I recently received an email from a mother who had spent time reading Surviving Motherhood. She was incredibly frustrated with the struggles she's having with her two children and she wanted to know, "Where is God at 2 a.m.?" She is a Christian woman but she couldn't help wondering - when she's up with a crying baby again, how can God be helping her then??? As I was responding to her, I realized there are probably other moms who need to be encouraged with these words, too. So, in part, here is what I said to her:
I remember disagreeing with people who said, "God understands everything you're going through," because Jesus was never a mom. I thought, "How can He understand me? He never had to get up with a baby in the middle of the night. He never had to deal with inconsolable toddlers. HE wasn't a mom!" At the same time, I remember being angry with myself because I was frustrated with my kids. I thought, if I was a "good mom" I would be able to handle all their stuff. Even though I was tired and burnt out, somehow I thought I should be able to be like Mary Poppins - practically perfect in every way. *eye roll* I could echo your words. "I am exhausted - I am done." I went through lots of tears. Lots of questioning God. Even wondering if He made a mistake by giving me children. I finally found myself on my knees crying out to Him, "I CAN'T DO THIS!!!" And then it was as if God said to me, "That's right! You understand!" For so long I had been trying to mother in my own (lack of!) strength. I thought I needed to be perfect and I tried and tried to get there. Along the way I became angry, tired, frustrated and irritable. I yelled, I stomped, and I slammed things. I resented my kids for having needs. And I longed for the day when they would be grown up and we could all be DONE. But at that point of "I CAN'T DO THIS!!!" and through the counsel of a godly friend, I began to discover what it meant for God to be with me - even in the middle of frustration. When it was no longer easy to say "God is always with you, He helps us in our weaknesses" (like it was before having kids), God showed me I could trust Him in the hard times, too. Granted, He never showed up in physical form and took care of my kids and their needs (Oh, I wish!!!) but He strengthened my heart and carried me through each moment.I wanted to share honestly with this mother and let her know she wasn't alone in her struggles. I wanted to offer her the hope I have in a God who strengthens and carries us through our trials. But she had more good questions, and maybe you do, too. Tomorrow I'll share the rest of our interaction.