We are three months in to my husband working two jobs (one full-time and one part-time), and it has been a difficult stage. We’re not sure when the end of his double employment will be, but hopefully he’ll be down to one job within the next couple of months. Right now, his “extra” job takes him away two evenings a week and then a full shift on Saturday.
Throughout the past three months, I have given a lot of thought to being a happy mom. As I wrote in my post about homeschooling during difficult seasons, the evenings have been tough. We make it through our homeschool day, and then there’s dinner to fix, messes to clean up, laundry to fold, baths to give, and no Daddy to help us get it all done! It’s really easy to fall into the pattern of focusing on all of the tasks that must be done and to just “get through the day” rather than living life with a joyful spirit.
I think that it’s really important to be a joyful mom. Before I had kids, I taught science to groups of homeschoolers. I always had the kids write in journals as a way to wrap up what we had studied that day. One day, we were studying sound and the sense of hearing, and I asked the kids to write about what sounds they liked or didn’t like. One seven year old girl wrote that she liked “the sound of Mommy being happy.” It struck me then, not even having kids yet, how much kids want their moms to be happy!
I have been realizing that being a happy mom involves a balance of two seemingly opposite thoughts.
Thought #1: It is difficult, if not impossible, to be a happy mom when I am exhausted and over-extended.
Our life is already fairly simple (because taking care of four boys is pretty much a full-time job!), but I have had to scale back even more during this time. I have learned that it is better to feed the boys sandwiches for dinner and to remain calm and happy than to cook and clean up a more interesting dinner and be exhausted and short-tempered. If we have errands to run or an event to get ready for, it’s best to just cancel school for the day. When I am under pressure to fit too many things into too little time, the temptation to be grouchy with my kids and their inevitable messes is just too great.
Thought #2: Our happiness is not really about the circumstances, but about who God is.
Ultimately, though, my happiness cannot depend on what is going on in my life. I try to plan for an hour of quiet in the afternoon in which the older two boys do something quiet by themselves while the younger two are napping because that hour of quiet really helps me to re-charge for the rest of the day. However, this doesn’t always happen! It’s good to take the opportunity to rest if I can, but if the baby wakes up screaming halfway through nap time, I can still be joyful and serve this little guy that the Lord has given me.
Our happiness should not depend on our circumstances but on God, who is always good and who is always working things out for our good. Scripture is full of examples of people (many of whom were in very difficult circumstances) joyfully praising God as they meditate on what is true about Him.
I will give thanks to the LORD will all my heart;
I will tell of all Your wonders.
I will be glad and exult in You;
Many are the sorrows of the wicked,
But he who trusts in the LORD,
lovingkindness shall surround him.
Be glad in the LORD and rejoice, you righteous ones;
And shout for joy, all you who are upright in heart.
Dwelling on the difficulties of life is the wrong perspective because God’s lovingkindness surrounds us! He is orchestrating the events of my life for good, not for my ruin, so there’s no reason to approach each day as if it’s drudgery.
I am not writing about being a happy mom because I have succeeding in becoming one. Rather, I am writing this post because I believe that becoming a happy mom is worth pursuing. God’s grace is enough for all of the challenges we face, and we can trust Him with a joyful heart!