Overwhelmed and under qualified.
That’s how I feel many times when I survey the things that fill my plate. Actually, I should say plates, because on any given day there are a number of plates that I juggle to keep from crashing down. Remember the circus trick where a clown would take a stack of plates and spin each plate individually on the tops of thin poles? The clown would run back and forth to spin each plate to keep it from falling off and would somehow manage to keep them all going for a while. Then, slowly, one or two plates would start wobbling before he could get back to them. Before long, one would crash. Then another. Followed by another.
There’s nothing good about having plates crashing down around you, but at least in the circus act, the plates are all empty. In real life, there are usually far more things on top of the plates than there are plates. And, when one of our plates falls down in real life, it can get really messy.
As I struggle to juggle the plates of ministry, marriage and motherhood, not only do I find myself trying to keep the plates from falling, but I end up scrambling to keep what’s piled on top of each plate from falling, too. Sometimes I think it’s a juggling act that should only be attempted by a trained professional and should not be attempted at home! But, try at home we must, because such is the substance of home life for many of us today.
At times, I actually experience a measure of success with the juggling act. And, just like the circus clown, I occasionally get applause for how well I keep all of the plates spinning! Yet, I still tend to feel overwhelmed at trying to consistently spend quality time with God, quality time with my husband, quality time with both of my children, do quality ministry and invest in the quality of my own physical, spiritual and emotional well-being.
It’s easy to identify and list out my priorities on a sheet of paper and make a mental commitment to them. But it’s much harder to actually live out each one because each is far more complex than words can convey. This is especially true with regard to quality time with my children. Quite frankly, I don’t know how anyone handles more than two children. My hats (all of them!) are off to all mothers who have raised three or more children. You are modern-day miracle workers in my book!
I have “only” two children, but each child requires 100% of a mom. Just because there are two of them it doesn’t mean I can divide what they get from me in half. No. Each child requires the same quality and quantity of nurturing and rearing they would receive if they were my only child. Again, that means 100% for each child, and remember we are only talking about the “mom” hat. That 100% of me (times two) doesn’t even include the wife, ministry, or self-care hats.
My children are 12 and 9 years old. Anyone who has raised children knows exactly what I’m dealing with right now—Endless questions (“Why do we have daylight savings time?”, “Why do we have punishment when we do wrong?”, “How does this thing work?”, “How come this thing doesn’t work?”, “Are we there yet?”); Puberty (Too deep, and too grossly humorous to begin to get into in this forum!); Competition/rivalry (Over EVERYthing from how many pages they can read per day, to how much they can milk a minor injury to get mom’s attention, to how many bubbles one has in their bathwater versus the other. It’s endless, I tell you! Endless!); Growth spurts (Can you say, clothes that fit one week and are two sizes too small the next?); Chore-dodging (I’m beginning to think it’s a real sport. You should hear some of the incredible ways my children try to legitimize why they didn’t get something done); Chauffeuring to: music lessons; youth ministry activities; community service activities; after school programs; sports activities like Tae Kwon Do, baseball games, basketball games and golf tournaments; school musicals—with months of early morning practices; birthday parties; sleepovers; doctors visits; emergency room visits, and other things I know I’m forgetting (or perhaps trying to forget).
Keep in mind, this is only a fraction of the entire list of motherly responsibilities. In fact, I got overwhelmed just thinking about and writing about that portion, which is partly why I stopped the list where I did!
Thanks be to God with a load that often overwhelms me and leaves me feeling under qualified to handle, God’s Holy Spirit reminds me that I am an overcomer because I am under the blood of Jesus Christ. Truly, I CAN do all things through Him who gives me strength, because there is no earthly way I could get all of that done and have enough sanity to even write about it, nonetheless live it day by day and still have enough joy to exhort others.
I definitely have supernatural help—that which is above the natural—because at least one of those plates should have crashed by now. Who am I kidding? All of the plates would have crashed long ago if it weren’t for the Lord putting people around me like a gentleman from our church who generously fills in the gap and makes sure my son gets to his sports practices and games when I or my husband simply cannot do it. I thank God for my mother and my in-laws who realize that the kids are more in need of clothes for Christmas and birthdays than toys, plus they have as much fun playing with (and fighting over) the bubble wrap and large boxes and constructing things out of them as they do with “real” toys, anyway. I thank God for a church family where my kids can get supplemental “home training” from church family members who readily keep the children for us whenever needed and treat them as one of their own. I thank God for wonderful extended family members, Godmothers, Goddaughters, and incredible sister-friends who pray with me and for me and challenge me to answer tough questions like, “How are you really doing?” and bless me with things like beach trips where I can retreat into the arms of Jesus to make sure I’m really doing alright.
I also thank God that when the mommy hat starts squeezing too tight, He reminds me that even if I can’t physically retreat, I can seek refuge in His Word and find an oasis right here at home. Spending even a few minutes a day reading and praying God’s Word truly helps to adjust my vision and enables me to see life through divine lenses.
When I see life as God sees it, I see my daily cares and concerns shrink in comparison to the blessings I have now and those in store for me in glory. When I see life as God sees it, I am humbled by the thought that He chose me to be the mother of two of the most beautiful, talented and lovable children in the world who are worth every sacrifice and investment put into them. When I see life as God sees it, I see a loving husband who loves to surprise me by whisking me away from the kitchen to a restaurant so someone else can do the menu planning, cooking, serving and cleaning up. When I see life as God sees it, I remember that the two young children I see before me now–the ones who, at ages 9 and 12 still love to climb up on my lap and cling to my neck–are growing up quickly. When I step back, take a deep breath and really survey my situation, I realize that one day, before I know it, my little sprouts will grow up and ….cook, serve and chauffer me!