The day started with kids threatening me to do things their way, tears, cooking the breakfast that no one wanted and I cut someone’s strawberries instead of leaving them whole. It was a morning where 5pm seemed an eternity away and it felt like I would snap if one more kid screamed at me; as if I was a China tea cup delicately balanced on a ledge and even the utterance of my name would send me crashing to the floor. I took a deep breath, I sent the screaming child to his room for some quiet time, poured a bowl of cereal to occupy the other two and quickly checked my to-do list. I had to prioritize my desire to sink into my Instagram feed and pretend like life was beautiful, tidy and happy. I needed a moment to think clearly, to remember the truth of what the day was about, what the next minute was about and make a choice about what was actually needed. I wanted my idea of a perfect breakfast: three happy, grateful children eating and talking to me in quiet voices about the silly things that popped in their head finished with hot coffee and me reading them books while they ate. They wanted the exact breakfast they had dreamed up, a mom who remembered that they always eat their strawberries whole and didn’t mind cooking breakfast three different ways. I felt mad for not getting what I wanted, disappointed that the morning didn’t start slower. They felt the same. The priority wasn't me folding laundry, or completing our home school checklist for the day. The priority was battling the emotions reigning in our house. Teaching self-control to three little people who have strong reactions of anger to things other than their own way and mirroring it to them. Reminding myself to practice patience, react with truth and embrace the role God has given me to mother kids who are messy, emotional, imaginative, wild, and curious instead of something more glamorous (and quiet) I created in my imagination. Does anyone else find motherhood difficult? Most days I feel like I’m battling myself. I’m impatient, annoyed, controlling and lack joy. I’m fighting to decide when to say yes and how to say no. some days it comes so easy and naturally but are those days when there is less whining and arguing? Days like today feel insurmountable in my own head and heart.
Those days I want to be able to do it all while keeping my cool. I want to be the woman who patiently cooks three different breakfasts for her children because in my mind a mother loves to be a short order cook making eggs and smoothies three different ways all while drinking her freshly made hot latte with homemade vanilla syrup! I want to be able to teach my six year old to read, paint rainbows with my four year old and be attentive to the two year old “washing dishes” in the kitchen sink all while making my meal plan. It is easy to dream up beauty, to imagine “perfection” and Satan convinces us everyone else lives that way. One of his best tools for so many of us is that idea that someone else has it easier or prettier than we do. It leaves me feeling alone and incapable on those dark mornings in my cold kitchen with three sleepy, hungry kids and one sleepy, hungry me. These pictures of beauty convince me that I should me doing more and if I was then we would live that way too. If I just was better at arranging my schedule than I would be able to make time to decide what to hang art on our walls and I would be a better homemaker. If I was more creative I would have an Etsy site and we would have play money for date night babysitters and then we would be more in love. If I used loving words with my kids I would enjoy them more and then I would be a great mom. If I was more organized with cleaning the house I would have more time to play with our kids and I would be patient. If I read the news more I would be more educated on current events and then people would think I was more than “a stay at home mom”. The lies are so believable when I am overwhelmed, when the joyous sound of three kids playing is just noise, when I am tired, when the house is a wreck. They are so believable when I have spent ten years ignoring the lies instead of fighting them. Pretending that I don’t hear them. Acting as if they have no effect on me. The lies don’t stop when we ignore them, they change shape sometimes, they find a new target, they get louder. The Bible defines Satan as the Father of lies.
When my children ask for more maple syrup on their already drenched pancakes and then throw a screaming, fist clenched fit in the middle of the kitchen I do not see a child throwing a temper tantrum because they didn’t get what they want. That would be the logical thing to see. It would be the more accurate thing to see. What I see instead, what I hear instead is “I am an awful mom because I have a child who is yelling at me. Yelling at me because I am mean for not giving him what he wants. Because I don’t give him what he wants he doesn’t love me. He doesn’t love me and so he is screaming at me and will continue to do so all day long because I am not loved. I am not respected. I am not valued. I do not matter.” Oh, what a terrifying thing that Satan knows exactly where to get us. He knows exactly what lies we will believe and he knows when we are weak so he can slip in and speak.
“He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” John 8:44
As a father he is the creator of lies. He is their beginning. I don’t invent them in my head and then Satan takes them and continues speaking them to me. He invented them and whispers them to us over and over again until we believe them. He spins webs of lies using other people’s opinion, our assumptions, our reactions and our sin to reinforce the lies we are believing. They are a rope he binds us up with. We can’t ignore the rope, that won’t make it go away.