I started this post a few weeks ago and got derailed, but sometimes life needs to be derailed to deal with hard stuff and to recognize the expanse of love. To look for the grace of God through answered prayers and life-changing conversations and moments of stretching your capacity to the end of yourself. So, here’s why I think the weary days are worth it.
If you asked me what life has been like since Thanksgiving, I’d tell you “great.” But that wouldn’t be totally true.
The word that keeps clinging to me is “weary.” We’ve had so much fun with holiday things and LOTS of together time and an epic Griswold vacation to Disney and Universal. I highly recommend spending your Christmas vacation in a warm climate. However, it makes coming home to freezing temperatures and frozen pipes a little unsettling.
We had one day last month that began so sweet. We did crafts and the Big Girl and I played a math game with a big die that bounces on the floor. We laughed and laughed and she learned how to do some work on the 100 chart all the while chasing Rudolph.
She asked for more school that day. What an answered prayer. We’ve had a fall of stalls and hard days centered around not wanting to “do school.”
Just the thought of those long days gives me an urge to sigh.
Then you combine my twins from different years, Man Cub (3.5) and Little One (2ish) with weeks of cold, dreary weather and it’s a recipe for short tempers (mostly mine), a lot of not listening (theirs) and weariness. Everyone gets weary when the schedule is too tight and the days are full of gray.
Big Girl thrives off social events and anything outside the house. Mama Bear likes the company and the good cheer, but she is an introvert and a bit of a homebody. Man Cub is like Mama. Little One just goes along for the ride. So, you pit the needs of an extreme extravert against a couple of introverts and a tagalong with Daddy being out of town a lot, and things are going to get messy. The house. Tempers. Sleep.
And when things get messy, a couple of us get, shall we say, out of sorts. That’s not good for anyone.
When I start the day weary, it’s a recipe for many adjustments, setbacks, do-overs and makeups. It’s a recipe for not wanting to handle the big emotions of little people.
It’s a step into a motherhood that doesn’t define my true character.
So, what do you do about weary? What do you do when the schedule is too tight to breathe, but you still want to honor commitments and give your kids an individualized education? How do you get back to celebrating the most wonderful season of life – motherhood?
Here’s what works for me. I hope some of this blesses you.
Don’t neglect the quiet times.
One thing I know don’t have as much time for this time of year is my personal development – Bible study, podcasts, books, journaling, sitting in a quiet room folding laundry or mopping floors (I know I’m not the only one who looks at folded laundry and clean floors as a helpful mind-centering activity). It’s one of the things that gets me a little off-kilter. When you have a busy mind, it’s best to occupy it with things of good – like those above – for the good of yourself and others.
Don’t forget to ask for help.
Hubby travels a lot this time of year and picked up a lucrative job in another city that’s take him away a little longer than expected this week. I heard that news with a bit of frustration. He also had a friend come into town unexpectedly. I want him to have time to invest in relationships. I want him to be whole. But by the fifth day of no daddy at home, I’m a bit touched out, touchy and ready to put on real clothes and escape.
During the phone conversation where he shared this news with me, I was being “needed” by everyone in the house. I’m pushing the Big Girl to do more independent work. She’s a bit of a “tell me what to do and sit and watch me do it” child. Oh my word. Then she does this thing where she needs something, but she won’t tell me unless I react in the perfect tone of voice.
I asked her to articulate her need and to stop haunting my door in my sweetest voice (yeah, right). I was frustrated, but I reframed my response. She said she couldn’t find something. I told her to go do something else she could work on alone.
Hubby and I resumed our conversation after three more toddler interruptions. It centered around, “We’re in a relationship. We ask each other for what we need just like you asked your daughter to do not a minute ago.” Ahem.
It’s humbling when your kids reflect exactly what you do and then you try to correct it out of them. So, I had to ask for a day off. I really never loved asking for a day off when I had a boss. I think it’s an introvert thing.
We’d rather just put up a sign – “I’m visiting with myself. Please come back in a week.”
So, the lesson of this painful conversation is – ask for help when you need it. It’s ok for your older kids to play dress up with their little sister or for them to go stomp in the rain for a few minutes so you can pluck your eyebrows.
Don’t neglect the pegs that keep you centered in the name of productivity.
We got in a habit of going to Chikfila after Bible study last semester. It was a chance for the kids to hang out with friends and for Mama to get some adult conversation. We became known as the “Wednesday Group.”
I decided that we needed to do a little more school on Wednesdays because the competitive dance schedule changed. Well, it’s funny how that works out. We’re back to the exact same dance schedule as last semester and now we have that breathing room for Chikfila again.
I don’t think we’ll do it every week this semester, but it was well worth the break yesterday. I got to talk through some hard stuff with a very good friend. I got to encourage her and she encouraged me. We left with a list of things to pray over for each other.
Just this morning, I was listening to Sally Clarkson’s podcast and she said that when you don’t have an in-place support system to build a network for yourself. She suggested gathering a group of women together to talk and pray and study and serve. That’s what I consider my Wednesday Group – a support network. We’re there to share life together.
So, even if it feels like you’ll never get the laundry done, who cares? In eternity, you’ll have those friends and memories. Laundry can’t talk with you, hug you like you’ve not been around for a year or give you some real perspective on a situation you’ve not considered.
Treat each day as eternal.
There’s an old adage that says we’re to treat every day like it’s our last. I’m not buying that. I’m following the advice I learned recently.
If you’re living in the freedom Christ died to give you. If you’ve given your life to him, why do you need to live as if today is your last? You’ve already entered eternal life. It just gets better from here.
Even these hard days are full of his glory. Even when your eyes spill with tears over how hard a season with a particular child is, there’s peace and rest in that promise. Today is eternity. This situation is not the whole sum of your life. This is just a bump in the road.
Romans 8:18-25 gives us a bit of this perspective.
Now is nothing compared to what’s to come. “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” (Romans 8:18 ESV)
We’re to be expectant of glory and others joining us in eternity. “For the creation waits with eager loving for the revealing of the sons of God.” (Romans 8:19 ESV) Amen and amen. I get to watch my children reach maturity and reach for Christ. I get to watch the kids I serve in my little toddler class open their eyes to God’s great dance floor (a line I borrowed from one of my favorite Chris Tomlin songs). If we are expectant, we watch for the glimmers and the weary days are worth it when we have one of those conversations you’ll remember forever.
Weary days are the days where the Lord works. “For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.” (Romans 8:22-25 ESV)
We are weak, but we have hope. Our Lord tells us that’s when He works best.
“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” (2 Corinthians 12:9 ESV)
When I hold on to the promise that if I “Trust in the Lord and do good,” I will “dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.” (Psalm 37:23 ESV). It’s hard right now, but it’s worth every tear, sweat on my brow and hard conversation. He’s waiting in anticipation to make it all ok.
Blessings, mamas. God’s got this.