It was the third hour straight of his shrill screaming when I snapped at him from the front seat: "SHUT UP, STOP SCREAMING, IM SICK OF YOUR SCREAMING."
His screaming continued to pierce my ears and my shouting only made my own soul bleed. Rushing forth came all the promises I made to myself when we started pursuing parenthood: promises of working hard not to yell or say "shut up." Those generational habits are hard to break.
I embarrassed myself in front of myself and rubbed my forehead, gritting my teeth. I am entirely unfit for this parenting thing.
In these soul-stretching and messy moments, I am humbled to remember I'd much rather have a screaming baby than no baby. These reminders calm me down much quicker than his silence ever could.
My shouting didn't help him snap out of the frenzy he'd been in the entire drive; it also didn't make me feel more in control. I only felt worse.
All my scream-reaction did was remind me how far I have to go in becoming more like Him. More patient, more kind, more gentle, more self controlled, less self centered, more loving.
Motherhood points out my ugliest pieces.
It reveals to me parts of myself I don't like others knowing about; but I'm human and I've come to know we've all got broken pieces. Some more hidden than others.
Before I became mama, I thought about being mama quite often.
I dreamed of wearing babies, devouring Mickey Mouse pancakes drenched in syrup, Saturday morning cartoons, and tickle fights. I imagined tupperware dishes spread out across the floor and finger prints covering our mirrors, cheerios stuck to my butt and the coffee forever cold.
I wasn’t one to think I’d know exactly how to be mama—I didn’t see other mamas and think, “I will never do that” about their discipline or lack of.
I never assumed I knew what it was like to be mama, I was certainly curious though. I imagined it was messy and hard, painful and beautiful, joy-filled and sanctifying.
I imagined it would test and try me, push me to my limits and then some—invite me to grow.
My journey to motherhood felt drawn out, taking longer than I had hoped it would.
If I could write my pre-mama self a little letter, it would be this:
Motherhood is just as messy, painful, joyful, and sanctifying as you imagine. In fact, it is even more so.
It is even messier than you expected: physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually.
You will be a hot mess, but you are also so much more than a mess.
It is most definitely more painful than you expected as you learn to wade through trauma and tragedy, your son’s story beginning in the throes of loss.
It is painful being reminded a million and one times every single day how far you fall short, how unequipped you are, how impatient and self-centered you have found yourself to be.
You will uncover layers of yourself you didn't know existed, both good and bad.
And though motherhood is as (and more) messy and painful than I expected, it is even more joyful and beautiful than expected.
The mess crashes right into the beauty. The pain intertwines so closely to the joy.
Through and through, motherhood has been the most sanctifying journey I’ve walked.
| to sanctify is to purify, to become holy |
Jesus continually invites me into intentionally mothering. He invites me to set aside my tendencies of impatience and selfishness.
When I snap and react to something—when my ears are sure to pop from the hours of screaming or my brain sure to fall out from the lack of sleep or my heart is about to explode on a mom telling me what I'm doing wrong—He invites me to lean into Him. He invites me to search for strength—in Him—for grace and patience and understanding. Tenderness. He is so tender with us.
Motherhood demands I extend my arms, palms up, needing Him more than I did the previous moment, and aching for His presence.
It is in the hidden and unseen moments of my motherhood journey I encounter Him fully. In the long nights without sleep, the books and toys sprawled out across the house, the food sticking to the walls, and the imperfect way I meet the needs of my two toddlers.
Motherhood sanctifies me—continuously—throwing a giant magnifying glass over my brokenness and flaws; it pushes me to want to be more like Him.
And for that, I love the mess of motherhood.
If I could write a letter to my pre-mama self, I would validate her assumption that motherhood is messy and lovely.
But isn't the mess and discomfort of being purified through motherhood the part making motherhood so beautiful and glorious?
Isn't it freeing that when my reaction is one unlike Him, He draws me in and offers grace with a tenderness I never give myself? When I'm shaming and criticizing myself for how far I have to go, He invites me deeper into His heart and reminds me we are all in process.
I'm thankful for the mess of motherhood and the mess it's made me. It's the kind of mess making me more like Him, more patient and thoughtful and kind and fierce.
My failure in motherhood is a continual and perpetual reminder of His grace and gentleness towards me.
And you've got to know: you're not the only one laying in bed at night, wondering how you've snapped and said things you didn't mean. You're not the only one being sanctified.