My life in this season of motherhood is not at all what I expected. I thought when my littles grew up, I would have all the time in the world to do all the things I couldn’t find time for when they were small.
Thank goodness God didn’t give me what I expected.
A decade ago my five children were 7, 8, 9, 13, and 14. I was still learning how to navigate life as a stay-at-home and homeschooling mom after years working outside the home in full-time professional ministry. Daily homemaking tasks felt ordinary and tedious. I washed and folded the same towels day after day after day. Five children in five different grades meant lots of time planning and teaching to ensure they learned and I survived. I cleaned a house that was never clean, tried to manage the never-ending parade of hormones, and attempted to keep hungry kids happy.
My type A, overachiever, task-oriented personality struggled in frustration with a job that was never done.
When It Isn’t What You Expected
My littles have grown up. Today my youngest is a senior (my last homeschooled student) and two just finished their freshman year of college while living at home. The two oldest have moved out and into adulthood. One is happily married. They’re all hard-working, self-sufficient, Jesus loving, joy-filled adults — not perfect in all respects, but on their way.
And I’m still trying to find the time to do all the things. What I thought would be the finish line of my parenting marathon well . . . isn’t.
Over the years I’ve learned to imperfectly manage the tasks of homemaking, running a small business, volunteering at church, and ministering through writing, teaching, and speaking. But the young adults I live with now each have different work, school, and social schedules. I can no longer control when they eat, sleep, work, and play. Together we’ve adapted new systems, schedules, and lists to manage this new season of life as a family.
But here’s what I’ve learned:
[Tweet “You cannot systemize the soul.”]
My littles may be big but they still need me to help with a school project, listen to an idea, share the burden of disappointment, remind them of biblical truth, and pray for them.
While I’m writing this post, one of the college girls sits across the table eating cereal and planning how we’ll celebrate the end of finals week. Just then my phone rings. I’m always glad to see my first-born’s name on my caller I.D. He tells me how his morning started and then says, “It’s the ninety-ninth needle in death by a thousand needles.” I chuckle because I know the feeling well. For half an hour we talk about finances, the future, and the frustration of waiting for others to do their job so you can do yours. I listen hard, offer help, and cherish my role as his #2 cheerleader, thankful his precious wife is #1. Before we hang up I tell him that I’m writing and add, “Here’s the first line of my post: ‘My life in this season of motherhood is not at all what I’d expected.” He chuckles because he knows the feeling well.
Learning to Be
Morning by morning through His Word, my good, good Father has helped me see that my job (like His) as caregiver and nurturer is never done.
As I slowly work my way through Ruth Haley Barton’s, Sacred Rhythms, I hold fast to one phrase in the very first chapter. She challenges the reader to “learn to be with what is.” The phrase has become my mantra as I fight for joy is this season that is so blessedly different than what I expected.
[Tweet “Dear weary mother walking through the unexpected: Jesus is near. “]
Whether you’re twenty-one or fifty-one, wherever you are, and whatever you’re going through, know that He sees, He cares, and He will act on your behalf. There is no unexpected season for our Father. He plans, creates, and brings all things to pass according to His will.
[Tweet “Be with what is and call it beautiful. “]