Six years ago, when my blog was starting to take off and I was accepting more speaking opportunities, I realized something. No—that’s not entirely true. It was more like my kids called a meeting. They elected a representative to make their first appeal. Savannah approached me as I was working in the kitchen. “Mom? Can we talk? Would you like some tea?”
I hesitated for a minute.
“Can you sit down for a minute?” she continued. “The kids sent me to talk to you.”
Uh-oh. This could not be good.
“We’ve been talking, and here’s the thing, Mom. You know the Egyptian sarcophagus that we started making last year for world history? Well, we never finished it. And remember that time you said we were going to go on a walk every day and pretend we were explorers like Lewis and Clark? Well, we only went for two walks. And remember . . .?” This went on for what felt like five minutes before she finally concluded, “We don’t think you’re fun anymore.”
In an instant, everything I’d promised God I would work on with my kids—patience, maturity, good listening—was forgotten. I was instantly mad and hurt. I felt like giving up, but instead I just lashed out.
“Oh really?” I said. “Well, right back at you! I don’t think you’re much fun either! When was the last time you offered to help me clean up the sarcophagus mess without being asked? Huh? That’s why I quit! And I didn’t like taking walks every day since all you kids did was argue about who found what first! So I guess it goes both ways, doesn’t it?”
Savannah looked at the floor, avoiding my icy stare. “Well, I guess I’ll tell the kids.” And with that, she got up quietly and left me alone with a baby on my lap and a badly bruised ego. I suppose a good mom would have gone after her and apologized, but I was just so tired. And I confess—I was embarrassed, too. Kids see the real us, don’t they?
In my effort to make everyone happy, it seemed I wasn’t making anyone happy. Including myself. I was struggling to keep up with daily life. I was easily irritated. Things that used to bring me joy no longer did. I needed to hit the reset button.
I know it’s tempting to think we can do it all. But in the past twenty years, I’ve met many gifted moms—bloggers, authors, organic gardeners, homeschool superstars, speakers, nurses, doctors, attorneys, and foster moms—and guess what? I’ve never met one, myself included, who can do it all. Sometimes you just have to let go and trust that God has everything under control. If I were sitting with you right now, I’d look you right in your beautiful mama-eyes and remind you that you can trust God. He has a plan, and I promise, it doesn’t include burning you out and leaving your family resentful and sad.
If we’re going to be strong as mothers, we have to start being honest about where we invest our time and energy. Brutally honest. The rise of antianxiety medication in our culture is telling. It seems that despite all the advantages modern technology affords us, we’re a generation of stressed-out mothers.
As a recovering control freak, I’m here to tell you something: most of the stress in your life comes because you put it there. (Don’t get mad at me!) Let’s think this through for a moment. Sure, there are things that happen that are outside our control. Children get sick. Jobs end. For the most part, the truly bad things that happen to us are unplanned and largely unpreventable. Am I suggesting that you stop buckling your kids into their car seats since we can’t control our futures? Absolutely not. Do what you can—and then live your life in such a way that your children can see where your trust is.
But when we live our lives in a pressure cooker of our own design, what we’re saying to our children is that we don’t believe God is capable of handling the problems and struggles life throws at us. When we believe God is in control of our circumstances, we free ourselves to move from stress into a position of strength. It all comes back to priorities.
So what’s on your plate that shouldn’t be there? What can you remove or hand off to someone else? What outside activities have you committed to that aren’t yielding the return you hoped they would? What have you said yes to without first seeking the Lord? Are your children and husband getting the rest of you . . . or the best of you?
Tired mom, think with me for a minute. How many times have you been “too busy” to pray and access the divine power God wants to give us? How many times have we denied our souls the chance to drink from living water in favor of something else? If we’re honest, this is all too easy to do. It’s easy to become busy and forget that the job of mothering this generation has made us a target for the enemy of our souls.
Listen: Satan is a lot of things, but he’s no dummy. He knows that a weary, worn-out mom is going to be less likely to pray and read her Bible—and this is often where the cycle of fear and weakness begins. For example, have you ever felt the sting that comes from letting your flesh dictate your response to a mouthy child? I have! Oh, how I’ve regretted things I’ve spoken out of a weary, dry soul. When we allow ourselves to believe the lie that we can do this mothering thing apart from the grace of God, weariness starts to settle into the deep places of our hearts.
When I’m frustrated or tired, my human response to stress is often to phone a friend or find counsel from a good book or a speaker. Meanwhile, God is saying, I’m here! Come to Me, and I will give your battle-worn heart a rest. Let Me restore your heart.
The next time life throws you a curveball, stop and pray. Pray with your kids. Pray in the quiet of your own heart. Ask God to cover you, and then live like a woman who believes she is protected and loved. Remember, you’re a daughter of the King, and He wants to spend time with you. Just a few minutes each day reading the Bible and laying your burdens at His feet will make all the difference in the world.
Adapted from Becoming MomStrong: How to Fight with All That’s in You for Your Family and Your Faith by Heidi St. John.