Why NOW is the Time to Speak

You gain a new appreciation for hardwood floor when you wash five hundred or so square feet by hand.

It was scrubbing the floors last week, shoving my rag into the corners and pulling out the dirt, that it came to me. There I was, on my knees on the kitchen floor, and it was there on my knees that I saw. 

I clean my kitchen every single Friday, barring an emergency or crazy, unexpected interruption. And I still missed it. The red splatters all over the white kickboard. I wash down everything (but the kickboard), every week, and in motivated haste I had wiped my cupboards clean for who knows-how-long with the sticky splatter right under my nose.

There on my knees I saw it, and isn’t that how we usually see most clearly? On our knees?

My baby just turned one and I look at baby pictures and hardly feel like I know who that wee infant was. Already there is so much I don’t remember.

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I scrubbed a little harder.

Memories of last year’s hard winter washed over me. I had no idea, back then, how totally lost I was, how robotic I had become. I was surviving, eking out existence trying to be okay and feeling completely swallowed up in the proclaimed “best job in the world”.

Motherhood.

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I’m ready to talk about it now.

I grew up one of thirteen kids and man, if anyone had childhood experience walking a colicky baby, putting children down for naps, and breaking up sibling squabbles, it was me. At seventeen, my mom would leave me in charge for a day (sometimes longer) and I didn’t just “watch the kids” – I made the meals , made sure the chores all happened and no one murdered each other, kept the house clean, kept the laundry going, and sometimes even graded the school papers.

I felt pretty experienced. “Having a baby is only as hard as you make it.” I’ve said that more than once in my lifetime. To an extent, I think it’s true.

To an extent.

But no amount of childhood experience ever prepared me for the calling of motherhood.

How you might be called to live, day after day after dayweek after week after week on five interrupted hours of sleep each twenty-four hours.

How your hormones will do a number on you in ways you never had a category for.

How much you will wade through the mommy guilt of doing things you never said you would do. Like raising your voice. Or eating a whole chocolate bar in five minutes flat.

How you will feel like you are a butt-wiping, boo-boo kissing, time-out dealing, meal-making robotic machine set on non-stop repeat.

This winter, the snow came and the bitter cold took up residence and we all froze.

And some of us froze straight through.

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I knew I had and I thought I was going insane. I have longed to be a mother. The pain of my barrenness runs deep and there are scars that vein my heart.

I felt so guilty and when I started talking, the things people said to try to encourage me only made me feel worse.

“You are doing the most important job in the world.” (Are you seriously saying that to me right now?)

“The role of a mother is a high calling.” (Thanks for telling me. Again.)

“Just leave the dishes and rock your baby. Babies don’t keep.” (I like rocking my baby, but right now that colossal stack of dishes on my counter feels like the clincher to my sanity, ok?)

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I am not making fun of this advice, nor am I trying to be sarcastic.

But really, when a mother is in the trenches of mothering, the last thing she needs to hear is all of the above (and everything else like it). The truth is, I felt like such a loser as a mom. Here I had wanted this so bad and I was sure I was creating horrific devastation with my flailing attempts.

And the worst part? (And this is the part that still almost makes me want to cry.)

I thought that I was alone in it. Because 95% of the moms I know never said that being a mom was this hard. Ok, they said it – “mothering is hard work”, “mothering is the most sacrificial work you will ever do”, blah, blah, blah.

But no one ever told me that there will be days when tears course your cheeks and you plug your ears because the baby won’t stop crying and all you want to do is run far, far away.

No one ever told me how mad you will be sometimes, for reasons you can’t even put your finger on.

No one ever told me how you will feel like you are living in a vacuum of diapers, bottles, feedings, and tears.

 No one ever told me how badly you will wish you could grab the keys, spontaneously call up a friend and walk out the door for coffee at the drop of a hat.

When a mother finds herself in the trenches of motherhood with its cobwebs in the corners, grime on the bathtub, spit-up on her clothes, and food stuck between her front teeth , she needs to hear one thing: your story.  

