Learning To Be Present In Motherhood

Being Roman and Ruby’s mama is one of my greatest joys on this earth. They are the sweetest, silliest, and cutest almost-two-year-olds. Even though they bring so much joy to our heart and home, that doesn’t mean we’re immune to having challenging days as parents.

A few days ago disparaging thoughts clouded my mind telling me that I wasn’t quite measuring up as a mother and pastor’s wife. I was struggling with guilt surrounding what I wasn’t doing right and how what I was doing wasn’t quite good enough. The house was a mess. There were piles and piles of dirty laundry scattered in different corners of what seemed like every room in our home. The kids had made a game out of smashing banana in their hands and smearing it in their hair, which was actually really funny. But, do you know how hard it is to get a banana out of hair? I kept stubbing my big toe on random toys that were scattered throughout the living room. And at one point gave attention to the thought of throwing everything away. But, let’s be honest, the trash cans were overflowing at that point so that option wasn’t really viable!

There I found myself in a sea of antagonizing and self-demeaning thoughts swimming around in my head. I fooled myself into believing I was holding it together pretty well, as I wasn’t voicing my complaints or feelings of failure to my husband. However, it didn’t take long for those emotions to seep through and create a foul attitude recognizable by even the most unobservant person. These thoughts were not only crowding my headspace, but they were preventing me from existing in the now with the sweet little blessings running around and giggling in front of me.

It’s easy to allow the day’s stresses, worries and concerns to pile on top of each other and suck all of the gratefulness and happy right out of our heart. It’s easy to be blinded by our self proposed failures and ruthless evaluations of ourselves. It’s exhausting. These unhealthy mindsets steal our time and expend our energy, as they divert our attention and hinder us from being fully present with our kids. But, I’ve learned (and I’m still learning) that it doesn’t’ have to be this way.

Typically the stress we feel comes with the unrealistic expectations we’ve set for ourselves. When I’m consumed by the ways I didn’t quite “measure up” for the day it usually can be linked to one factor: I’m functioning in a performance mentality mode. I’m living by the law. I’m expecting perfection from myself. This is an impossible task and one we aren’t expected to fulfill.

Although motherhood has forced me to come face-to-face with my shortcomings, God’s grace covers all of these things. The Perfect One was nailed to a cross along with all of my sin, failures, feelings of guilt, comparison, and all of those “I’m not good enoughs.” Christ death on the cross freed us from having to live by the law and welcomed us into the richness of His grace and mercy. I’ve found that as I slow my thoughts down with daily reminders of the Gospel and His truth, my days follow suit. As I sit and think about the grace that has been poured out for me, my load begins to feel a little lighter. And soon the antagonizing and self-demeaning thoughts in my head dissipate and my mind is free to swim in the sea of grace poured out for me by the blood of Jesus Christ. I’m kinder to my husband and myself. And I’m more patient with my kids. All the energy that I was expending towards those critical evaluations of myself has freed up more space in my heart and mind to be connected and present with my family.

A few nights ago I walked in on Ruby and Roman reading together. They had propped the book up on the recliner and were standing side-by-side flipping through the pages. My sweeties were chatting to each other in a language I didn’t understand, but I presumed was “twin talk.” Ruby had her little arm wrapped around his shoulders and would occasionally lean her head into towards his chest. I tried to be as quiet as possible because I didn’t want to interrupt this moment. I just wanted to be an observer, soaking up every inch of the sweetness found in my two beautiful children.

These moments are God’s little grace-givings, reminding me to slow down, reminding me that my children are only little for a short time and that our time here on this earth is numbered. I don’t want to spend my days here in a constant state of evaluating how my works are measuring up on the, “Is Kelly a good mom?” meter. After all, because I’m in Christ He says I’m enough. He defines my worth.

Friends, I’m praying that God would give you the strength to throw away whatever scale you use to measure your worth because it’s not found there. Your worth is found in Christ. Being present is about “rejecting the myth that every day is a new opportunity to prove our worth, and about the truth that our worth is inherent, given by God, not earned by our hustling” (Shauna Niequist).

Let His truth and the blood Christ shed destroy all of those unrealistic and self-imposed expectations you have made for yourself. Then, may you be free to walk in the grace that has been freely poured out for you.