Yesterday I had my 4th headache of the week. For awhile I was able to take care of it and keep being productive. I packed boxes. I sorted clothing. I made meals. And in the middle of it I rested as I needed, too. Yesterday, however, yesterday I couldn’t peel myself off of the couch. I found myself taking a sleepless, please-stop-pounding-on-my-head “nap” again. I threw together dinner, avoided my noisy children, and was frustrated with myself for not finishing one item on my to-do list.
Over dinner I exclaimed to my husband, “I’m always tired or have headaches. I feel so weak!”
He responded, “You are weak, physically. You need to accept it and be okay with that.”
The perfectionist producer inside of me curdled at these words, but I didn’t protest. I knew they were true.
Becoming a mother has revealed the one thing I have spent my life trying desperately to prove wrong: I cannot do it all.
I have limitations.
I have low energy levels.
I have a great need for sleep, rest, time alone, and time to think.
Our culture celebrates mothers who are out in the world. Mothers who engage with their kids at the park, zoo, or children’s museum. Our culture praises moms who can have a pinterest-worthy organized home alongside homemade applesauce, hand-sewn clothing, and backyard grown vegetables. Mothers who work and play. Mothers who “have it all.”
I am aware that I will never be the mother to appear to have it all.
Because if I did attain to all of that, I know it would only be by appearance. I know that I would be struggling with more headaches, even greater fatigue, and eventually debilitating depression. I know, because I would be rejecting the person God created me to be in the name of trying to be the person others – no, I want me to be.
We all do it. We all see another mother’s achievements and think “I wish I was more like her.” I wish I could cook like her. Think like her. Laugh like her. Be calm like her. Live like her. We uphold the other woman as better because they’re different. And we think that difference is necessarily better. We assume that we are weaker because we’re not like her.
But there’s a paradox within Scripture. A paradox within the world of following God and that is this:
If I try to work out of my own strength, to persevere in my plans and ambitions without God, I am incapable of doing anything.
If I deny in myself the person God created me to be, weaknesses and all, I will always be disappointed.
If I believe my abilities and performance are dependent on me, I always fall short.
But when I acknowledge that I am only meant to do the work on earth that God has decided for me to do, I am empowered.
When I recognize that He has created me especially for this work, I am encouraged.
When I step out and walk alongside Him in this work, I am strengthened.
When I realize that He never intended for me to do any of this mothering alone, I realize I can do all I was created for in Him.
God is not expecting more of me than I can do. He is not wishing I was like the mothers I am envying. He wants me to join Him in the work He has for me. He wants me to honor my weaknesses, depending on His strength. He says,
“My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9 NLT)
So, today, I am honoring my weakness. I am lying down when I need to rest. I am reading because it restores me. I am washing dishes, folding laundry, and feeding children – at the pace that I can handle. That means it might not all get done today. We will probably be digging out underwear and wrinkled t-shirts from the laundry pile during this trying time of change, packing, cleaning, and moving – and I’m okay with that. Because when I am weak, I am strong.