The Hard Days of Being a Mama

Some days are just hard.

Some days being a mom are just really hard.

Some days being a single mom are just really really hard.

The Hard Days

I’ve had some long, full days this week. I’ve had long days at work with difficult conversations and difficult decisions, including some 10+ hour days. Tuesday alone was 4 hours of work that lead into three back to back to back meetings that went five hours straight. The 1.5 hour break had me racing home, grabbing the grocery bags, buying groceries, backing in the drive to let my son unload them, then driving back to work for another 1.5 hour meeting. I love what I do. Sometimes it’s hard.

This week has felt like hurt all around me. A friend’s three year old son was diagnosed with leukemia, and that just breaks my heart in the worst possible way. I’ve had to step back from another friend going through a really difficult time. I want to be supportive and encouraging, but that’s not wanted now. I’ve had deep conversations with other mamas about serious allergies and health issues, about the hard days of their kids hurt feelings and hard friendships, and the hard moments of being a mom. Sometimes it’s just hard.

Being a Mom

I’m up early to help with lunches and make sure they’ve brushed their teeth. Sorry moms with littles, even though my two at home are teens, they still need to be reminded to brush their teeth. I drive them to school four days a week. We leave before 7 am. I’m not a morning person. It’s not pretty.

We’re finishing up the end of year stuff and making sure grades are up. We’re planning out some college classes for both of them next year. We’re dreaming of what post high school looks like for my son with disabilities. We’re making plans for his graduation and party. We’re fitting in driver’s ed with my almost 16 year old and taking long drives. We’re making time for friends. We’re planning her 16th birthday fun.

At home this week a glass light fixture fell from the ceiling and shattered all over the place. The cat decided to puke on the landing of the stairs early one morning. Kids have chosen not to help with the basics this week, so the garbage and dishes are overflowing. I realized I missed a couple steps in preparing Jacob for graduation. My oldest son needs more forms filled out for his university.

The list could go on.

Doing it all alone

Even though some days it looks like I have it all together, I don’t. I still need help. I still need encouragement. I still need community. I still need people to surround my kids with love. And sometimes that’s hard to open up my heart, my home, and offer the opportunity for others to step into their lives. Our lives.

They’ve endured loss. Hard loss. And it’s hard to think about others walking away. I know it’s part of life. People come in and out of our lives. Sometimes they’re in our life to teach a lesson, sometimes for a season, and sometimes for more. But as a mama I just want to protect their hearts.

Choosing to Invest

I could hide my head and bury my feelings and just survive these days. Instead I’m choosing to invest in the hard work of being a mom. I’m choosing to experience the complete joy of being the mom to the three greatest blessings ever in my life. I’m choosing to show up and be vulnerable and get messy with the hard stuff of life with them. Some days there are tears. Some days there are hurt feelings. Some days there are full on meltdowns.

And all of the days are filled with laughter and hugs, smiles and I love you’s.

I love that when I get home after a long day my daughter still wants to snuggle on the couch and watch her favorite show with me. And she wants to try on fun dresses and laugh with me. And she senses when I need a hug and is quick to pull me in. And my Jacob can’t wait for me to get home so he can tell me all of his random thoughts that make perfect sense to him. And make bad “yo mama” jokes. And catch me up on the design complications of his latest welding project. And I love that my oldest son texts me during the week to see if I need anything from the sale at the Duck Store. We love our Ducks. I love them all.

Even though some moments are hard, I wouldn’t trade being a mother for anything.

So to all the hard working, soul touching, hug giving, dancing in the kitchen, eating tacos off the floor, laughing like there’s no tomorrow, natural, adoptive, foster, step, bonus mothers that are out in this big world, THANK YOU. Thank you for showing up and investing in the lives of the littles and not so littles. Thank you for making this world a better place just by being you. You are amazing and I love you for all you do and all you are and all you give. Happy Mama’s Day!




Deep Gratitude, Quiet Joy

I ran a 7k fun run race the other day. One of those nasty fall days that the rain was pouring down in sheets. Yep, that day. I got up and ran. In the rain. Because I can. I felt so alive in those miles, charging up the stupid hills, pushing myself to keep moving despite the bad weather around me. I could have easily stayed in bed that morning or found another excuse not to run. But in those minutes of running in the rain, I felt the inner strength that I have gained. I found gratitude for myself, that my body still pushes limits, excitement for what my future holds, and a deep sense of gratitude for the grace of God in my life. Even in the downpour I ran with complete joy and a huge smile on my face.

Today, a cold is settling into my body. No doubt the consequences of running in the rain. It’s left me a bit quieter than usual, but it’s also causing me to reflect on the blessings I have today.

I am most grateful that I am a child of God. Even on the dark, lonely days I know that He is leading me and still loves me. Even when I push boundaries and pull at the fabric of the plans He has for me, I know he still loves me. Deeply. And the grace that is extended to me is amazing. Even when I wrestle with where He is walking me now, He gently and quietly reminds me I am His and He has a plan.

His plans right now involve pursuing some seminary classes and a ministry license. I’m a bit overwhelmed. But He’s asked me to take a step. So I’m not going to look to the end of the race or even the end of seminary. I’m going to focus where He has me now. I feel humbled and incredibly grateful that He’s asked me to walk with Him in this way.

