Joyful Mothering

Ok girlfriends, I gotta be very vulnerable here.  This was an area where as a Mama of a tribe it was tough some days to be joyful!  Oh, I’m a pretty positive person in general. Normally, when my feet hit the ground in the morning, I’m ready to face a new day!  I love that each day has new possibilities. I love the constancy of God, letting the sun rise another day, bringing new Grace, new Mercies, and new blessings from His hand.  Truly that is my philosophy of life.  I know there are people who are “glass half empty” kind of people. If that is you, you may hate this post.  But I am definitely a “glass half full” type of gal. 

In 1 Corinthians 13 it speaks about Love. Love believes all things, love hopes all things.  That’s me, I believe in the good of people and hope that around the next corner is a rainbow waiting to be enjoyed!

So, I am like that by nature, but enter in mothering!  Enter in mothering a huge number of people. I pretty much hop out of bed with a good attitude, even when I had a sleepless night because of getting up with a nursing baby or a toddler who had a bad dream.  Each day started more or less happily for me!  But some days it was a real battle to KEEP my joy. Can you relate to me? Sometimes by the time 9:00 am came, I had faced several crisis’, and each one wearing me down just a little bit.  Here is how a typical morning might unfold for a Mom of 11:

  • Wake at 6:00.

  • Lay in bed nursing the baby while I pray for my day. 

  • Usually I was joined by a preschooler who woke up starving and so I had to instill patience and tell them I’ll help them as soon as possible. 

  • Thankfully my wonderful husband was my partner in this dance called parenting. He would walk in the door from his exercise walk and start feeding the troops.  We bought 2 cereals in those days, unsweetened cheerios and corn flakes (generic brand cos that was our budget!)  The kids could top it with home made granola if they like.  Some days I’d have whole wheat muffins, or yogurt, so Todd would get whoever was awake some breakfast. 

  • The baby would be done eating and getting changed, I would begin laundry, and get the older kids awake. 

  • Each morning they had to make their beds, get dressed, tidy the room, and head downstairs for breakfast and get ready for school. 

  • At breakfast there was usually a fight or two to break up. Someone took the other persons favorite bowl. So we talk through sharing and kindness. 

  • And of course, where two or three are gathered someone spills the milk, so clean ups were common.  

  • After breakfast, the clean-up crew jumped in and started dishes, sweeping floors, etc. We had no electric dishwasher for the first 20 years of our marriage, pure manpower going on here! 

  • Getting teeth brushed, toddler on the potty, baby bounced or put in a walker to occupy them, checking rooms to make sure beds are made and room tidy. 

  • Chores were in there as well. When we had chickens they had to be fed, watered, eggs gathered, etc.  For awhile we even had a family cow, so milk had to be strained, etc.  Some mornings, facing dirty chicken eggs to be washed and put in cartons, or overseeing kids doing those things was taxing. 

    • “Please don’t put those eggs with chicken manure on them on the dish towel, we use that for our dishes”

    • “Mom I can’ t find my other barn boot”

    • “Mom she’s wearing my boots”

      Interactions like these were common most days!  

  • Some kids did inside tidying up. Each person would pick a room and it was their job to tidy it up before we started school. (I simply cannot think clearly in extra chaos and mess). I’m not a perfectionist by any means, but basic tidiness is what I’m talking about. 

  • At this point we would begin our school day (even though lots of education had already taken place. i.e. life skills, work ethic training, etc.)  Once again Todd and I made a great team. Todd gave the older kids their assignments, and I took care of the baby, toddler, and early grades kids.  I taught the Kindergarteners and 1st graders phonics and math, and any younger kids who needed help. 

  • Often by 9 am, I have had to deal with so many problems, I was already exhausted from it all.  Quick prayers sent up for grace and strength were common. And God did come and meet me in my need.  When I felt like waves were coming over me with all my responsibilities, feeling like my head was barely above water, I would cry out to God and He definitely came to me.  It didn’t take away my duties and responsibilities, but just knowing He had called me to this calling of motherhood and that He was with me, got me through many days.

Motherhood is a sanctifying pathway. 1 Timothy 2:15 says, “Nevertheless she will be saved in childbearing if they continue in faith, love, holiness, with self control.” Did you ever wonder what that means?  I won’t go into a major exposition of the text, but it certainly doesn’t mean that the process of pregnancy and childbirth will save you.  But I do believe that in part what Paul is saying is that the role of mother is a self-sacrificing journey. It includes dying to self, giving up your rights, sacrificing your body for another.  Yep that about sums up mothering!

It amazes me to hear women say they would never nurse a baby because it would make their breasts sag.  When I look at my varicose veins and stretchmarks, they are brandmarks of motherhood, I earned each of those, and I would do it again in a heartbeat to be able to birth eternal souls into this world.  Jesus said those who want to save their life must lose it for my sake.  That is what motherhood does, whether you have 1 child or a dozen, you will learn the pathway of sacrifice and dying to self. 

Sorry to side track, back to the point of the story.

One day in particular, it had been a tough day. Too many fights to break up, not enough of my school goals getting accomplished, too much raising my voice to the kids.  All my failures facing me straight in the eyeballs.  I was washing dishes at the kitchen sink, feeling overwhelmed and Todd walked in. 

Before I barely said hello to him, I was going into a tirade about all the difficulties of the day.  I dumped all my overwhelm on him.  In the meantime, he had been at the church having meetings, studying sermons, solving church issues, concerned about our bills and how to feed all these mouths on one income.  And here I was griping to him about my day.  He looked at me in a very calm and gentle voice and said “I wish I could come home to a happy wife”. 

That’s all he said, it wasn’t mean spirited, but it was pointed.  The Holy Spirit came to me in that moment and gave me a wake-up call!  Its as though the Lord said to me, what he’s wanting isn’t too much to ask for.  When I stopped to think of it, I had been given a great life.  I was a stay at home mom with 10 (at that time only 10) healthy children. We had a lovely home at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains in a gorgeous area of the country. We had all that we needed and God had richly provided for us in more ways than I could count. 

From that day on I decided to be a happy wife. I believe our attitude is a choice. I decided that when my husband walked in the door after work, he was going to be greeted by a cheerful woman.  Yes, there would be time to tell him about my day, and for him to encourage me in the times of difficulty and frustration. ( This man is my biggest fan by the way. He adores me and respects me more than any man has respected a woman, and I mean that.  Todd is the most self-sacrificing husband and father I have EVER met.) But the lesson I came away with was to cheerfully greet him when he walked in the door. The cool thing about being a team together raising our big family, is that he was excited to see the kids and I and hear about all the activities of the day. He was a very engaged father and husband and he was my best encourager and counsellor when it comes to all things parenting.   

That lesson that day has carried me through the years since then.  So, my encouragement to you Mama’s, no matter how many arrows you are raising, and no matter how difficult the path may be, try to be joyful when he walks in the door.  A smile and a hug will go far in your marriage. Remember it’s the small things in life that make a huge difference in the long run!  God bless you as you serve our Savior!