We’ve been in our new town, new home, new chapter of our life for almost six months now. SIX. That blows my mind. However, it’s crazy that even with as quickly as the time has gone by, it feels like we’ve been here all along.
It’s becoming kind of difficult to remember life before. We miss our friends and family like crazy, and that will never change, but the little details are becoming a blur: the town, our old house, our way of life there…
There was a time after moving here to NC that I had a hard time accepting the change. I didn’t want to replace everything. We had just lost my dad, and I found it a little unfair to feel like I was losing everything else close to me. So it’s taken me a little while to find my groove here – to feel normal again. But I can finally (gratefully) say that we are settling a little more every day. This is slowly beginning to feel like home. I can say that I love it here, and mean it.
But if there’s one area that’s thrown me for a loop since our move, it’s my role as a mom. I can look back over the last couple of months and see lots of growth, but it sure hasn’t been easy.
We raised Selah in Pensacola for three years. That’s three years of discovering and learning and growing as a family, all while having a huge support system around us – friends to call on for advice or help, family to depend on to love our child and take care of her when we needed a break, friends for Selah to grow up with and spend time regularly with… We were just incredibly blessed to be surrounded by people. That was my life in every sense of the word. I thrived.
For the first days after our move, I was good. There was so much going on, that I didn’t have time to really focus on the depth of what had really just happened, or what I felt we lost. But very quickly, I found myself in a very lonely place, with a husband working a lot to navigate his new job, a way too large house to deep clean and unpack, a very busy toddler who needed alllll of me, and a lot of distance between me and everything that made me comfortable. And suddenly, I found myself consumed. Desperate for it all to not only make sense, but desperate to feel seen and heard again. Desperate for purpose. So I threw myself into the mission, reaching and looking for everything I thought would make everything feel normal faster.
So because I made normalcy my mission, I can look back and see how my true mission suffered. My true mission, my little 3-ft tall sidekick, she’s the one who really suffered. Because suddenly, my burning need for normalcy overshadowed everything. Every day, my first thoughts revolved around what I could do for the house to like it more; getting involved in anything and everything so as not to miss opportunities to make friends; figuring out how to have alone time… And mind you, all while I was still just going through the motions and making pb&j sandwiches, and cleaning up toys, and doing the whole mom thing. It is not, and was not about what I was or wasn’t doing physically. It was, and still remains a heart thing. An issue of perspective.
Suddenly, being a stay at home mom was completely overwhelming. I either felt like I wasn’t doing enough, or like too much was required of me. All. the. time. There was a nagging tension on the inside to give 100% of all I had to pour into my child, but still be able to find time for myself. The demands and the expectations I placed on my own shoulders day after day began to weigh too much. I felt incapable of taking care of the home, and the child, and the meals, and being present for Jeremy after his work day, and devoting time to my creative space, getting diy projects done, and getting outside for fresh air, and grocery shopping, and making friends, and doing it all with joy and gladness in my heart… because I was overwhelmed.
I think in one way or another, it’s every mother’s struggle. To be stretched so much, and give all of ourselves, and then have these moments where we find ourselves reaching to discover ourselves again. Because we matter, too, and we like to eat hot meals and take showers and have hobbies and stuff. Yet even without all of those leisurely pleasures, we can still completely love the stretching at the heart of it all… The juxtaposition. But as I’ve learned, when you’re holding tightly to what you don’t want to lose, or you’re constantly reaching for what you don’t have, it discourages and skews your perspective of what’s beautiful in front of you.
I attended my third Created For Care retreat last month. And I realized as I boarded my flight to Atlanta what a very tired, and lonely momma I was. I was struggling to find all the good in this parenting adventure as it seemed to be buried under a pile of stress, having recently endured a TON of change and transition. I was a little tired with the mundane. I needed a break from my day-to-day. Just felt a little empty, and like I didn’t have much more to offer than a few good meals and some vacuum lines.
