There’s something I wish I could give to my friends who are moms of toddlers and babies. I wish I could give you a taste of what I see, now that my oldest children are teenagers.
I want to give this to you, because I know you are tired. I know it feels like some of those long days of service will never end, and that you aren’t doing any good, and that you are just getting old, wasting your whole life along the way.
I remember years of feeling like that.
I remember feeling like we had no money because we were making hard choices for my kids’ best interest. I didn’t work outside the home, which meant even basic luxuries were impossible to fit in our budget. I will never forget that manicured career woman who spoke her easy answer into my brokenness and fatigue.
“Just get a maid,” she said. A maid. We were choosing between books and milk at that point. I cried later that night, it burned so badly.
I remember feeling like I was wasting my life, and that I never had any time to do anything I loved.
And it was just so terribly lonely so much of the time.
I remember how it seemed easy for other moms. They went with the flow. Dropped their kids off wherever to go wherever. They let them watch whatever. They avoided conflict by finding cliques and following trends. They didn’t discipline their kids for offenses that put me in lock down.
I was the weirdo conservative.
Or sometimes, they followed trends to keep their children sheltered more than I did. I seemed reckless for letting my kids watch and do things too early. I didn’t discipline my children for offenses that set others on edge.
I was the weirdo liberal.
I could never get anything finished. There was always a new mess. Always a project undone. It seemed like I was a failure every single day.
There was such a constant sense of need. Such a constant sense of not being enough.
So many questions. So many fears.
Today my oldest son drove me to school. He’s been doing that for a couple of weeks now. He’s a wonderful driver, cautious and kind.
Along the way, we had a discussion about Flannery O’Connor, about the radical gospel of Brennan Manning, and about stepping protectively into the lives of women caught in the adult entertainment industry.
He said, “Like Hosea. That’s the kind of love we’re talking about.”
And I got all teary. Because he’s not perfect, and because we fight sometimes, and because it’s still hard most days. We still don’t have much money, and there are still days when I fear I have lost myself.
But mostly, I am overwhelmed that the living God would take all those years of my not really knowing what to do, and all those years of my feeling like I was dying and wasting, and all that hurt, and turn them into a young man so bright and so beautiful.
And not only a young man, but a daughter, golden and sensitive, who loves science, and yarn, and beads. Who gets giddy talking about cellular division. Whose eyes are as clear and blue as the skies over the ocean.
They are going to change the world. I can feel it.
And there is this little one trailing after them. Five, and so much work, and so much joy. He is still at that age of requiring everything, and there are days when I feel old, and lonely, and exhausted. Like I am failing him, in all of his wonder, and tenderness, and hope. Like I am failing everyone.
But you know, there are hard choices yet to be made. There is a God who loves him. There is a God who loves me, too. There is a God who redeems the nothing I have left to give.
And so, young mom, don’t despair, though today feels like water passing through your hands. Even though nothing you have done since you woke up this morning feels like it has been right.
Know God is near. Know that He sees you. Know that He sees the faith it takes to walk forward into this chaos.
Know that someday soon, your little boy (or girl) will be driving you to school, and you will spend an hour talking about beautiful, interesting ideas. Your heart will swell up in your chest with something that feels like awe, because that same little kid who required everything you didn’t have somehow ended up becoming wonderful along the way. You will enjoy slow time in one another’s company, and you will take a big deep breath of gratitude. Because every lost thing will have been worth it after all.
NOTE: This essay first appeared on StoryWarren on May 3, 2013
- To Young Mothers of Toddlers and Babies - April 19, 2021
- On Loneliness: A Letter to My Children - October 26, 2020
- The Summer of my Extroverted Child - August 12, 2019
Oh, your words breathed life into this weary mama’s bones. Thank you for your encouragement, your understanding, and the glimpse of what awaits us down the road.
Allison Redd says
Oh, my. Thank you for pulling back the curtain for us, just a bit, and for living through what we dare not speak aloud, or if we do, we feel like we must ask forgiveness for it. What a joy this has been to read. Bless you.
