when you want to throw in the towel

instagram mom tired funny emoji when you want to throw in the towel encouragement for tired mom being a stay at home mom is hard
A screenshot of my texts to Jonny this morning, shared via Instagram.

Some mornings are tougher than others. Some days are more exhausting than others. Some weeks are more trying than others. Some entire seasons of life are more challenging than you’ve ever imagined.

Parenting little children is not for the faint of heart.

Parenting boys is not for the faint of heart.

Parenting kids from hard places is not for the faint of heart.

Or maybe it all is for the faint of heart, because none of us are really strong enough to do anything without strength that comes beyond ourselves.

I’ve thought about a lot of ways to write this post, as I was attempting to scrub permanent marker from vases in our bedroom, as one child screamed at the top of his lungs for ten minutes while a visitor from church stopped by, as I got apple juice poured on me from kid #1 while I was cleaning up a different spill from kid #2.

I’ve thought about ticking off a list, one by one, of the parenting challenges I’m facing lately. Of the tough spots my kids are in, of the challenges they’re facing, too. I’ve thought about finding a way to blame others, to complain, to rant, to rave.

But after posting a glimpse into my chaos on Instagram this morning, I started seeing these comments and messages, affirming that there are a whole lot of us who are in the trenches right now.

I’m not the only one.

Sometimes, parenthood is really, really, really hard. And there’s something about knowing that I’m not alone that makes me feel a little braver, a little stronger, a little more capable than I was before.

I think we need to lean into each other a little more. I think, for people like me, we need to learn to stop pretending that we don’t need help. Because I don’t think we were meant to be moms in a vacuum. It really does take a village, and more and more I’m learning that mothering in community isn’t just a good idea, but it might just be a necessary one.

I like to do this thing where I get into this unhealthy cycle of complaining — one complaint leads to another which builds to another. This morning I found myself aching for help. I wished I lived by my mom or my mother-in-law who could be a saving grace when I just need to scrub the three layers of sticky apple juice from my kitchen floors in peace. I wished my BFFs who are also in the young stages of being a mom lived closer, not scattered throughout the state, and even country. I started to let this bitter seed take root in my heart, frustration building as I wondered why God would move us to this little town where I have no one.

Ugh. The lies. The lies that get me when I’m down.

Because it’s not true. While all good things flow from God, the whispers that say no one cares…those aren’t from him. Those are deceptive distractions — myths that desperately need to be dispelled.

So here I was, one little guy crying because I gave him the wrong kind of Pop-Tart, the other little guy biting the dog, and in my weakness I joined the cacophony of crazy and started crying on my bedroom floor. It was a great family moment.

And it was in this moment that a friend called to check in and just offered to watch the kids. Oh, you guys. A friend! A friend who has her own young kids and her own crazy stuff but cared about my kids and my sanity enough to invite us in.

That little call brought me a lot of perspective.

For whatever reason, my kids have had a tough couple of days. Knowing that there was someone who was willing to power through it with me? It’s little but it’s so big.

Moms of little ones — don’t be fooled by the picture perfect snapshots you see on Instagram. We’re all a bunch of imperfect people living in a swirl of skinned knees and dirty floors and salty tears. We have good days and we have bad days. We can do it alone, but it’s so much better when we do it together. So, can we? Can we do it together? Can we be brave enough to ask for help and kind enough to give it?

Moms with empty nests — we need you. We need you to walk alongside us and speak truth into our hearts when we’re ready to throw in the towel. We need you to listen to us and be real with us, too. If you never had someone walk the motherhood road with you, don’t let that harden your heart — be the person you wish you would have had to someone else.

I don’t have the cure for messy days. And I can tell you that finding the beauty in the mess is sometimes easier said than done. But we were never created to do life alone. Jesus says that we might be in the trenches, but he’ll give us strength and provide rest for our weary hearts. Maybe some of that strength and rest comes from linking arms with others.

7 thoughts on “when you want to throw in the towel

  1. Man. Rough times parenting the littles! I wonder how it will compare to other times as they grow up… teenage years?!!! You are TOTALLY not alone, and it hurts my heart how many mamas feel that they are. OR that their family is different. Because we’re all the same. Some of us may be better able to control our tempers or know a better way to diffuse a situation, but we all have the same woes. And guilt. And heart exploding joys.

    1. Meg, I can not even THINK of teenage years. Oh my word. My worries…oh goodness. I can’t even GO THERE. Haha. I agree, we all haVe the same woes, guilt, and heart-exploding joys! What a great way to put it. What I find is that sometimes it can be so hard to reach out to other moms in an organic way.

  2. So timely Kayla as I will be an empty nester at the end of this week when Eric’s little brother gets married on Friday and moves to Eastern Iowa on Sunday. Who would ever have thought both of our sons would live in Iowa and work for the same company? Gotta admit it’s harder than I thought it would be…..

    1. Thank you for adding your perspective, Rose. Blessings as you transition to this new time. What part of eastern Iowa? I’m from Waterloo and have a lot of friends and family in the Cedar Valley!

      1. Davenport, Iowa for his 6-18 month training period then will relocate based on the job he gets within the company.

  3. I can relate on so many levels and I’m only chasing 1 boy around! Sometimes I can’t help but be a little scared of the crazy that’s sure to ensue when we welcome baby #2 home in a few short months! Community is so important! One of my closest friends moved back to town last year and honestly, some weeks I don’t think I’d survive without seeing her and sharing in our crazy together. Hang in there!

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