Because when a mother tells her story to another mother, when a woman tells her story to another woman (even if she isn’t a mom), that’s when community happens and everybody can stop singing about how we aren’t alone because everyone will start living like they aren’t alone.

This is for all women mother or not, because every struggle a woman faces has been faced by another woman, and the truth is? We are surrounded by a community of saints with stories of everyday grace and glorious redemption – God taking our feeble efforts and our disastrous attempts to do life and become and stay sane and thrive-not-survive – but we will never see until we speak.

I hear it from the moms and I hear it from the wives and I hear it from the career women and I hear it from the women in ministry.

We’re all fighting, asking how we can have joy, and it comes to me on my hands and knees scrubbing the white kickboard in my kitchen. We don’t create joy, we receive joy. We don’t somehow get- to joy, we accept joy. Happiness can be created, but joy transcends the fabrication of humanity. 

And this is why NOW is the time to speak. Because somewhere there is a mother in the trenches and a wife struggling to breach a chasm with her husband and a woman overwhelmed with the demands of her work, and none of us need to hear the clichés, but we all need to hear the stories of what He has done. How He has redeemed.

How the Source of true joy is true to His Word and how every darkness is shattered by a morning light, ushering in unspeakable joy. 

 

 

 

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23 thoughts on “Why NOW is the Time to Speak

  1. beautiful. here i was just feeling lonely because i don’t know a single other Anabaptist woman doing what I’m doing with my life and aiming for what I’m aiming for. Tonight i needed this – “when a woman tells her story to another woman (even if she isn’t a mom), that’s when community happens and everybody can stop singing about how we aren’t alone because everyone will start living like they aren’t alone.” I like how you say we can tell our stories, even to those whose stories are different. and i do like hearing “mommy” stories. thanks for sharing.

  2. I can very much relate with what u are saying, Renee! Very well stated… I too longed for a family and often struggle with guilt over my short-temper with my girls and husband. Thanks for sharing! Praying u would have grace to cope in those hard moments and lean on Jesus.

  3. This is beautiful, Renee. Thank you for being real and inspiring us other mommies and ladies to be real as well! Blessings.

  4. Do more than survive ..thrive! There are many ways and many times and many reasons we make the choice to just survive. I have and lately this has been “the talk” I give myself. Do more than survive, the choice is yours. Call out to the One who makes you thrive. What you said about speaking out , I know is true. For when I give the gift of my heart and soul, or when another does that for me .I know what it means to be alive. Its then we truly thrive. I love you and having you as a sister in Christ living from your heart is a gift I will always cherish! Thanks for reminding me that cliques never reach the heart! Empathy does!

  5. I don’t think I know you, Rosanna (or maybe I do)…but I bet you have a story I would love to hear. When I pushed the “publish” button on this post, I was so scared. Telling our story is never easy – but the community that happens when we do never ceases to amaze me. God bless you!!

  6. I love you Donna! I am so glad for your friendship…I love how there is never enough time to talk about all the things we want to talk about… I still think of the other night, how we talked for 2 hours straight and parted ways, breathless but with a thousand MORE things we still could have said. You’re my kindred!

  7. Renee, I am so glad that you have shared this! We are at different stages in life, but I’ve been blessed by a conversation with you countless times. And I know the struggle to thrive and to receive joy through all circumstances and emotions! Love you tons, and I am so blessed by the beautiful and redemptive journey that God has you on!

  8. Thank you for sharing this. It’s easy to say that to others, but meanwhile keeping quiet about our own “issues.” I’ve wondered if us, Moms through adoption, aren’t extra hard on ourselves. Knowing how much we wanted these little ones, and then when we don’t reach our expectations, ( never getting too busy, never getting frustrated, always being excited to hear them wake up from a nap…and I had a lot more!) tended to make me frustrated just knowing I had failed again. God has been trying to show me it’s in Him that I find peace and not by my own accomplishments. It’s helping me relax and actually gain victory in areas where I had tried so hard before, because, ” you should be a good mother” But thank you again for sharing your heart and may God bless you as you lay your ” walls” down for Him to use you.

