Being a mom of two big kids – one a tween and the other in first grade – is a pretty sweet gig. They are still little enough to be lovey, and the first grader still wants to hold my hand everywhere we go. But I don't have to remind them to look before they cross the street, and they never run off into a crowd. They sometimes let me hug and kiss them, and occasionally, they even ask for it. Best of all, they feed themselves, wipe their own butts, and even play outside once in a while, all by themselves.
Of course, it was not always so. I spent many long days wiping noses and hineys and protecting the baby from the wrath of her very jealous older sister. There were days when the baby and I sat in the bathroom and cried while the preschooler beat on the door from the hallway, screaming LET ME IN!. (Allie's first year was rough for all three of us.) There were times when I lost one of them and frantically searched a store, times when someone threw an epic fit in the middle of a crowd, and times when I thought I might not survive the little years.
But I did survive, and thanks be to God, so did both of my kids.
Mother's Day is this Sunday. It has been a difficult holiday for me since my own mother passed away in 2013, but I want to take this occasion to encourage you, sweet mother, and give you some words to pass on a bit of encouragement to another mom who is struggling.
Imagine that we're sitting across the table from one another at a quiet coffee shop as I look into your eyes and say these words.
8 Things Every Frazzled Mom Needs to Hear
You are a great mom.
You are doing the very best you can do, right in the little circle where God has placed you. He has called you, and He will equip you to take care of these people in this time. He is so pleased with you. He delights in you, and so do your kids. You are hitting the ball out of the park on this mom gig, and don't let anything tell you otherwise.
Your kids know you're a great mom.
I recently saw a video on Facebook where moms were interviewed about their parenting successes and failures. They all said things like, “I don't know if I'm doing a good enough job with this mom thing” and “I need more patience.” Then, their kids were brought in and the things they said made their mothers cry big old ugly tears. The kids said things like, “My mom is pretty and beautiful” and “My mom is the best.” In short, the kids were not counting their moms' sins. They were counting all the little things that their moms did to make their lives nice and make them feel cherished. Remember that, sweet friend, when you think you're not good enough.
Your kids are going to turn out okay.
Your kids are strong and resilient, and if you can do the right thing most of the time, they are going to grow up to be functioning, responsible adults. Listen, if half of the voting public can elect the president, surely doing this mom thing right half the time will yield good results. And you are doing way better than half, I promise. Keep your chin up and believe that your kids are going to pull through.
So maybe they'll need therapy, but who doesn't? (Don't tell your struggling mom friend that last bit about the therapy, okay?)
God's got this under control.
We know that God has a great plan for his children (Jeremiah 29:11), and all things work together for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28). He knows what is going on with you and your kids right now, right this very moment, and his plan will make good come from it.
In the Bible book of Genesis, Joseph's (not the father of Jesus, but an earlier Joseph) brothers plan to kill him but eventually settle on selling him into slavery to get rid of him. He goes to another country as a slave, works in the home of a powerful man, gets trapped by the man's wife, gets thrown into jail and forgotten – and eventually saves his family and the whole region from starvation as the second in command of the entire nation of Egypt. If God can redeem a life so tragically ruined, surely He can fix whatever problem you're facing.
Don't give up, even when it seems impossible.
Perhaps I should have saved the Joseph story for this point, because it fits here, too. Even when life feels impossible, there is always room for God to step in.
When Allie was about six months old, anger ruled my life. I didn't write much about it because I never believed it was who I was, but I felt truly angry all the time. I thought every day about killing myself, just to end the emotional pain I felt. A spilled container of markers sent me over the edge one afternoon. When Joe got home from work, I drove away from the house planning to run my car into something large and heavy. Obviously, God led me in a different direction that included a stint in the hospital and a lot of therapy and medicine, and for that, I will be eternally grateful. I wanted to give up, but I never did. Please don't you give up either.
Just do the next right thing.
This has been my mantra for years. Just do the next right thing. Make the next right choice.
No matter what is going wrong, if you just face the next decision and choose wisely, your situation is going to start getting better. Change the diaper. Put the baby down for a nap. Vacuum the living room carpet. Do the next thing that needs doing, and don't worry about the rest of your list. Just take it one thing at a time.
You'll get through this.
No age lasts forever. I adored my kids at 2, but I pretty much gritted my teeth all the way through the 3s. 3 was not fun for me. Whether you have 4 kids under 5 or a singleton who acts like velcro, you will get through this season by doing the next right thing, one thing at a time. And, like all those well-meaning old ladies at the grocery store say, one day you will miss those sticky little faces and fingers and toes.
How can I help?
This is perhaps the most important thing to say to a frazzled mother. And, maybe she won't know how to answer, and you will have to take it upon yourself to hold her baby or change its diaper or load the dishwasher. If she's struggling, don't do nothing. Find a task that needs to be done and do it. If she says you don't have to, do it anyway. Of course you don't have to. You want to.
I hope this list encouraged you, sweet momma, because every single word is true. You are a good mom, and your kids know it, and you can rock this.
And also, they will eventually go to bed, and you will have a moment of peace and quiet then.
© 2018, Tara Ziegmont. All rights reserved.