I read an article recently by a mommy blogger who invited moms of older kids to share what they would tell their younger mom self. Their responses didn’t really surprise me too much. Compacted into a few sentences, their advice boiled down to these three tips:
Enjoy the journey. They will be leaving home in the blink of an eye.
Slow down. Busyness will keep you from seeing the beautiful gifts that surrounds you.
Take time for yourself. A balanced parent is a better parent.
I really don’t want to be a negative Nellie or bash the author’s good intentions. But, I have to say when my kids were young, I heard or received advice like this frequently. And, while I agree that all of these statements are true, they didn’t offer me the encouragement I often craved. Instead, phrases like those often pushed buttons deep within my soul labeled “strive more” and “not good enough”.
I was already trying so hard to enjoy each season of development. In fact, I remember taking mental snapshots on both simple and extraordinary days and saying “Remember this” quietly in my head. Even so, in the midst of uphill battles, there were so many times when I secretly wished we could just get to the end of all of this. The journey was anything but enjoyable. I also secretly dreamed about what life would look like if we could just slow the pace down. But, a full plate seemed tightly tethered to being a committed wife, a mom of three, a house manager, an active member at my church and a part time therapist. There were long seasons where very little could be removed from my daily or weekly schedule. I did take time for myself when I could but often that came in the form of itty bitty chunks. It was all I had and it was better than nothing.
These frequently offered words of wisdom have led me to wonder what I would choose to share. Since I can’t narrow it down to just one statement and because this is my article, I’ve decided to share two words of encouragement I think my younger mom-self desperately needed to hear. The first is this:
Today, you are most likely doing the very best you can with the resources you have been given. Trust God to fill in the gap between what you have to offer and what is really needed.
In all my years working with families, I haven’t met a mom who isn’t already giving all that she can give to her family, her friends and her job on any given day. Moms don’t start the day deciding to hold back emotionally, physically or spiritually. Instead, like the little boy who shared his lunch with Jesus to feed the crowd, we tend to give our kids and our families all that we have. Even though there will always be a gap between what we have and what may be needed from us, we can trust that God will miraculously supply exactly what is required as we lean into Him. Instead of looking back at the day or the week or the year and wondering what you could have done differently, remember that there is a strong possibility that in the moment, on that day, or during that particular season of life, you did the very best you could with what you had in you and around you. So, grace to you, devoted mom. Let God satisfy the difference.
Following these words, I would then tell myself this:
There isn’t a thing that you are experiencing today that didn’t first pass through the hands of the Father. He is sovereign, so try to find rest in His perfect plan.
God isn’t surprised by anything you are facing today. In fact, because He loves you so very much, whatever comes your way is His very best for you. He is too good to offer you anything less. Although it is hard to comprehend on this side of heaven, He has allowed the pain and the ongoing difficulty for your benefit and for His glory. On days when the unexpected occurs and you don’t know how you’ll move forward, get in the habit of whispering upward, “I will choose to believe that this is your best for me.” So, very weary mama, don’t forget that He’s got this. He knows what He is doing and what you really need.
The truth is, the advice I would offer my younger self are really phrases I still need to hear today. Even though two of mine are grown and the last one looks and acts like he’s all grown up as well, I’m still a parent who wonders if I could’ve done something different. At the end of it all, I will choose to hold on to the fact that each day I did what I could and He lovingly allowed me to encounter just what I deeply needed. Grace and goodness. They are at the center of the gospel and they always go hand in hand. They are rather inseparable, if you think about it.
To the mom who is trying to enjoy, attempting to slow down and who really wants to create a balanced life, I pray that you will hold on to the grace and goodness that God bestows upon you as you trust Him with every aspect of this blessed journey called parenthood.