Who I am and who I want to be

Ten minutes before we were supposed to head out with some friends for trick-or-treating, I was arguing with our 4-year-old daughter over shoes. And trying to coerce our almost-3-year-old son to pick up a mess he’d made in the living room. I was seconds from throwing my hands up and canceling the whole trip because I was overwhelmed, stressed and out of control.

Turns out we all left the house wearing appropriate clothing, the living room wasn’t a disaster and we had a great time.

As we strolled the neighborhood with our kids, us mom friends joked about not having “the mom gene.” The next day I affirmed my lack of “the mom gene” on Facebook after a particularly tough day with the kids.

Mom gene or not, some women just seem born to be mothers. They thrive where others of us merely survive, and motherhood seems extraordinarily kind to them. (Do they even have stretch marks or C-section scars, I wonder?)

Prone to play the comparison game, I examine my life and motherhood in the light of these shining examples. And I feel dull.

I picture myself on the other side of motherhood–oversized (from too much chocolate and stress-induced eating) and overwrought (I can see my frazzled hair and the wild look in my eyes)–not even knowing who I am, feeling like life passed  me by while I was raising my kids (as if life can’t be found in the midst of mothering).

I do not want to be that woman. She’s resigned. And bitter. Lost. And unlovely in all ways. She’s given everything for everyone else and has nothing left for herself.

And I know that the choice to be or not to be resides in the now. Will I make the choices that lead me down the path of resentment or face the uphill climb against what I feel toward the mountain of contentment?

Because let me tell you, contentment, though it sounds easy, is far from it.

Content to wipe rear ends and clean the bathroom and say “no” for the hundredth time and answer the millionth question? I’m not that there yet.

Emotions and circumstances conspired against me this week to give me a foul mood. Or maybe I just used those as excuses for being cranky. Life will never be perfectly perfect and even if it was, I’m sure I could find something amiss. (I’ve been “blessed” with a critical spirit. Lucky me.)

So I must submit to this training ground, this life that cannot be exchanged like an unwanted Christmas gift, and trust that the pruning of all things self isn’t going to kill me and leave me useless and unfruitful but will sever that which drains the Life out of me and will make me more fruitful.

© Dan Wallace | Dreamstime.com

Perhaps those moms with the mom gene learned these lessons long ago or have submitted to them earlier or have less to learn in this area. I try not to envy their lives because I don’t see the whole picture, but some days, I long for greener grass. Mary DeMuth in her book Everything reminded me this week that greener pastures lies not in a change of location but in a deeper devotion. She says:

We live in a culture of comparison. We tend to measure our growth not against ourselves but against those folks around us. We see a champion of the faith and feel small. We see a struggling pilgrim, and we amplify ourselves. We forget that growth is a dynamic relationship between us and our Savior. … We have to cooperate with the Holy Spirit in our lives if we want to thrive. Simply put, the grass isn’t greener on your friend’s property; it’s greener where you water it.

© Winterberg | Dreamstime.com

I’m not much of a gardener either, but I know the importance of water. And spiritually speaking, Living Water is the only cure for what ails me.

And I am a thirsty soul.

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