  9. Well said, Renee. I think our intros to motherhood must have been very similar. I too thought a baby would be no big deal, after helping raise my little brothers. I had no idea what a number the sleepless nights, raging hormones, and boatload of responsibility would do on me. And I too was like–Why didn’t anybody tell me?

    Nowadays I hear the woes of motherhood a lot more, but I think it’s because many of my friends are also mothers–when I was a youth girl the young moms in my church didn’t make a point of telling me how hard it all was. And if they had, either I wouldn’t have “got it” or it would have scared me off ever having babies. 🙂

    So maybe some of the veiling is the mercy of God, but I agree with you that being honest with each other is part of His redemption. I’m so grateful for His ability to stretch us, grow us, take our most fumbling efforts and use them for the Kingdom… and thank heaven–it gets easier! I hear you saying that already, and it’s true!

  10. you are so right. all of us are in the nitty-gritty of life fighting for joy and all of us need to hear the stories of how God sees and redeems. all of us are often embarrassed of our flailing attempts at doing life right. thank you for sharing your story in a life-giving way. i have had moms in the trenches ask sarcastically for my advice, saying that i probably have some because i am not a mom. i just wanted to stand up and say real loud and clear that no, i am not a mom–i only have children that i carry around in my heart–but i know enough of life to know that it is messy and there are NO easy answers and not one of us needs advice thrown at us. all of us need to know that we are not alone.

  11. So glad for your honesty here. I have often wondered if some of my “motherhood” struggles were because I was 37 when my first was born. Adjustment!!! Whew! those “sleepless” nights for month after month still make me shudder. But more & more I hear other honest mommy stories and I’m concluding my adjustment was pretty normal after all! I’m so grateful that Jesus meets us when we are irritated beyond measure with our little ones, etc. He is ready to forgive & give grace beyond measure–if I only ask. I need Him so much! Blessings as you give & give!

  12. Victoria… I don’t know how many times I have been blessed by you – radiant with Christ and spiritually perceptive. I am so glad I get to journey WITH you. Love to YOU, my friend.

  13. Ruby,

    Someone else said that to me recently…do you think foster or adoptive moms are extra hard on themselves? I wouldn’t know, since I do not have biological children, but the question made me wonder.

    I love your point about it being in HIM that we find peace. Yes, yes, yes. “Thou wilt keep him in PERFECT peace whose mind is stayed upon on YOU…” that verse comes to mind. The perfect peace of Christ is available to us. May Jesus continually renew our minds.

    Thanks for the encouragement!

  14. Oh, Rosanne…you get it, you really do. And it blesses my heart so. I think the moms are scared of talking with the women who aren’t moms and maybe the women who aren’t moms are sometimes scared of talking with the women who are moms…because we all have these ideas that _____________ won’t get it. But we forget one thing, mom or not, married or not, missionary or not, you fill in the blank… we are WOMEN. I love you Rosanne and you are so right…there are NO easy answers and NO ONE needs advice thrown their way. We all just desperately need each other.

  15. I know that we’ve talked some about this already but I want to bless you for sharing your heart and your story here.

    I feel like being a mom has brought out my greatest strengths but it has also revealed my greatest weaknesses. It is never easy to be faced day in and day out with your weakness(es!!). never. However, this has somehow brought me purpose in the midst of the struggle. To KNOW the Jesus is strengthening me and changing me and calling me higher……I am willing to suffer and cry and groan if I am actually being transformed in the process.

  16. Came over here from Shari’s recommendation and so glad. I needed the reminder that I am not alone. Especially on a rainy Monday when the stacks are deep from a holiday weekend and there is no way I’m digging my way out in one day.

    Thanks for your honesty and encouragement to share our stories with others.
    Gina

  17. Beautifully, eloquently written. I am not a mom but, yes, we need to hear each other’s stories–how there are hard days, how there is grace, joy–and realize that we are not alone and don’t have it the worst of anyone in our world. Thanks for sharing. Emmanuel.

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