[info_box]Guest Blogger #9: Lesley Spradlin. Lesley is a certified birth and postpartum doula, wife to Shea, mom to Austin (3yrs) and Alexa Faith (4 months.) “I am just a woman trying to figure it all out…knowing that I truly am blessed!” Visit Lesley’s blog The Blessed Life.[/info_box]
Four years ago my life looked very different than it does now. My husband and I had just bought our first home, had a few dogs, I worked a full time job that I enjoyed for the most part and had a part time job that was my passion, I spent time at the gym or with my friends whenever I felt like it and enjoyed my sleep! I loved my church, felt that I was a woman who had come to understand the word selflessness (by getting married!) and prided myself on seeking to know what Gods plan was for my life. I was not confident in all things..but I felt confident in where I was. And then….I had a baby!
Over that first year of my sons life, I realized that I had not even begun to scratch the surface on what selflessness really looked like until HE entered my life. Gone were the days of sleep, all focus on “me”, quiet moments with my husband, a few dogs and my career focus.
In that first year I felt like I lost myself to this new little human being. I no longer looked the same ( 9 months of pregnancy and little time to exercise will do that to you!), I no longer could think the same ( my brain somehow turned to mush around the 6th month of pregnancy and never really recovered!) , I no longer had a full time job ( trying to juggle a new baby and full time work was NOT something I handled well!) and I felt my husband no longer saw me as his strong, confident, sexy wife…but now as this spit up covered, sleep deprived and often grumpy, shell of who I used to me. I grieved who I had been and began to frantically search for who I was now to become. My title now was not only wife..but mother—and that new title scared me to death!
Fast forward a few years and I now am “mother” to a 3 year old little boy and a 4 month old little girl…and I am still searching for how to fill the role of my “new” title…mom. Before I had children I would see some moms and think “ wow—that looks so easy!” OR I would see others and think “holy cow, they look insane! That does NOT look easy!” I now wonder how other young, naive girls look at me …do I make it “look” easy or do I look insane? Because I am pretty certain I probably look more like the insane ones!
The one thing I have learned over the past 3 years is that although many woman may make it look easy and it may actually BE easy for them…for the rest of us, it’s a constant journey that feels like an uphill battle. I am constantly stressing over if I am handling discipline right or am I teaching my children to have kind hearts or to be servants, or am I feeding them well enough, are we handling school choices ok, or are we as parents setting a good example of love, blah, blah, blah. Seriously the list goes on and on.
I admit it…I don’t feel “natural” in my role as a mom. I feel like I constantly have to search out the answers for things because very few of them just come to me—I don’t just know the correct way to answer a question on life or how to handle a difficult discipline situation or how to make my son understand that not eating ice cream and cookies all the time is important for reasons he can’t quite grasp yet! Basically I fall short…A LOT!!
But here is where the mercy comes in. God is gracious and forgiving. He knows I am going to mess up daily…but yet he STILL entrusted these little souls to my care. He chose ME to mother these two kids..for reasons I am not sure of and can’t quite grasp…but I trust him so I am going to trust this. I believe he created them as perfect beings—he does not do anything half way or mediocre.
So here enters the mercy for myself. If I believe he created my children so wonderfully, why can’t I believe he created me the same in my role as “mother?” If he continually loves me, forgives me and gives me second chances…how can I not do the same thing for myself? One of the many definitions of mercy is “a form of love determined by the state or condition of its objects. Their state is one of suffering and need, while they may be unworthy or ill-deserving. Mercy is, at once the disposition of love respecting such, and the kindly ministry of love for their relief.” ( Ungers Bible Dictionary)
As moms we rarely grant ourselves mercy nor do we hand it out easily to other moms in our exact situations. What is interesting is that this week as I was writing this blog post, I had a heck of week with my kids and some of the challenges we are facing. I also was put in situation after situation of seeing others moms also not at their best…almost like this topic of mercy needed to really be hammered into me before I could share about it.
I want to show myself mercy—let myself off the hook and not try to control it all, but that’s soo hard for me. This is part of the reason why I think it’s so important that we give it to each other—showing mercy to each other slowly teaches us how to show it to ourselves. I have so far to go in this learning process, but I am trying to make myself aware and do better. I am trying to find my “groove” in motherhood and allow myself to continually be shaped…it isn’t pretty and most days it’s downright messy, but growing children into incredible adults is hard work!! ( I wonder if God says that about dealing with us most days??)
So this week I am going to give myself some room—I am going to focus on the fact that I am doing the best job I know how to do with the information, resources and challenges I have been given. I am going to try to not chastise myself for not keeping it all together and I am going to try to show my kids what mercy can look like. I am going to remember that the women I come into contact with are juggling their own challenges—and might just need someone else to say they understand, free of judgment or advice. This week I am going to try to do better ..knowing I won’t ever it get it perfect.
To show grace is to extend favor or kindness to one who doesn’t deserve it and can never earn it.
– The Grace Awakening Devotional, Charles R. Swindoll