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Category Archives: Motherhood

When Ideals Become Idols (What I Know Now)

Perusing through the kids section in Barnes & Noble where I worked, I began to make mental lists of the books I wanted my kids to read. Not only did I make a few lists, I picked up a book and took it to my locker to purchase later, in preparation for the day I would have my own little ones to read to. Walking back to the kids section, my assigned domain for the day, I continued to daydream about how wonderful it would be to have children.

I pictured a pig-tailed little girl running around with me in a pumpkin patch. I imaged many adventures I would take with my future girl, and I dreamed of sitting around a table with many children laughing and singing and eating together in joyful harmony. I studied up on discipline techniques, and I read a slew of parenting books. My major in college was human development and family studies with an option in children, youth, and family, which surely put me on track to being an expert as a mother.

There were going to be no surprises because I had parenting all figured out.

Not only did I have parenting figured out, I relied on my grand ideals to usher in reality. I reasoned that because I wanted children and wanted to spend my days with them teaching and nurturing them, of course my ideals would come true.

Of course.

And then I had children, three of them, in five years.

Here is where I tell you what I know now.

What I Know Now

I know that it’s wise to have ideals. Ideals help us to persevere and have vision for our hopes and dreams. They are a standard that helps us focus on our goals. However, ideals can quickly turn into idols if we rely on them/put our hope in them instead of relying on Jesus and how He made us.

How Do You Know If You’ve Made an Ideal An Idol?

The biggest indication that you’ve made an ideal into an idol is that you become angry, depressed and/or anxious when your ideals aren’t working out how you envisioned them.

Looking back, I know that my ideals of motherhood were an idol. In all my dreaming, I had never considered my personality, my bents, trials I would encounter, the reality of sin in daily life, my own selfishness, my own limitations, exhaustion, marriage difficulties, and a million other intricacies that are of life and of me.

When our faith is strong in Jesus, we can weather the falling apart of some of our ideals. When we have put too much stock in our ideals, and they fall apart, so will we.

How Do You Avoid Making an Ideal an Idol

Give your ideals, which is fancy way of saying “standards”, to the One who knows every piece of you. Offer to Him your dreams, and ask Him to give you vision and faith. Remember that you are not a robot; you have a unique personality and woven skill sets and gifts imprinted in the weaving. You cannot be someone else. You are made gloriously! Accept who you are, your weaknesses and your strengths, and trust God will the details (Tweetable). If you have His Holy Spirit intertwined with your spirit, you are being matured and perfected. Let that work be good enough. Let the failures come, look to Jesus, and keep walking. The standards you’ve put on yourself are probably not the ones God puts on you. His standards? Believe in Him; have faith! He sits on a throne of grace, and His burden for you is light.

Ideals are good and helpful. The key is to take our ideals and put them in the hands of God, having faith in His plans and ways, and then walk daily with Him, always asking, “Lord, what do you say?”

Love, SM

carenewbornMemories!

Originally posted October 2012

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I’m sorry you have a crazy mother but I love you

You might think this post is about my mom, but you would be wrong. It’s about me.

Yes, I am the crazy mother, and not in the cool way, like, “CRAZY MOTHA”. More like, “Hey kids, sorry I’ve been kind of jerky and emotional and I told you I AM SO OVER THE NEIGHBOR KIDS and I argued with your dad about Hillary Clinton and Ryan Lochte and…I’m sorry you have a crazy mother but I love you” kind of way.

I love our neighbor kids.

I do.

Most of the time.

98% of the time.

87%.

WHY CAN’T I JUST HAVE SOME LAND LORD?! MOVE ME TO THE FARM.

But for real.

The morning started so hopeful. I was up before my kids, I lit a candle, put on some music, had some coffee, got into my BIBLE, and then…they got up early. And wanted cuddles. And I LOVE CUDDLES. But I know that once they’re up, it’s mom-time. All day, every day. It’s good. It’s fine. But sometimes, by 4pm, my husband gets messages like this:

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I homeschool, for those of you who don’t know, and so when I say I need a babysitter for rest of the summer it’s because I’m with my kiddos 24/7 All.Year.Long. Which is mostly fine because I really like my kids. But, you know, sometimes I feel like I’m sending out an SOS.

Then I take a deep breath.

I remember: “Thou wilt keep in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee.” (Isaiah 26:3)

And this: “For He Himself is our peace.” (Ephesians 2:14)

My peace doesn’t come from less noise.

It doesn’t come from perfect kids (mine or the neighborhood ones).

I can’t find in a good Netflix binge (Stranger Things, anyone?) or on Instagram (see what I did there)

It doesn’t come from a clean home (although, Lord please send me a maid).

I can’t even get it if I get away for awhile. I can get relief, but not peace.

