Motherhood Archives - Sarah MaeSarah Mae
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Category Archives: Motherhood

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

There are affiliate links in this post. Read my disclosure policy here.

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A Good Ache

Around nine years ago I was told my mom was going to die. Many of you have followed the story and you know that she just kept on living.

She lived through a hospice stay.

She lived through a liver that was busted.

She just kept on.

I used to say she had nine lives. Her latest life was in Florida, living on her own, swimming most days, enjoying life. But a few months ago she called me up and told me that the Lord told her this was going to be her last year to live. I don’t know if I believed her, but I listened. She said she had a bucket list, and one of the things on it was to go to the “Dolly museum.”

Me: You want to go to the Dolly museum? Like, Dolly Parton??!

My mom: No! The Salvador Dali museum!

Much better. The Dali museum in St. Petersburg Florida. And she wanted to eat a seafood feast overlooking the ocean. Yes, okay, I told her I would find a way. She wanted me to come in April, but I told her I couldn’t, Thailand and all. So we decided on the weekend of May 12th. I booked a ticket and she booked a hotel room.

I went to Thailand. I came home and slept. I never called her.

After sleeping for a week, I got a call, on a Wednesday. I was dropping my daughter off at a friends. It was a Florida number.

“Hi Sarah, we need to talk about your mom. Should we resuscitate or not if your mom goes into cardiac arrest?”

“What? What are you talking about? Listen, I know nothing, can you please fill me in?”

The woman on the other end, an “end-of-life counselor” or something like that, told me my mom was in the hospital and she wasn’t doing well. I asked when she had been checked in and she said April 5th. It was April 20th.

My hands were shaking. Everything felt hot. I asked to talk to a doctor. He called. He said things like, “We can’t treat her liver because of the blot clots…we think we found cancer…hemorrhaging…lethargic…infection in the blood…comfort measures.”

I went home and booked a ticket to Florida for early the next morning. As I landed in Florida, I saw that I had missed two phone calls from the hospital. I called while the plane was pulling up to the gate. “Is she okay?” I answered? They had to do some procedure they needed permission to do. My sister gave them permission.

I just kept praying. “Please God, just don’t let her die before I see her. And please let me be able to talk to her, I want her to see me.”

I got my car rental, drove quickly, got to the hospital, and found her room. I heard her before I saw her. She was yelling.

I walked in and went right up to her and took her hand and said, “Sar-ey is here”. She used to call me Sar-ey. I tried to get her to look at me but her eyes just stared up to the ceiling. Every 5-10 seconds she would yell and try and move.

“I’m here mom. I’m here. It’s okay.”

No response. Just yelling and eyes to the ceiling.

“Comfort measures” they all said. WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?

It means you need to look at putting her in hospice and making her comfortable as she dies.

But what if she isn’t dying?! I’ve been through this before.

Two days ago she talked to my sister and told them she was getting out. She told her cousin we were going on our trip. She was talking. But I missed it. Because I never called.

Can we just try and help her brain to clear up? Can you give her that medicine, please, just one more time?

One more time.

Yelling. Eyes to the ceiling.

Pain meds. The more you give, the worse it makes her because her liver doesn’t process anymore. Ease her pain or kill her. That seemed the choices. Excruciating.

I got to the hospital on Thursday. On Friday I made the decision to have them stop all treatment and have her admitted to hospice. While I waited for them to pick her up, I rubbed her hand and talked with her.

Was I making the right decision? Was I killing her?

Excruciating.

We got to the hospice and they couldn’t get her pain meds because the doctor couldn’t be reached and she was yelling and God, it was so awful.

Eyes to the ceiling.

Finally the meds.

Yelling off and on through the night.

I cried and prayed and cried and was torn up over whether or not I was doing the right thing. Could she have gotten better? Did I cut treatment too soon?

Excruciating.

Morning and silence. No more yelling, just breathing.

The doctor came in. “How long will it take for her to die?” I asked. “The body could take 5-7 days to shut down with no food or water” he told me. I had to leave the next day. She’ll die alone. And I’m killing her.

“God, please don’t let her die alone.”

My in-laws were in Florida visiting family and so they were only two hours from where I was. They came to see me. I asked my mother-in-law to go with me to my moms apartment so I could see it and get a few things. It felt wrong to be in my moms place without her there. It felt wrong to start touching and moving her things. We spent about two hours there, looking for pictures and journals and anything I could take with me.

When we got back to the hospice, a counselor came in and asked if I had any questions. “No.” I said.

But my mother-in-law said she had a question. “It doesn’t seem like it’s going to take 5-7 days for her die. Is that really true?”

The counselor looked at her and said, “No. Do you hear that gurgling in her throat? That’s her lungs shutting down. She could go today.”

Grace.

And sadness and relief and deep ache.

My in-laws left so I could be alone with my mom.

I didn’t leave her side.

And then I knew. The gurgling stopped and there was just breathing.

I pulled my chair up close and cried and played her music and held her hand and rubbed her head. I knew she was going to go soon.

I said things to her, special, sacred things that are for her alone.

All this time her eyes just went back and forth and back and forth.

And then her eyes stopped.

I walked over to her other side where I stood, watching her breathe. Listening.

“You’re almost there mom. Almost done. I’ll be right here with you.”

And like a clock winding down, her breath just wound down.

Slower and slower.

And then,

it was gone.

Just stillness.

7:16pm.

On April 23, 2016 at 7:16pm my mom took her last breath. She went home.

“You give life, you are love, you bring light to the darkness. You give hope, you restore every heart that is broken. Great are you Lord. It’s your breath in our lungs, so we pour out our praise to you only.”

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Susan Lynn Sherman Potts | 8/9/52 – 4/23/16

SM

From Darkness to Light (a post written by my mom on how she quit drinking)

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