A Mother’s Strength

a Mother’s Day article

(originally written for Fountain of Life magazine)

It was the only time I ever called a radio station. At least so far. Who knows, maybe tomorrow another desperate situation will arise. That time, I was a young mother, and the talk show topic was how to keep your preschoolers busy and out of trouble. I called. And pleaded…

“What do you do with a three-year-old, a two-year-old, and two three-week-old twins?”

The radio host’s response? “Uhh, could you say that again?”

It had been a rough day. The first day I’d been alone with four of my offspring.

My husband was back at work, the relatives and friends had all gone home, and I was on my own—way out-numbered kids to arms.

So far, in just a few hours, my older two preschoolers had

colored the floor tiles with permanent markers,

cut up a hand-knitted keepsake baby blanket,

spilled two liters of CocaCola across the kitchen (so now our shoes schlup, schlupped with every step),

and finally—while I took a desperate two minutes in the washroom—carried my 21-day-old twins across the house… from the bedroom to the front door… by their heads! Chubby toddler hands on either side of infant heads pressed over infant ears, tiny infant legs dangling down between straddled toddling legs.

Get the picture?

Now, looking back, I wish I DID have a picture of it. In fact, looking back, I can laugh.

Then?

I wasn’t laughing.

As my eyes met imminent disaster, all I could do was gasp a hoarse “No!” and rush gently to reach the foursome, hoping frantically that my fear didn’t cause my tiny girls to drop my tinier babies.

And WHY did my older two decide to carry their infant siblings by their heads? “They were crying, so we decided they needed to go outside.”

It had been a rough day!

While I thankfully never had another day with quite that series of unfortunate events, it would not be the last of my rough mommy days.

One started with a fun playdate with friends—and ended in the Emergency Room after my 15-month-old toppled down said-friends’ 15-step stairs. All the way down, from top to bottom.

I leapt over a couch to catch her just before she hit the landing. But not long after, she started throwing up from a concussion. Several hours, tests and IVs later in the hospital, she started to perk up.

A nurse walked in. “Ah, our little patient looks so much better–And so does her mommy!”

There were the days when I messed up:

like when I forgot to bring birthday treats to school for my twins. It was a super-hot day, and the twins were so excited. They told their classmates I was bringing popsicles. Then their classmates were so excited. Fifty-some kids ecstatically waiting.

And I forgot to bring them.

Or when I neglected to confirm the date of “pajama day” with my daughter’s kindergarten teacher and sent her in pajamas on the wrong day.

Or the day I tried to stop my child from spilling her little drink and accidentally dumped my large ice cold soda all over her.

All “Mother of the Year” moments.

NOT!

Face it. Mothering can be hard.

But there are also those wonderfully sweet moments.

When your children—all on their own—paint wooden hearts with sweet sayings about mommies.

When they realize you’ve had a rough day at work and text, “I love you, Mom.”

When you realize all those nights you kept finding them staying up past their bedtimes, they were really sewing you a very special quilt.

When your son, now tall enough to tower over you, bends down for you to kiss the top of his head.

When you hear one of them counseling the other with the very words you’ve said a hundred times but always thought they weren’t listening…

And especially, when working with your children’s weaknesses reminds you of how graciously, wisely, and mercifully your Father in heaven works with you.

Mothering can be hard! [No, these aren't actually my kids...but they could have been!]
Mothering can be hard!
[No, these aren’t actually my kids…but they could have been!]

No, mothering is not for the weak. But it’s not MY strength I have to depend on.

It’s His.

The One who formed these very children in the womb. Who knew their innermost parts even before the creation of the world. Who loved them enough to die for them.

Who reminds me, “Keep your eyes on Me as they keep their eyes on you.”

What does that look like when my arms are just too tired to hold the days piling up?

  • 1 Samuel 30 describes it as inquiring of the Lord, taking your weeping to the Lord, accepting the work God has entrusted to you–whether that means going out to fight or staying with the baggage.
  • And Isaiah 34:16: Seek the Lord’s book. Read it!
  • Ezekiel 34:15: Let Him feed you. Give you rest. Strengthen you when you’re sick. Bind your broken parts.
  • Then? Luke 22:32: Strengthen others: in the case of mothering, that means your kids…and other mothers.

Because tomorrow, when those desperate situations arise –like you feel like someone’s carrying you by YOUR head—calling a talk show may give some great advice.

But real help—lasting help and strength—comes from the Lord.

His steadfastness, His patience.
According to His glorious might (Col. 1:11)…
through His Spirit in the inner man (Ephesians 3:16)…
because He prays for you (Luke 12:31).

So when you fail—or when they do—turn back to Him.

And listen for His still small voice that whispers softly to your tired heart:

“Turn them to look at Me. Because, while you aren’t perfect, I AM.”

 
Exodus 3:14-16 “God said to Moses, I AM WHO I AM” … This is My name forever to all generations … I am indeed concerned about you…”

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10 thoughts on “A Mother’s Strength”

  1. Hala Daghfal

    Praise the Lord for the wonderful insight and ability of expression that He has given you. I love your writing. Please continue to do so. Thank you for taking the time to help us enjoy master pieces like this one and the others before.

  2. Amily Cabelaris

    Hi Elizabeth! I found this post because I reverse-image searched a picture that’s been hanging in my grandma’s bathroom all my life, and I wanted to know where it came from. The one of the babies in the bathroom, surrounded by toilet paper. Where did you take it from, if you dont mind me asking?

    1. I’m so glad you reached out, Amily. It’s actually hanging in my bathroom as well, so the photo in the post is a snapshot of my bathroom wall. I wish I could tell you who the original photographer was. If you click on the picture itself, it should have a note to the photographer saying I would love to give him/her credit if someone would me tell who the person is. I bought the picture as an “easy poster wall hanging” from Walmart 20-some years ago. It makes me laugh every time I see it— but I have to admit some days it was all too real. If you find out who the photographer is, please let me know.

  3. You’ve definitely caught the disaster Mommy moments, and I can relate to each of them. I’m so glad that–despite the craziness–I kept a journal, because I not only recorded the chaos, but the sweet moments woven in like little narrow ribbons of serendipity that helped me keep me together. I might have forgotten them if I hadn’t written them down.

    Sometimes, the daily grind was so consuming that there was no time to even think about sitting down with scripture–unless I was reading it to the kids. But the Lord provided the friendship of fellow moms so we could swap our kids and take breaks from time to time. God loved me through the hands and feet of others during that time.

    1. I totally agree. Those friendships–knowing you weren’t the only one struggling! I don’t know what I would have done without those moms. And yes, sometimes the only time I managed to spend in scripture was a few verses a week and a lot of “please help me, Lord,” prayers–because somehow those kids knew exactly when I’d sit down to read. Your journal sounds like such a sweet thing to have for the memories–and proof that you all survived 🙂

  4. hala daghfal

    I wish that every mother in the world would read this. I raised eight kids and I attest to the fact that there is no perfect Mom. I also attest that the Lord Jesus is the One Whom a mother needs and should lean on. He will protect He will give wisdom, He will save.
    Thank you Elizabeth for writing these articles. They are so beautiful.

    1. Thank you! And Amen 🙂 Your words remind me of that great hymn, “Leaning on the Everylasting Arms.” He’s there when you need strength. There when you need a good cry. And there when you want to sing, “Hallelujah!”

  5. Linda Karpinski

    Happy Mother’s Day! God’s Blessings on you & your family!

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