Being a mother is the hardest job I’ve ever had. I’ve heard people say this countless times, and always thought it sounded patronizing and maybe a little weak.
Until I said it myself, with my voice barely above an audible whisper – a voice rasped through by struggles and tears and seemingly insurmountable odds. A voice gravelly and gritty because its owner is Barely. Hanging. On.
I’ll be honest with you: some days, calling it the “hardest job” seems like a joke. Those are the days when I truly question God’s wisdom in allowing me to procreate. I tell God His plan must have been slightly off base and He shouldn’t have granted my prayers to become a mother. If He had foreseen the tears, frustration, anger, guilt and shame I would face as a mother, He would have protected me from it. But, no, that’s not what a loving Parent does. A loving Parent knows His child will face pain, but He also knows pain is the best polisher for a jagged, splintered heart. A comfortable life does no child any favors.
I know this, I know this. I. Know. This! But when days turn into weeks and into months and into years of doubting myself, the easy way out seems pretty darn fantastic.
I doubt my ability to teach my children anything but sighing and groaning as they pelt me with yet another request for TV! Snacks! Sleepovers! Candy! PleaseOhPleaseMomJustThisOnce?!
I doubt my ability to civilize them and teach them manners and respect instead of backtalk and tantrums. I wonder if they’ll be 30-year-olds who complain to their boss when someone else gets a great job assignment, much like they complain now if the other sibling gets anything remotely positive in his or her life (praise, an extra privilege, or even one more chocolate chip in their cookie).
Jackson burst through the door after school, ran straight to me and didn’t even wait for me to bend down so I could hold him with my arms. He needed refuge, and buried himself in my legs even as I squatted down to hold him. His face ended up buried in my lap, and he was frozen. Unspeaking. Unmoving. Undone.
It isn’t the first time this has happened, but it’s the first time I got a photo of it. It wasn’t a particularly horrible day for him. It was a regular kind of hard day, and he recovered and ran off to unpack his bag and resume his after-school procedure.
But this moment sticks to my wounded mommy heart, the one that has a looped recording of “You’re not enough” playing at full volume inside it. This moment muffles the volume, even if only for a little while, and reminds me that I don’t have to be enough. That is God’s job. My job is to simply be safe.