Thursday, February 6, 2014

I'm Not Trying

I've previously shared about "mommy guilt".  Every mom can relate to the lose-lose situation we feel in our hearts every now and again, even though our brains tell us we're doing a good job. As much as we try to ignore it, guilt seems to be a constant accessory in the life of a mother.  Friends come to our rescue to remind us just how wonderful we are as mommies when we're feeling guilty about plopping our child in front of the t.v. or the iPad so we can scramble up something for dinner, dress ourselves in clothes that don't have dried food smeared all over them so we are semi-presentable, or Just. Take. A. Shower. 
The truth is, these are not the things that cue the guilt for me.  I understand that my house will never be as clean as I'd like it to be, there will always be some sort of dirty dishes on my kitchen counters, and a shower is now more than just a creature comfort, more than a necessity, it's pretty much a spa-like experience.
I'm not trying to look like Giselle Bundchen on a bad day.  Sure, I love to have an excuse to get glammed up, but the reality is, I'm comfortable in my mommy-skin.  I met a friend for dinner last week and realized when I arrived I had dried food smeared on my jacket AND my jeans.  "Oh well!"  I was just happy to have some alone time with a dear friend whom I know loves me and does not judge me for licking my finger and rubbing food off of my jacket.  See? Not ashamed! I'd even show you a picture if I had one.  How about this one of food on the wall instead...
I'm not trying to win mother-of-the-year award, because in the eyes and heart of my daughter, I've already won.  I am the most important person in her 19-month-old world.  I take it as the grandest compliment that when she is most upset she only wants the loving arms of her mommy and I cherish the times I get to cuddle and soothe my baby girl who will not always be able to cuddle on my lap at 3:00 a.m.  I also rest in the fact that I have been given this beautiful person to care for by God, and He arms me with what I need to do the perfect job. 
“It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect."
(Psalm 18:32)
"For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus,
so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago."
(Ephesians 2:10)
I'm not trying to pretend I'm too good for t.v. or a good toddler app on my Android.  I have no shame in sitting Lucy down in front of an episode of Curious George so I can have a few moments to get dinner going without fear of throwing an avocado pit curve ball into her forehead (seriously though, that has happened).  I need to cook dinner because we need to eat, and it's just so much easier to cook dinner without a toddler holding onto my leg the entire time.  And if a mess needs to happen in order to keep her entertained, so be it. 
I'm not trying to be hard on myself.  I am thankful for the encouraging words of others, but really, I'm not trying to be hard on myself.  These feelings come from a very honest place of what the internal struggles of this mother look like.  Some women don't share my struggles, and some can more than relate to this never-ending tension.  Sometimes just hearing "I completely understand!" is all we moms need to feel better; to remind us that we're not alone.
I'm not trying to compete with anyone in the realm of mommy-struggles.  We all fight our own battles, big and small.  Sometimes our struggles are relevant and  relatable to others, and yet I understand that some things that bring on my "mommy guilt" seem silly to some. 
The truth is, my struggles with mommy guilt revolve around my job outside of the home and the constant search to find balance, rather than my job as a mother.  I'm confident in the fact that I'm doing a good job as a mother...most days :)  I am far from perfect, but I put all of my heart and soul into this mommy-gig.  I'm thankful for the important job God gave me in being Lucy's momma and don't take that lightly. 
I am thankful for a job that allows me to work part-time!  I am living "The Tale of Two Moms"; I experience life as a working mom 3 days a week and get the other 4 days as a SAHM.  People may never agree on what is truly "the most difficult job in the world", but I'll just speak my opinion here and say it's being a mom. Period.  No matter the life circumstances that surround our core of being a mother, we will all experience the "mommy guilt" to some extent, for one reason or another. 
The argument can be made that moms who work outside of the home get adult time, get a healthy break from their children, get time to actually sit down and eat lunch, get alone time in their car during their commute, and get to contribute to the financial health of their family.  Yes, but I say, the "joys" of working outside the home depend on your job.  My work is fast-paced, time deadlines all day long, dealing with people's emotions and fears, encouraging (some call it nagging) people, I'm lucky if I get a chance to sit down and eat.  On my 30-minute commute, I get cut-off by people wanting to drive 65 mph in a 50, and stuck behind people driving 40 mph in a 50, when all I want to do is make it home by 6:00 so I can have a solid 1.5 hours with Lucy before she goes to bed...the only time I get to see her on a work day.
From my personal experience in SAHM mode on non-working days, I find my days spent with Lucy much more enjoyable; this is where I find my JOY!  We dance and sing in the living room to Caspar Babypants, we take a walk to get the mail, we eat snacks while grocery shopping, she "helps" me fold laundry, we read, we color, we chase our dog Goose...we get to BE together.  I'm thankful for the days I get to just be her mommy. I find joy in meal planning, changing the sheets, making the bathroom sparkle, and having the aroma of dinner already in the air when Matt arrives home. And when she's upset, she gets her mommy to comfort her.
So shouldn't I be content that I have the best of both worlds?!  And...there's the guilt again because, yes, I should.  My mommy guilt stems from my job.  When I'm there, I miss my precious, fleeting time with Lucy .  When I'm home, I think "I really could be working". 
The other day while I was crying out to God in the shower, feeling overwhelmed with continually stretching myself to find contentment, I heard the voice of God, loud and clear, say

"I will protect you"

I didn't just hear it, I felt it.  In the midst of my guilt as a mother, I was given the blessing of hearing God's voice remind me that He's got this under control, so I don't need to worry about a thing.  I don't need to feel guilty, or ashamed of the guilt I do experience, because guilt does not exist in the atoning blood of Jesus Christ.  I'm reminded that I don't have to try to have it all figured out, because He knows the path set before me and has a plan and a purpose for every circumstance.
"The Lord says, I will rescue those who love me.  I will protect those who trust in my name."
(Psalm 91:14)
"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and future."
(Jeremiah 29:11)

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