, when I feel crushed beneath the weight of motherhood, sin entangling my ankles, in the weeds of piercing noises from children, and my body flailing underneath the mountains of craziness, I can choose to remember that I already have Someone who’s done it perfectly for me.
The One crushed for me.
So I laid on that patchwork quilt and rested with my boy while he ate his lunch. Sunlight spilling on our upturned faces. Yard thick with clover, wild onion, and dandelions. Under twisted limbs of oak with hints of spring—bright green leaves unraveling overhead, pink azaleas in full bloom behind us, and yellow dust covering everything, he smiled a sly smile to have me all to himself.
Because our days are about the resurrected life. Tastes of Heaven in the mess. Hope in the storm. Grace in the moment. Joy in the crazy. Laughter through the tears.
About the Author: Melanie is a daughter to the Most High King. She spent most of her life running from the True Giver of Life and is tremendously grateful daily for His rescue. She has been married to her man for nineteen years and has three biological children and one foster daughter. She is a strong advocate for orphan care and the body of Christ answering the call to care for the least of these. You can find Melanie here: blog, Facebook, twitter, google+.