Pursuing Life's Daring Adventure

Monday, March 1, 2010

Finding Sanity in a Mom's Chaos

One of the most marked-up books in our home library is a book that changed my life. Years ago, several years into the Mom journey, I bumped into a book called Tender Mercy for a Mother’s Soul by Angela Thomas. With a title like that, and knowing how little mercy I felt in my role as a mom, I knew I had to read it. I didn’t read it just once, but many times, highlighting and taking notes as I went. Somehow, Angela’s words touched me and changed my life forever.

Me, the Mom in a purple wig! with my three little Jedis

Specifically hard-hitting for me was a section on Grace, something I knew very little about (and am still learning more of everyday). Angela talks about a Woman of Grace and writes out a humorous but true List of Rules every mom thinks she should abide by. She writes, “We believe there is a list of rules out there, and if we can just find the list and keep all the rules, then life will be happy and good.” And so starts her top ten list of things every “good mother should do.” (1. A good mother should prepare homemade, well-balanced meals…) It is too easy to believe that if somehow we can just keep the rules, then we’ll find “happiness.”

Every area of life has a list to abide by, but Angela writes “grace has the power to free me from all the unwritten lists that want to steal my joy and run my life. Thanks be to God, grace makes life more than a list of rules to keep.” Grace, she says, frees us from bondage to enjoy the blessings in our life.

I remember also one of the stand-out stories for me—Angela recalls a friend’s biggest personal news to share was fixing the screen on her sliding patio door. The woman’s life, she writes, completely revolved around her children. How easy it is to procrastinate taking care of our own souls, as moms, and say things like, “When the baby is out of diapers … or when the kids are out of school …” etc, then we’ll start to think about cultivating ourselves. Until we can take care of ourselves and invest in what also makes us tick, our lives can be just about as fulfilling as fixing the screen door.

From my own experience, I’ve watched parents pour everything into their kids without thinking a thing for what they are doing—pushing their children onto a pedestal and putting them into a role that they certainly cannot fulfill. Our children are not made to be our everything. They are made to be loved. And out of love for our children, we as moms have to invest in ourselves as well. Our families cannot be it. They cannot complete the hole in our hearts that can only be filled by God, and pursuing also that for which he created us to be. For when our children leave home, and they will, we need to have something other than their absence to dwell on, and something more than falling to pieces to do with ourselves.

Maybe one of the greatest gifts we could give our spouse and children comes by investing in ourselves—even just a smidge every day—so that when our children grow up we still have something of ourselves intact and healthy. It’s important to find sanity as a mom—three basics I think help tremendously:

1. Live:
I heard one of the best pieces of advice for moms from a pediatrician, who recommended a guilt-free “prescription” for Me time for every new mom—minimum one hour each week. However it happens, every human being needs a block of time to remember who they are, separate from the endless demands of work and / or motherhood. Time to go out to lunch with a friend, to take a run through the park, to find the perfect flowers to plant in the Spring garden—time to be.

2. Learn:
Invest in yourself, learn a new skill—read a new book, take a new class, learn a new language, travel to a new place. We need the opportunity to continue becoming our very best—to continue to learn even while we are moms.

3. Love:
The First Book of Corinthians, chapter 13 speaks on Love, and says Love is to guide all we do. When we take some time each day to be still, pray, and let God take the edges off our hearts, He refills us with love and grace for our lives and for our families. We don’t even have to try to do it all ourselves.

The Result is to Thrive: To Thrive is the picture of health and vigor, growing naturally and allowing the life from within to take root. Like a beautiful flower, dazzling with dew in the sun, we can thrive, let our lives shine, and let love take root to grow and bloom with healthy lives.

I count my husband and children as some of my greatest blessings. Each day is truly a gift. I want to enjoy these days, this short time I have to be with them until they are on their own. But it can’t be done by smothering them, by hovering over their every move, or by making them the center of my universe. It can only be done by starting with myself …

To grace, and health, and all things new during this season of rebirth and Spring and Lent,


PS. A friend of mine, TJ Wilson, blogged about being a mom, and a book that helped in her life: click here for the link to her post on She’s Gonna Blow!

Starting the conversation (click below to leave a comment): Is there a book, or mentor, or other help in your life that has helped you become a healthier human being? What pieces of your life can you count as investing in you?

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