I am finally back from a very long hiatus which began with the preparation for, and arrival of, our fourth child. We are so blessed to have dear Edith Clare in our lives, and her siblings are overflowing with love for her! They literally cannot control themselves at times; they just want to shower her with affection, kiss her, hug her, smoosh her cheeks (which I totally understand), poke her, rub her head… the list goes on and on. It is a beautiful thing.
But these last few months have not been a breeze. I have come inches from deciding to give up homeschooling, I have lost my temper with my children in a way that I never had before, I have felt like a failure as a homemaker. I know what you are thinking: “Your baby is less than three months old! Cut yourself some slack!” But somewhere deep inside I had the feeling that since I’ve done this so many times before, I should be pretty good at it by now. Fourth time’s a charm. Easy peasy.
Honestly, some things were easier this time. I planned ahead and made freezer meals, and I have children who are old enough to help a little bit. My two-year-old’s favorite things in life right now are fetching diapers and throwing them away. Seriously, there are temper tantrums if someone else performs these tasks for her. Plus my sons have jobs to do, they love to help me out in the kitchen, and they play together for hours!
But it has still been hard.
As I finally come up for air long enough to reflect on the last few months, I’ve realized that God has three definite things he is trying to teach me right now.
1. You can’t do it all. I am lucky if I can fit in twenty minutes of school time with my first grader between baby’s naps and constant snack requests from the toddler. And if everything aligns for a good hour or two of school, there’s no way I’ve even touched the laundry. Dinner? Forget about it. When I finally collapse on the couch during rest time, I usually start mentally listing off the things that need to get done.
And then today I stopped. I realized that it is physically impossible to get everything done right now. God gave me peace when I looked at the mound of unfolded clothing in the middle of the living room as He reminded me that I am currently raising little souls up for him. Laundry’s not at the top of His list.
Yes, things need to get done, and they will get done. But for now I’m at peace with the mess.
2. You can’t do it alone. I am not very good at asking for help, especially when it comes to new babies. It’s as if somewhere deep inside I’m afraid people are thinking, “She got herself into this, and now she wants my help?” It’s a symptom of our culture’s view of children and families- I worry that since we have had more than our “two”, that I am somehow required to show the world that I can go it alone. I can’t, and I shouldn’t have to. So I have asked for help when needed, and I have graciously accepted meals from many, many wonderful people. I have also relied heavily on my husband; he recently stayed home for an hour with a crying baby so I could grocery shop by myself. He’s that kind of man.
We are not meant to raise our children in solitude! Especially in this intense infant stage, help is necessary. I am learning to put my guard down, show my weakness and accept help, even if that help is just a kind word given in a time of difficulty.
3. You can’t do it without Me. Prayer is very difficult for me during pregnancy and post-partum. I fall asleep easily, I get out of my routines, and my desire for prayer greatly decreases. It becomes an act of the will, and since my will is weak my prayer life suffers. When my prayer life suffers, so does every other aspect of my life. I have recently worked my way back into some semblance of a prayer routine and God is so good! My tiny little steps toward him have been met with an outpouring of peace and grace. I have a long way to go, but I finally have my eyes on the prize again.
It would be so easy to wish away all of the ups and downs that come with pregnancy and childbearing, infancy and child-rearing. I sometimes daydream of the time when my life will be consistent, constant, quiet. But in the craziness that is young motherhood, God keeps reminding me that I am weak but He is strong. I am small but He is so big. I can’t do it but He can.