Deep, true, soul-desperate peace will only come from Jesus. And oh man do I need Him on the crazy days. I need Him always, but the days where I want to kick everyone out of the house only to realize the neighborhood kids start talking about who likes and who and someone hurts someone else and I’M GOING TO LOSE MY EVER LOVING MIND…this is when I need Him.

I need Him.

I need Him.

I need Him.

Thou wilt keep in perfect peace who mind is stayed on thee.

He is our peace.

He is my peace. He is enough.

Always.

And it’s the same for the big painful things in the world or the big emotions in our small personal world, He is our peace.

So when the anxiety crawls through my body, tingling down my arms and laying heavy in my neck…

When I feel stuck or crazy…

I remember, Thou wilt keep in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee.

SM

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How to Mother Yourself When You’re Feeling Down

Today I have felt…crappy.

I’m sorry, but that’s just what it is. I’m prone to this, I know, so at least I know how to deal with the rhythms of it. Oh, hi again downward-spiraling-for-no-reason-day, I know you. You don’t get to control me, but yea, you do know how to bring me down. And yes, I’m a little down.

My tendency when I’m down is to want to stay away from people. I feel anxious and everything gives me anxiety. Kids around? Anxiety. Messy house? Anxiety. Feeling like I’m stuck in a box and can’t get out? Anxiety.

I tell the kids they have to come in for an hour from playing so I can lie down and maybe get a nap. And oh yea, clean your rooms because I can’t deal.

I’m up again and I’m thinking I’d really like to not be unkind to myself right now. It’s easy to beat myself up on days like this. But today I think I’ll mother myself.

What would a mother do today? How does a mother treat her hurting for no reason daughter? Since I don’t actually know, I’ll guess…this is what I do for my daughters anyway.

Take Care of Yourself

Go and get yourself something healthy to eat or drink, you’ll feel better. How about a smoothie? Put something good into your body because you know later you’re going to eat cake.

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Also, take a walk. Get some fresh air and wind on your face and be connected to nothing but your body and the air. Listening to God on your walks is good too. He is with you right now and He knows of your dark days. He sits or walks with you through them.

Make Some Tea

You know what you need right now? Some tea. Chamomile sounds about right. I don’t know what it is about tea, but there is something wonderfully healing in it. It would help if you could have a hug with your tea, so hug your kids and let them love on you. Kids are awesome lovers.

Eat Some Cake

I’m noticing a pattern here: food. Or some form of food, as in drink. Drinking and eating seem to have healing properties. That’s okay, God made food and drink and He is the bread of life, so cake and tea and a smoothie and Him, sounds about right. Feast with Him.

And yes, eat the cake. It’s your mom’s birthday and you just need to do it. Feel free to have some wine with it.

Rest. You are Loved and Don’t Have to Be Anything

My sweet one, just rest. You don’t have to be anything or do anything right now. Know you are loved and not alone. Maybe read some fiction to get your mind free. A good book is comfort. Be gentle with yourself.

“May your unfailing love be my comfort…” Psalm 119:76

If you’re having one of those days, eat the cake, have some tea, take the walk, rest. You’re going to be okay.

Love, SM

Related: How to Make a Home When You’re Feeling Depressed

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Thanks to 98.7 WMZQ for this pro-tip!

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What I want to tell moms (what I wish I would have known sooner)

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This morning as Caroline and I were driving back from the grocery story (Saturday morning muffins, FOR THE WIN), she looks out the window at a woman jogging and says, “I could never run a mile.”

I have no idea where that thought came from, but I said to her, “Sure you could, you would just have to practice.”

I began to tell her how God made our bodies in a way that we can build up endurance. If you want to run a mile, the first day you might just walk a little bit, the next day you walk a little faster, and so on and so on, and eventually, you would be able to run a mile.

After sharing all this with her, I said, “I wish someone would have told me about endurance when I was younger and trying out track; I just thought I couldn’t run and was a failure at it.”

And all of a sudden it hit me, I have to tell young moms about endurance in motherhood! Because if I don’t say something, say that it takes practice and work and consistency and twisted ankles and side stitches and exhaustion, then maybe they won’t know. Maybe they will think they are failures at mothering. IT TAKES TIME and practice to grow into mothering with wisdom and maturity and grace and gentleness. But the more we practice, the more we keep on, step by step, slow and steady, learning, doing, listening to older moms, staying before the Lord and relying on His Holy Spirit, the better we will get! There is a reason the Scripture talks about older women teaching younger women to keep on, we need to know we aren’t failing (practical tips are also helpful)! We need to know it takes time and work and sweat and tears. We need to know, ALL OF THIS IS NORMAL.

You are normal if you struggle with mothering.

