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.”