Every once in awhile, somebody who (obviously) doesn’t know me very well, who reads my blog, for some delusional reason, thinks I have it all together.
They may even go on to say that I’m some sort of Super Mom because I can even find time to blog with 3 little ones — or because I have a child with special needs or because I have such fantastic hair.
Well, I was born that way I can’t help it.
Except for the hair.
But seriously. You know the old saying — “pastors write the sermons they need to hear.” Well, bloggers often do the same. I look to my own words for just as much encouragement as anyone. They are documentations of well-learned lessons and a reminder of how strong I am when I forget — because face it, as parents, sometimes we surprise ourselves with how weak we can feel. Or at least I do. I mean, these bite-size people are capable of a good butt kicking.
And it’s a funny thing. Back in the day, when I was a gym-rat 20-something, I thought I knew it all, had it all together, and — because I had just done a bunch of reps with some 8-pound free-weights — I felt oh-so-very strong. Well, yeah, so does pasta until the heat turns on.
But what I’ve come to learn in a most profound way is that real strength is in weakness. Sounds funny, I know.
This is where my Faith has grown so much as a mother. The 24-7 responsibility of caring for three completely dependent creatures that you love more than life itself can be, at times, overwhelming. Too many of us mamas live in self-doubt, worry, or wonder if we’re doing things right — if we’re good enough — if we can be all that we’re meant to be to everyone who needs us.
But ah, there’s the rub as Shakespeare said.
What I’ve learned is that when others need me most, I need God most.
For my readers of different faiths or no faith — this is not necessarily a topic of religion. The simple truth is, we weren’t made to go it alone. And luckily, as a mom, I don’t have to. That weight-lifting Lauren was a stiff stick of pasta — unexposed to a boiling point. But baby-lifting Lauren is limp as a noodle — surrendering in the water of God’s grace and knowing that, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
My prayer since I have become a wife, and now a mother, is to be the best wife and mother I could be. When life grew more challenging — more demands, a Down syndrome diagnosis, times of discouragement — I thought: is this supposed to make me the strong wife and mom that I’m called to be?
What I’ve realized is the things that make me feel weak are precisely what strengthen me.
One of my favorite quotes from Mother Teresa is:
“If you are discouraged it is a sign of pride because it shows you trust in your own power. Your self-sufficiency, your selfishness and your intellectual pride will inhibit His coming to live in your heart because God cannot fill what is already full. It is as simple as that.”
And isn’t it true. When I find myself discouraged, I realize it’s because I’m looking to the wrong source of strength — myself.
One of my favorite articles is from the lovely Catholic writer, Danielle Bean, who reflected on her own adventures in mothering in her inspired article, I’m No Super Mom. I agree with her sentiments exactly.
She ends her story:
I am a mother of eight, but it’s not because I am Super Mom. It’s not because I was born with some rare gift that makes me capable of mothering a large family.
It’s because this family God has seen fit to give me has shaped and changed me into the person I am today. It’s because God sends challenges and then follows up those challenges with the graces you need to get through them. Always.
I can live this imperfect life with eight imperfect children, not because I am awesome, but because God is.
And that’s what I like to tell young mothers who sometimes send me anxious e-mails or gasp when they bump into me on the sidelines of little league baseball practice.
“Eight kids!” they always marvel, “I could never do that.”
I know just what they mean. I couldn’t do it either. Until, with God’s help, I did.