I’m also so excited for my kids and the ways they are growing into amazing individuals. People with tender hearts for others and for God. Sometimes I just pause and watch them. Have you ever done that? Or taken a mental picture or video of what they’re doing? Yesterday Jacob was laughing at something he was watching. Just seeing the sheer delight on his face and hearing the deep belly laughs brought me so much joy. I giggle to even think about it. Knowing the road we’ve walked together and the hardships he has faced makes it even sweeter to just enjoy a moment together with him.

The other day I had a phone conversation with Cory, my oldest son. We talked for about a half hour about our plans for the upcoming weekend, the bad play calling of the last football game, our worries over the next game, and the challenging class load he’s taking in college. Normal mother son talk, I suppose. But to recall that a year ago he would barely acknowledge me brings it into perspective. He was angry and hurting after losing his father. He wouldn’t come to visit us in our new town, take my phone calls, or really even look me in the eyes if I did see him. Since I have been provided much grace, I extended much grace. I continually pray that Jesus is rebuilding and restoring Cory through me, or whomever else He chooses to use. Cory will be here tomorrow. We’ll attend a college football game together. He wants to just hang out with us. Just be here. And for that I am so grateful.

Of course my Sarah always brings such joy. My princess. I love to tease her and hear her heart. She gets so excited over normal teen issues and I love that she always wants to share them with me. Just the little things. Even if it’s singing along to a song in the car, sometimes driving around the neighborhood just so we can sing until the end. It fills my heart with joy.mountains-trees-fall-foliage-medium

Oh Jesus, you are so good. I look out my window and see all of the autumn leaves lit up by the afternoon sun. I see the flowers that fill the vase on my counter and they make me smile. I feel your comfort and grace all around me even when I’m not feeling well. My cold reminds me that you have given me a body to be used. My kids remind me that you’ve entrusted me to not only raise them but to also point them to you. The anxiety that can fill my life has been replaced by your peace. And today I feel a complete, deep sense of gratitude that fills me with a quiet, happy joy.

Oh, My Heart

food-pot-kitchen-cooking-mediumSome days in the life of a family are just hard. It may not be a major catastrophe or difficult illness in the family, but rather just all of those little things that overwhelm and wear you out. Those days may leave you with little patience and perhaps the tendency to overreact or lash out in harsh words.

This evening in our house has been one of those hard moment days. Plans weren’t solidified, but we’re all feeling nothing is going right. I was out of town for several days. Sarah was at a friend’s, Jacob was given the opportunity to stay on his own. His chores were undone, causing me frustration. Even though I’ve been on a retreat I see the 108 page application I need to start on. Grandma is on her way to stay for a few days too. I think we’re all tired, out of our routine, and feeling worn out.

My afternoon was readjusted, so I thought I had time to go to the gym, get in some much needed brain exhaustion via cycling. Then I was diverted to pick up duty after practice. I don’t mind carpooling, I was just trying to get it done before the rpm class started. And then traffic. Just through our town. Sarah could sense my tension. I tried to ask about homework and school. I could see the anxiety on her face. And then the tears came. She felt behind in Japanese class and like she was a burden for me adjusting my plans to drive her around. She doesn’t want to feel bad, but she just does. Then moments before home, the real words came out. “I just miss my daddy. Why isn’t he here?!” Oh, my heart. I asked what she needed in this moment; a hug was her quiet reply.

So we pulled into our tiny townhouse parking space, others outside around us, and I got her out of the car and just held her. Right there, in the middle of the neighborhood. Through the sobbing she quietly asked me to pray for her. Oh, my heart. I had been silently praying over her and now, of course, I let the heart of God pour through me. What a joy to have my daughter seek comfort in my arms and ask for me to pray over her. In that moment, with the Holy Spirit comforting us, that’s all we needed. Family.

Our evening continued to be a mess of bumbling fools. Jacob arguing, because he’s always right. His chore of bathrooms, to him, means squirting some blue stuff in the toilet. The end. I was helping Sarah with some homework while I had onions caramelizing on the stove. Of course I got the burners mixed up and turned them up too high while I turned my attention to Sarah. So they are now burned little black things that filled the house with smoke. Jacob says they made the house smell like cat pee. Yay us. Then he was getting his pizza out of the oven (it’s an ASD thing—every night recently) and it slipped off the backside of the rack. Yes, it ran down the backside of the oven. Awesome. Ov Glove to the rescue. And my house that was clean this morning is covered in mail and school projects, tennis shoes and coats, bits of dinner and groceries yet to be put away.

These moments and situations can wear a person out. Especially a single mama like me. But we covered the day in prayer. And I trust that the Holy Spirit is giving us grace in these moments. So there were more hugs. No harsh words where there could have been a lot. No wounded feelings, where we could have really hurt each other. Instead, now there’s laughter, teenage burping, and a dance party is about to go down. Because this family dances just because we can. And we laugh, because it’s good medicine for our souls. And the burping…it’s a teenage thing. These may be hard days, but I know the years are slipping away too quickly. So I’ll take the tears, prayers, laughter, and dance parties with my growing babies any day. Oh, my heart.