You remember the old song… “I’ve got the Joy, Joy, Joy, Joy Down in my Heart. Where? Down in my Heart. Where? Down in my Heart.”
Be joyful always, 1 Thessalonias tell us. Was this directed to a mother of three?? Well if that isn’t a tall order, I don’t know what is!!
Several years ago we used to call the hours from 5 – 7 pm the witching hours in our house. It started when my youngest son, Matthew, had colic and he would WAIL constantly for hours upon hours each night. Now it is because Mommy straight up turns into a witch. It is the last few hours of my day and I am running on fumes…which is incredibly cruel because it is when I have the most to do and the least amount of energy to do it. My sweet little cherub children decide that their good behavior quota has been all used up at school. It starts with what my husband, Eric, calls my “crazy eyes.” If they are smart, they catch my crazy eyes and immediately retreat to their rooms. If not…and let’s be honest, they rarely do because they were too busy being crazy … if not, I quiet literally blow my top. And I realize that is completely hypocritical to be screaming at them to quit yelling! I am most certainly not full of Joy. Almost immediately a cloud of shame engulfs me.
We’ve all had it. It is a natural byproduct of becoming a mother. Kind of like stretch marks. Mommy Guilt. It can stick around and be just as permanent and shaming as those old stretch marks. Whether it is because we lose our cool with our kids or we feel guilty because we can’t go on their school field trip. Maybe we spend too much time trolling on Pinterest. Why can’t I transform my backyard into Arendelle for Ella’s Frozen party?? Oh look at these fun, nutritious lunch boxes! I totally should be making animals out of the 100% organic lunch so that my kids will have FUN eating their healthy, non-prepackaged lunch!
We can blame it on Pinterest, social media or society in general. That may be how it reaches us, but in reality, Satan is the author of Mommy Guilt. He has made it his mission to rob mothers of the JOY that God blesses us with in motherhood. He is a sneaky little devil. He makes us beat ourselves up for impossibly high standards that we set upon ourselves. I don’t know a single perfect mother, yet I often beat myself up for not being one.
Well, when I was looking up the exact lyrics to “I’ve Got Joy in My Heart” on the internet, I found another verse. “If the Devil doesn’t like it then he can sit on a tack. Ouch. Sit on a tack. Ouch. Sit on a tack.” Pretty feisty, but I love it! Why do I give Satan that kind of a foothold in my life? When I think about it that way, it makes me adamant to not let him take one second of my God given Joy of motherhood. Does that give me a free pass to turn into the Wicked Witch of the West every night? Absolutely not. But it does allow me to forgive myself for my shortcomings. Then it gives me an opportunity to apologize to my children and teach about forgiveness.
I am slowly learning to embrace what talents God has blessed me with and to not sweat the areas where I am lacking. The fact that I had no less than five people contact me about my go to meal – Kraft Macaroni and Cheese – changing their recipe may be an indication that I am lacking in the cooking department. And you know what? That is OK! I make sure that my kids get the nutrition that they need aside from the cheese powder! I am not going to spend time beating myself up because I am not the Pioneer Woman. Besides think of it this way – I am giving my children wonderful ammo to torture me with at the dinner table when they reminisce about their childhood. Those are the times that my family laughs the hardest at the holidays J
Instead, I will pray without ceasing. Some days it will be filled with thanksgiving for the blessing that God has given me. Some days it will be to just have enough patience to make it to bedtime. If I keep my eyes on Him as I parent the children that God blessed me with, then I will have JOY in my heart.