I don’t know about you, but as a mom, one of my major aims in life is to provide for my kids. I want them to be healthy, happy, and well educated. I want to be able to help them pursue whatever extra-curriculum activities they would like to pursue. I want them to be able to have their teeth straightened and any other medical care they might need. I want them to be able to have good friendships, bikes to ride, family vacations, and trips to the park and the zoo.
Sometimes, however, what actually happens feels less than ideal. Can you relate to any of these?
Homeschooling the kids while working out of the house or caring for a newborn.
An infant with reflux who takes over everyone’s schedule.
Missed activities because of morning sickness.
Missed activities because of a lack of funds.
Mom or Dad lives with a chronic illness.
An elderly family member requires care.
We’re actually in one of these situations right now. I’m not ready to blog all the details yet because this situation is still unfolding, but to make a long story short, baby Janie (3.5 months) was born with a lip tie and a posterior tongue tie and had difficulty nursing. In fact, she also had difficulty drinking out of a bottle. She has had the tongue tie fixed and now does pretty well on the bottle, but she is still what I call an “extreme snacker” who prefers to eat small meals all day long. She rarely sits down and takes a full feeding. I’m doing a combination of nursing and pumping for her, which is very time consuming. Her schedule is all over the place, and it’s difficult to get out of the house. She also is intolerant of dairy, soy, and nuts, so I’m on a special diet that requires more cooking from scratch.
Added to the backdrop of all of that is a lot of instability and uncertainty at my husband’s job as the company goes through major restructuring.
I had figured that adding baby #5 would be, “Oh, what’s one more?” I figured I would be able to easily add a newborn to the mix – after all, I was already used to crazy with four boys! I was fairly confident in my ability to handle it all. Well, Janie has been a challenge. Worth it all, but a challenge. And I have struggled with “mom guilt.”
My oldest is 11. He is at a stage of life where he needs to get out of the house more. He needs more going on, and I can’t provide that. My younger boys also need to stay busy. But we can’t often head to the park or stroll around the pet store or even make it to the library on a regular basis. Owen missed VBS this year because he was not old enough to go unless I signed up to help, and there was no way I could do that. We have gone swimming exactly ZERO times this summer.
I’m calling it mom guilt, but if I’m honest, it’s not really Biblical guilt.
God has given us a conscience for our good. We should feel guilty when we are doing the wrong thing. When we feel guilty, it should be a warning sign to evaluate what we are doing in light of God’s Word and to confess things that are sin and turn away from them.
But God has never asked us to feel guilty over things we can’t control.
I can’t make Janie’s mouth function the way it is supposed to. I can’t make Janie eat faster. I can’t make Janie take decent naps. I have only limited control over being able to pump a certain number of ounces of milk.
So what’s the real issue here?
I’m not in control.
So if I have a problem with what is going on in my life, I actually have a problem with what God is doing. There are names for this, and none of them are pretty.
Worry. Anxiety. Fear. Discontentment. Lack of trust…
What if my children do not learn what they should this year because I’m too busy feeding Janie?
What if I have to put Janie on formula and she gets sick more often without the immunities from my milk?
How am I going to keep up with the laundry, cooking, baby, homeschooling, cleaning…?
Why didn’t God give us an “easy” baby? Doesn’t He know we have five?
Unproductive patterns of thinking can easily take over. Scripture gives us replacement thoughts for worry!
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.
And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son,”
Just as a father has compassion on his children,
So the LORD has compassion on those who fear Him.
For He Himself knows our frame;
He is mindful that we are but dust.
As for man, his days are like grass;
As a flower of the field, so he flourishes.
When the wind has passed over it, it is no more,
And its place acknowledges it no longer.
But the lovingkindness of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him,
And His righteousness to children’s children,
And here’s the thing. This is quite possibly the most important part. If these verses are true for me, are they not true for my children as well? If God is allowing a trial into my life that affects my children, is it not for their good as well as for mine?
Maybe they will be more patient and compassionate as a result of Janie’s difficulties. Maybe God will use this to help them see that life is not all about them and their happiness. I can only see a tiny part of His plan – I don’t know what all He is doing. But I do know that God is not shortchanging them in any way by the fact that we have to be mostly at home right now or that they have to wait for my attention.
I have also found that when I am willing to trust God’s design for our family, including the trials He allows, I am better able to problem-solve with the things that are under my control and make the most of whatever we are facing. I can approach the situation with a positive attitude, knowing that God has promised to give me the wisdom to navigate each day with my children. There are many things that we can’t do right now, but there are also plenty of things that we can do.
My kids are still young, so I really don’t know what they will remember from this time. They might remember this as the summer where we never went swimming, but I hope not. Hopefully they will remember this:
Every time I look at this photo, it reminds me of God’s beautiful design for our family. I don’t know how exactly He is using these trials in the lives of our boys, but I know that His character is only good. And that is enough.
Moms, I don’t know what your family is facing, but can I encourage you not to live in fear of what you can’t control? Trust the One who is working all things together for good for each member of your family!