Oh sister, you know those mornings where you don’t actually look at yourself before you leave the house? The ones where you wake up a little late, stumbling around without coffee, changing diapers, answering demands for breakfast and Paw Patrol and water, and somewhere there is a husband in the house, who probably needs some love and attention, but you’re also in need of a shower that you won’t take before work, and now you have to do your make-up on your commute, and throw your hair into some scary version of a “sock bun”? And then you pee in peace, at work, for the first time all morning, and actually see yourself?
Do I have any friends reading this? Because this is why I travel to work (and everywhere else) with concealer, blush, and mascara, for that moment when I realize what I actually look like, under fluorescent lighting, which is not really fair in the first place.
Anywho, I’ve made my peace with the Mom bun. It’s the way I’m living these days. And aside from the wild mane on my head, nothing has brought me to my knees quite like motherhood.
The Bible says in 1 Timothy 1:7, that God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind. Friend, there’s power in relationship, and without friendship, we’re all a bit lost at sea. People ground us in reality, help us keep our sanity through all the seasons of life, and together, we can encourage one another in our individual purpose, and in our callings as Mothers. I’d love to share three power tips for Motherhood, to help you navigate the beautiful (messy-haired) life you lead.
#1 LONG DAYS, SHORT SEASONS
My closest friends gave me the gift of going second. We were one of the last of our married and single parent friends to have children, so I benefited greatly from watching other women transition into motherhood. When we become Mom’s, we lose margin for time and money, for emotional and spiritual connection, for self-care, and for others. In the baby years especially, there’s so much gear required for traveling anywhere that “getting a coffee” or “having dinner” with a friend is now an ordeal, and not many of us can afford to hire a sitter for some quality friend or spouse time, or to get our nails done, especially if we are single parents. The changes are huge, and significant, and they must be acknowledged, and dealt with. Let me share something with you: You are enough. What you have right now is enough. What you’re able to give is enough. Your purpose has not changed. You are right where you are supposed to be, doing exactly what you are supposed to be doing as a Mom. It’s not over for you, or the dreams in your heart. The best is ahead. And though it can be hard, we must understand and accept the season of life we’re in. Some of the best advice I’ve received is this: Long days, short seasons. The days can feel endless. Sweet Lord, sometimes, I am just trying to make it to bedtime. I want to crawl in a hole and never come out, but I am learning that the seasons move fast, and just when I think I can’t do this (breastfeeding, diaper changing, toddler wrangling, fill in yours here) anymore, I discover myself drenched in God’s grace and goodness. I crawl on my knees back to gratitude, and most days, instead of isolating, I try to reach out to others for help and prayer, so I can see experience God’s grace through people I love, and who love me.
#2 EMBRACE THE CHAOS
I’ve worked in the justice field for almost a decade, and we have a little phrase we use: Organized Chaos. We plan; we prepare; we execute. And no matter how much we plan and prepare, things don’t go as planned. Why? Because people are involved, and we’re all a bit complicated. (If you don’t think you are, just spend some time with somebody who isn’t like you, and you’ll learn how high maintenance complicated you really are.) Also, awesome things happen, that interrupt our plans, and thank God. A friend of mine took her three kiddos to the park (and not a gated park, but the kind where you actually have to pay attention at all times), and she noticed another mama. She felt prompted to strike up a conversation with her, and they connected. She learned that day that the mom, who had a two-year-old son, was taking him to the park for the last time, because she had planned to commit suicide that day, due to the difficulties she was facing. Because my friend was willing to be interrupted and not ruled by her full time job, her three kids, their nap times, and her busy schedule, the incredible young woman not only made the decision to live, but is now growing, thriving and rebuilding her life. And they are still friends. We need each other. And if we can lift our eyes, and start to see the world around us, we will be more willing to embrace the chaos. Life’s just messy, and not much goes according to plan. And you know what? There’s not a thing in the world wrong with that. So, yes, there’s spit up on my shirt, and ketchup on my back from my son’s hugs, and my hair looks God awful, but, I’m loved, I am loving, and I will choose to focus on what I have. Not what I don’t.
#3 SERVE SOMEBODY
Nothing has been a greater catalyst to my healing and freedom than serving others. In fact, when I catch myself complaining (or locked in the bathroom to keep from killing my son), I think of people who are living a great life on less, and it encourages me to dig deeper. Can we be women who love the heck out of people? Maybe it’s another Mom at the park, or an employee on our team, or a female who is currently incarcerated, or a single mom we can be close friends with, or a young woman at our kid’s school. Maybe we need to love ourselves, and go get that mani/pedi so we can have margin to care for others. Can I share a quick thought about serving others? We don’t serve people because we feel sorry for them. That is disempowering, and it makes our serving about us, and not about them. None of us are superior or inferior to anyone else. The ground is level at the foot of the cross. Regardless of our economic and social status, skin color, size, culture, or our need, we are called to serve and love others, without deciding if they deserve it first. No matter how small our contribution may feel, it matters. When you show up sister, it’s significant. So keep turning up, babies, tweens and teens in tow, and live the kind of wild, free, messy haired life that invites others to come along as well.
Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven. Matthew 5:16 The Message
*This post originally appeared in the She is Free Print Magazine, and I thought it fitting to share as we celebrated Mother’s Day this past Sunday. She is Free is a life changing conference here in NYC, and we would love for you to join us!