They warned us, didn't they? All those soft wrinkly ladies in pink sweaters sitting in the church pews ahead of us, leaning over our swaddled joy on the first day we braved the outside world with our newborns. They told us we had just embarked on the hardest job the world has ever known while smiling warm beams of admiration down onto our children. So how hard could it be if we'd someday end up in our own pink sweaters, sweetly cooing back at the gurgling fruit of another woman's womb? If it really were worse than any of the jobs listed HERE, wouldn't the little old church ladies be fleeing in horror at the memory of their own mothering years?
It couldn't be that bad. We've all reasoned it that way. For the first few enthralling hours in the hospital gown when we actually cared that our hair looked unbrushed in front of the camera. When the baby was content to be snuggled in the crook of our arm, sleeping with the strength of Rip Van Winkle.
Then came the first hunger pang and the first cry for attention and the first gas bubble that wouldn't budge and the first rage against a wet diaper. And suddenly the dream of walking down the enchanted, fairy-dusted path of motherhood became the very real terror of trying to escape the licking flames of a forest fire. No amount of organizing or list making or extra-hand recruiting has proven effective against the furnace of a child's demands. It's no coincidence we're called mummies. A body remains but every fiber is desiccated, dried out and brittle. And none of this takes into account the marriage or the job or the extended family concerns and don't get me started on the hormonal pranks that the body flings at us entirely unannounced.
I think of the old adage; Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.
If that's true, then why on earth does anyone have a second child? And what about those crazy people who have three, four or five? Who on earth puts themselves through it again?
Something else has to be going on here.
And as much as I know the answer, I need reminded of it time and time and time and time and time and time and time......again. And then again. And, well, you get the idea.
Grace is going on. All over the place. Because God loves life. Life that includes us and our children (and husbands and bosses and neighbors and parents.....) and where there's life He makes a pocket of supply for it. Like the air bubble inside the eggshell that the chick breathes in as it's pecking into the world. Someday in Heaven we'll be inundated with it, but for now He sends it like raindrops at every turn.
When we wanted into the club and our prayers begged for an open womb.
Now that we want out of the club (for a little while anyway) and our prayers beg for a few hours of peace.
The miracle baby and the kind friend who invites the kids for a playdate? His grace.
When we feared that the bloodwork might break our heart.
Or we fear that another night of scrubbing vomit at 3AM might cause a mental break down.
The clean report and the body's production of adrenaline? His grace.
When we celebrated the first full day of school with a cup of tea and a morning of flipping through home decorating magazines.
Or the day we know we'll grieve the empty nest over a pitcher of margaritas with our fellow gray-haired confidantes.
The anticipation of spring and the anticipation of autumn? All His grace.
It's unearned. It's definitely undeserved. And it's unending. And I think the fact that there are sweet old ladies in pink sweaters everywhere I look is one of the truest testimonies that grace is, in fact, real.
This parenting thing has the power to chew you up and spit you out. Daily, sometimes by the minute, I'm so thankful that God gets the last word and His power is all about beauty for ashes, rescue for the lost, rest for the weary.
I find that I can get through some of the hardest hours of the day if I have something to hum. Anything to keep my thoughts focused on the Lord instead of the clamor going on around me. Often, I'll take a favorite Scripture and find a melody in it and sometimes it turns itself into a song. Recently, I've been having a lot of trouble with muscle pains in my legs and so Isaiah 40:31 became my mantra. I paired it with my favorite verse, John 10:10, and came up with this short song. Perhaps you can find a way to hum it, too, and keep it with you during those most challenging times of the day when being a mom really is the hardest job in the world.
There are wings for the broken,
when she's fallen to the floor.
And they wrap themselves around her
as she's resting in the Lord.
There are bones for the weary,
when her legs can stand no more.
And they're sent for her to lean upon
as she's hoping in the Lord.
There is blood for the fading,
strong to drive death from the door.
And it floods her with abundant life
once she's trusting in the Lord.