When the Milkshake Runs Low.

When your day starts out with zebra footie pajamas paired tastefully with goggles, you know it is shaping up to be a good one. Poor picture quality is simply a result of the passion with which this moment was lived. We don’t slow down for photos. We keep the zebra blood pumping around here.

Have you ever noticed that when there is more than one straw in a milkshake, everyone sucks faster?  Everyone knows they are competing, and every sip from someone else means less for you. People start breathing through their noses to minimize lost time.

I have felt for a long time that when you have little children, they have a straw that taps directly into your energy. The milkshake cup is me, and the milkshake is my energy, and every child is armed with a straw. Infants who are either in the womb or nursing have a competitive edge on this, and get to take as much as they want before it even hits the glass.

The thing is, when the glass is full, things are pretty pleasant. No matter how much milkshake the kids are drinking, there is still some left. It feels pretty good. I am happy to feed them all. But when you hit the last inch of milkshake, all the straws start making that horrible noise as they swab around in the bottom of the glass looking for anything they could snag. They all feel the panic of limited supply. They all start getting intense and sucking much, much harder. They are panicked. I am getting panicked. I want everyone to stop so I could have a chance to whip up a new batch.  No one stops, because  they are trying to get the last of the film off the glass, leaving nothing behind and all that.

The demands for your attention and energy get suddenly loud and obnoxious when you feel like there isn’t anything left to give. The truth is, your children aren’t demanding anything different than what they were made to need. Usually, when they use this straw, they get fed. Right now, when they use this straw, mom gets eggy.

Of course the ideal would be to never run out of milkshake. To come up with strategies for sensing when it is going to run low. To start noticing what time of day this seems to be happening and taking preventative measures. In a perfect world, we wouldn’t even need to think about it, the milkshake would just replenish itself at intervals.

But this is the real world. The real, fallen, messy, difficult world. Every mother deals with having an empty glass and a bunch of straws. Almost every day. And while practice and training, and preventative measures might make things smoother, that doesn’t mean it will make it easier. It is simply going to be hard work.

If you trained as a runner, you would get better and better at running the same race over time. You would speed up. Your form would be better. You would probably enjoy yourself more. But it wouldn’t be easy. Professional athletes make what they do look easy. But if they are still pushing themselves, it is still hard.

I think it is common to have this mental ideal of what your days as a mother are supposed to be like. We think that if we were doing it right, then it wouldn’t  be this hard. Of course there are a lot of ways to improve what we do, that make things easier. But it is like improving the form of a runner. They still have to run in order to use it. It still won’t be easy. You can continue training to the point that you are no longer puking in the bushes and all red in the face by the end of the first block, but you aren’t ever going to take the running out of the running.

I was recently talking to my husband about this whole problem. Why is there almost always a time in the day when I feel like my head may explode, or fall off, or something equally dramatic? He pointed out that the apostle Paul addressed this very issue when he said ” therefore, since the race is so easy, and we aren’t having any trouble as we try to finish it….”  Totally cracked me up. And it is true.

When we are at home with our children, this is our sanctification. This is the testing of our faith. And it is Christ’s faithfulness that enables ours. It is our job to cast off sins, to be faithful. It is Christ’s job to renew us. We need to be faithful, because He is faithful to us. We can trust him to fill our milkshakes, because His never runs low.

And just to set the record straight: “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

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44 thoughts on “When the Milkshake Runs Low.

  1. Oh how I LOVE this. It is exactly what I needed to hear today. And God has been bringing Hebrews 12 to me constantly lately – I had a laugh at his love for me when he guided you to put that verse there.

    My glass has been quite empty lately and one of my children has been just the panic-y child you describe. Thank you for the reminder of EXACTLY the place I need to go MORE than I have been to refill my milkshake.

    Bless you for sharing with us today – I am renewed because of your faithfulness.

  2. Thank-you for this post. I have been tired of the race these last few days and indulging in a bit of pity party… I needed the reminder to “think it not strange”.
    I am the mother of 4, all under the age of 5. This is one of the only places where I can say that and not get looks of horror or ones of sympathy!! 🙂 A friend of mine found your book, Loving the Little Years, and got it for me immediately. I’ve not been able to read it all (youngest is 9 wks old… yawn!) but just looking at it and finding this site give me courage!!
    Thanks for sharing your wonderful family! Agape!

  3. Such a great reminder as I felt unusually frazzled today (not that I don’t ever, just even more so than usual). I too have lots of littles and find that most of the time, when I’m full, it goes so well. It’s that time of the day, or even a period of days, when I’m running low that everything totally deconstructs and then my attitude flies right out the window along with everyone’s sanity. I needed to be reminded today that God is sanctifying me through these times of total and complete chaos. Thank you.

    Cesca…I too had four under five (youngest is now 16 months). Hang in there. You’ll make it and will learn so much in the process. Blessings!!

