This morning, my mom homeschooled the boys and gave me the time off. I spent it first going to the dentist and then to get bloodwork done. After that, I went to the library, took out some books, and then stopped at Panera Bread. With a cup of Spiced Pumpkin Latte, I sat down at my own table and popped open my newly borrowed book.
Before all you moms get too jealous, let me state that this is an extreme rarity for me. The reality is most of my days are spent in work. Life is work — a lot of it. Parenting has its amazingly precious moments like when my 2-year-old falls asleep in my arms or watching my children throwing leaves in the air while laughing. Yet, the reality is there’s the drudgery aspect and the hard work. If you still have a “Cinderella” view of parenting, it’s probably because you aren’t a parent or are not being honest. The truth is some days, (thankfully they are once in awhile) I feel that I should check into a hospital or wonder if my kids will wind up in prison. Then, other days I find myself filled with a quiet joy as I have watched my child do something amazingly selfless or kind. Those moments are monumental to me.
When I was single, I used to watch moms of 11 children parent with such grace and joy. It looked so easy. My own mom made parenting look pretty easy. We knew our parents loved God. We knew God was real in their lives; we knew they spoke with much wisdom. We knew they were our authorities. We knew they loved us. I taught others children in the classroom, at camps, at Bible clubs, and I even trained others. I babysat. I thought that as a mother, I would open my mouth and great wisdom would pour forth. I would be patient all the time. I thought that my children would be these perfectly behaved miniature adults, with Godly behavior most of the time.
Then I became a mom! At first, there were adjustments, but I soon fell in love with my precious baby and life seemed almost dream-like. Then at only 16 1/2 months, he became a big brother. Suddenly, I had two babies who had great needs. I felt torn and wasn’t sure how to balance it all. Suddenly, my Cinderella bubble had popped. Close to when my second son was turning one, I was once again comfortable with life. (Ha! Ha! God says, “Comfortable? I haven’t called you to live comfortably selfish. I have called you to growth and to die to self.”) Then, I found I was pregnant again! In three years time, I had given birth to three boys. I quickly adjusted and life moved along ’til my third child became more mobile. Suddenly, I realized that I was not able to be the perfect mom. God was showing me that I was not able to go in my own strength. He was stretching me beyond my comfort zone. He was teaching me that I was completely dependent on Him. He was revealing my own pride and bringing me to the humble admission that I am not the perfect mom. In fact, sometimes I wonder why God even gave me these precious children to raise. Yet, He did! God was revealing His amazing grace, mercy, compassion, forbearance towards me!
So as I sat in Paneras this morning, I knew that these moments are rare and appreciated, but life isn’t about Paneras. It isn’t about having a comfortable life. It isn’t about having the “perfect” and “controlled” life with everything planned just as I want. If I think that I will have the “perfect” life by having more fun times like Paneras, I will be sorely disappointed. Truly it’s quite empty in itself. For me it was a time to be refreshed and to have time to think and rejoice in God’s blessings to me and in His goodness. It was a time that God used to revive my heart and to remind me that my life isn’t about my circumstances; it’s about my attitudes and outlook. I can be the happiest woman on the earth while cleaning poopy messes and hanging up the 1000th load of laundry if my heart sees it as an opportunity to serve my Lord and as I recognize that my highest calling, most fulfilling job, greatest blessings today is for me to simply raise my children as unto the Lord. No, it’s not a “Cinderella” life; but it’s a much more fulfilling life! Afterall, I am a mother.