With basket in hand I stumble down the hall towards the steps headed for the laundry room. Stooping to pick up my daughter’s jeans while kicking my son’s fire truck aside, I wonder if a mom is the only one who knows what a laundry basket is actually for. Do kids ever grasp that toys do have a place to be at the end of the day other than in the middle of the hallway?
In spite of the chaos, a smile threatens to curl my lips as I remember the day so many years ago when my daughter’s existence was first made known to me. What lofty dreams of motherhood I had. I had pictured a smart looking, dressed to the nines mom. Gourmet dinners flowing freely from my spotless kitchen thankfully eaten by my clean, fashionable children and Prince (Always) Charming.
What a wake-up call that first night home from the hospital was! I can’t even remember how many days went by before I showered again. And dressing to the nines now meant nine sizes bigger than pre-pregnancy!
Something under my foot gives way to the pressure of my “new” body and I see a leg sticking out between my toes. Countless hours had been spent in negotiation over the exact second a turn ended with “Reptile Ray”. In two quick seconds I had just solved the battle. A broken toy was a forgotten toy.
Finally making it to the laundry room, I narrowly miss sending my lost coffee mug crashing to the floor. A frantic little boy searching for a runaway wheel had redirected my super sonic detective skills earlier in the day. A sigh escapes my lips. No wonder I find myself so exhausted all the time, and not just physically.
According to popular opinion, to recharge, I need to take time out for myself. Not too bad of advice, but I used to think that it meant pampering little escapes. One of my all time favorite escapes had been a nice, hot, bubbly bath. Shriveled like a prune with blue lips, I’d add more hot water and go for round two.
Another passion was caramel fudge cheesecake. I could forget just about anything while savoring that sweet, smooth taste sensation.
There’s really nothing wrong with taking time out now and then for these simple indulgences, but the truth is I don’t ever return from the moment any more ready for the challenges than when I started. In fact, most of the time I’m more stressed because now I have an oil ring that needs to be cleaned from the bath tub and I have gained yet another cheesecake pound. My cup, my SIPPY cup, is still empty.
John 4:13- 15 says, “Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst.” The world has me so trained to think that time away and “finding” myself will fill me. But these things are like the water from the well. They are good, however, they are not eternal and they do not satisfy. My soul, the very heart of this mom, craves for water that will quench, that will rebuild, restore.
Psalm 28:7a, “The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped.” (NIV) You know what this tells me? The LORD is my strength. Not rest, not retreats or time off. The LORD is my strength. Rather than use my alone time for selfish indulgences that will wear off all too soon, I should use my time to sit at the Lord’s feet and soak up what He has for me. And in so doing, I will regain my strength.
Remember the Proverbs 31 woman? Ooh, how I disliked her. How on earth can a woman be her? But one day it hit me. NO ONE on EARTH can be her. I was looking at it from a human standpoint. I was trying to “do all the right things” in my own strength. That’s not what God meant. It was like He told me, “Of course you can’t do it, and I did that on purpose. I want you to need me. I DO expect you to be that woman, but I expect you to use MY strength to do it.”
Now, if only I could master that ALL the time. I’d love to say that the battle is over and I am a champion. But many times I still try to fill up from a well that doesn’t satisfy. I still try to be a super mom in my own strength and live up to ideals that were not established by God.
So what’s the solution? Set aside time each day to read God’s word and talk to Him. My children are familiar with “Mommy time-outs” and respect my closed door, knowing a kinder, more gentler Mommy will emerge. My room becomes my sanctuary. In that quietness and stillness the Holy Spirit moves and pours himself into me like a flood of refreshing water on dry lips. God has said that His word will accomplish what He sent it for (Isaiah 55:11). He has also said that He has plans for me (Jeremiah 29:11) As I am faithful, He will be faithful and renew me to make me the mom He intended me to be.
unpublished work in progress (c) 2005 Tammy Johnson
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Great job, Tammy! As a mother of four I could relate, but now the years have passed so quickly and we only have our sixteen-year-old baby at home. Your piece would be great for a MOPS group! I enjoyed it very much.
Delightful first message Tammy. I related well to everything you wrote and liked the way you brought in our need to rely on God to keep our "sippy cup" full. As for that laundry basket thing - I'm still waiting for my nearly 18-year-old son to learn what it's for. Hopefully your daughter will catch on much faster. Keep writing and keep honing your skills Tammy. Only quick constructive comment I'd make is that the first paragraph could have broken for another paragraph before "A smile curls my lips..." That's an ideal place where the thought changes. Also, always check that you have that double space between paragraphs. It doesn't matter in books or magazines, but it does on-line for some reason. Hard on the old eyes. But other than that, it was a very enjoyable read with a light touch of mother's humor that made it quite appealing. Well done. Love, Deb