Growing up I loved to play “house”. And I was bossy… “I will be the MOM, you can be the dad, you can be the little sister…” If I wasn’t the mom then I was NOT playing… you get the picture.
I loved the idea of motherhood & could not wait to become a REAL mom someday, with REAL babies and kids. SIX of them to be exact. I envisioned being “the fun mom”, and changing diapers and doing mounds of little laundry with a huge grin on my face. Baking cookies and cupcakes, making homemade dinners every night for 6pm family dinners, and giving bubbles baths followed by hair brushing/braiding and storytime.
This would be the BEST time ever. To get to play “house” for REAL.
My youngest brother is 8 years younger than me so I had LOTS of practice. Growing up, I watched him while my mom worked and treated him like my own. I thought I had this whole motherhood gig in the bag.
And then I had my oldest son. BAHAHAHA.
I was quickly humbled. Motherhood was HARD. He was a very colicky baby and NOTHING I did made him happy. He screamed any waking moment… from day 1 in the hospital. Within the first couple hours of being a mom, nurses gave me a look of empathy and handed me a pacifier. I SWORE I would never use those things… LOL… the first of many pre-motherhood “I will nevers” broken.
Then gradually he got a little easier and I got pregnant with #2. October 5th 2016 she was here, just 2 years and 4 days after #1. The first 2 weeks were glorious and we referred to her as our little angel baby. She NEVER cried… until week 3 and then she never stopped (until about 16 weeks). Again, humbled. Postpartum with her was ROUGH. I am pretty sure I had postpartum depression and had a hard time even leaving the house. The idea of taking the 2 of them out together alone was overwhelming. There were lots of tears and feelings of complete defeat… afterall, I was supposed to be GOOD at this.
Fast-forward ~2 years and God called asking me to do something pretty hilarious (i thought)… become a foster mom… really God?! Me??? The Crazy Story of How God Called Us to Fostering. But I am failing at this with my OWN 2 kids, I thought. I was not the perfect mom I dreamt of being my whole life, far from it. Often I was downright GRUMPY. Sure some days we baked, and did crafts, and sang in the kitchen happily, but others were far from that image of motherhood and instead were filled with yelling, temper tantrums (them AND me), and more discipline than fun.
I would cry after I (finally) made it to naptime, wishing our days could be different.
Then we added foster kiddos (are we nuts?!). But honestly, my kids (ages 2 and 4 then) really rose to the occasion. I was SHOCKED. Their behaviors greatly improved and they took (and take) pride in caring for these babies. I guess God did know what He was doing after all. He always provides.
But the grumpy days weren’t over. Grumpy Mom still resurfaced in (hormonal?) waves it seemed… And I was never happy to face her in the mirror. I blamed sleep deprivation and overwhelm but in all honesty it was more than circumstantial.
During these seasons I struggle(d) to feel ENOUGH for these kids. I questioned our calling to foster and wondered if someone else couldn’t do a better job of it.
A friend of mine recommended I read, “Grumpy Mom Takes A Holiday” by Valerie Woerner. And I couldn’t put it down. I felt like she wrote the book for me (thanks Valerie!). It has been LIFE-CHANGING, a book I need to re-read again and again. So of course I have to share it with you all!
A Must Read “Grumpy Mom Takes A Holiday” Book Review (and Cliff Notes for those busy moms out there!):
Valerie breaks her book into 5 parts: Surrender, Replenish, Develop, Connect, and THRIVE. Each of the 20 individual chapters ends with “Action Steps”, a “Key Verse” from the Bible, and a Prayer.
Throughout, she instructs and reminds us that…
♥ We CANNOT allow our emotions to rule us and that things do not have to be perfect for us to find JOY (pg 14).
“Joy does not simply happen to us. We have to choose joy and keep choosing it every day.” (Henri J.M. Nouwen)
♥ Our kids are NOT an inconvenience and in fact, “the unpredictability of children is something we should be grateful for, because it reminds us how much we need the One who really is in control… in our weakness, He is strong.” (pg 17) Our children give us the opportunity to serve selflessly as Jesus did and to surrender our lives to God’s plans. That 2 hour naptime, it may not happen, but what does God have in store for that time? Our To-Do list… it may have to wait, but what’s really important?? As someone who lacks flexibility and hates changes in plans, this surrendered life is something I wrestle with, but something I desperately need to learn through my children.
“You can make many plans, but the Lord’s purpose will prevail” Proverbs 19:21.
♥ God gives us the power to experience JOY and GRATITUDE, even in the hard moments (pg 26). And suffering is beneficial as it yields proven CHARACTER and strength… Kingdom work is not comfortable. Growth does not occur WITHIN our comfort zones.
♥ We HAVE to STOP competing at motherhood. We cannot do motherhood for the praise. If our goal is to find approval from other people (rather than God), we will never end up victorious (pg 53). Live each day trying to be a better than YOU were yesterday (not better than your neighbor or your friend seem on Facebook or Insta).
♥ “God has called us to be mothers, not martyrs” (pg 58). We cannot pour from an empty cup. We MUST accept the help that comes from God. Often our PRIDE keeps us from accepting the help God sends our way. Accept the lifeboats He sends and take some time for self care and renewal of your mind.
♥ “Perception is everything” (pg 96). “Recognize that someone wants what you’re complaining about… there are women out there who would beg to be in your shoes and be overwhelmed by #momlife” (pg 99). Gratitude is the gateway to joy!
♥ God is refining us as women through motherhood. When you make a mistake, let your children witness God refining you as you apologize to them and ask forgiveness. Model repentence…even Mommy is not perfect, even Mommy needs Jesus. (Pg 110)
♥ “When we aren’t living out our God-given purpose, nothing will satisfy us. We can try to live comfortable lives, free from being stretched and experiencing pain, but it will always leave us wanting” (pg 113). And we all have DIFFERENT callings, yours is not the same as your friends’ or neighbors’… stay in your own lane.
♥ “The time we invest in our marriage is also an investment in (our) kids as they see a godly marriage lived out” (pg 167). Pray that God fills our homes with love and respect, laughter and joy.
♥ We were created for community (pg 169). Invest in one another. Build each other up, encourage one another (see Hebrews 10:25). Don’t gossip, compare, or judge. “I want my default response to be one of compassion and kindness instead of judgement” (pg 176).
♥ We must OWN OUR CHOICES. “If something is, in fact, a priority, we will make time for it” (179).
♥ Two of the fruits of the spirit are PATIENCE and SELF-CONTROL. “As we exercise patience and control our tempers, God gets the glory and we point other people to Him” (pg 189).
♥ We must learn to say ‘No’ to things/commitments in order to make time for Him and His plans for our lives. Create a “Things I Don’t Do List” (pg 204). For me that includes things like sending christmas photo cards, going to every birthday party or shower, and enrolling my kids in ALL the things. Add White Space to your life (pg 206). White Space.
♥ It is essential to PRIORITIZE PEOPLE OVER PRODUCTIVITY (pg 220). This one spoke to me as often I struggle to ignore the laundry and dishes and cleaning etc to focus on the little eyes looking up at me. “Our kids need our presence more than a lot of the things we prioritize” (pg 221). And our kids tend to act out more when we are distant or distracted.
So how do you want your kids to remember you?? What sort of legacy are you passing down?? Our decisions TODAY can affect our children and our children’s children forever. Let’s say goodbye to Grumpy Mom and hello to Joyful Presence.
Thank you to Valerie Woerner for writing this book!! Get you a copy and highlight the heck out of it!
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