Friday, April 8, 2016

He'll take care of the rest

It's Friday and my to-do list requires more hours than this day has in it. 

Story of my life. In fact, I think I've started out half a dozen blogposts this way.

So I'm doing what I always do when I feel a little overwhelmed, attending to what should be the very last thing on my priority list : blogging. 

I say should be the last only because things like clean underwear and grocery shopping should be taking priority over posting pictures. And not because y'all aren't a priority. It's just that at the end of the day I doubt my family is going to demand to know - Mom !! Did you blog today ??? Whereas - Mom !!! Why is there no dinner ??? is a more likely outcome if I were to rearrange my to-do list according to what makes me happy, rather than .... well, priorities.

And isn't that what Mom life is all about sometimes ? Juggling others needs with our own and trying to give some attention to the wants-of-life as well ? And admittedly, I don't always keep the balls in the air all at once, but does anyone ?

If you are that Mom, please write a book and I will buy it and read it in ten years, when I have less than ten offspring at home and can rediscover what reading a whole book means. 

Right now I'm just digging my way through piles of peed-on sheets (somebody had an accident) and puked-on pillows and blankets (somebody was sick) so that I can find a pencil that works for my grocery list. 

I know I should have this whole parenting/priorities/housekeeping/etc thing figured out by now. After all, it is what I've been doing for more than half my life. 

But take this for what it's worth ... from a mother of (only) twelve children ranging from newborn to adulthood  --- there is no "I've arrived" moment in motherhood. 

I'm sorry if I just blew someones child rearing philosophy out of the water. But here's what I've learned in 28 plus years of parenting: we are working with tiny humans, people. Not robots, not dogs, but living, breathing, complex little humans with complex little wills of their own, and just when you think you've got them all figured out, they one up you. Or God gives you a child (cough, cough Hayden) that defies all your previously held positions on child rearing, and you find yourself praying for a fresh revelation on how to keep your sanity for the next fifteen years. 

If there were a go-to book for every moment of defiance, every season of childhood, every adolescent attitude or period of rebellion, don't you think it would be a world wide best seller by now ??

Oh wait - it is.

There actually is a manual for instructions on how to keep your head above water through the wild waves of toddlerhood, and prepare you for the sometimes rocky shores of adolescence... one that is time-tested by multitudes of generations before us. It's filled with good common sense wisdom and it doesn't take a rocket scientist to understood its simple truths. Practical advice like : children, obey your parents and parents, provoke not your children to wrath and a soft answer turns away anger and pray always, without ceasing.

Or how bout this one : God won't give you more than you can handle. 

Hold on a second ... did you know that's not actually a scripture ? I thought it was for years. Until I became a parent, and I frantically searched my concordance for the reference, so I could memorize it and quote it on days that I totally felt I had "more than I could handle." 

Like when my first toddler was being potty trained and came to me smacking his lips, declaring "yucky cookie, Mommy." Except the brown smudges on his chin didn't resemble the remains of a half eaten chocolate chip cookie ... rather they matched perfectly the little morsels left in his potty chair. I remember holding my newborn in one arm and a trembling toddler in the other as I ran to the bathroom ... to toss my own cookies. (Note to new parents: maybe don't leave the potty chair near the kitchen when training your little ones. However convenient it seems at the moment, the results could be disastrous. Just sayin.)

Where was I ? Oh yes, more than I can handle ...

I've had my share of those days through the years. Maybe thousands of those days, if I had kept a tally of them. 

But one day I had a revelation - maybe the same day I realized that "scripture" was a nice saying, but not exactly Biblical. The truth is God does sometimes give us more than we can handle. Yikes. Did I just say that ? 

I did.

The truth is, this life - all of it - whether that includes parenting or being single, whether that means being a mom of many or to "just" one... it's ALL beyond us. 

There are always going to be those days where we feel like we are just not measuring up, where the to-do list far outruns the hours we are allotted to accomplish it all. Days when patience wears thin and nerves are frazzled and our homes feel more like a war zone than a quaint little poem on my wall ...

fuzzy picture, terrible lighting, off centered, but you get the idea.

And those are the days where I have learned - and am still learning - that I haven't arrived. I'm still in need of the grace of God to help me handle it all. No matter how many books I've read, lessons I've learned, children I've raised, hours I've clocked, years I've spent doing this job ... I am not an expert.

I am still just as reliant on the grace of God - to help me and my children - as the day my first baby was placed in my arms. And maybe even more so today .. because after several decades of days that were more than I could handle, I am completely aware of my need for that grace.

If my children's well being and the atmosphere in our home and the overall culture of our family is left up to ME and my abilities and my perfection as a mommy - I'm doomed. I willingly, humbly admit - this is more than I can handle. 

Parenting, more than any other area in life, has driven me to my knees in prayer. And the cry of my heart on most days is this : Lord help me to be a better mom, and give us the grace we need as a family to cover all my failings. 

There is comfort and peace and rest in knowing Jesus can handle this. I might not get things right every day as a mom. But I'm doing my best and asking God to take care of the rest. 

And with that spontaneous little poem (move over Longfellow!) I will end this blogpost and wave the white flag of surrender to Friday. It may be pee stained and wrinkly, but I'm waving it proudly and clinging to this verse ...

"And He said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me."

2 Corinthians 12:9

Happy FriYAY . Now go take on the Day !