(Inside: Increase your happiness in the chaos of motherhood. Just because life is frustrating doesn’t mean you have to let it make you feel frustrated.)
My four-year-old son didn’t cry when the nurse consecutively plunged 3 needles into his arm.
Not one tear.
That’s never happened in our home before.
Minutes before the shots, tears streamed down my preschooler’s face. His little body trembled in anticipation until my oldest son said to him, “Shots don’t hurt if you relax your body. They really don’t, I promise.”
I smiled at my oldest remembering his five-year-old shots. He had bellowed and flung all four limbs around like an escaping octopus. The lady administering the shots called for two additional nurses to pin him down.
When it was over, my wounded son moaned and hopped on one foot while he held his other leg down the long hall, past everyone in the waiting room, and finally…out the door. It all occurred in slow motion. I promise. And everyone watched. Everyone. Really, my son should’ve taken a bow.
But now… in calmness and with the authority of experience, my oldest told his little brother to relax and it wouldn’t hurt. My youngest dried his eyes, sat up straight and magic happened.
Then, we left the doctor’s office for the grocery store.
We synchronized grabbing food and then rushed to the checkout line. As we walked out of the store I heard, “Ma’am! Ma’am!” yelled over the creaking of the sliding exit doors. I turn to see a man shouting towards me, trailed by a limping cashier waving my wallet in the air.
Frustrated that I am always misplacing things, I inwardly scolded myself while outwardly thanking them. My oldest son commented, “Thank goodness the wallet didn’t end up the in trash.”
I knew what he meant. Weeks earlier, I’d taken the boys to Subway and mistakenly thrown my credit card away.
I frantically searched for an hour for my credit card, until I figured out how it disappeared. We drove back to the restaurant, but the manager said they’d already changed the trash bags. Desperate, because I was leaving to drive to Colorado in a few hours, I told him I’d search through the thrown-out trash myself.
Yet, in his kindness, he had a worker do it for me. It took a few minutes, but with a big grin, the manager came back holding my credit card.
So many things go awry in my life:
An epic tantrum over 5-year-old shots, leaving my wallet in the store, throwing away my credit card. Wasted time. Pull-your-hair-out moments.
It feels like, in motherhood, there’s always something to make us tense. We’re not doing anything wrong; life and parenting are just that heavy.
But, just because things are frustrating doesn’t mean we have to let them make us feel frustrated. I certainly don’t need my days to be picture-perfect, but I’d like to feel happy more than I feel tense.
So, I take a deep breath and remember something. I’ve just read Ann Voskamp’s book (affiliate link) A Thousand Gifts. She talks about gratitude being her path back to the happiness felt in seeing God in her ordinary days. She ticks off things she is thankful for, so I give it a try…
As I’m driving home from the grocery store, I reevaluate what I saw.
My day included a little brother who looks up to his big brother so much, he listened to his advice. A big brother who loves his little brother so much, he encouraged him. An honest cashier, who despite her limp, chased me down to return my wallet. A Subway manager who kindly (and without complaint) had a worker dig through the trash for my credit card until it was found.
I allow myself to be thankful, really thankful, for all that went right.
And I feel gratitude do the work. Through it, I feel Jesus press on my soul, I am here, always.
Then the peace comes. I quit gripping the wheel, I drop my shoulders, and I let the happiness bubble up.
I won’t always remember this. The next time I’m tense (like ten minutes from now), I’ll totally forget the power gratitude has. But, at that second, I remembered. And I smile in happiness.
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Increase your happiness with more encouragement. Read more in the Growing Your Faith Through Everyday Momlife Series
Elijah’s my favorite. Elijah’s the Old Testament Prophet who went head-to-head with the Baal prophets to show who the One True God was. (Read more about that here.)
This man who experience God’s supernatural power, later found himself in complete despair, with shaken faith, depressed and anxious, trying to hear God’s voice. (Have you been there too?) 1 Kings 19:11-13 says:
“The Lord said, ‘Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.’
Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.
Then a voice said to him, ‘What are you doing here, Elijah?’
When Elijah looked for God, he found Him. And God’s voice wasn’t in the wind, earthquake, or fire – it was in a gentle whisper.”
Momma’s, God still speaks to us today. It’s deep inside of you, an inner knowing. I’d love for you to join me as I learn to discern that voice smack in the middle of my ordinary days.
Read more faith-building stories…
Cheryl is a mom of 3 boys, wife, speaker, high school teacher, and author of Empowered Moms & Kids. She has a Master’s degree in Educational Leadership and is passionate about learning and teaching. On www.empoweredmomsandkids.com you’ll find inspiration and encouragement for moms raising tweens and/or teens. Read more in the “about” section of this page.