While I was there, God brought me to some scripture in the book of 1Thessalonians. (I’m a big believer that there are just some details that are meant to be kept and treasured in your heart, so I won’t try to make sense of all the hows and whys for you.) But at one point during my retreat, I found myself sitting on the floor, my Bible in my lap, with tears streaming down my face as I read through the chapters. There was this message of a calling, and obedience, and faith staring back at me, and I was just completely overwhelmed by what I knew was being spoken to my heart. Somewhere along this journey of marriage, and adoption, and parenthood, and with all kinds of trials and tribulations and changes mixed in, I misplaced my love and joy for what I’ve been called to. I lost sight of my understanding what an honor it is to do what I do. And I guess that’s not hard to do when you are looking down on the mundane, rather than seeking God in it and trusting Him to reveal how beautiful and fruitful these days are.
Being a mom is a thankless role most of the time. It’s a position that isn’t often about you. It’s a constant outpouring til you’re running on “E”, losing your mind, your keys, your patience. It’s repetitive, and testing, and tiring, and confusing. It’s so hard. And when I’m having a day where I don’t really feel like doing hard, I turn selfish. And I get upset that I can’t get one stinking blog post done. I get a little resentful that I still have dining chairs to paint. I get impatient and snappy and I yell and I shame. And I end up the shamed one when my head hits that pillow… Feeling guilty because I know I can do better. She deserves better. I am called to better. Holier. So I vow that tomorrow will be different. I’ll grab hold of the new mercies, and we’ll have a fresh start.
But the thing is, Jess… That’s only possible when you remember. When you give thanks. When you see the calling over the burden.
There was a time when our house was silent. There was a time when friends walked away with their kids, and my heart and eyes burst wide open. There was a time when infertility was our everyday vocabulary. All I knew was the pain of barrenness. And then this little thing came and broke every wall and changed lives. We were called to the road that led straight to her, and it’s our highest honor.
And so while I know that the context of the book of 1Thessalonians has little to do with this place I’ve found myself in, as I read each word, God somehow brought back to life in me the calling that I walk in day after day. And it’s changed the flow of our days here at home.
It’s my heart’s desire to not just get through these days with Selah at home with me. I want to enjoy them, fully and on purpose. It’s my heart’s desire to not just take care of her essential needs of food, clothing, and shelter, but to nurture her heart and personality through quality time spent making our one millionth sandwich. It’s becoming more evident that she actually enjoys her time spent at home with her momma; learning some life skills that I’m sure she will carry with her forever. She feels valued when I include her in the littlest tasks like putting clothes on hangars, or giving her the job of putting away the silverware. When I keep the perspective of my calling, rather than burden, I become more aware of all the great qualities God gave me to be a good mom. I’m able to own my role, and be productive, and take pride and joy in the seemingly boring and mundane.
There will be days when the hard wins, and joy has to be fought for. It’s the ebb and flow of raising children. But the calling is worth enjoying, and being present for. It’s worth cutting out every thing that discourages. It’s worth relying on God, and watching Him do beautiful things with your life as you submit it all to Him.
The time is quickly approaching when this little thing will be gone and out from under my constant care. She will share firsts that I won’t always get to be a part of. She will trust others besides just me. She will grow up and out in countless ways, and I’m sure I’ll find myself missing what she might not.
The weekday icecream dates.
The book reading.
The morning cuddling.
The snack sharing.
The clean-up-your-mess teaching.
The play-doh creative sessions.
The unbuckling the seat belt so she can jump in the front seat when we get in the neighborhood so she can “drive”.
The pensive questions about what animals eat what.
The hand holding to cross the street.
Church as a family.
Connecting while correcting.
Nursing her back to health.
Every single thing that makes our days our days.
I will miss it.
God help me to gaze differently upon the mundane. For these are the good ol’days, and perhaps one of YOUR highest callings. We’re not just taking care of babies. We’re not just stay-at-home-moms. We are living and breathing every single day the gifts that You’ve given us. The gifts You have entrusted to us.
Even when the hard feels like it’s at it’s hardest, I’m so thankful for this life I get to live. And I’m thankful that at times when I get it wrong, and when I don’t do justice to being the momma that my sweet girl deserves, that God takes such care of me to gently lead me down the path of encouragement and refreshment.
The days of raising little ones is no easy feat. But it can be so good if we seek the good. Ponder the good. And make that our heart. Revel in these times, friends. These are the good ol’days! Be blessed!