I just spent all day potty training an emotional two year old.
Potty training. Two year old. Emotions.
My child apparently couldn't decide if the potty was going to eat her, or if it was her best friend. We just never knew. The tears and squeals were dynamic and unpredictable.
Her brother decided that he would try and go to the potty "like a big boy." Which means he stood up, and sprayed down half of my dining room as he attempted to hit the little training potty. This is my kid who is already "potty trained."
I should have created a Lysol stock portfolio. I would have made some money today.
I'm pretty sure my current sweatpants (yes, I wore massive sweatpants and a baggy sweatshirt all day. I look amazing.), I'm fairly confident they have large amount of urine on them.
On top of this, my children chose to grab, push, scream, poke, squeal, and push boundaries all day. All day.
They went to bed early.
I probably will, too.
But I love being a mom.
I enjoy it. It is amazing.
When I say that, I've started to worry about what people are thinking. Our mommy culture is not conducive to thankfulness and excitement. Mommy culture feeds off of discontent, comparison (hello, the thief of joy), and "hard days." It's almost like, if you're a mom with a pretty Instagram feed and an excitement about your mommy challenges... well, then you must be faking. Stop being perfectionistic. Be transparent. Be real. Show me your mess so I can feel better about mine. Compare. Complain. Criticize.
I'm sitting here in questionable sweatpants telling you... that is not okay.
Being a mom is a beautiful, amazing, gospel-fulfilling, joyous calling.
You realize that you did not choose to become a mom. God let you become a mom. Some become moms traditionally. Some, not so traditionally. I love the "untraditional mommies." They're some of my favorite people.
From the dawn of time, God's used childbirth and the continuation of Adam's race to promise hope and proclaim his love.
God could have stopped making humans a long time ago. Honestly, even the best of us don't turn out that great. But he still forms small bodies, creates tiny souls, and grows little families.
That is amazing love.
Your life, your kids, the fact that you are dubbed, "mom" is an amazingly joyous blessing. A gospel-furthering blessing.
So, maybe our mommy culture has it backwards?
Maybe the potty puddles, the tantrums, and the dirty kitchens shouldn't break us and make us "real." Maybe these germy, sticky hurdles exist to make us fight for joy. Maybe we've covered cheap, breakable happiness in the veneer of "joy." Maybe that's why our mommy times are filled with hopelessness, bitterness, and comparison. When you step in a questionable puddle, as your children whine for fruit snacks, does the veneer crack? Does the good feeling break? Do despair, anger, frustration, hopelessness... do they come crowding in? Do you hide in the kitchen, stuffing chocolate in your mouth, quietly sobbing to yourself?
Because if that happens, you've exchanged brilliant, diamond-hard joy, for a cheap trinket.
Motherhood is hard.
Um, hello. Obviously.
It's part of life.
Life is hard. Because of sin. And the curse. And the fact that Jesus hasn't come back.
But it's not joyless. It is enjoyable!
I get it. Griping is easier. More fun (in the moment). Everyone likes a good horror story.
But that's not what you're called to.
You are called to joy. I love Nehemiah 8:10. It says, "Do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength." This hope was not spoken into a day of successes and triumph. This was spoken to the children of Israel as they heard the law of the Lord read. As they heard countless laws they had broken, ways they had failed, weaknesses they had ignored. And they began to sob.
Sound like a rough day in mommyhood?
Are you there? Feeling weak, alone, like a failure?
The joy of the Lord is your strength.
I love joy. It's my heart-beat. My passion. My gasoline. What keeps me going. And I've learned, over years of battling for joy, triggers and sign-posts that I've slipped from my path of joy and started beating around in brambles of fake happiness. I've listed several below.
Signs of joyless living:
1. Your prayer life is like a cut-out sugar cookie. Same thing. Every day. Or perhaps something you only use on special occasions.
2. You don't enjoy singing with others on Sunday morning.
3. You criticize other people constantly. Because you know how to do things better. Obviously.
4. You have no sympathy for the pains of others. Or rather, your problems are bigger.
5. Small, earthly blessings, like puddles of sunshine, warm coffee, comfy clothes, a clean kitchen counter, no longer result in a prayer of thanksgiving.
6. You don't read my Bible. Or you read it, close it, and walk away bored.
7. You make excuses for habitual sins. In fact, the old sins, your comfortable bad habits, usually grow a little stronger.
8. Scrolling through Facebook or Instagram or Pinterest doesn't elicit feelings of interest, but rather cattiness, comparison, hopelessness, derision, and scorn.
9. Your husband can't do anything right.
How's your joy tank, friend?
What I'm standing here saying after a brutal mommy day is, "It doesn't have to be like that!" Tough days don't have to crack you. You can sit down, in the midst of chaos and smile, laugh (not from insanity!), and redirect your family to truth. You can. And I'm not saying that because my life is perfect.
I'm saying it because my God made it that way.