Whether you are a stay-at-home-mom, or a mother with a full-time career there is no doubt that there are certain days where you wake up feeling empty. Before you can even manage to rip the warmth of your comforter off of you there is already an alarm screaming for you to begin your day, and if you are like me, that alarm comes in the form of a 2-foot tall toddler lacking a snooze feature. The previous night was spent waking up every 2, if you were lucky 3, hours to feed a 2-month old baby, or staying up late to find some vague resemblance of “me time” even though you knew you were going to pay for it the next day. As I recently entered my newest phase of motherhood, a mother to two children under the age of three, I began to see I had quite a bit of growing to do. It is truly amazing how such tiny human beings can teach us adults such amazing, valuable life lessons. I prayed for patience and peace, and remembered the expression “pray, then duck.”
The realization there were going to be some growing pains in this new season hit me when my littlest fox was only four-days-old and I had to take my toddler to the E.R. for the first time for his “curiosity.” With late nights and long days alone at home, I dipped into my “cup of peace” more frequently. I like to think that everyone, no matter what phase of life they are in, has a “cup of peace” they wake up to. Some days you wake up fully rested and booming with motivation and your cup is overflowing and soaking everything around it. Other nights you couldn’t sleep from a mind determined to navigate every possible way that confrontation you are about to have is going to go, or a list you had to make in your mind but wouldn’t remember in the morning, and you peer into that fragile ceramic cup with only a few droplets clinging to the walls at the very bottom. When your child wakes up with a fever, you dip into that cup, when they refuse to eat the breakfast you prepared for them (the one they eagerly requested..) and sling it across the floor (that still has last night’s marinara splattered across it) you dip into that cup. And pretty soon it is only noon and you are so desperate to be the perfect example for your child of what “patience” looks like that you are splitting your nails scrapping the sides of that bone-dry cup, just trying to keep everything together. When we pour every bit of ourselves into our children, our spouse, our work, who is to refill our cup when we have been running on fumes for days..dare I say sometimes, weeks?
Everyone is fighting a battle of their own, currently mine is an almost three-month-old with colic and a toddler who decided right about now was the perfect time to live out the stereotypical toddler behavior we had all been warned was coming. When I was pregnant with my youngest I had prayed for 1) a good eater 2) a good sleeper 3) a baby who was happy-go-lucky. Hindsight is 20/20. I laugh because I guess technically a good eater can’t always be a good sleeper if they just want to constantly eat, right? As I wear my youngest hours a day to keep him content, rocking side-to-side while bouncing ever so slightly up-and-down, at the same time hunched over my kitchen sink to keep the dirty dish water from spilling onto my already neglected floor, I look up to find my toddler’s right arm pulled back and ready to sling his Thomas the tank engine at the TV. I feel utterly and completely depleted. Emotionally. Mentally. Physically. I look at the clock and my husband, who just recently started to work 10-hour shifts, will not be home for another 8 hours. How am I going to make it through this day? I stop and wonder, who is going to fill my cup when I keep draining it as soon as a few drops hit the bottom.
Through reflection and searching I have found that the only one who can fill us up is God. When things are going right we find our cup overflowing. That new promotion, that amazing day at the beach, that surprise gift “just because,” adds a bit to our cup but its substance is fleeting. Those wonderful surprises or achievements are spent eventually, typically sooner than we expect with all of life’s demands. We need a source to constantly pour into us, as we pour every single bit of ourselves into the ones and activities we love. When I feel completely and utterly depleted, when I fight back tears as my toddler and baby synchronize crying fits and my ears feel as though they just might bleed as I try to sooth both of them simultaneously, I think “please God, please give me peace. Please give them peace. Guide me as a parent.”
My latest prayer is,
God, please fill my cup to the point where it overflows with Your peace, Your perfect love, onto every single person around me, especially my children and my husband. Let me be able to illuminate Your love with how I respond to them with gentle patience. Let me not be distracted from the beauty of these blessings by the small things that spring up before me as I walk the path You carved for me.
As exhausting, mentally and emotionally challenging some days can truly be, the moment I have accomplished the impossible and lulled them both to sleep and collapsed onto the couch I reflect on my day and find those unforgettable moments where they made me smile, laugh, made me proud to be their mom. When my toddler asked his baby brother, “What’s wrong? Many reasons to be happy!” When he said “Love you mommy. Love you baby Adam” unprovoked. When my baby looked up into my eyes and smiled while scrunching his nose. These are my blessings. These are the seeds God has blessed me with and said “Go, go cultivate thy garden.” As challenging as this season is it is, and forever will be, the most beautiful season of my life. I will never be more loved and needed by my children then I am now. These moments are so fleeting and I am so blessed to have the opportunity to be home with them to soak up those precious moments of love amidst the chaos.