I'll preface this post with saying that it's quite personal, and I thought about just writing it in my journal privately. Yet, in hopes that it may encourage other mothers, I decided to share it with you.
At random times during the past month or so, particularly when I am feeling really exasperated, my oldest son (5) will come, put his arms around my waist, give me a hug and say, "Sorry, Mom. I know it's stressful being a mom sometimes." Usually, I'll tell him thanks, feel like at least someone gets how fried I'm feeling--even if he's five years old--and work on staying calm externally, even though I'm feeling maxed out internally.
Last week, though, while reading about motherly affection--and particularly about being happy--in A Woman After God's Own Heart®, I started to look at the whole situation differently. When he looks back on his childhood, I don't want my son remembering that his mom thought being a mom was stressful. I want him to grow up with, and recall down the road, that his mom loved being a mom--that she thought it was the most fun thing in the world.
But what do you do about the fact that sometimes motherhood is stressful? Like when you're trying to make onion rings and two of your kids desperately want to help you, but they don't understand that there isn't room for them to sit on the counter, and you tell them to stand on the chair by the counter, but they start whining and crying because they want to be on the counter? And then, as the oil heats, and the fire alarm blares, and the onion rings aren't even ready yet because you're dealing with obedience issues, you're getting stressed out. And then, you get them to stand on the chair finally, but one tries to eat the onions dipped in raw eggs, and another tries to dip the already dipped onions back into the raw eggs, and the fire alarm is still going off--even though the oven fan is on, and your other son keeps opening the back door to let in cold air (but it's snowing and really cold)...it's stressful.
While I can't make the stress disappear from mothering, I think I figured out a way to change the way I respond to it. Our pastor preached this weekend on renewing our minds. He said that if you "deposit positive, uplifting, encouraging thoughts in the bank of your thoughts, you will withdraw joy and peace."
We are called to renew our minds with life-giving words, which come from the living and active Word of God, the Bible. Not only will this help us to live a Spirit-centered life, instead of a self-centered life, it can help us immensely in our mothering.
What I realized is that, when I am getting stressed out about the chaos that is happening under my roof, I am usually thinking about how stressed out I am and how I am about to lose it. Time to renew my mind. Think about it differently. Find a Bible verse that talks about the blessings of children and the roles of mothers. Pray that Jesus would help me to renew my mind with positive, uplifting, encouraging thoughts about motherhood, about the moment I'm in. That's what I did during the onion ring fiasco. It wasn't perfectly pretty, but at least it was a step in the right direction! So if I can't change a situation, at least I can change the way I think about it.