Thanks Rebecca. This is lovely. Sharing.
S.D. Smith says
I love it when you write these things, Becca.
I feel like young moms (and women in general) have so much pressure on them in our culture (and always?). We want them to be a Pinterest-perfect and Cosmo-perfect Superwoman (not to mention the sad and perverse fad of wanting them to be Superman as well) and there is such a need for extending grace and encouragement their way. Never mind the (disheartening, in my view) national debate over women on the front lines of combat, these women are already on the front lines of a much more serious war. One that is won a very different way.
I feel it because I see my wife battling like Achilles for our family and our children and me and the Kingdom of God and I see so many other moms in the thick of it.
I am for arming them to the teeth. And I feel like your words do that regularly and I LOVE IT!
Thank you so much, Becca. God bless you, my friend.
As an exhausted and overwhelmed stay at home momma of 2 little girls, this is what I needed to hear, especially today. Your words blessed me, thank you!
Mark Timmons says
That was beautiful! Thank you. I have heard so many of the thoughts/feelings that you expressed from the mouth of my weary wife as she pours herself out for our four young ones. Reading your perspective from “the other side” is incredibly encouraging and spurs us to press on. Thank you.
This was a true encouragement. ….too often, more mature moms say to treasure the days but don’t acknowledge the struggle OR say why we should. Thanks.
Thank you so much. Such an encouragement. I know you hear that other moms feel this way but it’s so comforting to know that I’m not the only one who feels like I fail everyday. And Jesus is bigger than me. Amen.
Debi Z says
Oh Rebecca, thank you so much. I saw my Christian, and my Hannah, and my little ones in this. For the first 5 years or so of parenting, I was pretty sure I knew exactly what I was supposed to be doing, if only I would try harder. For the next 10 years, I felt that I was completely in over my head and grasped desperately for solutions. In the last few years, you Rabbit Roomers have helped me to realize that I am right, I am in way over my head, but there is no solution. That is why I need a Savior. And through all of those 20 years, He has been there, taking all of the broken pieces of my heart and making beauty out of it all.
Tenika Dye says
I’m not a mom yet but this just made me cry! I’ll be sharing with my friends that are moms.
Nancy Wheat says
excellent. Our young parents need this encouragement. Thank you. I want my grandkids parents to really hear this.
Oh. My. I needed this. I sometimes feel like the crazy conservative around here and I’ve been weary. This post speaks truth to me. Thank you.
Matthew Loftus says
this was a really great meditation. I shared it with my mother (who has 15 children, so she’s been through this a few times!) her only addition was that sometimes kids get to be 16 or 17 or even 25 and they will still reject you & reject God in a way that is incredibly painful. So it’s crucial to cultivate a relationship with God that is a bedrock even when the bottom falls out of everything else.
I’m so glad you wrote this, Matthew. Thank your mom for me, please. Yesterday I almost added a paragraph on sad seasons of waiting for grown kids to return, but I decided to save that for another post. Now I’m wondering if I should have listened to that inner urge and included it here. Regardless, I’m glad she expanded for us all.
Heather Lynn says
Oh! Thank you!!
Donna S says
My “babies” are 38 and 35 and I can shout AMEN to every single word of this. Beautifully said, and full of grace and truth.
Melissa Cutrera says
This made me cry (in a good way). Thanks for the encouragement.
Thank you so much for this article. I am a single mom of a 3 month old and I feel like a failure every single day. This article brought tears to my eyes. Thank you.
Amy L says
Thank you, Rebecca! This is just where I am right now, so I needed this. (especially nice coming from you, since I hold your ideas in high regard ever since you rocked the Flannery O’Connor book club last summer)
So very encouraging… Thank you Rebecca.
Beth Martin Sturdon says
You always make me smile Becca! Thank you for sharing little bites of you’re amazing life!
Rachel Huber says
Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you…from the bottom of my dusty, weary, mommy soul…t h a n k y o u.