What does success look like to you? In the quiet places of your heart, if you’re being really honest with yourselves? When you stand in front of the mirror at home, with all the added beauty stripped away – what do you find yourself looking at? Is the woman you see beautiful? Is she worthy of love? Is she enough? Do you like her? Is she a loving wife? Is she the sort of mom that gets on the floor and plays with her kids, and makes them cookies, and reads for hours at night with them? Does she read her bible every morning, plus at least two books from the most Jesus loving authors out there? Is her home tidy, and her children well fed? Does she work out 5 days a week, and give her husband enough sex, and wear really gorgeous pajamas to bed so that he thinks she’s sexy? Is she the Proverbs 31 woman in all of her glory, or is she constantly falling short?
Listen to me ladies, we are not kind to ourselves and the expectations that we set on ourselves are rarely kind either. Even in their subtleties, they threaten to whisper lies to us. Simple at first glance, yes…but when we really dig in, we see that every one of them leaves room for “failure”. And even as I write these words, I am fighting back the tears, because this is my season! It’s unraveling, it’s God showing me the standard at which I hold myself to, what I expect of myself, how I view “success” for myself, and the way that I am always two steps from slipping.
Recently, at a Thursday morning bookclub session, all the women took turns going around introducing themselves. “Hi my name is :: blank :: and I do :: insert career – or lack there of in my case :: If I am being sincere, it was really hard for me to say “I am a stay at home mom”. I choked back the words, and almost fought against uttering them at all. And as each syllable slipped off of my lips, I found myself fighting tears. Eventually the conversation died down and I sat there in this place of wondering, “Why was that so hard for me, who cares what I do?” I do. I care. Not because I judge other moms who have made the decision to be in it with their babies full time, not because I worry about the other women judging me, but because I am judging me. I realized in that moment, those words were painful for me because they were laced with shame. False shame, but I was ashamed none-the-less.
As Anabella grows and I begin to see a little woman emerging through her eyes, I can’t help but think about all the things I will wish I had taught her, the conversations I will wish I had, the moments I will wish we would’ve made. And don’t get me wrong, as the thoughts come up, I make mental notes to NOT miss them, but as a woman surrounded by older, much wiser women, I have learned there’s always a few things that they all wish they could do over. I am blessed enough to have had a good handful of them be candid with me in those places, and the fixer in me wonders how we get ahead of that.
Recently, Phoenix will wake up and immediately come to my bedside, the light hardly peeking into the bedroom, as she requests to borrow my lipstick. The sleep hasn’t even had a chance to vacate her eyes, but she’s reaching for big girl things. Magnolia is quickly losing all the pieces of “baby-ness” that once resided in her cheeks, her little paws are getting slender, and with each passing day her words get easier to understand. Time is moving faster than I ever imagined it could. And here I am feeling shame for being in it with my girls, for this being my job, struggling to believe its enough. I am learning that my picture of success is not only unrealistic for my season of life, but it is unattainable in it’s very nature. You see, I am not afraid that this “job” isn’t enough, I am afraid that I will not be enough for this job. I am afraid that I am not tender enough to mother girls, that I am not patient enough to take on the ritual of cleaning the same mess day after day, I am afraid that I am not passionate enough to do this well. And the truth is, I am tired. I am tired of striving, I am exhausted by the hustle, and I am worn out by the race of attempting to be on time.
“…Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
I am so guilty of chasing the clock, of doing all the things and not slowing down enough to really SEE the things that surround me. The only thing I am gaining from this is a lack of contentment, which is nothing I want. I want to see my girls laugh, and light up because they know true joy. I want to get irritated during the homework hours and be grateful that I get to be a part of them at all. I want to look at a sink full of dirty dishes and not see my short comings all over the counter, but the way God has afforded me to fill my babies bellies. I want to look at motherhood, in all of it’s monotony, as a gift – as I am pouring myself out over laundry piles and toddler tantrums, I want to be reminded of the way my father poured himself out for me. And on the days that I am struggling to remember to whom I belong, when I am believing more lies than truth, I want to to be brave enough to reach out to the women 15 steps ahead of me. But let’s be honest, this mindset isn’t easy, and for those of us who especially struggle with it, we need to learn grace. We need to stop getting hung up on our perception of ourselves, or others perception of us. But, instead, we need to understand that grace goes before perception. Grace is life-giving, where perception often not reality.
Friends, the truth is, we are all about 5 minutes away from losing our crap. Every day most of us walk the fine line of a really great hair day, & dumping entire bottles of dry shampoo onto our tired locks. My mess looks different than your mess, but it’s still messy as hell – and there’s enough grace to go around. So can we just lay it all down, even if we struggle with picking it back up, can we continue to practice to laying it at his feet? Because he isn’t afraid of the mess, and he doesn’t waste anything.