I ran in to Publix to pick up a few things today around noon, (I swear if you blindfolded me I could tell immediately if I were in Publix or Kroger, Winn-Dixie or Whole Foods. They ALL have there own particular smell. AmIright??)
I got in the checkout line while the mom in front of me struggled to get her groceries out of the cart and paid for while trying her best to get her 2 little kids under control. She was failing miserably. Did I mention she had a baby in a stroller too? She was harried and impatient and clearly inches away from losing it.
Her kids, around 4 and 6 I think, were breaking down and wearing her down with whines and requests and tears and using every other tool in their drive-mom-crazy-while-her-hands-are-more-than-full arsenal. Mom, clearly embarrassed, was doing what she could to hold it together as the checkout lady scanned her coupons and bagged her groceries. The kids were whining mercilessly and poor mom turned and looked at those of us in line all embarrassed and apologetic and…all I could do was reach out and touch her arm, look her squarely in the eyes and say:
“You’re doing a good job. It’s hard to be a mom!”
She asked us if we wanted to take her kids (she was kidding but in that moment probably seriously considering it!) and just shook her head looking completely overwhelmed. It was midday, the kids were tired, maybe hungry and super cranky. And she was by herself. With a baby in the stroller. I longed to hug her and tell her it was going to be okay. But the bagger got her bags in the cart and as soon as she finished paying she quickly bolted and disappeared into the vast Publix parking lot.
I teared up as she left because I just wanted to hug her and take her for coffee and a big piece of cake.
I wanted to remind her how valuable she is.
I longed to look in her eyes and tell her she’s changing the world and she doesn’t even know it. All she knows is she’s tired and overwhelmed, completely worn out, ticked off at her kiddos and nearly out of patience.
Mama, I need you to know something. It rang in my spirit clear as a bell today at the grocery store. I need you to know this:
You’re doing a good job!
I know how hard it is to be a mom. I’ve been where you are. I’ve walked through seasons convinced it would never change, convinced I was the worst mother on the planet and convinced I was ruining my child’s life.
I’ve lived through the drudgery of the thousand and one daily tasks, the soul crushing weariness at the end of the day, the “am I doing enough” and “am I totally messing my child up” questions and struggles. I always say, motherhood will tax you to the moon and back, often in one day and sometimes in one moment!
I too have experienced depression seeping in at the edges of my thoughts and hiding it’s ugly lie deep in my spirit, so deep I can’t find where it ends. I’ve had days I wanted to pull the covers up over my head and ignore everything and everyone. And I’ve known the desperate search for sleep that won’t come because the heartache and sorrow are simply too much.
I know what it’s like to defer your own dream, to lay aside your deepest desires, to give and give and give till the memory of your dream fades into nothing more than a vague mist. To lay down the thing you deeply valued in order to take up what He says is valuable.
Because being mama is one of the most valuable jobs in the world.
Here’s what I wanted to tell that sweet, overwhelmed mama I met at Publix today:
Raising children is messy.
You’re doing an amazing job. In fact, you’re perfect for the job.
Raising children is the hardest thing you’ll ever do.
Being a mom is difficult. And relentless. And never-ending. And rewarding. And fulfilling. And life-giving.
What you’re doing is changing the world.
You’re in the building business. You’re building lives one day, one diaper, one grocery-shopping trip at a time.
You’re doing a much better job than you think.
Some days are just plain ugly. And hard.
You’re not alone. Not for one second.
God handpicked you for your children and He handpicked your children for you.
You can do this and I want you to know I’m cheering you on as one who’s already walked the path.
I’m here to tell you, you will survive! And it will be good. Raising a child is the best self-improvement course out there. You’re not perfect and that’s okay. Neither are your kids! But they are perfectly loved and you are doing a perfectly good job. I just know it.
So hang in there mama. Hang in there on the good days and the bad. Know the Lord is well aware how hard it is to be human.
“Now that we know what we have—Jesus, this great High Priest with ready access to God—let’s not let it slip through our fingers. We don’t have a priest who is out of touch with our reality. He’s been through weakness and testing, experienced it all—all but the sin. So let’s walk right up to him and get what he is so ready to give. Take the mercy, accept the help.” Hebrews 4:14-16 (The Message)
So let’s walk right up to Him and take the mercy and accept the help we need to do this miraculous job of mothering. Let’s remember we are NOT alone in this. And most of all, remember this mama, because, trust me-I know it’s true:
You’re doing a good job!
It would be my honor to pray for you. 🙂