Trigger warning: this story contains depictions of abuse. If you need help, please call the National Domestic Abuse Hotline: 800-799-7233.
There’s nothing like it. Sometimes it’s all we have and sometimes it’s all we need.
That was me this past Monday morning. After a fun, but full week at Disney, then coming home to settle back in and the girl child getting the flu, and then her daddy getting the flu, I honestly didn’t think anything wonderful could come from our quarantine as I watched my productivity slip through the couch cushions.
Thankfully, I was wrong.
Our time in Disney and the few days after transitioning back into real life was just crazy enough to put me over the edge with Josie (4 going on 16). Just crazy enough that I ordered a book on parenting. A book. Me. (For those of you who don’t know me, I can tell you that unless it’s the Twilight Series or Hunger Games, I’m probably not going to read any books. And I haven’t touched those since Josie was born, so you do the math.)
And my time in basement quarantine with a flu-ridden Josie watching animated movies dawn till dusk was just crazy enough to make me actually want to read the book. You guys, I read a book. Well, not the whole thing…yet. But stay with me.
I started reading this book Sunday afternoon while I plopped the kids in front of the TV (#iammotheroftheyear) and made trips up to the bedroom to make sure flu-daddy Ryan was still breathing (#iamwifeoftheyear). And I was caught up in something so amazing that the only word I can use to describe it is HOPE.
Everything this guy said was making sense to me. My brain and heart were consuming it at an amazingly powerful depth and speed. I pulled myself away from it to feed the children (#iammotheroftheyear) and throw them into bed before diving right back into these pages that were filling me with life. I saw a future for my family come alive on the pages that I want to sprint toward. Peace. Freedom. Confidence.
Victory was so sweet that I woke up the next morning ready to take on the entire world. My posture was changed. My demeanor. The way I interacted with my girl child. And here’s the important lesson in this for us. I hadn’t even gotten to the how-to section of the book. I merely read the heart behind the book and let it cover me in hope. And that hope was so tangible that it changed me. Motivated me to love better. Think deeper. See more clearly. Hope did that for me.
So what’s in it for you? Hope:
Cling to Hope: No matter what you’re going through, when you feel even a shred of hope, cling to it. Soak it in. Remember it and keep looking back on it as often as you need until the next piece of hope comes along.
Bring the Hope: Whether you’re waiting on hope or have it in full supply, you can be a hope-giver to someone who needs it. Never underestimate the power of sharing a smile or kind word with a stranger. Mailing a sweet note to a friend. Buying the cup of coffee for the person behind you in the drive-thru. Giving another mom a Mother of the Year Award Sticker. Bring. That. Hope.
Remember, hope isn’t the end result. Hope isn’t a plan. Hope is the momentum to take us where we need to go. I still haven’t gotten to the how-to section of the book yet. But I have remembered the feeling of hope I had waking up on Monday morning. I remembered it as Josie lost her ever loving mind over me trying to tie her shoes. Losing her mind over the wrong color toothpaste. Losing her mind over you-name-it-and-she’s-lost-it. That sweet Monday morning was as close as I’ve come to living the verse that says, “His mercies are new every morning.” (Lamentations 3:22-23)
If you need hope like that, I have faith you’ll find it. I’ll pray you see it when it arrives. And if you’ve got all the hope you’ll ever need, let it spur you on to what’s ahead with confidence. And do me a favor, share your hope with another. Seriously. Be a hope-giver. We really need you out there!
Need some amazing inspiration to GET IN ON THE Mother of the Year Award Sticker Hope-Giving? Check THESE out!!!
Numbers are not really my thing, but tonight…tonight I got really good at counting. And you know what I counted? My mistakes. I soaked in a hot bath of guilt, shame, and fear, and literally counted the number of mistakes that I could remember from the past week or so. I counted the number of mistakes that I’m still carrying from who knows how long ago. I’m counting…counting…counting…
I was late every day last week to pick Josie up from pre-school. Gives new meaning to the pre-school walk of shame.
I turned in Josie’s eye exam form 3 weeks too late. She’s probably about to go blind.
I didn’t realize that Josie’s Halloween parade, party and class chapel were not only happening this week, but parents are welcome…as is her Halloween costume. Insert a 35-minute round trip drive home to frantically search for said costume in a mountain of princess dress-up clothes in the world’s messiest playroom.
Despite my best efforts to remain consistent in discipline, Josie has gotten off too easy with a few too many sassy comments.
After a long evening of yelling, feeling lost, and ready to walk away from the motherhood game altogether, I shoved a wailing Josie in bed at 6:17 p.m.
And those were just a teeny tiny sampling of the Josie ones. I probably don’t even have the emotional capacity to go into any of the other mistakes I’ve made a mom to a beastly boy child, a wife to a hardworking husband, a co-worker, a daughter, a friend…
Sounds like a nice little Tuesday night, doesn’t it? Let me tell you, it’s not.
Earlier today, I had some friends affirm me, and specifically affirm the mission of the Mother of the Year movement. They said that I’m good at empathizing with moms of all ages because whether our kids are in diapers or in dorm rooms, we all want to be better at giving ourselves a break. They said that I’ve given us all a rally cry. A cry that says that our best is enough for our families. A cry that says we don’t have to live the lies that we believe about ourselves. A cry that says no matter what, we’ve got great moments in each and every day to celebrate and we can stand tall in that victory.
Ummm, wow. But guess what I forgot today? The rally cry. The mission. The words that I often write to you. And the words that I truly believe with my whole heart. I’m a good mom. So are you.
So in case you’re having a night like I am right now…a night where instead of counting victories, blessings, or even mediocre success, you’re counting all of the ways you’ve failed. Let’s talk.
Replace the word should. “I shouldn’t have yelled at her.” “I should have put her Halloween party on my calendar.” “I shouldn’t be sitting in the bath right now being mean to myself.” Instead of using the word should, use the word could. It’s a lot more empowering and creates space for making some changes. “I could have controlled my temper. Next time, I’ll try to walk away for a brief cool-down.” “I could have put her Halloween party on my calendar. In the next 2 days, I’ll find her school calendar and add every event in so I’m prepared.” “I could allow myself to feel some grief over my mistakes, but then I’ll forgive myself and move on.”
Tell yourself the truth. It doesn’t take a genius to read through my list of mistakes and figure out what lies I’m believing about myself and my situation. And you know what lies do? They steal our joy, our confidence, and our peace. Replacing the lies with the truth, one by one, will send a new wave of peace and clarity our way. This is something I’ve been practicing (and am soon to reveal an AMAZING tool that can help us master this!)
Invite Jesus and someone else into your mess. Maybe don’t invite a friend into the literal bathtub with you (#awkward), but the quiet moments are perfect to have a little chat with Jesus about how you’re feeling and ask for His wisdom. Ask Him to tell you the truth about who you are. And then find a time to share your struggle with a trusted friend. Nothing makes you feel more alone than keeping your mess to yourself. Be brave and bring someone in who can speak lovingly to your pain.