“I don’t want to have any more children!” I confessed to Jerry late one night. We only had one child at the time. All of those early marriage conversations about adopting and having a large family seemed idiotic and idyllic-reality was just too hard to bear.
I had envisioned motherhood in a warm yellow,glowing light with fresh flowers on the table and a pressed aprons, a perfect home, and family dinner at the table every night. I would rise early in the morning like the Proverbs 31 woman, shower and put on pressed clothing, apply makeup and do my hair. Baby Guire would wake up smiling, giggling. We would spend the day cleaning, playing, sorting socks and preparing nutritious food together.
In the real Guire world, Jerry rarely made it home for dinner. I spent my days in an exhaustion-induced fog, wearing puke-covered PJs, catching up on Brady Bunch reruns while walking the floor with Audrey.
Why didn’t the daily tasks of motherhood fill me with joy?
Last Wednesday, I started a series on myths that parents believe. These myths keep us trapped in guilt and worry. I didn’t come up with these myths on my own. The credit goes to Leslie Fields, author of Parenting is Your Highest Calling and 8 Other Myths that Trap Us in Worry and Guilt.
“We are fed up with the myth -shamelessly hawked by the media-that motherhood is eternally fulfilling and rewarding, that it is always the best and most important thing you do… and if you don’t love every second of it, something is wrong with you.”- Susan Douglas, Meredith Michaels, The Mommy Myth
While I don’t agree with most of this quote, I can appreciate the “and if you don’t love every second of it, something is wrong with you”. I’ll get to that in a minute. There is a move in our society to diminish the value of motherhood and we are seeing the fruit of it in drunken brawls, warped morals and school shootings. Women are pursuing other goals, cause let’s face it ladies, motherhood doesn’t always make us feel happy or fulfilled.
The truth is- having a family is a good and godly purpose. Believing that children will always make you feel happy and fulfilled is a myth. Anything worth doing is difficult. I have never done anything worthwhile that I didn’t have to overcome some hurdles or hit some brick walls. Have you? Ask me how many books I have written and saved on my laptop? I go into freeze mode when it comes to revising. Does that mean I should stop writing? No. Of course not. That means I need help and some encouraging writing groups to push me to the finish line.
I hear Moms say that parenting is too hard. I agree. It is hard. So is power walking five miles or training for a 5k. I would put those tasks at the bottom of the list when it comes to ranking them in order of difficulty. Parenting would be at the top. Yet, we do both of them, not because they are difficult, but because they are worth it.
- Children are not in our lives to fulfill our needs. We are here to fulfill their’s.
- Children are a blessing (read through the beatitudes for a longer list).
- Happiness should not be our highest goal in life.
- Children are made in the image of God and have infinite value.
- Children help us learn to love as God does.
“I understood instinctively and theologically that until I poured my life out to others, my own desires would enslave me. I wanted paradoxical freedom that comes from giving my life away.” – Leslie Fields.
Early in my parenting years- my intellect and the current philosophy said it was “time for me” sprinkled in with some vain deceit, and I followed my own desires senselessly. I stayed up late watching what I wanted on TV. It was “my time”. The next day, I awoke cranky, tired, and craving more “me time”. I demanded it. When the kids wouldn’t nap, I became frustrated mama, not because I knew they needed sleep, but because I wanted time. My “me time” wasn’t the fufillment of necessary rest, but an excuse to self-indulge and my “need” for it kept growing larger and larger.
I had a holy confrontation coming and it hit me hard. When my kids starting having some major health issues, God turned me into a purposeful parent. Not a perfect parent. Just one who saw her purpose. After my book of revelations, I began to parent on purpose. To plan. To envision where my kids would be in ten years in spirit, soul and body.
Where do we find happiness?
Children teach us how to love, how to serve, how to walk in the fruit of the spirit. We are here to fulfill God’s purpose. So are our children. “God is using our children to conform us into the image of His Son.” (Leslie Fields)
Parenting is a worthy investment. It doesn’t always make us happy. Our joy comes from the Lord. We can receive that joy through parenting our children, but that doesn’t mean every moment is warm and fuzzy. Puke covered PJs still don’t make me jump for joy. We can learn to be content regardless of our circumstances. Some of them are poopy. Our feelings can fluctuate, but our purpose can stand. God’s purpose can stand. I don’t feel the same during mile five of a power walk as I do in mile three. Sometimes, after little sleep the night before, I feel as if I am a pirate with a heavy peg leg in mile five.
Maybe you feel like you are dragging today or this week or this month. Maybe you feel as if you are swimming through sludge? Wondering if parenting is all it’s cracked up to be. Maybe you’re up to your elbows in peanut butter and wonder if you really have a purpose in this life. “Every day is a Monday”. (Carly Jones)
Dear friend, don’t give up. Don’t throw in the towel. Grab a new cup of perspective. Ask God to help you find joy in some moments. Ask Him to give you an eternal perspective. Do the hard stuff and trust that God will take care of the results.