“I can’t believe I said kids,” I told my husband this past weekend about a conversation I had the evening prior. As I recounted it all to him, I found myself catching up on the reality of my own life. While some moments it feels so natural and normal that we are parents of two littles, others I am left totally amazed by it.
The best word I can put to the last two months of adjusting to our new normal is that it’s been wild. Certain things have been much easier this time around – sleep deprivation isn’t as shocking and we’re not as worried by about each moan and groan our newborn makes. But having to juggle our toddler’s needs and transition on top of the typical newborn demands make for its own challenges.
In my current state of joy-meets-survival, I’ve been running over in my mind specific truths that are keeping me not only sane but actually living, breathing and enjoying the crazy of today. So in case you too are in a pressing, demanding, or overwhelming season, here are my four go-tos I’m reiterating to myself these days.
1. Grace, Grace, Grace…
…Because you and I can never extend ourselves enough grace. This has by far been one of the biggest lessons I’m learning as a mom, specifically to tap into the well of grace for myself. To drink and live from it. No one else can make me do this. Instead I must choose to extend myself the grace to live in the present and there be just as I am.
What I mean by that is that if you are weepy today, it’s okay to love and serve and live from that place. Don’t be concerned with “pulling yourself together,” but instead be as you are. Be your own offering of grace. Whisper to and remind yourself that you are doing your best and whatever that is today, it’s enough. Some days that won’t feel like much and even still, allow yourself to breathe and be as you are.
A lot changes in a day, a conversation, or an instance when we extend to ourselves the opportunity to be enough as we are.
2. It’s all a season.
At times these words bring me great comfort. As I’m currently going on 8 weeks of waking up multiple times in the night, this truth is like a gift I cannot wait to open. This will end, I remind my tired self each morning, and you will one day sleep more than 3 hours stretches again. Thank you God.
But these words are also a difficult reality to embrace because, though they are comforting, they carry the story that nothing stays as it is. As my eyes scan between my newborn and my toddler, I am deeply aware of the rapid passage of time. In a blink of an eye it all changes, and often unnoticed. I don’t remember the last time Eloise called Mark “Dada” or that her go-to was crawling. The changing was sudden, but so subtle too.
So reminding myself that this is a season allows me to access the patience and joy to live well whatever is right now, and there be present in it.
3. This is your story, so write it.
When Eloise was only eight months old I took her to a conference on faith and revival happening near us. It was three days of just the two of us. Nothing was easy about it, but I had purposed that this was important to me as her mom. It wasn’t a decision directed by someone else’s advice, which can feel like most of mamahood. Instead it was fueled by my personal desire to bring her with me into an atmosphere that would awaken her spirit.
What came out of that conference was unbelievable moments. I watched as she was blessed by one of my great heroes, prophesied by strangers about the woman she would grow into, and participated in what God was doing in the room in her eight-month-old way. It was one of the most empowering times I’ve had as a mom because it had to do with me actively partnering with God in writing the story of her life and our family.
And the unbelievable gift is that we can partake in writing that story. To make decisions that align with the desires we carry for ourselves, our families, and our futures. And so to honor the whisper we hear deep within us about who we are becoming.
4. You can always leave the cart.
The first time I ventured out solo with Eloise I texted my friend Erin telling her what I was about to do. At the time I was slightly terrified about what might happen out in public. I wondered how I would handle her screaming in the cereal aisle, or worse yet in the middle of us checking out. My mind ran through every possible scenario that could take place, all in which things went vastly awry.
But then Erin wrote back words I have never forgotten: just remember you can always leave the cart.
I read over them and couldn’t believe that I hadn’t thought about that before. What Erin was suggesting was that if it didn’t work out this time, it didn’t matter. I didn’t have to force things. I could leave my food, walk out of the store with my baby, and try again another day. Things didn’t have to go a certain way for me to deem it a success.
Because the cart isn’t important and the food doesn’t matter.
I have often reminded myself of Erin’s words because of how freeing I found them to be. She reminded me to keep focused on what was important and not stress about what I couldn’t control. No matter how that excursion panned out, it was all good. Why? Because I was moving outside my comfort (and control) zone and actively participating in the story being written that day. And ultimately I’m pretty sure that’s what makes life fun and allows us to enjoy our present reality even when life is full-on crazy.