Searching for Blessings in the Bad Days

It’s been one of those days – the kind of disastrous days where everything goes wrong and the entire day spins out of control. A day filled with exploding diapers, toddler tantrums, uncooperative homeschoolers and spit up on every outfit. Everybody wants something – right! this! minute! – and nobody can get along. My patience runs out. Tempers flare. Mommy yelled. Kids yelled. Everyone yelled. We called a truce and piled in the van to run some errands (even though we really should know better). Grandma’s at the store, so we manage a few moments of peace. Of course, we get pulled over on the way home and receive a $124 ticket – it is, after all, still one of those days. Once we finally made it home, I cooked another meal that nobody wanted to eat. It’s that sort of day.

Grumpy kids. Grumpy mom.

No fun.

As much as I love motherhood, I don’t love days like today. Days like today make me want to hide under a warm blanket and console myself with a good book and liberal amounts of delicious chocolate while I try very hard to forget that I actually belong to any of these people.

I live in a tiny madhouse ruled by a tiny army that I made myself.
All moms have days like this.

I’m exhausted, angry, frustrated, tired, hungry, overworked and overwhelmed. I feel broken.

I started writing this blog post earlier today, in the midst of my crisis. The lunch I’d been so eager to cook had turned into a full-blown power struggle with my finicky five-year-old, who decided that he absolutely was not going to eat. An attention-seeking three-year-old dumped water all over his oldest brother’s subtraction assignment. I was angry but big brother was thrilled – he’d been throwing a fit about the assignment anyway. As water poured off the desk and onto my dress, I lost my temper. I banished them all with a boisterous “GET! OUT! NOW!” and sat down to cry.

My notebook invited me to escape into beautifully blank pages. I picked up my favorite pen. Without even realizing it, I started scrawling out my thoughts.

I love being a mother. I really do. I love motherhood and I love all of my children. I really do. I may not like them right this minute but I love them always. This is the life I’ve always wanted and I’m so grateful to be able to live my dream every day. I try so hard to be the best mother I can be. Why are there days like this?! What more am I supposed to do – and how on earth am I supposed to do it?

Suddenly, this realization entered my mind:

It takes rain to raise flowers.

It takes rain to raise flowers.
As surely as rain helps flowers grow, our trials help us grow too.

Rain and sunshine are required before flowers can bloom. Beautiful days alone can’t do the job. In fact, too much sunshine destroys any chance of growth at all. The most beautiful and delicate creations in our word thrive on the balance between sunshine and rainfall.

Too much sunshine and the world starts to look like this:

drought
Photo by Carlye Calvin

Similarly, motherhood can’t be all sunshine and rainbows. It can’t and it shouldn’t. Just like a drought robs the ground of moisture, an easy walk through the journey of motherhood would rob our children – and us! – of the valuable learning opportunities. There are so very many lessons tucked inside our very worst days!

Even as I sat on the couch with the thunderous roar of “GET. OUT. NOW!” still ringing in the air, I began to see the edges of grace. Gratitude tugged at my heartstrings and I began to acknowledge the happiness hidden beneath the heartbreak.

I just changed the baby and he’s already covered in spit up – and now I’m covered, too…

but I’m so thankful to have a newborn in the house. I’ve been waiting for this boy for so long!

I worked so hard to create that assignment that was just doused with water…

but I’m still thankful that I have the opportunity to teach my kids at home.

My five year old refused to eat his lunch…

I am so thankful that we are blessed with plenty of food

and a refrigerator that will save his leftovers until dinnertime.

My children are always loud and my house is always a mess!!!

but at least it’s (usually) a joyful noise –

and the mess is just more evidence that an abundant life is lived here!

Little by little, I began to realize that even my trials were evidence of my blessings. Yes, I am overwhelmed – but I am beautifully  overwhelmed with the challenge of juggling so many blessings at the same time. I have so many good and joyful tasks each day that they fill my every hour and there is never time enough to accomplish it all. In that way, at least, my cup truly runneth over. Why should I wallow in frustration and self-pity because I can’t accomplish every good thing in a single day? When I step back and consider my “trials,” I truly see how small they really are.

Unfortunately, this realization came too late for us to rescue the day. There were no rainbows or sunshine for us. Our day ended in chaos and frustration, just like it began. Nevertheless, I know that tomorrow will be another day, with another chance to get things right. I know the perspective that I gained today will help me immensely during my next dreary and difficult day.

My friends, whatever you are struggling with today, please remember to look for the blessings. You’ll likely find evidence of God’s grace where you least expect it!

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