Mothering on Purpose
Mothering is hard. Whether our babies are babies or young adults, sometimes mothering is trying, especially when so many things and distractions are tugging for our time, attention and energy. We know that honoring God and loving our families are our highest priorities, but sometimes moms need help keeping them there. My sweet friend Amanda just released a book, Shiny Things: Mothering on Purpose in a World of Distractions, that will encourage all moms who are struggling with juggling mothering and life. Below is a message from Amanda and I hope it blesses and encourages you!
I stood outside our double-wide trailer, wearing my homemade turquoise leggings complete with stirrups. They were shimmery, fabulous, and all I ever wanted to wear.
I was seven years old, and I thought I was the absolute coolest as I strutted to the front of the garage where the bug zapper swung from a hook. I’d park myself there, watching bug after unsuspecting bug fall to its doom with a hiss and sizzle. I shook my head in amazement that bugs would allow themselves to be lured by the light. Didn’t they know they’d be zapped? Hadn’t the warning to steer clear of the glow been passed down through the insect generations?
Insects are so attracted to light that nothing can save them once they’re pulled in that direction. They’re like magnets to refrigerators, little kids to dirt, and moms to their phones.
We’re being pulled too. Pulled by anything and everything that feels enjoyable in the moment. We don’t want to miss out on and ignore the most important people and responsibilities in our lives, but the draw to do something other than what is needed right now is strong.
May I tell you something you absolutely already know? It’s because real-life mothering is sometimes mundane.
Even though we love being moms and we love our kids, we still must walk through experiences and do things day in and day out that aren’t necessarily fun. Real-life mothering calls for responsibility, intentionality, and a whole lot of sacrifice, a life most definitely not all rainbows and big bouquets of daisies.
While sitting in a coffee shop recently, I overheard a new mom talking to a friend she hadn’t seen since she’d had her baby. When her friend asked how everything was going, she said, “No one ever told me how hard it really is.”
I wanted to buy that girl a venti white chocolate mocha with whip, look her square in the eyes, and tell her she’s doing a lovely job with her daughter. I also wanted to tell her she’s right—it’s hard—yet mothering is a worthwhile endeavor that will bring the biggest blessings into her life, some obvious, some not so obvious. No one ever told her how hard motherhood is, but maybe no one’s ever told her how glorious it can be.
Motherhood presents a unique dichotomy, where the loveliest of lovelies live alongside the challenge that naturally exists when we’re engaged in anything worthwhile. Months or years that feel like centuries, filled with lack of sleep, illness, behavioral issues, relational difficulties, and daily sameness, wear on us. And no one is immune to boredom with mundane routines or wanting to avoid what they dislike.
Some days, all I want to do is act like a three-year-old—stamp my foot, cross my arms, stick out a pouty bottom lip, howl at the too-hard circumstances before me, and run away to Target. Just because motherhood sometimes lacks ease and pleasure doesn’t mean it’s not also good and beautiful. We just might need to grow to fully appreciate its beauty.
Growth comes from walking with God through the toughest of circumstances. We like growth in theory; it’s the good part we all want. The process of getting there is what’s unpopular. I don’t think I’ve ever heard someone say, “Oh, I learned so much about God and myself when the seas of my life were smooth. Having no wants or cares grew me in ways I’d never imagined.” Uh, no. We like smooth seas because they’re comfortable and temporarily easier, but they don’t do a whole lot to form our character.
English theologian Leslie Weatherhead once explained,
“Like all men I love and prefer the sunny uplands of experience, where health, happiness, and success abound, but I have learned far more about God, life, and myself in the darkness of fear and failure than I have ever learned in the sunshine. There are such things as the treasures of the darkness. The darkness, thank God, passes. But what one learns in the darkness one possesses forever.”
We’re familiar with feelings of fear and failure, sometimes in the same thought. But we’re also familiar with those treasures tucked in between the hard stretches. Those are the good and lovely parts. The moments we promise we’ll remember forever. The growth we see in ourselves and our kids. The beautiful life we’ve been given even when the way seems cloudy—or murky with half a box of Cheerios floating in it, depending on the mom stage you’re in.
Beauty is always present, even when we can’t see how or where. There will always be beauty, because there will always be God. There will always be hard stuff to do or walk through and distractions to avoid, along with a whole lot of need to refocus. Some parenting moments will bring us to our knees, and in some seasons we’ll fear we might not survive. But there will always be God. Always.
The dilemma is that the challenges of motherhood warrant so much of our thoughts and attention that they can overshadow the beauty. We’re bored. We’re tired. We’re questioning. And drowning the difficult parts of our lives with momentary pleasure becomes easier in the moment.
Sometimes we just don’t feel like making lunches or cleaning toilets, so we start pinning Pinterest recipes for birthday cakes we’ll never make or instructions for Christmas ornaments made with safety pins. So yes, real life can be hard, hard, hard, but sometimes we’re overcome by the “just don’t wannas.”
Sometimes I don’t feel like playing cars with my youngest guy or listening to my teenage sons give the play-by-play of the movie they watched at a youth group event. It’s not because I’m unloving or uninterested in my kids’ lives, but because I’m 100 percent human. So are you. We aren’t robots, so it isn’t physically, mentally, or emotionally possible to do all things well, all the time. Perfection isn’t required; it’s the deep conviction and decision of our hearts turned Godward that counts.
Everyday life tends to ask some tricky things of us, and sometimes it asks some tough questions too, like What’s most important to us? So much vies for our attention, but what are our priorities? We decide what our priorities are every single day, usually without much forethought or prior planning. Sometimes we choose wisely, and sometimes we don’t. We’re distractible, so easily allowing ourselves to stray off track.
We want to be undistracted moms who have clear priorities and direction, choosing to spend our hours on what’s meaningful—our relationship with God and growing in Him, pursuing the work He’s put before us and engaging with our families. Not only are we asked to name what’s most important to us, but life begs the question, How will you honor and care for these important things?
If this post resonated with you, the above is an excerpt from Shiny Things: Mothering on Purpose in a World of Distractions written by Amanda Bacon and Anne-Renee Gumley. Click HERE to get your copy of the book!
Amanda Bacon lives in North Carolina with her husband, Jeremy, and their eight children. She works for Proverbs 31 Ministries and loves encouraging women with biblical truth and authenticity. When she isn’t driving carpool or feeding people, you can find her writing, reading, or wandering outdoors.
Connect with Amanda and Anne-Renee:
Facebook: The Masterpiece Mom
Blog: The Masterpiece Mom
Podcast: All the Mom Things