Dear Struggling Mama

Dear Struggling Mama,

I see you. Yes, you, the one hiding in the bathroom with her head in her hands. I know you just endured 40 minutes in mama hell as your little one had (yet another) homework meltdown. I heard her screaming and crying and saw her face turn tomato red as she released her frustration with clenched fists and kicking feet. I felt your frustration as you tried to explain the assignment to her (in between her gulps for air) and give examples of how to answer the questions. I sensed the effort you made to stay calm—count to 10, take deep breaths, and pray—and be sympathetic because you remembered losing your patience last time and how much you regretted it. I know how with each passing minute, your ears began hurting and you just wanted to run away and hide because the situation seemed hopeless. You felt hopeless. Beaten up. Exhausted. Just. Plain. Defeated.

No one ever told you it’d be this hard. How there would be moments, days even, when you didn’t like being a mama. Days when you couldn’t see past the endless crying, the long nights, the sore arms and back from the non-stop carrying, the power struggles with someone half your size, the feeling of having lost yourself. Days when you couldn’t see past your own tears.

I get why your kids say you go to the bathroom a lot ’cause that’s one of the few places you can hide. Even for just a minute to sob and breathe and splash cool water on your red-rimmed eyes. To let yourself fall apart before you need to pull yourself together again. To remove yourself from the situation because it is just that—a situation. An experience to struggle through and to learn from. Because this mamahood journey has a lot of !@#$% hard situations, and there’s still so much to learn about being a good parent.

You didn’t think it’d be so hard to love your kids. But it is. Not because they aren’t lovable (they are so lovable when they’re sleeping!), but because you’re human. You only have so much energy, attention, and patience to give. That’s why you struggle. But remember this: your child is struggling, too.

She is struggling to grow into her own skin. He is struggling to manage his emotions, his fears and frustrations at feeling helpless in this great big world. They are struggling to learn words, facts, and theories. They are struggling to feel accepted, valued, and loved—especially when they are not acting lovable.

And they are looking to you to help them.

Okay, so that’s not what you wanted to hear. But it’s the truth. You play one of the most important roles in your kid’s life. You’re their mama. The one who gets to witness their tantrums and meltdowns. The one who has more gray hair and wrinkles (and a secret stash of chocolate) than the other parent in the house. You are the one whom they trust enough to bare the darkest, scariest and craziest parts of themselves to.

You’re also the one who got a letter slipped through the crack of the bathroom door the day of the 40 minute meltdown. A letter written from the heart of your little one that made you cry and almost made the craziness you endured worth it.

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There are not enough words to describe how hard parenting is. But there are also not enough words to express how humbling, amazing, and fulfilling it is, too.

So don’t give up. Hang in there, mama. You’re doing all right. Someone even thinks you’re the best. 🙂

Yours truly,

A Struggling Mama (on a good day)

P.S. Do yourself a favor, frame this letter and hang it up in the bathroom for the next time (oh, yep, there will be a next time) you find yourself hiding there. And some chocolate, too. 😉

Here’s Adele’s song, “Remedy”, covered by Sara Marathas. These lyrics remind me of being a mom: “When the world seems so cruel and your heart makes you feel like a fool, I promise you will see that I will be, I will be your remedy.”

Who do you trust to bare the darkest, scariest, and craziest parts of yourself to?

_______ is Proof that God Exists

There’s nothing I like more than hearing a new song on the radio that makes me turn up the volume. Recently, a song by Adele did just that. I’ve been listening to the song non-stop and even got my frugal self to buy the whole album because it’s just that good. So good that people watching her YouTube videos have left comments like these:

“My arms are covered in goosebumps.”

“Tears. Literally tears are falling down my face.”

(My favorite) “Adele has me missing a boyfriend who doesn’t even exist.”

These comments are proof that people can’t get enough of a 20 something year old singing songs with the longing and life experiences of a 50 year old. 😉

But the best comment I’ve read about her is this:

“Adele is proof that God exists.”

Whoa.

I think it’s safe to assume (theological arguments aside) that this person recognized something so extraordinary about this artist and her music that he knows there must be Someone extraordinary who gave her this gift.

I feel this way too when I see the vibrant colors of a sunset, the intricate design of a snowflake, and the unique personalities of my munchkins.beach-164288_1280

When I pause to consider how these extraordinary things came to be, I literally shake my head in wonder. I also felt this way recently when I came across an article on Yahoo about a doctor’s battle with cancer.

The story of Dr. Paul Kalanithi could be considered a tragedy; he was a 37 year old successful neurosurgeon at Stanford when he passed away from stage 4 lung cancer (with no history of smoking), leaving a wife and a baby daughter behind. But what struck me about his story was not his professional success or his longing to help people, but his attitude toward life. Such as these quotes from his memoir:

“Shouldn’t terminal illness, then, be the perfect gift to that young man who had wanted to understand death?”

“Life isn’t about avoiding suffering, it’s also about creating meaning.”

You see, this doctor had made it his aim in life to make life meaningful for his patients, his family and himself. And for him to find meaning in his cancer diagnosis as well was – in one simple word – extraordinary.

I couldn’t read the article or listen to his wife’s interview without tearing up. I shared this story with hubby, but could hardly get the words out. The one question on my mind was, “Where do you find people like this?” I was blown away by the fact that someone facing so much pain and hopelessness could be in such a state of acceptance. I’m sure as a doctor (and a Christian), he had already dealt with a lot of life and death issues and struggled with tough questions. But, somehow, out of the struggling came an almost effortless sense of peace and trust.

To a bystander, his attitude doesn’t make sense. But that’s the beautiful part of it. It’s like seeing the impossible and the incomprehensible and knowing that they are true. Like knowing our universe is so incredibly huge, but that it is just a speck compared to the whole expanse of the sky. Or trying to understand the amazingly complicated and intricate ways in which the human body works to keep us alive. And celebrating the fact that goodness can overcome evil.

There really is so much “extraordinary” in and around us that points to Someone extraordinary. I love how God leaves His fingerprints everywhere – in the powerful notes of a song to the profound words of a cancer patient. I’m so thankful for these reminders that beauty, hope and love exist because God exists. We just have to open up our eyes, hearts and minds to recognize it.

Here’s that song by Adele, “When We Were Young”.

How would you fill in the blank: “_________ is proof that God exists.”?