The sky was painted perfect last night.
Long, strong strokes of orange swept thick across a soft blue. The tip of the sun lingered near the horizon, savoring the last few moments of day, and we all did the same. Necks turned, eyes wide, fingers pointed.
“Mom, do you see that? That’s amazing!”
The beauty held us there.
That’s the thing about sunsets - they are glorious every time. Typically redundancy chips away at the sacred beauty of something, and awe wanes thin, but the sky? When another pictures hangs, with colors spinning and bursting, it doesn’t matter that I’ve seen it thousands of times before, my eyes gaze wide and my heart drinks deep and I stand with my children like a child again.
I’ve been missing those sunset moments.
My house is surrounded by trees which have a beauty all their own, but they loom tall into the sky and the big picture is hard to see.
I’ve been having days like that lately. Days with trees looming tall overhead in the form of fussy crying and blow out diapers and kids getting into arguments about who got the toy first. Trying days without nights of rest, one morphing into the next without any break in between, and it left me panting.
Where’s my sunset?
So last week my wonderful mother took my older two, and I headed west with my babe. She was finally sleeping. It was quiet except for the hum of the minivan and the occasional sound of the blinker as we turned. When was the last time I heard the sound of the blinker? I unraveled in the quiet and the tears slowly came.
Because some days for us mommas? There isn’t anything left.
We have children who need, need, need. Correction, food, comfort, cleaning, wiping, encouragement, teaching, chasing, pacing, embracing. And they are little and act like complete children. And babies cry like babies, and it’s all normal and has been happening since the first cry of the first baby. And I can’t help but wonder, did Eve ever have moments like this? Did she ever run for the quiet of a field, that first generation of nature singing a song of comfort to her weary soul?
And after her, the second momma and third, and thousandth and millionth, and here we are, the moms of this generation raising the moms of the next, and we are all the same really. Tied by a love that gives all and an overwhelming exhaustion when it feels like all has been given but the day isn’t over yet.
We’ve all had days when spilled milk isn’t just spilled milk.
It’s a night with three hours of sleep, a mountain of laundry in the corner and dirty dishes in the sink, a morning of refereeing between two little people, while a baby is crying over your shoulder, and then the milk is spilled. And was it breastmilk? Well, then let the floodgates open.
It can feel so unwarranted because the daily grind is a string of smallish moments, but if you are one of those moms who just had the milk spilled on top of everything else that goes on with raising children and you want to cry, I get it. I am with you.
After thirty minutes of driving, I parked outside a café and went in, no hands to hold or little feet to direct.
Just my baby, still sleeping, snuggled against me in her carrier. I ordered a muffin and something cold to drink and found a table near the window. I ate in the silence of my own heart’s conversation and it felt so good to listen.
Just one table over I saw a mom. She had her children around her asking questions and needing their food cut up. They were all boys, five of them under the age of seven. She handled herself with such grace and patience, I couldn’t help but take it in and let it simmer. I know she has had other moments. Ugly, difficult, hair pulling ones. I don’t think you can make it through triplet babies without shedding a good many tears.
But this moment in the café? Her boys looked to her and she spoke with kindness and I could see they were taking in everything she said like she was the most trustworthy person on earth. It reminded me, this is a beautiful calling.
Motherhood is a beautiful, life-shaping calling.
It was enough for me to see beyond my trees and know that the glory-filled sunsets are happening. And they are happening for you too, weary momma. Step out from under the trees and take a treasured moment to look at it.
The big picture is this: we are raising the next generation. Mommas, we are raising the next generation.
This is huge. And the days in which we live? It is an all-out battle for the minds of our children.
The world will offer confusion. We must teach truth.
The world will push for selfishness. We have to teach servanthood.
The world will tell them what they must do to be loved. Our children need to know they are loved by the One who paints the sunsets.
I am convinced that the only way to affectively teach is to focus on being taught.
We must hunger for truth in order to share it; to teach servanthood we must first learn to be self-sacrificing and our children will not fully understand the depths of His love unless we ourselves abide in it.
And these things do not happen in a day but in a long string of smallish moments. The good ones and the bad ones, because having the opportunity to apologize and seek forgiveness is not only inevitable but a moment used for good.
I write with my baby girl on my lap. Her name is Jane.
Back in 1926, a momma had a baby girl. She named her Jane. Jane grew and married and had eight children. One of her daughters grew and married and raised four children. One of her sons grew and I married him and together we are raising three.
This cycle of life just keeps going, day by day. Jane to Jane.
Grandma Jane was buried the month before our baby girl was born, but she left me with some beautiful words:
What ever happened to white picket fences,
Rose gardens, Prince Charming, happily ever after?
Fences must be painted and repaired, gardens must be hoed and nurtured.
Prince Charming gets tired and grumpy too.
Happily ever after?
The realities of life can be harsh. This is our prayer for you:
Keeping in tune with God’s plan for your life-
Abiding in Him can get your through those harsh realities of life and beyond.
All the way to happily ever after, both in this life and the one to come!
Abiding in Him. That is the happily ever after.
Chin up, momma friends. From generations past to generations present, we are in this together.
Life, day by day.
Sunrise to sunset.
Grace and Peace,