Friday, February 4, 2011

When Hope Hides in the Laundry

"I just wanted to be a good mom today. That was my whole goal," she told me as she collapsed onto my sofa. "The house is a wreck. I haven't got the energy to go grocery shopping. My husband is mad at me. I didn't know what else to do so here we are. I'm so sorry. I haven't even had a shower and I smell like baby puke."

I settled the children with toys in the bedroom, promising blueberry pancakes for lunch and a movie later if they would play quietly for awhile. I sat down in my rocker with the cranky baby settled in my lap and waited while the young mother shook with sobs.

"I'm a bad mom. I yell at my kids. And I'm so tired that I can't even think straight." Tears continued to spill down her cheeks, but she took a deep breath and with shaking fingers she took a sip of the tea I had given her. "Please tell me you know what to do."

Sound familiar? Every young mother has dark days. Hope gets lost in the dirty laundry pile. Joy bleeds out during sleepless nights. Even love gets a little shaky and hard to hold steadfast.

Failing the little ones whom God has placed in your tender care is a heavy burden. The utter helplessness of children, their vulnerability and their needs overwhelm a woman. Bad tempers, impatience and discouragement are not welcome companions, but they can be difficult to get rid of when they move in and take over your home.

It's never too late to be the mom you want to become. God's infinite patience and goodness can fill you up and give you enough grace to try again. Children are quick to forgive and offer second chances. Help is available for whatever problems there are in your life. Anne Lamott said, "Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work. You don't give up." I agree with her, but I would add that we don't have to wait and watch and work alone. God is able to provide encouragement when we ask for it. An older woman can help you become the mom you're trying to be. She's had those same dark days and will know what to do.

Sometimes it's as easy as a cup of tea, blueberry pancakes and rocking a baby to sleep. Other times housekeeping lessons or packing up all your laundry and taking it home with her to do is necessary. Maybe she could help by bringing you a meal or babysitting for awhile. Certainly she can pray with you and establish some hope. Tell her you need her. Tell her. She'll understand.

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