Paternity leave is over and Lawrence is back at work. My first day without him went smoothly but I’m thinking ahead to bed time tonight as he is out. I start looking at the calendar for the evenings coming up when I’m on my own and I begin to get a growing sense of trepidation.
Since becoming a parent I have often tried to rationalise why tears and upset from one, or worse still, all of the children at bedtime sends me into a such a state of high anxiety. I want to meet their needs, emotional, spiritual and physical and I can’t lose that sense of urgency if they are upset. The way children cry at about that time regardless of the issue they’re upset about somehow signals to the mum in me that there is a major problem, it’s all my fault and it’s my responsibility to fix it. My response to that is pretty dependent on what kind of a day I’ve had and how resilient I’m feeling. On bad days I usually direct the identical message at Lawrence when he walks in…
Yesterday I had a midwife drop by to weigh the baby. She asked me how many children I had and when I told her she said ‘gosh I don’t know how you cope I struggle with one!’. Just in that moment it made me question if it actually was possible to live our life well.
It got me thinking about several similar situations when people have unknowingly spoken right into a deep fear I have in my ability to cope. An older and wiser Christian impressed upon me that I should be able to manage my own children without help. Ouch….with one year old twins and a four year old I thought it was normal to feel like I was only one or two steps away from chaos, but she did have a point.
I look back on the last seven years and I have very rarely actually been out of my comfort zone with managing behaviour. It is true that the twins did do a spectacular job in the kitchen with yoghurt and smoothie when I left them alone for a few minutes. It is also true that our dog did walk round with a green stripe down its back for a few weeks from an ambitious painting session in the back yard. But, it is amazing how much of my life is about fear of not coping or looking like or actually being out of control of my own children rather than the reality of that happening.
When I look to Jesus he doesn’t say come to me and I’ll help you cope. The bible tells me that Jesus came into my life to give me hope and a future and that He came to give me life, life in all its fullness. That has quite the opposite affect on my heart and hope levels. My Jesus wants me to flourish in this life and when things get tough He is always there guiding and encouraging me.
Following Jesus doesn’t give us a stress free life. We experience the hardships, the ill grandparents, the worry about bills, mortgages and school choices just as much as any family. But with Jesus at the heart of it we can rest even in the unhappiness and know the creator of the universe has faith in us to draw on him and live it well.
So last night I didn’t shout at the children or feel like my head was going to explode at any point. I had quiet cuddles and prayed for them and with them. It isn’t always like that but it was last night. It struck me today that I don’t actually need to cope or be in control. Following Jesus leads us out of being in control and into a messy life, trusting a perfect creator in an imperfect world to lead us through it.
I begged in prayer for just one baby, having four was way beyond what I could have imagined. Having a large family isn’t for everyone but each and every person has dreams and hopes for their future. Our God is so good and can be trusted with them. If you talk to him He will do something beautiful that is unique and special just for you.
So next time I’m out walking the dog with the children going in three different directions, I’m going to remember this. When someone shouts cheerfully over; ‘you’ve got your hands full’, or ‘rather you than me’, I won’t let my over sensitive nature get the better of me. It may not look like or even be fun in that moment, but thanks to Jesus, being a mum with all its mess and stress, is actually my dream come true.