I got in bed last night a little earlier than usual. I set my alarm for an hour before I knew my girls would wake up in the morning. I love having time to spend in God’s Word before my day really gets going. It doesn’t always happen, but I’m thankful when it does.
I hadn’t been asleep for very long when I heard crying. It was my youngest. I rolled over and decided to let her cry it out for a bit. The crying continued long enough to wake Grant up, “GraceAnna, want me to go get her?”
“It’s fine. I’ll get her.” I rocked her for a little while and then climbed back into bed.
It hardly seemed like any time had gone by at all when I heard more crying. It was my oldest this time. She was crying in her bed and saying she needed to go potty. Potty? She never wakes up in the night to go potty. I tried to take her but she just kept crying for no apparent reason. “AudreyKate, what do you need?” I asked, my voice full of the frustration I was beginning to feel.
I don’t know how long we were trying to figure things out before Grant got up and asked, “What’s going on?”
“I don’t know.”
“GraceAnna, y’all are both half asleep,” he said as he helped me get her settled.
I climbed back in bed and looked at the clock, it was 4am. I could still get a few hours of sleep before I needed to get up.
Before long I heard crying again. What’s going on tonight?
It was Evangeline this time. She must be teething.
I got up and put her in bed with us. She finally fell asleep laying on me. I closed my eyes until I was jolted awake by my alarm.
I reached over and turned that thing off as fast as I could. No, I’m not getting up early.
This morning, after my nighttime extravaganza, I had to ask myself, why was I so frustrated?
I realized it was because I had expected my girls to sleep through the night. I had expected to get a full night’s rest. I had expected to get up early.
And when my expectations weren’t met, it stirred up feelings of frustration toward the little people I love so dearly.
As I put the coffee on, I thought about how wrong my expectations had been. Anger often occurs when there are failed expectations. And I had unrealistic expectations for my sweet one and two year old. Just because they are generally good sleepers, doesn’t mean that they won’t ever wake up in the night or go through seasons of waking up a lot.
Time for a Tune-Up
When it comes to mothering, sometimes I feel like a car that needs to pull into the auto repair shop for a quick tune-up. In the daily busyness, I can often get a little misaligned in my perspective.
This “tune-up” time for me usually comes through the conviction of the Holy Spirit and time in God’s Word. Sometimes God uses my husband or a friend to whisper a word of truth that shows me where I’ve been a little off in my thinking.
Oh yeah, what was I thinking? What was I expecting? I am raising people who need to be cared for, trained, and taught! It’s a full time job! Not a hobby! They are not a distraction from my tasks. They are my tasks!
Last night, when I was frustrated, I had forgotten that mothering is a full time calling that includes the night shift.
When I was in college, I was a Resident Assistant in my dorm. Some weekends I would be “on call.” My phone would ring in the middle of the night and I would have to handle some sort of situation. Sometimes, it would be as simple as a resident being locked out of her room. But other times, it would be much more serious. One night, a student on my hall had alcohol poisoning. I’ll never forget the emotions I felt that night as I frantically called EMS and watched as they struggled to revive her.
Whenever I was on call as an RA and my phone rang in the night, I would jump out of bed and immediately pray and ask God to give me wisdom to handle whatever situation was headed my way. The same is true with mothering, if not more so. I shouldn’t be surprised when I’m woken up. I’m on call. Every night.
I need God’s help not just during the day but in the night watch too. And the amazing thing is, He’s always up. Those times when I call out to Him, I often think of Psalm 121 which says, “Where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord . . . He who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.”
Park the Pram and Grab Some Carabineers
Those who expect mothering to be a walk in the park will be disappointed and frustrated when they discover that it’s more like a mountainous hike than anything else. Some days it winds through the most beautiful and sunny fields, but the journey also has its share of jagged cliffs and muddy valleys.
My daughter has a pink pram that she likes to use to take her dollies for walks. It’s perfect on the sidewalk, but whenever she tries to push it off-road she starts calling, “Momma, help me, momma!” The pram just isn’t sufficient for rough terrain.
Just like a hiker expects to encounter obstacles on the trail, I must remember that the journey of motherhood is more like rock climbing than a stroll.
God has called me to the great task of training and teaching little ones. They are dependent on me and it’s my joy to raise them. And as cute and adorable as they are, they are still sinners. And so am I. That’s a lot of sin. Life together isn’t as always as easy as pushing a pram. It takes sweat, hard work, much prayer, and reliance on God to be faithful. And I’m glad too. Because when I look to God for His strength, I see spectacular views that I never would have seen from the sidewalk.
If you are feeling a little weary and frustrated, maybe your expectations have been misaligned. Motherhood is not like a picture from a catalog. No, it’s so much better than that. It’s real. And God uses your sore muscles and chipped nails to grow you, make you call to Him louder, and watch in wonder as He uses you to help little hearts find the way to Him.