The Hard Truth About Mothering in the Early Years

The Hard Truth About Mothering in the Early Years | Motherhood in the Trenches

Our mind has a funny way of forgetting hard moments and over sentimentalizing the good ones. It’s the reason why moms have multiple children. We forget the pain, the struggle, the emotional rollercoaster, because in the end that pain gave us something, our children, whome we love with far more intensity than the pain we endured. Just because the really good times are really good, doesn’t mean that the past pains never happened, it just means that the really good has overshadowed the pain.

The same can be said of childrearing. These early years are hard, like SO hard. The other day we were at Trader Joes, my two older girls were trying to decide which nuts they wanted for their snacks. Next to us was an older lady, she looked at me and then my three girls and smiled, those smiling, sentimental eyes that I have become so familiar with. They are the smiling eyes of women who miss these “precious years.” As my girls were ”discussing” (arguing over) which nuts to get, the lady was looking over the nut section, obviously listening to the girls discuss why one nut was better than another. The lady quietly chuckled. When she was done and we were STILL there, she walked passed me, looked at me again and gave me another big smile. As my eyes met hers I smiled back knowing that she’s wanting to tell me to cherish every moment, to soak it up, knowing that her heart aches to have these days back.

I know in 40 years I’ll be that same lady, looking at the young mom in Trader Joes, wishing for my girls to be that little again, wishing that I had enjoyed it all more, wishing I had done things differently, recognizing that some of the things I prioritized maybe weren’t so important. The truth is, that’s not where I’m at today and as much as I literally fear looking back on these times with regret, this time is HARD and I do not soak in every moment. As much as I don’t want to, there are days that I just want to be over. Many nights I collapse on the couch and I have a heavy burden pressing on me because I’m not sure that I really enjoyed a single second of the day and I fear that I’m going to look back in 10 years and cry with great regret because I should have enjoyed this day that I have these tiny, precious, amazing kids.

Many times at night, I make the mistake of going on social media where I find other moms posting things about hanging with their “bestie” who happens to be their toddler or moms who talk about how much they enjoyed their lunch time with their kids and I wish that I felt like those other moms. I guilt myself into thinking that I am less of a mom because my kids are not my “besties” and much less of a mom because sometimes I feel like I want to crawl under the sheets and hide for 24 hours. I so want to enjoy my lunch with my kids, and I know some day I will but right now it’s not enjoyable. Lunch is the baby throwing her food on the floor while yelling “All done!” over and over and over again until I get her washed up and out of her highchair, it’s the three year old spilling her water all over the counter and needing more water, with ICE!!!! and the six year old, bless her heart, amidst all of this chaos, wants to know if I want to hear about her dream last night, which translates to “Mom, do you want to hear me talk for 10 minutes about something that doesn’t make any sense at all.” Oh, I don’t wish these days away, because I know how precious they are. I wake up every morning and pray for patience and to value each day and each child and to accomplish what God has for me that day. I try to live each day so that in 40 years, when these hard times do fade away, and I’m no longer feeling like I’m literally drowning, that there will be some really sweet memories left to be sentimental about but for now….it’s really hard and there are many moments that I do not enjoy and I think that as moms we can own that.

We don’t have to pretend that we got this. We don’t have to fool ourselves or others into thinking that this is great. We are doing every struggling mom a disservice when we act like we are okay when we’re not. We don’t have to act like we enjoy every moment, or even most moments together with our kids. We can acknowledge that we feel like we’re drowning sometimes, okay all of the time. We can acknowledge that sometimes the weight of the oh so heavy responsibility of raising children is more than we can bear. We can stand up and recognize that there are some really precious moments, some really joyful times, but those times are mixed in with the really hard and we don’t enjoy the really hard times and THAT’S OKAY.

One thing God has been reminding me of this week is that His power works best in weakness. When I stop trying to hold it all together, and I recognize AND admit my weaknesses, it is then that God can come in with His grace and His power and turn my world, my family, my attitude, my pain, my struggles, upside down for HIS kingdom.

1 Corinthians 12:8-10

“Three different times I begged the Lord to take [my thorn in the flesh] away. Each time he said, ‘My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.’ So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

Mamas, whether you are finding this season in your life hard or sweet, I pray that you are able to find God’s power in your weaknesses.