Category Archives: Motherhood
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
Today 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.
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?
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?
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.”
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.
it was gone.
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.”
Susan Lynn Sherman Potts | 8/9/52 – 4/23/16
From Darkness to Light (a post written by my mom on how she quit drinking)
Today’s post is from my friend Ruth. Enjoy!
Taking a break from all of the to-dos isn’t something most moms do easily.
I sat on the couch just to take a break after a busy day at home. Feeling a bit worn-out from taking care of the kids, refilling drinks, answering endless questions, and trying to keep the house from burning down, I needed a rest!
Within minutes, out of the large picture windows on the eastern side of our house, I could see my husband’s car. Just over the small hill about a block away, I saw him pulling onto our street—almost home.
I immediately jumped up.
I was sure that if he walked in after a busy day at work and I was just sitting on the couch, he would think I had done nothing all day. I had to look busy. All the time. After this scenario played out multiple times over several months, I finally came to my senses.
What on earth was I doing?!
I decided to ask my hubby what his thoughts would be if he walked in and I were sitting on the couch. He looked at me like I was a little crazy and assured me that he wouldn’t think anything about it. What?! For all those months my own faulty thinking had tricked me into believing I couldn’t rest, not even for a minute.
Rest is a difficult concept, especially for those of us living in a western culture that places a high value on action. We quietly feel condemned or ashamed when we’re doing nothing. Some of us are afraid to sit, relax, unwind, or do nothing for too long. We have this imaginary voice telling us, “Get up; do something. There’s work to be done. Don’t rest. There is too much to do!”
But when I read the Bible, I see multiple examples of Jesus resting. He often got away from the masses. He snuck away to quiet places. He rested.
I have come to understand that the only way to pour out the best of who I am to my family and in my ministry is to sloooooow down. Make time for the moments of life. Be still. Settle my soul. Press pause and just relax.
The housework? It will still be there tomorrow.
Let’s pray together:
Father, help me to find my rest in You. Be my strength. Quiet my soul. In all that I have to do as a mom, give me rest. Enable me to relax, knowing that my life is found in You. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
To think about:
Why do you find it difficult to slow down and rest?
How can you make time for rest?
This devotion was taken from Pressing Pause:100 Quiet Moments for Moms to Meet With Jesus.
Whether you’re juggling a career, kids’ schedules, and church commitments or you’re covered in spit-up and anxious about what the next eighteen years might hold, you can carve out a few quiet moments to rejuvenate your spirit.
Pressing Pause offers you a calm way to start your day, to refresh yourself in Jesus and drink deeply of His presence so that you are ready to pour out love, time, and energy into the people who matter most to you.
There are affiliate links used in this post. You can read my disclosure policy here.
I didn’t sleep through the night for seven years.
Those were the years of babies and toddlers and someone at some point was always awake or needed something or had a bad dream or threw up. This was life.
When my children got a bit older, a miracle happened: they all started sleeping through the night AND they started sleeping in (HANG IN THERE MOMS OF LITTLE ONES!). Which meant, I got to sleep through the night and I got to sleep in. You better believe I made up for those seven years by enjoying that sleep in time (and by sleep in, I mean 7:30/8:30-ish).
Those seven years I was in a fog. I was used to the fog though, so it wasn’t terrible, I was just tired all the time. I went to the doctor once to tell him I thought something was wrong with me because I was always so exhausted, and after a few questions he asked like, “How old are your kids? Are you still getting up in the middle of the night?” Etc., it was obvious that I was actually just tired from mothering.
Me in 2009 with a baby and two toddlers
After some good sleep-ins, I decided I wanted to be that person that got up early, spent time with Lord, and got stuff done before my kids got up. At one point last Spring I even started getting up around 4:30am to go workout. I always believed there was something special about getting up while it was still dark and enjoying some quite hours to myself; there is something peaceful about it. Plus, there are so many books on how getting up early is what all the successful people do. HUSTLE, they say. JUST DO IT, they say. YOU’LL GET SO MUCH MORE DONE, they say. So I did. I worked on getting up early. In fact, I spent 6 months getting up around 6am as a life experiment. I’m glad I did it. But you know what I learned?
I’m more tired when I get up early. I don’t get more done. I always need a nap.
