This is hard.

Well hello there, blog. Nice to see you! It’s been a while.

My lame excuse for not posting was that I haven’t felt like I had something worthwhile to share with the world. And the longer it got since I last wrote, the more epic of a post I felt I had to write in order to justify my absence.

Silly me.

You know, I thought that as I gained experience as a mother, I would have more and more wisdom to impart to mankind. But the opposite has been smacking me in the face lately. The longer I venture into motherhood, the less wisdom I feel I have!

So I decided I’d better swallow my pride and do some therapeutic writing, and hope my readers hadn’t given up on me.

Today is a day of honesty. It is a day of me releasing the preconceived expectations I had for myself and being completely true and real and transparent and vulnerable.

Today’s topic is: Motherhood is hard.

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Like, I’m not kidding. It is really, really hard.

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I thought being a music teacher was hard. I was on my feet all day, controlling large masses of middle schoolers, dealing with high school drama, schlepping sound equipment, grading papers, organizing field trips and concerts and productions, and showing up to parent conferences. I was good at teaching, and I loved my students, but it was exhausting. I was so excited when I turned in my keys and my badge to become a loving, purposeful, organized, creative, put-together, nurturing mother. How wonderful it would be!

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And it is indeed wonderful. Especially those first few months, when my newborn’s needs were easily solved with food, sleep, or a diaper change. I was obviously going to be an excellent mother, because God had given me this calling, and I had read every book on the shelf, right? I had two degrees, a wonderful church, and a supportive, intelligent husband! We had saved our money for four years before having kids so that we would be financially prepared! We did everything right! So we were going to be perfect parents, raising perfect little image-bearers as a model family for the Lord’s glory!

Right…?

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How little I knew.

I forgot that God only receives glory when I stop giving it to myself.

And thus began the slow process of the Lord breaking my pride and humbling my spirit. It wasn’t long before I started realizing that my plans for how Julia would behave and how I would train her began backfiring. Everything I told myself I would never let her do (watch TV, sleep in our bed, eat processed foods, nurse herself to sleep, etc.) she has already done. What I thought was early-onset separation anxiety at two months now seems like nothing compared to the panic and tragedy that befalls my daughter if I so much as look in another direction for three minutes. She has gotten sick multiple times, tumbled halfway down the stairs, struggles with sleeping through the night, refuses to drink breastmilk out of any form of bottle or sippy cup, throws her finger food on the floor, and has a non-stop tantrum if anyone but a select handful of people watch her. And most recently, she refuses to sleep in her crib during the day.

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I know there are lots of parents out there who have kids with major health crises, family tragedies, multiple children, financial difficulties, and relational issues, and I know that compared to them my life is cake. God has not called me to pass through those kinds of trials yet, so He has not given me the extra grace required to endure them.

God only gives enough grace for the life to which a person is called, and no extra. This is how He glorifies Himself – by requiring us to depend on His strength made perfect in our weakness.

This past week or so, I have felt like I’m teetering at the very edge of this “one baby grace.” There has been so much crying (on everybody’s part), so many questions, so many wrong decisions, that there have been many moments when I have felt completely broken.

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There are a lot of things that are bothering me deep down inside my sinful heart. The foremost is the realization that I’m not as good of a mother as I thought I was going to be. In fact, I pretty much stink at being a Mom. Every day I’m bombarded with my own failures – “I should have done this…” and “My sister-in-law would never have done that” and “Why didn’t I get this done?” and “Why did I just let her do that?” I get lost in my own sea of real and perceived guilt on a daily basis. Can any of you moms relate to this?

Compounding this problem is the fact that I used to think I was good at teaching – in fact, in my prideful heart, I thought I was really good at being a music educator. And now that I have exchanged my career for the full-time job of mommyhood, it  disturbs me deep down inside that I’m not “good” at this new occupation.

My whole life, I’ve always strived to be the best at everything I did. I was the straight-A student, the obedient daughter, the talented musician, the model Christian.

But I want to be totally honest with you right now and tell you that there have been many moments in recent days when I felt like I was good at nothing. 

I know this is a lie from Satan. And I’m not trying to throw a pity party. But in the moment when my ten-month-old child, who did not sleep through the night last night, and who has been crying all day, stiffens her legs and arches her back in a final screaming protest of her usually-beloved bath, and I have no idea why she is upset or what could possibly be wrong… it is very easy to believe Satan’s lie.