And when I say, IT GETS BETTER, I don’t just mean it gets easier because your kids sleep and are more self-sufficient (although sleep is awesome), it gets better because you get better. You mature. You grow in grace. You are acting out of what you have been given by God. You have been molded and tested, and if you keep on, you will make it through the fire. And yes, motherhood is a fire sometimes.

So get your running shoes, pace yourself (oh my goodness, PACE YOURSELF), and keep on.

Love, SM

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For the “I just can’t be a mother today” mom out there

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With my sweet babies. Caroline was still in the mind of God.

Anxiety struck me immediately.

It was too early to be up, but “too early” didn’t matter to my sweet little boy who was ready for the day the minute the sun shone through his bedroom window. My daughter Caroline needed milk and a new diaper, and all three of my little ones were, of course, hungry.

After forcing myself to sit up, I stared at the wall, then fell back down into my bed. I pulled my knees to my chest and the blanket over my head as tears came down and these words tumbled out to my God: “I can’t be a mother today, Lord, I’m just too tired.”

Getting awakened multiple times a night, every night, is enough to make anyone crash, but add the weight of having to function throughout the day in order to take care of a one, two, and four-year-old, and this mama was spent before the day began. Just knowing the strength and energy that would be required to make it through the day was enough to sway me to stay balled up under warm covers. Serious sleep deprivation combined with the constant giving of myself, soothing cries, breaking up fights, training, disciplining, and trying to stay calm and gentle in the middle of it all was breaking me. I needed help. I so badly needed someone to call who could come and rescue me, just for one day. But that wasn’t my reality.

My mom was ill and living in Florida, my mother-in-law had a full-time job, and there was no money to hire someone to help me out for a couple hours a month, so I could get a break. My husband took over sometimes, but he was tired too, and we wanted weekends to be with each other. Plus, there was nowhere to go even if I could get out because money was tight; coffee at a coffee shop was a luxury out of my reach. It sounds like a lot of excuses, but the point is that I felt very alone, and very, very tired. Depression snuck up on me; there was a shell of a woman where I once was. My ideals, my hopes, my joy were snatched away before I had a chance to notice. Pleas for help aimed at heaven seemed to be met with silence. The message was clear: this was my life, and I needed to just deal with it.

Adjusting didn’t go well. Anger and resentment were living just under my skin. Exhausted, out of my mind, and still hormonal, every day felt like a fight. Feelings of desperation were like an everpresent shadow over the good in my life. Experiencing hope in Jesus felt like chasing gold at the end of a rainbow . . . getting to it was always out of reach. Motherhood was something I planned for, something I wanted, so why was living it out so drastically different from my expectations?

Down to the bone, to the deepest part of my soul, is the love I have for my children. Every day of my life is imperfectly offered to them. But the little years, they’re hard and oftentimes lonely. It’s like a secret we fear sharing, just how life-altering motherhood is, especially when you don’t have training or support. Let me pull back the curtain on the idea that just because you love and are thankful to be a mother, parenting will come easily or naturally. The lifetime commitment that is motherhood will, many days, stretch you beyond what you think you can handle.

We moms don’t need an instruction manual. We need physical help.

If you’re a mom of little ones and you don’t have very much help, I know you’re struggling to breathe. Your days morph into your nights and mornings come too quickly. You’re bone-tired and would give just about anything for a break, a soul-filling, relaxing, quiet break. You need to be pampered. I’ve been there. I get it.

My children are older now. They not only sleep through the night, they sleep in! They can can fix themselves snacks and play independently. It’s good. I’m grateful for the reprieve. 

Looking back on those desperate days and looking at where I am now, I can confidently say, “It gets better!” If only I could have seen that during the hardest times, hope would have been so much easier to grasp.

I just wanted you to know that you’re not crazy. Motherhood is so very hard. Yes, beautiful and such a gift, but exhausting. Hang in there. They grow up so fast.

You just read an excerpt from Desperate: Hope for the Mom Who Needs to Breathe.

Now I know I can’t pamper you like I’d like to, or clean your house or bring you a meal (unless you’re local – hit me up!), but I can offer a little something. Keep reading…

Giveaway For You Tired Mamas Out There

Desperate-6-15-672x1024Today I’m giving away my book (co-authored with Sally Clarkson), Desperate: Hope for the Mom Who Needs to Breathe to three winners. One of you will also win The Ultimate Homemaking Bundle, a bundle filled with encouraging, practical resources, to help you keep on in your mothering (Read more about the bundle HERE). And a copy of our eCourse, Discipleship & Discipline, a four-part video teaching series that offers practical help and encouragement for mothering. Read all about it HERE.

To enter the giveaway, just fill out the form at the bottom of this post.

This giveaway has ended and the winners have been picked and emailed!

Keep on mamas! You’re not alone.

Love, Sarah Mae

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