When running out of options is the best thing that ever happened

dani and mommy's hands

You know those evenings when you’re desperate for the day to come to a close, but you know that the instant your head hits your pillow, someone will need you?

You know those days when a cacophony of coughs and wheezes and sneezes and cries rings through walls and over baby monitors, and you know you’re going to be rubbing backs or dishing up medicine or rocking someone back to sleep any minute…so why even bother?

Midnight snuggles are precious, holy moments, but winter germs are a bit merciless, and I’ve had at least a dozen of those nights in the last three weeks.

I know I’m not the only one.

Despite the precious moments we try to embrace, we can’t help but notice that parenting sometimes seems to require giving on empty for a wildly unforgiving amount of time.  As a mom, you might be left to look around and wonder if anyone sees or anyone cares that you’ve had to pee for three hours, but haven’t had a chance… or that you haven’t gotten a good night’s sleep in years… or that you’ve answered so many questions today that “What’s for dinner?” makes you want to scream.

Parenting requires a fierce devotion to meet the others’ need, when you feel like your own is getting smashed under everyone’s muddy shoes. 


In my early years of motherhood, I thought I just had to muscle through, just keep it all together, be enough, stay strong, keep going.  And I had very little reason to doubt that I would make it through the little years this way.

I had everything a mom could ask for – healthy kids, supportive husband, loving community, good sleepers – and so, my system of staying on my game and being everything for everyone seemed to work just fine.  But underneath my shell of strength was the fear that I wouldn’t actually make it, if anything ever went really wrong.

I struggled to admit to myself or to God how desperately I loved my children, because it would leave me raw and vulnerable to the possibility of being flattened by hardship or tragedy.  Other parents joked about starting counseling funds because of the wounds we would unintentionally and inevitably give to our children, but everything in me said No…that wouldn’t be ok…I simply must succeed.  I couldn’t tolerate the reality that I could and would fail.  In that season, when I encountered difficult situations, other parents suffering loss or injury or illness or hardship with their children, my heart would simply beg Please, God, not us and my mind would concede I couldn’t survive it.

Something in me knew that my “Head down and hope for the best” mindset was a bit flimsy, but I didn’t yet know another option.

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