It is in this moment that I am most broken.

But it is also in this moment that I cling most tightly to Jesus.

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And this, dear friends, is why our sovereign, gracious, and loving Lord puts these moments of difficulty in our lives. In this last week, my relationship with the Lord has learned a new passion. My times of (mostly desperate) prayer have been sweeter. God’s Word has penetrated my heart with more power. My worship has been more transparent.

I had already discovered that clinging to my own abilities and qualifications as a mother leaves me more bewildered than when I started. But in the midst of a very hard week, I am seeing how the fruit of brokenness is hope.

My hope is not based on other peoples’ affirmation of what a great job I’m doing or what a wonderful daughter I’m raising. My hope is in the Lord’s ability to move and work in my family despite me. My hope is in Christ and Him alone.

So if you are doing something hard right now, take heart! It is in this very hour that God will speak to your soul most clearly. He has not left you – He is carrying you. And He wants you to be broken, so that He can pick up your scattered pieces and forge together a better and more Christ-like you. “He must become greater; I must become less.”

And for those of you who are not doing something hard right now…well, DO SOMETHING HARD! As a teacher, I saw a whole lot of students whose parents rescued them out of every difficulty. But doing hard things is the only way to really grow up. Don’t give up on something because you think it is too difficult. There is no such thing as “too difficult” for God. Maybe He will use the challenge to break you, and if so, Hallelujah!

May His strength be made perfect in your weakness.

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11 thoughts on “This is hard.

  1. Wow. This is a beautiful post. I really needed to read this today; thank you! I encounter the same guilt, self-doubt, and frustrations you’ve described. You’ve given me a new perspective and helpful words to keep at the forefront of my mind. Thank you, friend. 🙂

  2. My prayer as a mother is that I won’t get in the way with what God wants to do in my children’s (now adults) lives. Sometimes rescuing is very easy, allowing them to learn through their life experiences is much harder. I loved your blog today Joy! Thank God He is in control and not us mothers. We aren’t perfect but prayerfully we won’t get in the way of our children getting to know Him!

  3. Thank you, Joy. It’s so refreshing to hear your honesty about life, about parenting,and about our own pride. So often I close “Facebook” feeling like the worst mom–ever. Everyone else seems to have it all together. I don’t take my kids on outings every day or have loads of pictures where they’re all hugging each other and smiling! I don’t refinish furniture, I don’t make bread, I don’t make clothes –I don’t even make my bed most days! This isn’t at all what i pictured my “perfect” little family to be.
    But somehow, in the midst of God’s grace, I’ve realized that 1. Life has stages that come and go. 2. God’s ideas of what’s important in a family and my ideas are usually very different. and 3.Prayer helps!
    God wants us to have HIM– not just have kids that know manners, can read well, ride a bike, and sit quietly in a shopping cart! (although these things would be nice).
    Praying for you and your family. Sounds like you’re in a good place right now– humble and at the feet of Jesus. Love you guys,
    Anna Swanson

  4. Hi Joy,
    Anna’s comment is very timely. Be encouraged: remember in our study it said that we are not making Christians, God does that. God-fearing and loving parents are the greatest gift a child could have. Just nurturing them and brining them up in the admonition of the Lord is a blessing. Children are a blessing and a heritage and His reward. Treasure what you, continue to seek Him, love and follow Him and delight in His ways. A godly marriage is also a reason to experience great security in the midst of sin and stress. God first, mate second then kids. Remember, Lord willing, after your children leave you will be “alone” with your husband again. This is God’s design and works the best. Children are an extension of the two of you. Remember one & one = three! The attributes of a loving and God-fearing husband and father are so needed in this time and space. So just continue to trust Him and follow Him and He will do it, whatever is in His sovereign plan for you all.:)

  5. She is a beautiful little girl. She sounds strong willed. I think this means that when she faces temptation, she will say no to it and follow God. A mom’s job is very difficult. She must learn each of her children’s strengths and weaknesses, talents and challenges, the good and the bad, and then she must train up her child in the way she should go. Fortunately, none of us need do this alone. You have the Holy Spirit of God living in you. He loves your precious child more than you do. He will help you. One difficult day or season of days does not define your competence. God has called you to this work. He has equipped you for this work. You are competent and committed.

  6. Pingback: Battle-Winning Worship | PooleHouseWife

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