Monday, May 12, 2014

A Mother's Day Lesson

Every year, I try not to have too many expectations for Mother's Day.  I don't want to be disappointed or make it all about me. For one thing, on this day, I like to think of my own mother and all she means to me.  And, this day, although it is set apart to honor mothers reminds me of how thankful I need to be for my Heavenly Father who made it possible to have these precious ones that surround me.  He is the only reason I am a mother at all.  He is also the only reason that I can get through each day. 

I am thankful for each child He has given me and I most earnestly believe that each one is a blessing, but there are days that are very hard for me.  Days when I want to give up.  Days when I don't even like these kids.  *gasp*  No, I am not a perfect mother that has it all together.  So often, I run into people that find out how many kids we have and they say, "Wow, you must be so patient!"  "Oh yeah, that's me.  Patient Momma!"   Sometimes, I can't wait for an excuse to leave for a while.  I do think it is important to take breaks from the daily routine.  Moms need time alone with the Lord, time with a friend, time to be refreshed even with the smallest things.  I've been known to reward myself by lighting a candle or retreating to my room for a square of dark chocolate.  Of course, I only allow myself those things if I've done some task first.  "If I just empty the dishwasher or fold one load of laundry, then I can have a break."  These rewards and short breaks are healthy, but I find that when I'm particularly stressed out, I find multiple ways of escaping.  In fact, it probably takes more effort for me to escape then it would be to sit down with one or more of the children and play with them.  I find I put off correcting a behavior, because I want to escape so badly.  I don't often physically leave the house, but my mind checks out for a time.  It is very easy for me to get caught up listening to my classical music.  Utter chaos could be happening all around me, but I would rather ignore the chaos and be lost in the music.  And yet, I am also a person who gets easily distracted, therefore, I become angry because a child would dare to ask me a dozen questions while I'm listening to a symphony or a piano sonata!  How many times have I crushed a child's spirit because Mommy was too stressed to take the time to say, "I love you.  You are important to me?" 

When Mother's Day rolls around, it is so easy for me to expect the day to be nearly perfect and carefree.  After all, I deserve it!  Deep down, I know this is not realistic and oh, it's also a bit narcissistic.  The day I have worked out in my mind goes something like this:  I awake from a restful night of sleep and hear the children and my husband busy in the kitchen, making me breakfast.  No fighting, just happy joyful sounds of the family working together.  The dishes are done.  The living room straightened.  With the arrival of my breakfast on a tray, there are eight sweet children giving me a hug or a kiss and a big, "Happy Mother's Day!"  There is a beautiful store bought card and lots of handmade ones.  A big bouquet of flowers awaits me at the dining room table.  The sun is shining.  I'm feeling wonderful.  I mean, it could happen, right? 

To be fair, my husband and children do try to make Mother's Day special for me.  Some years are better than others.  This year, Mother's Day arrived after a long week of Mommy being at symphony chorus rehearsals and concerts every night.  Daddy was gone for part of the week on a business trip.  I was battling allergies and the emotions of performing and of it being the last concert weekend of the year. 

We began the tradition of going out to brunch for Mother's Day on the Saturday before, so we wouldn't have to battle the crowds of hungry, desperate mothers who didn't want to cook on Sunday!  But, this year, we just didn't have the time to do that with my concerts.  Instead, I went and had my hair done and spent time vocalizing and brushing up on the French I would be singing.  I was pleasantly surprised by a dozen roses that showed up at the door, too, from my dear family.

When Sunday rolled around, I was exhausted and hungry!  I forgot about making reservations for brunch, so we called my favorite restaurant to find out that it would be a long wait.  It was too late to make a reservation, so we would simply have to wait or we could hit a Chipotle or a McDonald's, but that didn't sound as good to me.  So, we put our name in and I waited in the restaurant with my laptop and did some writing.  My husband brought a movie for the kids to watch in the car.  We ended up not waiting as long as we originally thought and were seated.  The restaurant was much louder than I remembered which annoyed me.  Some of the kids were more difficult than usual, but all in all, it was a nice time.  Good food and I didn't have to cook.  By the time we left, however, I had one of my sinus headaches and was miserable.  My husband took me to pick up some hanging plants for the porch and then, we drove in the country for awhile and discovered some new roads close to home.  I really did enjoy the time with the family, but I wasn't feeling well.  Close to the kids' bedtime, my headache finally was easing and I thought it would be fun to go see a late night movie with my husband.  This is something we never do.  We placed our oldest daughter in charge and said goodnight to the kids and drove back to town.  We were the only ones in the theater. 

Then, there was today.  I woke up late and more exhausted than ever.  My older kids had overslept.  The sink and the counters were filled with dirty dishes.  The laundry in the washing machine had to be rewashed. It had sat there a few days because I had forgotten about it.  I wasn't feeling well again.  The younger children were acting out more than ever.  I just wanted to...ESCAPE!  I guess I did do just that when I threw myself into my work and listened to two Beethoven symphonies! I was glad to sit with the kids for our Bible time before lunch and made sure the older ones were practicing for their music lessons.  I planned my meals for the week and wrote down a grocery list for my husband.  I very much appreciated that he was willing to do the shopping this time.  But, you know what?  I still complained.  I can still hear myself mumbling under my breath about not getting more help.  Good grief.  I think I would have been in good company with those whining Israelites after God delivered them from Egypt.  And, all the while I could hear the Lord saying, "take every thought captive and make it obedient to Christ."  Oh, and this one, "And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him."  Yeah, I have much to take to the Lord.  I need to repent of my attitudes and my lack of thankfulness. 

If there's one thing I have learned this year, it's that Mother's Day is not about me.  It's about Him.  Everything is about Him.  I can't take another breath without Him.  I can't walk another step without Him.  I can do nothing without Him.

  "Dear God, please teach me to be thankful.  Teach me to be content.  Content with where You have placed me, where You have led me, and content with what You have given me.  And, above all, please teach me how to love You.  I don't know how.  I want to love my family, so that I can show my love for You.  You've given me this desire to follow You, but I need Your help every moment of the day.  Thank You for loving me.  Without Your love, I would be nothing."