Last night I opened my laptop to write a blog post. I typed the letter “I” and stared it for about ten minutes. Then I shut my laptop and watched the Big Bang Theory with Jason and went to bed. Sometimes I feel like I need to be on the other side of something difficult to write about it, so that I can wrap everything into a tidy lesson up with a Bible verse: this is what I went through, and this is what God taught me, and now I’m a better Christian, isn’t that lovely, tra la la.
I couldn’t think of anything like that to write, because right now, I’m in the middle of dawn-to-dusk, messy, chaotic living. My heart is heavy and full, and I’ve completely run out of margin, mostly because of things that have been my own doing. So when we turned off the TV last night, I reached for my journal instead of my computer, and all these things that had been buried deep in my heart started coming out onto the paper, and welling up in my eyes and spilling down onto my pillowcase.
I’m not even going to pretend that the stuff weighing me down is life-or-death kind of stuff. I have a friend who is going through a divorce. I have a friend whose 3-week-old baby had heart surgery two days ago. I have a friend whose husband’s deployment was just extended. Those are not the trials I’m facing.
Yet, just as the tiniest newborn baby will make your arms tired if you hold her forever, even the smallest burdens grow heavy when you insist on carrying them all by yourself. So when I stuff another pair of plastic-bagged poopy underpants into my purse, burying them deep so no one will suspect just how much my almost 4-year-old still doesn’t have a handle on potty training, I stuff my embarrassment and vulnerability down even deeper, and add one more pound to the burden. One more brick to the stack that says you have to do this all by yourself. One more ounce of credibility to the lie that no one else has these kinds of problems. One more inch to the mental rut that sees small difficulties and draws the conclusion I’m not a good enough mom.
It’s all just getting too heavy, too deep, too hard. So I’m dropping those bags at the door, recklessly enough that all my dirty laundry (both literal and figurative) might spill out for you to see. I’m laying my burdens down and saying out loud what we all know but never admit to each other: Mothering is hard, hard work.
It’s beautiful and rewarding, sure, but it’s also messy and painful and exhausting, even on the best of days. That is why it was such a boost to my spirits to get this book in the mail yesterday:
Sweet, exhausted, amazing, resilient, fearless, remarkable, run-down mom–this book is for you. No matter how you got from there to here, can I just take your precious face between my hands, look into your sleep-deprived eyes, and whisper, ‘You are much braver than you think?’ (Surprised by Motherhood, xv)
Those are words I needed to hear. And I bet you need to hear them, too.
I was blessed enough to receive this book as a gift. I’m only a few pages in, and it’s blessing and encouraging me so much I just have to pay it forward. So, sweet mamas, I am giving away a copy of this book. Just leave a comment below. Tomorrow night, I’ll choose one person randomly, and you’ll get the book in the mail in a couple weeks.