Monday, April 23, 2012

Mama | Courage to do the little things

I was telling Cody on Sunday night that I just can’t stop thinking about what a blessing my trip to Virginia was to me, and how I felt that it bolstered my courage in ways I didn’t think were possible. I said to him, “It just shouldn’t have been that way. It should have been stressful.” 
And certainly parts of it were stressful. 
We got stuck in traffic both on the way there and the way back—adding an unwelcome hour both ways—and the day that we arrived, Seb woke up from his afternoon nap early, more upset and exhausted than I’ve ever seen him. He then proceeded to fall over constantly as his legs gave out from under him. Yes, that part was a little more than scary. Thankfully, I have a very wise mother-in-law who gave me some advice and tips as to what to do should it get worse, and how to make it better in the meantime. I watched him closely the rest of the day, coaxing him to watch a movie by giving him fruit snacks, and finally getting him to lay down with me and watch Tom and Jerry without trying to jump up and run on his weak legs. I was also his sole caretaker. No Cody to help with that random diaper, to brush Seb’s teeth at night, to just be there and help take over for a few minutes when Seb was being cranky, or to talk me back into sanity.
But somehow, by the grace of God, it was peaceful to be away with just my little man. There was something beautiful about being just the two of us for a few days. I was tired in the mornings, but wasn’t discouraged by the responsibilities of the day, or the lack of time I was able to put into my regular afternoon routine—which I generally guard with a vengeance. The truth is, I struggle with being content. I struggle with taking joy in the mundane, and I struggle to feel free of burdens. It’s a lot harder being a stay-at-home mom than I thought, or at least a lot harder to transition to being a stay-at-home mom. My trip revealed to me that I was unconsciously feeling trapped. I would look at pictures of tropical vacations and wish so badly that we could go on one. Just last weekend, a few days before my trip, Seb and I were waiting for Cody outside of Duke Chapel and I saw a bride being photographed before her wedding. I was on the phone with my mom and just blurted out, “I wish I were her right now, because tonight she’s going to stay at a nice hotel, and tomorrow she’s going to fly off to some exciting honeymoon destination.” Suddenly, any thought of adventure, as I sat in a hot car with a hungry toddler and my enormous belly, both dressed in shabby clothes, seemed like an elusive dream, at best.
God has perfect timing, doesn’t he?
Later Sunday night, just before bed, I was catching up on the Daily Office and read Psalm 16. Verse 8 says, “I have set the Lord continually before me. Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.” Now, I don’t read my Bible every day without fail, but these last weeks have been good. The Psalms have been opened up to me, and I have been filled with so much joy and hope as we’ve moved through Holy Week and the Easter Season. I can truly say that reading the Daily Office has been the highlight of my day. That verse in Psalm 16 hit home. Our trip to Virginia shouldn’t have been peaceful; lots of things in life shouldn’t be peaceful. But when we set the Lord continually before us, we will not be shaken, even when we should be shaken.
I think I’ll look back and say that it was a red letter trip. God revealed so many things to me during that time away, like areas of selfishness, and ways in which I’ve taken certain things and people for granted. It has also noticeably changed the way I’ve approached caring for Seb, and made me more adventurous. Sure, to the world it may not seem that I’m being very adventurous, but to me, taking the initiative to take Seb to the library to play with the trains while Cody studied on Saturday morning, or taking him again for his first ever story time, are a big deal. Even letting Seb play in bowls of water with measuring cups can be an adventure! This week we’re going strawberry picking with friends, and even though I’ve been thinking for a month that I wanted to go when the strawberries were in season, I fully believe that before my Virginia trip, I would have let the opportunity pass me by.
The transition to motherhood has been difficult for me. I’ve been scared to try “mom things,” and felt a little out of place as a 24 year old, about to have a second child, surrounded by a sea of women who are waiting much longer to start their families. If you’ve ever felt that way, be courageous. Step out and be adventurous, even if adventure now means simply joining story time at the library. When I observed my sweet toddler turning bright red as everyone started singing, clapping and doing the hand motions to songs, he had a beaming smile on his face, but shyly hid his hand in the crook of my crossed legs. Adventures can be scary, or make us uncomfortable, but they’re so worth it. I can’t wait to be more adventurous for and with my boys.

P.S. Stay tuned for parts II and III.


  1. Mary, thank you so much for sharing this. As someone who is not married or a mother it's easy to adopt a "grass is always greener" attitude. Not that you don't love your life or I don't love mine, but honesty is always refreshing and encouraging. Your boys are blessed to have a mother who is courageous in all things great and small.

  2. you're sweet, bethany. i'm so glad it was encouraging to you! it's true that our thoughts about how awesome life is usually far outweigh those hard moments, but it's just as true that the hard moments really are there, and i think it's good to talk about them sometimes.

  3. Beautiful post, Mary. Life as a stay-at-home mom is so appealing and yet so scary at the same time. Thanks for your honesty and openness.

  4. Catching up on my blog reading and so glad I found this post! What a special memory for the two of you! More importantly though, how neat to hear how God uses everyday adventures to bring us closer to him and help us grow. Thanks for your honesty -- as excited as I am to be a young momma, it's also more then a little scary. It's nice to know others feel it too at times. :)

  5. We all want what we can't have, and that's coming from the single side. All we can do is to make the best of what we have, wherever we are! Thanks for sharing :)