Life with More
It’s a Saturday. The house is somewhat clean, the dishes are done, the baby is napping (the other two are running errands with dad), my work to-do list looks manageable, I just pulled cookies out of the oven, and I’m feeling pretty accomplished. Like maybe I’m getting the hang of this mom-of-three thing for a minute. Don’t blink, the moment won’t last. And I say that with humor because, Murphy’s Law, something is bound to go wrong.
Reagan is now six weeks old and I can say with confidence that adjusting to baby #3 is a lot easier than baby #1. Even with two older children to care for, the veteran mom knowledge really makes a difference. By 6 weeks with Cormac, I was in excruciating pain every time I nursed him (thanks to severe nipple damage likely caused by a lip-tie which was finally released around 6 weeks), I was living like a zombie surviving on minimal sleep, and I was just barely feeling ready to leave the house and run errands with a newborn. Flash forward 4 years, and I’m working part-time hours at home, shuttling all 3 children around pretty much wherever I need to go (or foregoing an errand until I can get childcare for at least 2), and most of the time managing to put dinner on the table and keep the toilets fairly sanitary. But don’t be fooled, I definitely don’t have it all together. There are more days now when I lose my temper and yell at the children or snap at my husband than there were with just one baby. Yes, the capacity for love expands exponentially with each child, but my capacity for patience seems to have dwindled. And that’s even with lots of help!
I haven’t started this new year with a long list of resolutions or big goals because, honestly, I’ve been too busy to think that far ahead. But I do know that I want to move through this year with more patience, more grace and a sense of balance in our family life. For as much as children learn in the first few years of their lives, I think their parents learn just as much, if not more. Parenting brings out your strengths… and weaknesses. Flaws are magnified in the light of little eyes. Mom guilt is real and there are some days that end in defeated tears, for everyone. Motherhood is a sanctifying process (“…but women will be saved through childbearing…” 1 Tim. 2:15), and I’m grateful to be experiencing it. And very conscious of how far I have to go. I’ve been so blessed, but that’s still easy to lose sight of when you’re busy crying over spilled milk (yes, it has literally happened).
Our pastor said something recently (in the middle of another long Sunday morning wrangling toddlers to sit still and shush up in the pews) that made my ears perk up. How do you know you’re doing God’s will? How do you know what His will really is? Well, up front, we don’t. Only God knows that. But we know our purpose in life: “To glorify God and enjoy Him forever” (WSC). So, the surest way to know we are doing God’s will is to ask if we are glorifying Him. When big decisions or changes come up and we question whether we are seeking His will, or questioning what He really intends in the midst of our struggle, boiling it down to the yes or no question, “Am I glorifying God?” seems to clarify a lot.
For me, as I start 2018 with a bigger family and a longer to-do list, I want to be asking myself that question more often and acting more consistently with the honest answer. Letting my selfishness or impatience get in the way of pivotal parenting moments is not glorifying to God. Greeting my husband at the end of the day with defeat and frustration is not glorifying to God (or edifying to my husband). Employing my skills and talents to help strangers or friends, educate my children and support my family is glorifying to God. Thinking less of myself and more of others is glorifying to God. And starting my day with a humble appeal to His throne of grace for the wisdom and strength to accomplish these things is essential.
So, what does life with more children look like? A few more broken moments… and a lot more grace.