  4. My milkshake is often low. There are lots and lots of slurping sounds over here. But, Hebrews 12 is such an encouragement!!!
    Thank you so much for using your gift of writing to encourage and point towards Jesus as our strength…who fills us..when we turn aside our sin and turn to him!

  5. My momma just babysat a little girl yesterday. When it was time for Ana to go home, she said that my momma hadn’t spent enough time with her! She sucks hard on that straw.

  6. Thanks! I read this while I was getting ready for church this evening, feeling like my 4 boys were sucking away at that last inch of milkshake. As I was loading the boys into the car shortly after (and now I was really edgy), my 3 year old started singing, “If you’re happy and you know it…” What irony…

  7. You have a gift for object lessons – word pictures that really work! Thank you for this milkshake illustration. I have tried to describe that very thing (unsuccessfully) to my husband in the past. The whole “last inch of milkshake” and everyone getting frantic thing happens here frequently. Thanks so much for this encouraging post!

  8. “breathing through their noses to minimize time loss” Great–so funny!

    I have been thinking about this verse lately. I learned it as “lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us” which is a good picture of how sin weighs us down, detours us, distracts us from the great work God has graciously given us to do. Thanks, Rachel, for spurring us all on to not just complete but rejoice in the race complete with sweat and fallen arches 🙂

  9. THANK YOU!!!! Tonight, they have sucked me dry! Feeling worn and weary while trying to put my newly 5, 3, and twin 2 to bed while Daddy, and 10 and 7 are still at church. Trying to stay focused on God…trying to run hard…puking in the bushes tonight…wipe it off and keep going, right? Of course right. Run with patience, as they suck the last of the milkshake right on out of me. Love is patient and kind. Run the race with patience. I’m thinking God is showing me my sin that so easily entangles me…I needed your words to encourage me, to convict me, to bring me to repentance again. May God bless you!

  10. Very good! I can completely relate to the head-exploding feeling and an empty milkshake glass. I’m always amazed at the speed at which the glass empties. One minute the milkshake runneth over and the next minute, well, not so much! 😉

  11. Oh yes, this!

    I am nursing my 5mo and my 2.5yro boys and sometimes the “milkshake” literally does run dry! Lol!

    But in other ways I find the head exploding lack of patience run into a closet kind emptiness too. And the frantic sucking and that annoying sound of the last drops being snatched up. Oh Grace must abound in me! Thank you for your words!

  12. I’ve got a goggle picture, too, which still cracks me up! It’s here: http://momsinneedofmercy.blogspot.com/2010/03/picture-worth-thousand-words.html

    Love the milkshake analogy. Don’t you wish we never dealt with the yucky-almost-out feelings? That’s what I wish I could master…keeping the milkshake joy full all the time.

    But…I did realize, as you’ve said before, too, that we can RESIST giving in to sin, like Jesus, yet unlike Jesus in that we have not resisted to the point of shedding blod. I shared my thoughts on that here: http://momsinneedofmercy.blogspot.com/2011/09/schedules-and-sin.html

  13. Thank you so much for this. I needed this today – it seemed like I woke up with the milkshake empty. Thank you for the reminder…and the fact that God is my strength. 🙂

  14. Great post! Thanks for your thoughts. While this is true of parenthood, and specifically motherhood, I think, as you mentioned concerning running, it can apply to pretty much every aspect of life.
    The principle of God being our rest goes a long way, an infinite distance, in refilling the milkshake (Philippians 4:13).

  15. This post is absolutley wonderful.
    It had me laughing.
    And then it had me crying.
    I have 4 kids 7 and under.
    The littlest is 4 months old.
    I home school.
    And sometimes, epsecially the last week or so, I feel utterly alone in my emptiness.
    To read that you have that point in the day where you feel that your head might explode helped.
    It helped greatly.
    Hence the tears.
    I am not alone.
    I am not crazy.
    I am just a mom with a lot on her plate.
    Or not very much milkshake in her glass.
    Thank you for putting into words the very way I feel.
    I wish I could have you over for a milk shake so we could talk more!
    Love from,

  16. Terrific analogy–both the milkshake sipping and the runner. You younger moms getting up every morning and loving and serving your husbands and children, just keep at it and don’t get discouraged. Your work is so important and God will bless it (in spite of all your weaknesses and failings) if you keep your focus on pleasing him. He will! There is a great harvest coming sooner than you think, because these kids grow up fast and you will be so blessed to enjoy the fruit of your hard work.

  17. Hard to remeber sometimes that this IS my sanctification and my calling… not something I’m filling time with. THank you! ?

  18. “I think it is common to have this mental ideal of what your days as a mother are supposed to be like. We think that if we were doing it right, then it wouldn’t be this hard.”

    Just the other day I told my friend, “I think my problem is that I think it shouldn’t be this hard.” That mental ideal is vivid in my mind, and it’s easy to feel sucked dry not even by the children directly, but by the mental ideal itself making reality seem even more pale and chaotic than it is.

    Thank you for the encouragement. It hit the spot!

