There are days when I feel terribly ill-equipped, when their needs zap every ounce of everything that I have left, when the end of the day can't come soon enough, and when I can count too many things I wish I had done differently.
You know I love my sweet boys. You know I do. (And if you don't, you must be new here. Please read around a bit. You'll find proof.) But let me say, I may lose my parenting license over this potty training journey and the little brother who is learning to scowl and shout his opinions.
There are ragged moments when I want to look at them and say,
"Do you know that I'm smart? Do you know that I'm bigger than this lifestyle we share?? Are either of you thankful for how many times I read that silly book to you? What about the play dough whose scent has permanently seeped into my hands? What about the disintegrated diaper in the wash and the stale french fries in the car? Do you know that I have a degree and aspirations that are so much bigger than laundry and diapers?
Do you know that I love you - I adore you - I cannot imagine my life without you....
but this day is breaking me?"
I never say those things. But I think them. And at the end of the day, I escape to my closet and pour it all out. I write in my journal. I cry out to God. I ask Him to somehow bless my efforts, multiply what I've done well, give them resilience against that which I could have done better, and fill up my cup. Because tomorrow's coming quick, and I'm really afraid it may look a lot like today.
Yesterday was one of those days.
In my closet, as I worshipped in total darkness, I cried. I listened to some of my favorite songs, and these lyrics caught in my throat: "From age to age, You reign in Majesty. And today you're making miracles in me."
Was it a miraculous day? Even slightly? It sure didn't feel like it... it felt small. Very small. I dream big. Bigger than this. I reminded God of all the things I want, of the lifetime goals that seem to lay on a path separate from mine, of the things I want, want, want. Just in case he forgot, I gave him my list.
God, give me contentment. I asked you for every single thing about this blessed life I live... and yet, and yet... I can't stop thinking about what I am not.
It's really easy and tempting to become restless when it feels like your life is on hold.
In his faithfulness, in ways beyond measure, words, or understanding, he restored my soul. He quieted my heart, he refreshed me with love, and he gave me rest. At the end of the day, that's what I needed: precious sleep.
But today, after a night of deep rest, he greeted me with even more to say. I am reading A Woman and Her God, and I settled in to read a chapter during an unexpected window of alone time this morning. (Perhaps I should rather call it a divine appointment.)
Kathleen Hart writes:
"We ask ourselves, 'What is my purpose for living at this stage in my life?' But the questions you really need to ask is, 'What does God want me to accomplish at this time?'It is important to focus on what we need to accomplish right now, because sometimes we want to do things that are not possible to accomplish at that particular stage of life. For example, consider a mother with young children who has some great ideas for a career or an entrepreneurial enterprise."
Okay. Stop right there. She may as well have written my name, address, social security number, and my mother's maiden name. This was written for me. I continued reading, with my highlighter in hand.
"In reality, it will be very difficult for her to accomplish such an ambitious undertaking at this time. And it's no good feeling like a failure or being frustrated, because we tend to take out our frustration on our children and spouse. So we must regularly turn to God and ask, 'What do You want to accomplish at this stage of my life?'Keep in mind, even if your career is on hold, your life is not. The Lord will show you the way as you trust Him with all your heart."
My pen was smoking. My hand was cramping. This is what I was meant to hear, and I could not write fast enough. I needed to start my day with these words, to fill up my cup before the demands of the day could drain a single drop. I have heard these words before, and I always know them to be true, even when they are hidden behind the to-do list and the tyranny of the toddlers. But I needed them again.
And I also made this important discovery. These words, spoken in different voices but so true every time, always come from a woman who is older, wiser, seasoned, and on the other side of the journey. She looks back on her own life, with or without regrets of her own, and she advises me:
There is time for that.
Right now, you must do this.
And so I am refreshed. Ready for another day, ready for what it brings, even if I might feel for a single moment (or two) like maybe I wish for something more.
There will be more. Later. I'm just sure of it. The dream lives in my heart: of classrooms, publishing books, public speaking, teaching teachers, and living bigger. It cannot be ignored. I don't know what it will look like, but it looms ahead, just beyond the board books and potty chairs.
Someday, when I'm doing all that I want to do with my career, with all the credentials and expertise I long for, and Lord willing, when I'm sharing it with the world, there will be these two young men in the front row. My boys, grown into good men.
And they'll know they are my world.
When I keep that picture in my mind, I can do today.