Dear Momma in the Trenches,
I’ll just let you know up front, I lost my composure this week. It was such a small thing—the broken cookie, the straw weighing down that poor camel’s back—and I went from being strong, confident momma to a whimpering shell in need of a hug. Ever been there?
I have a tendency to let frustrations and stresses build up until I hit a breaking point, and then I loose my composure and end up snapping at my family or dissolving into tears. I know I am not alone in this, but it still bothers me because I consider myself to be fairly in touch with my emotions. I talk about feelings all the time. I regularly read Scripture and spend time in prayer. I journal for goodness’ sake! So how is it that I still let things simmer below the surface until I’m ready to explode? I don’t like that part of me. I don’t like when my kids see it, not because I mind being vulnerable in front of them, but because it just doesn’t seem fair. And I’m sure it’s confusing. Why is mommy crying because the my shoes are untied?
Anyway, after my morning of weakness the other day I spent a little more time reading Scripture, and I slowed down enough to ponder what I read. I spent a little more time in prayer, again slowing down enough to choose my words deliberately and allow space for God to fill the quiet. I acknowledged my need of Him, of my inability to handle all things cooly and calmly like I so wish I could.
And in the days since I have thought, too, about what it means to be a momma. I’ve tried to remind myself of what it was that seemed to give me such immeasurable patience and compassion when my kids were babies and toddlers, but has waned as my kids have grown older and more independent. I forget sometimes that an independent nine year old is still very, very dependent, and appropriately so. In my effort to stretch my own wings to fly in this new stage of life, sometimes I underestimate the time, effort, and emotional energy that is still required of me in the four walls of my home.
In my pondering, I have been encouraged by messages and reminders that have come my way. Reminders of what it means to be a mother, and why every day is a gift. That doesn’t mean that every day will be fun, or easy, or fulfilling. Not all gifts bring immediate joy. But a gift is still a gift—a treasure bestowed whose value, even if lost on me at the moment, is not diminished by my own ungrateful heart. I have been reminded that being a mom is such an honor, and that what matters most is not my brilliance at performing the task at hand, but my ability to serve, guide, respect, and love my kids through the mess. We tell our kids that “attitude is everything.” I need to remember this too. That my tears do not diminish my success as a mother any more than my laughter enhances it. Success in mothering is not measured in grades, accolades, trophies, or birthday party envy from other mothers. It is found in moments of vulnerability met with kindness, brokenness met with compassion, remorse met with forgiveness.
Remember this, Momma in the trenches: Your children are a gift, entrusted to you by their Creator to nurture, instruct, and guide. They are not an extension of you; rather, they are works of art made by Him for His purposes.
Our children have only one childhood to live, and each day that passes is a day that leaves a mark. That knowledge must shape the legacy we leave. How we speak, what we speak about, how we spend our time and our money, who we choose as friends, what we listen to and what we choose as recreation and entertainment—all of these things affect the environment in our home and the legacy we leave. Never forget that little things matter.
And finally, remember that you are irreplaceable. There is no nanny, no doting aunt, no teacher who can replace a mother’s touch, her warm embrace. Mothers are extraordinary and unique in the lives of their children. Other caregivers and influencers are vitally important, beloved, and necessary. But just like a wife is uniquely positioned to make her husband feel like a man and a hero, just like a husband is uniquely positioned to make his wife feel infinitely loved and valued, so mothers are uniquely positioned to have profound and lasting impact on their children. Do not underestimate your worth. Do not underestimate your presence. No other person matters more than you do in the life of your child. You matter. You matter.
These reminders have comforted me in moments when I am picking up broken pieces of my dignity from the floor. My kids get the best of me, but they also get the worst. My prayer is that they see it all, sift it with wisdom, and come out braver, wiser, and more compassionate somewhere down the line.
Momma in the trenches, take heart today. You are someone’s hero, even if they don’t recognize it in the moment. Keep on keeping on, and remember you’re not alone.
From the trench right next to yours,