When Lydia was a baby, I was a supermom. I did everything: kept the apartment spotless, hosted guests, tackled projects, learned new things, and spent time with my baby. Abby came along and our world was turned upside down with several weeks in the NICU that stressed us beyond anything we’d ever known before. It was horrible. So, when Abby came home from the hospital, I stubbornly thought I had to prove it’s easier to have two at home than to have one at home and one in the NICU. I tried to “do it all” again and be a good mom to both girls all at the same time.
Do you know how that went? I broke. I snapped. I realized that I was acting in pride and living a lie. When I started being honest with myself and others, I found a lot of freedom. Being a mom is HARD.
During my pregnancy with Paul I was praying for the transition to three, but also preparing myself to be overwhelmed.
It’s just a season.
The house will be messy at times (most of them!).
I won’t be able to do projects the way I used to.
Taking care of three will be almost all-consuming, but we’ll survive.
Do you know what happened? The transition was not nearly as difficult as I anticipated. We do survive. In fact, sometimes the house is tidy and clean (rarely). Sometimes I cook meals with side dishes (special occasions only). I still have a quiet time alone (although, at 5:45 AM). I teach the kids, play with the kids, read to the kids, and I still manage to clean the bathroom, change the sheets, and vacuum. I still have time to plan meals and cook them, spend time with Dan, and read books (grown up ones, even). But, it’s still hard.
I have sat down on various occasions to seek advice from more experienced moms, ones that I really respect. I think one of my favorite pieces of advice that I try to put into place daily was on how not to be overwhelmed.
One mom in particular told me about Susanna Wesley, mother to nineteen children (ten survived to adulthood), including two sons who eventually founded Methodism and wrote a lot of hymns still being sung today. As the mother of so many children, Susanna would get overwhelmed too. Then she would throw her apron up over her head to have a moment “alone” to pray for help.
Since the day I first heard about Susanna’s “apron prayers”, I’ve started to try to do the same, though, not with an apron since I rarely wear one. 🙂 Sometimes I go to my room, and sometimes I gather the kids around me and we pray together. Often I just stop whatever I’m doing, close my eyes, and let out a short, desperate, completely sincere prayer for help.
Well, last week I was encouraged when I was reading about King David and I saw him put the same tactic into practice.
David (not yet King David) had been running away from Saul for months and months. He hasn’t done anything wrong, and had, on several occasions, proved his loyalty to King Saul even while fleeing his persecution. Finally David fled to the Philistines and lived among them for over a year. One day he gathered his troops together and made a journey to help the Philistine’s fight their battles. However, the Philistine lords doubted David’s loyalty, so the king sent David and his men home. Bummer.
David and his men arrived back home only to receive devastating news. The city had been raided. Their homes had been burned down and their women and children carried away as captives.
As overwhelmed as I sometimes get as a mom, I can honestly say I’ve never had a day that bad. Can you imagine coming home only to find your house burned, your possessions destroyed or stolen, and your family kidnapped?
And what did David do? Well, he wept. I probably would too.
Things got worse for David when the people grew bitter against him. Then they started talking about stoning him. Do you know what happened next? (I love this part!)
“David strengthened himself in the LORD his God”.
“David inquired of the LORD, ‘Shall I pursue after this band? Shall I overtake them?”
God told David, “Yes”, to go pursue and overtake the band. David and his men pursued the band. They didn’t find it right away, but they found an Egyptian who pointed them in the right direction. Then David and his men went on to find the band, struck them down, and recovered “all that the Amalekites had taken”. When he got back home nothing was missing and no one was missing. With God’s help, David saved the day.
(See 1 Samuel 28 and 30)
So I’m no future king and my home isn’t being attacked and burned with fire, but I worship and follow the same God as David, and He is just as able and willing to help me with my little flock of Munchkins. Not only can I seek God for strength when I get overwhelmed, but I can also seek his direction in what to do in those moments when I’m tired and emotional and not sure what to do next.
I was going to post this last week but I just couldn’t get it to come out right. The next days were terrible. The kiddos were difficult and I was tired and overwhelmed. I realized God was not only preventing me from posting this in pride, but He was also giving me an opportunity to practice. (And I do need more practice.) But now a week later I can come more humbly and share the lesson I’m learning.
God hears us when we are overwhelmed (for big reasons or small). He wants us to come to him for help. He will strengthen us. And He can direct us in what to do next.
PS – For all you creative people out there who make words into pretty artwork, I think 1 Samuel 30:6 would totally make a mom-worthy print.
But David strengthened himself in the LORD his God.