Turns out, I function better when I sleep in a little bit. I’m happier. I don’t need a nap. I’m not exhausted all day. And? I’m more successful when I don’t get up early.
And here’s what I know about success:
Success for me is not feeling crummy and tired all day. It’s being kind. It’s doing the things I want to get done during my day, whether that’s writing or cleaning or visiting a friend or homeschooling my kiddos well and without being cranky. When I get up early, life is a foggy mess. I’m cranky, I’m tired, I get less done (because I’m cranky and tired), and I’m not the kindest person. And it doesn’t matter if I go to bed earlier. Speaking of which, my husband HATES when I go to bed early. He likes to stay up and he wants me to stay up with him. If I stay up, I definitely can’t get up early. I know this about myself. My husband has the amazing super-natural ability to stay up late and get up early. I do not have that super power.
ALL TO SAY… it’s okay to not be a ninja 5am-er. Maybe you’re a ninja 9am-er, or 10pm-er, or never because you’re just so tired and so WHATEVER. No ninja. That’s okay too.
The point is, don’t think you have to get up early to be successful. Everyone is different! God made it so. Embrace who you are, do what you gotta do, define success, and then? Onward!
P.S. I’m over at The Better Mom today talking about how I no longer want to be a “good” homemaker. Check it out HERE.
With Amy, who clearly makes better decisions than I do.
“Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor.” Ecclesiastes 4:9
I was at my friend Amy’s house today, and as usual, she ended up speaking life right into my weary bones.
I’m beginning to think I’m just blogging these days to share her thoughts and wisdom. Which is fine by me because she is a beautiful, wise, gracious soul. Anyway, after about 3 hours of zero conversation because we had between us 8 kids (ages 2, 3, 7, 7, 8, 8, 10, 10…like whoa), and I was beginning to think we would never even finish a coherent sentence when the Lord carved out about 20 minutes of solid conversation between us, mostly which went like this:
Me: “I feel like I’m always failing at motherhood, I just keep dropping the ball. And I have a lot of fear…I just don’t know what I’m doing with my life.”
And then I start crying and we talk about how we miss our mothers (she lost her mom and my mom was never a mom), and in the lament and remembering the importance of grieving, she said, “You were never given what it takes to set the table, and so here you are trying to serve, but you’re still figuring out what linens to get and where to find them.”
Now Amy said a lot of wise and kind things to me today, some of which I’ll share in another post, but this about the table really struck me. For some of us, we were never taught or had it modeled to us how be mothers. It doesn’t come naturally and it’s a real fight sometimes. It isn’t that we don’t love our children and want to raise them well, it’s that we’re a bit behind trying to “find the linens.” But it’s this realization that helps us (me!) to do two things:
One, grieve the very real loss we’ve had. If you weren’t taught or shown how to be a mother in the day in and day out, that’s a loss. And if you don’t have a mother, or one who wasn’t involved much or had her own wounds to contend with, it’s a loss. And these losses aren’t insignificant (although surely the enemy will make you believe they are no big deal) and they matter to God. It’s healthy to grieve your loss, whatever it is.
Two, realize just how weak we are and much we need God.
I can’t mother without Him. I need His strength, His wisdom, His power, and most of us, His gentleness. He is so kind and such a gentle Father. My heart is constantly accusing me, but He is greater than my heart, and He is the One working all things out for good. Thank God. What a relief! I really can’t do it without Him, and that’s okay, because when I am weak He is strong. And His grace is sufficient for me.
If you feel like you keep dropping the ball as a mom, go before the Lord, hands up, “I’ve got nothing. Help me. Tell me the truth and help me receive it.” He knows you, He sees you, He loves you. We will never get it all together as moms, as women, as humans. And that’s okay, because we were never asked to get it together. We were only asked to believe and receive and follow by faith. He holds us up when we can’t do it, and He gives us what we need to keep on.
So I’m holding onto Him with all I’ve got, believing the truth that I am not condemned, that I am loved right now, and that He is doing the work in me that needs to be done for me to be holy. And my kids, who I adore so profoundly, I am also holding up to Him. Because I will fall short, but He never will.
“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9
P.S. If you need to just soak up some truth right now, close your eyes and listen to this.