Monday, November 10, 2014


The enormity of parenting isn’t something to be minimized.  We shouldn’t even try…even if it makes us feel less anxious for a little while.  It just is what it is.  Daunting and challenging and well…overwhelming…only I can’t really use that word anymore because my husband and I had a discussion the other day in which he asserted that being overwhelmed is an emotional response and probably means we are trying to rely on our own strength and not the Lord’s.  Yes, these are the discussions we sometimes get to have over a rare quiet lunch together.   These are also the discussions that make me give him the side eye while I finish up my cobb salad, mentally pulling my mind off the crazy train that thinks my husband is calling me an emotional woman who has no substance.   

Here’s the thing about that.  I know I have spent a lot of time over the years describing myself as overwhelmed.  Because I am.  A lot.  And there isn’t any mother on the planet that would deny me that adjective.  We mothers are good at letting each other feel what we feel. But my husband isn’t another mother.  He is a sensitive, strong, analytical man.  All things I appreciate in different ways. The fact is, I need his critical thinking skills sometimes, in the moments when I am all emotion. (I have those thinking skills too, but I am generally more of a Big Feelings kind of gal...which HE tends to need in the moments when his brain can't process the emotion coming out of the three little girls in our house.)  Sometimes I need him to challenge what has sometimes become second nature to me.   It doesn’t mean that I am not secretly annoyed by that about half of the time…at least at first. At first, my thinking is always, “Why can’t my husband just think I am perfect and not ask deeper questions?”  I’m not alone here, am I?  Don’t most of us think that at first?  But, it isn’t long (Well, it’s not long anymore.  It used to be long.  Really long.  Kind of ridiculously long, in fact.) before I unclench and start to listen to this man, who I know loves me.  Who wants me to know Jesus more deeply.  He doesn't deserve the side eye...most of the time. 

So, I decided to examine my words a little more closely.  To look at what is behind those feelings and how it lines up with scripture.  And I think he was right. Overwhelmed IS an emotional response.  It feels like fear and inadequacy and burden all rolled up into one. And it IS a response to my trying to handle everything on my own.  Or feeling responsible for every choice my kids make.  Or believing that it is totally up to ME to make sure their lives turn out well.  It may be a fact that I am busy. It may be a fact that I am responsible for a lot.  It may be a fact that the job of parenting is a difficult one full of complexities.  But I do not have to be overwhelmed.  Even as I write that, I am not entirely sure that I can believe it. It feels like it's just a part of mothering.

And therein lies the challenge.  Because as mothers, I think we are sold a lie.  We are told in various subtle and not so subtle ways that we SHOULD be overwhelmed and anxious.  That it is a mother’s instinct.  That it is, in fact, almost necessary in order to be a good mother.  And we applaud and agree and welcome each other to the club when we worry and fret over our kids. 

But we can do better for each other.  We can do better for our kids. 

I’m still not exactly sure what it looks like to let go of those feelings.  Obviously, more prayer, more scripture, more open hands and believing that God is working all things for good…those things help.  But exploring this feeling of being overwhelmed also forces me to admit some lack of trust.  It’s why I hold on so tightly…why I feel the need to control as much as I can.  And, it’s why I feel overwhelmed.  And so I know that a big part of what I need is to confess.  To ask forgiveness.  To repent.  And I need to do this in my community of mothers.  We need to do this together. We need to learn together how to respond to each other in this place.  I’m not exactly sure what it looks like to gently call each other up from the muck and mire of distrust.  But I think it’s important.  I think we need it.  Because how would my life look different, and the lives of my kids, if I approached the chaos and heart ache and busy never ending to-do's from a place of rest and trust?  From a soul that knows she is only called to do what the Lord asks and that he is responsible for the rest. 

Look, I’m no poster child for the Relaxed Mother’s of America.  Is that a thing?  Maybe we should make it a thing!  But I want to learn to let God be God in my children’s lives.  To do what he has called me to do in the lives of my children, (which, by the way, isn’t to be perfect) and then to trust him with what he does.  I mean really trust Him.  Not just say I do. Even if things are not how I had hoped or planned.

Oh dear…just admitting that things might not be how I hope or plan is making me feel overwhelmed again.  Lord, help me.  Help us all.