I can't stop looking at this picture. It fascinates me.
Each of my children have their own special face. My sweet Cupcake is saying "cheese". She loves to have her picture taken, but hates to stand still long enough for me to push the button. This smile is precious because it's not often that I can catch it on camera.
Next there is Rooster with his hesitant grin. He doesn't have time to stop for pictures. He's busy playing, running, and pretending to be a superhero. His imagination and his energy are endless!
Then there is Little Bear, tongue out because he was buzzing his lips and trying to blow spit bubbles at his Daddy. He's always happy and always playful. I had just scooped him up off the playground where he had been tasting rocks and crawling after his brother and sister.
Then there is me.
I look joyful. Really, really happy. You would never know that I had been up several times the night before. Or that I would spend the next several hours chasing after toddlers, cleaning up messes, or juggling a tired baby.
When I look at this picture, I don't see all of that hard stuff. I just see blessings. When my husband and I got married and we started dreaming about what our family would one day look like, I never imagined it would be this wonderful.
Or this hard. Truly, the last nine months my life has been exhausting. I can say with all honestly that having three kids is more work than even I imagined.
There were days when I disliked being home so much, I would trade anything to go back to work and leave all the crying behind me. There were days when I felt like I'd never get it all done. Days when I'd go to bed feeling guilty because I didn't read one single book, and my kids watched way too much television.
Then a few weeks ago, when we were coming out of a particularly rough patch, my husband came home from work and asked how my day had been. I smiled and told him it was just "the normal kind of hard".
Since then, those words ring out in my mind. When the kids are all crying at once and I'm tempted to run far, far away, I stop myself and say, "This is just the normal kind of hard." When the baby wakes up 10 minutes after the toddlers go to sleep ruining my plans to finally sit down and eat lunch, I stop and remind myself, "This is just the normal kind of hard."
This is the normal kind of hard, and I can do this. I shouldn't be surprised by this. I should just embrace it.
It's like a switch flipped in my mind. I'm not the victim. I'm the mom, and I can do this. Truly some jobs are more challenging than others, but they are also more rewarding.
I'm sure as our family grows the challenges will just increase, but I also know that God will give me the the grace to manage. I will learn new strategies and techniques for getting things done. I will grow in patience and diligence and efficiency, simply because I have no other choice.
Only a few years ago the woman smiling in these pictures didn't know a single thing about managing a household with three young children. She would have been swamped just thinking about being on her feet all day, being at the beck and call of a nursing baby for three years, and having to sweep her kitchen floor after every meal (the struggle is real!). She was too sinful and selfish to enjoy the constant giving that motherhood requires.
But here I am. I'm doing this, and I love it! God has used motherhood to mature me and to humble me. He's opened my eyes to my sin and given me the grace to get through those moments when I am simply not enough. He's taught me time and time again that my life is not my own. I gave my life to Him, and He gave me to my family, to serve to my husband and love my children with joy. It's an all-day, all-night, never-ceasing kind of task, but it is wonderful.
This picture of me and kids gives me hope. When I see those smiling faces, I'm reminded just how far God has brought me in the past few years, the lessons He's taught me, and the grace He's given me along the way.
We will never be perfect, but my prayer is that we will always be filled with joy.
Joy makes for such pretty pictures.