  19. I love to read your posts (and your book) because you serve a lovely dose or realism with a side of utter cheerfulness. I always think “Gosh, it would be good to be her kid!” Thank you for the way you capture a concept so concisely … I’ll be thinking milkshakes and slurping for the next six months. Both my babies and I benefit from your thoughts. Thank you.

  20. Greta, I was just the same 10 years ago. Now my 17yo Is competing for a state championship this Saturday, my 15yo is taking Veritas classes and is a great musician, my 13yo daughter is beautiful, smart, sweet and enrolled in classical conversations Challenge class, and my sweet baby girl will be 10! It was tough after she was born–but hang in there! The fruit is worth the effort.

  21. Love it, Rachel…except now I am craving a chocolate malt 😉 Give that cutie with the zebra pjs a smooch from her auntie.

  22. It is so beautiful to know we are not going thru this alone, that I am not the only one. Thank u all. I am not at the 4 under five yet (twin girls 3, baby boy 18 mo) but hope for more.

  23. When I was on the mission field more than 10 years ago now I once (one of numerous times) reached the place where I felt I just didn’t have anything left in me to carry on and I was pressed in so many directions. God gave me Is. 58: 10 and 11

    If you extend your soul to the hungry
    And satisfy the afflicted soul,
    Then your light shall dawn in the darkness,
    And your darkness shall be as the noonday.
    11 The LORD will guide you continually,
    And satisfy your soul in drought,
    And strengthen your bones;
    You shall be like a watered garden,
    And like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.

    We must continue to extend our souls to others and the Lord will see that we are refilled enough to keep giving, so that our water will not fail.

    I just read your book last week. The Lord has so blessed me in the last 10 years – I’m now married, and have children 8,4, 2 and twins who are 10 months! It was so good to read and be encouraged by your book. I’m right in the middle of those young motherhood years and I’m so glad! But there are moments when I’m being stretched….and God is good!

  24. This post is right on. I have five children, ages 9 to 4 months, so the things you write inspire me greatly. I hope you don’t mind that I linked this post on my blog. Thank you for letting God use you to encourage others.

  25. A friend just pointed me to your alls blog and I’m so glad she did. Thank you so much for sharing. The milkshake analogy is so perfect. I needed the reminder this morning that Jesus is the only one who can refill my glass. And that this is Sactification.
    I just read under the welcome section that you have 5 under 5. I almost shouted out loud “me too me too!!” I’m due early Jan with #5 and our oldest (twin girls) turned 4 a couple weeks ago. Thanks again for sharing. It’s always so encouraging to me to “meet” other moms working hard and loving Jesus.
    ~ Meg

  26. Thank you so much for these words! The Lord is using you to bless and encourage others through your honest words. I know I have been encouraged everytime I read a post and this one especially spoke to me. Its great when someone can put “laughter” into everyday life situations. I’ve never thought of myself as a milkshake cup before, but it works! A dear friend of mine also gave me your book when my little girl was born 7 months ago – adding to our family of two boys. I can honestly say, with the help of the Holy Spirit – that your book challenged me completely. It felt as though I had a mentor in my home! May the Lord continue to strengthen you in all things for His glory.

  27. I’m so glad I found this blog! A friend just recommended your book, and I haven’t been able to put it down! (I also haven’t been able to read a whole lot yet with the littles surrounding me, but I’ll eventually finish it!)

    I swear our children must be super close in age too, and I wish we could get together for playmates or something so I could pick your brain more. I was also married in 2003, and my husband and I now have 6 children from 6 years down to 1 month, including 2 year old twins (our only boys).

    I love all your analogies, and I can already tell tha I’ll be re-reading your book as often as I can to help me remember these lessons and help me survive each day.

    Keep up the awesome inspirations!

  28. This is my first time reading you blog. A friend of mine shared the link to this post on facebook. I just want to tell that I am tremendously blessed by this. It was exactly what I needed to hear today. I was feeling very empty only a couple hours into my morning and this helped me to refocus. Thank you for writing this and for sharing what God has taught you! God bless!

  29. Thank you so much for sharing and for writing about your life, your struggles, what God is teaching you. Oh this post resonated with me so much. I am 9 months pregnant with our 5th (all under 4 years – 3 yr old girl, 2 year old triplet boys, and baby girl due in December) and my milkshake cup is running low. I’ve been praying for the Lord to show me & my husband how to parent. To lead me, to teach me, to instruct me, and I know that your book & your blog are an answer to that prayer. Sometimes you are just so tired, you need someone to show you the way. I prayed and prayed for these precious children the Lord has blessed me with, and I know He will equip me to do the task He has called me to do. But, you are so right – it doesn’t mean it will be easy. I think just coming to your site & seeing there are others out there who have multiple tiny children – doing the same old routine every day – makes me not feel so clueless (most of my friends have just 2 children – spaced apart). Just thank you so much – I will be back to learn more later & I can’t wait to get your book!

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