By Kimm Crandall
As I was grocery shopping the other day, and while I was pushing around my overloaded-with-groceries cart, I saw a long-time friend–a younger mom with four little boys spilling out of her cart. It was a loud yell from one of the boys that turned my head toward her. We chatted across the stacks of fruit. She asked if all of my kids were in school; I gave her a relief filled “Yes!” and quickly added that it was so great to shop without them. Two of her boys started to pull her cart away, and I gave her an understanding and empathetic smile, “I’ll let you go,” I said.
I’m pushing forty this year. And I’m still pushing an overloaded cart. Though my cart may be spilling over with juice boxes and granola bars instead of four young kids, I still feel like a young mom. It wasn’t until this particular interaction, I realized that I am now an older mom. I am now that older mom; the mom I noticed and envied when I was younger because she shopped by herself, slept with only one other person in the bed, and looked somewhat rested—getting consecutive nights of “good” sleep. But what I’ve also come to find as I’ve grown older and wiser is that “that mom” really wasn’t any different from me. The externals of her life looked different: she had more freedom to move about, to rest, but in the end we were both in need of the same reckless grace to get us through.
As I walked around the store, I thought about how what I needed to do when I got home. I would be heading home to fix lunch for myself, pluck my eyebrows, and work on a writing project instead of fixing lunch for five, putting reluctant kids down for much needed naps, and wondering when the next time I would get a shower would be. My days do look different than my friends with lots of little ones for sure.
But, my young friends, even though my youngest is probably the age of your oldest, I still come home from the store to a messy house with socks in every corner, bikes parked in front of the front door, and paint splattered all over the patio that I haven’t yet tried to remove. My sleep is still interrupted, I still wake up to find (not so little) bodies between Justin and me. I deal with tears, fights, and illness the same as you. I know how hard it is to take four kids to the store–I cried one day this past summer because I had to take them all with me…again, and it was hard.
Are there things that are easier? Yes. Of course. Are there things that are harder? Yes. There is no greener pasture.
It’s not about how difficult our circumstances or season of life is. It’s about needing Jesus. It’s not about making it through to the next and seemingly easier stage because there will always be a next stage with it’s trials and tribulations. I’m not going to tell you to enjoy your kids more while they are young. I’m not going to comment on how fast they grow up. It’s all true. I know how those things ring in your ears on the day that everyone has screamed all day and you just want them to grow up and move out.
What I will tell you is to fight for rest. Not the physical rest because I know that at your stage of motherhood that’s a pipe dream. What I mean is the rest and freedom that comes from the gospel. A rest that says, “You can stop doing whatever it is that you think you need to do to be worthy of being called a godly mother and rest in what’s been done on your behalf.”
When I was younger, I feverishly worked at trying to do everything that they–whoever “they” are–were telling me that I needed to do. Eat organically, cook from scratch, use coupons, cloth diapers, spank, don’t spank, homeschool, and on and on and on. I used to slavishly try to fit my family into a jello mold , eager to turn the mold upside down, hoping for the mold to slide right out effortlessly and beautifully onto the plate with a gloriously jiggly plop. But, after years of blood sweat and (many!) tears, it becomes more and more apparent that God has never allowed the jello to set up. Every time have I removed the mold–to show of my glorious creation–it lands on the plate, an oozy mess: no form, no beauty, just one big jello-y, oozy, mess.
You see, it doesn’t matter what stage of motherhood (or life) you are in. Your need for Jesus is just as strong as my need for Jesus which is just as strong as my mother-in-law’s need for Jesus. Not one of us can do anything apart from Christ. We can’t gain righteousness or work our way into the godly mothers club (there’s no such thing apart from Christ and faith in him). It is not by our actions that we are saved, sanctified or glorified. It’s Christ and Christ alone. “[A] woman who fears the Lord is to be praised” (Prov. 31:30), not the one who has the perfect jello-mold family.
“Nothing in my hands I bring, simply to thy cross I cling.” We come empty handed and stay empty handed–no kids, no organically cooked meal, nothing. And this is where we find grace.
Kimm Crandall is a mother of four kids (12, 10, 7 and 5) who is never short on examples of how God has flooded her with the excessive grace that the gospel brings. Her desire is to bring the much-needed freedom of the Gospel to other women who have been beaten down by the “try harder” and “do better” law through writing and speaking. Kimm is the author of Christ in the Chaos: How the Gospel Changes Motherhood and can be found blogging atchristinthechaos.com
 “Rock of Ages” The Reverend Augustus Montague Toplady written in 1763.
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