I came across this verse the other day and it was as if my spirit groaned in relief. I think it must be a verse written just for moms. It isn't just a promise that the Lord is caring for my children, but also a promise for how he cares for me. He gently leads those that have young. He gently leads mothers.
In those few words the Lord seems to say to me, Kelsey, mamas have unique needs and I can be trusted to meet them. I will take care of your children and I will be gentle with you.
Sometimes the weight of my responsibility as a mother is too heavy a load. I am so painfully aware of how often I screw things up and how very vulnerable my Little Lamb is. I feel so ill-equipped most of the time. I'm not perfect and never will be. I am constantly confronted with situations for which I don't have a ready response. I often lose my cool. And even when I keep it together and do my very best, sometimes it's still not enough and Lila gets hurt or makes a poor choice and our relationship is damaged.
It's hard enough to swim upstream against my sinful nature and make wise choices and love sacrificially every day. But add in snow days, power outages, stomach bugs, temper-tantrums and the stressful unknowns of adopting a child with special needs and this mama has a hard time coping!
I talked to my best friend the other day and cried about how discouraged I was feeling in my parenting and how my stress was compounded because I was so anxious to create a peaceful home to welcome Faith into. I told her that I had felt under attack in the spiritual sense and was especially battle-weary. She empathized with me and put words to some of my grief: "I worry that my mistakes will keep my kids from knowing God."
When I write it out, it seems so silly. Because who do we think we are? Why do we, as moms, think that our lives are powerful enough to keep our kids away from the ferocious love of their Heavenly Father? But it still is a fear that haunts me.
At the risk of sounding over-spiritual or melodramatic, I believe I - and my motherhood - have been under attack. And while it has peaked recently (I think due to the big changes in our family), I'd be lying if I said this was a new problem. I've been fighting this battle for four years now and I'm worn out.
Four years ago this month, I found out I was pregnant with Lila. And that's when it all began. From the moment a woman becomes pregnant, she is vulnerable to an absurd onslaught of judgement.
From her own mind: Do I drink too many Dr. Peppers? Do I exercise enough? Am I taking the right pre-natal vitamins? Should I get an epidural? How long should I nurse? Should I spank my kids? Should I home school them? Should I stay home or should I work? What if I can't do this? How will I know what to do?
From opinions of others: She shouldn't be eating that deli meat - didn't she read What to Expect When You're Expecting?! I can't believe she's not co-sleeping! I can't believe she IS co-sleeping! I would never have my baby in a hospital! She's crazy to do a home birth! How can she give her baby formula! I can't believe she's still nursing! She's such a push-over. She's too hard on her kids. (By the way, did you notice how many of these are contradicting statements? If I've learned one thing in the three years I've been a mom, it's that no matter how hard you try, someone is always going to find something about your parenting choices to object to.)
From the Enemy: You aren't good enough. You can't be trusted to make good choices for your kids. You're screwing them up. You can't do this. You are selfish. Who do you think you are? Your kids are going to hate you. You yelled at them and now they won't believe you love them. You messed up too big. It's hopeless.
With such harsh accusations and attacks coming at us every day, it's a wonder we moms ever feel capable and confident enough to spread peanut butter on bread much less make decisions about potty training and preschool!
What a comfort to read those words! I imagine our Jesus picking my Lila-girl up in his arms and her head resting on his chest - close to his heart. And then I imagine him offering his arm to me, to lead me gently beside still waters and into green pastures and out of darkness and into the light.
Moms, let me just say, if the Lord our God - who is perfect and good, holy and mighty - says that he will treat us gently, then why do we not treat each other and ourselves the same way?
That's not to say that we don't have responsibilities to lead and train our children well. It's just to remind us that God is not overwhelmed by our ineptitude even if we are. He will carry our children close to his heart whether or not we excel as parents. And what's more, we too will be gently led by our Good Shepherd.
So I have been carrying these words in my heart. I have been reminding myself that God chose ME to be Lila's mom and I hope He has chosen me to be Faith's mom as well. And if He thinks that I'm the best option for them, then I can trust my instincts for my kids. And anyone who disagrees with my parenting choices can take it up with Him.
All I can do is my best and He is trustworthy to fill in the gaps. So I will be gentle with myself, because the Lord, my Shepherd is gentle with me. And I will be gentle with the moms in my life, because I want to be just like my Shepherd.
I made this little 5X7 print as a reminder for myself. I want to offer it as a free printable for you mamas out there. You can right-click the image to save and print it for yourself.
P.S. Here's another post along similar lines. Let's be kind to our kids, to ourselves and to one another, moms.