The Sisterhood of Mothering: Finding Joy

When I wrote my last post, I knew it was risky. I knew that asking for advice and opinions on something as personal and protected as mothering might result in some misunderstanding, in some platitudes too simple or slightly off.

And that did happen, but it’s OK. One reader called me “desperate” (in what she thought was a helpful way.) Another said that she also sometimes wished she wasn’t a mother.

It’s not that I don’t want to be a mother, or that I feel desperate and I’m about to give up (though to be fair, I did use the word “desperately” in the post). It’s not that I believe it’s not all it’s cracked up to be, or that I wish I could back out. I just want to find the joy again. I want to clear the cobweb of poor habits and bad communication, and enjoy mothering more minutes of the day.

I knew most of you knew. You could place yourself in my shoes that morning, you’d had explosive blowups with your kids, you had mornings that didn’t go well, you wanted to take something back.

And I got perfect gems of advice, love and understanding. Give thanks. Have reasonable expectations. Build in margin. Make room for their unique needs. Be intentional. Ask God for joy. Build the relationship first.

I’ve been assembling a record of memory in my mind, those moments I’ve found crazy joy in mothering even when it feels like herding cats (50 percent of mothering is containment, a friend told me). I find joy in mothering when:

I am intentional about how I spend the next hour
I can look in their eyes and watch resistance melt away because they are understood
I expect them to get caught up in play and forget what I’ve asked
I have time to sit still and watch them be themselves, when the joy in who they are overwhelms
I respect them and they return the effort
I have enough time, even with inevitable delays and things forgotten, to finish the tasks of a morning or afternoon
We can get out the damn door in time for school without yelling

Alright, maybe the last one is more a sense of accomplishment, but all the same. The day is better when that happens. The other items in the list help it happen.

When I decided this blog’s theme was honesty, I knew I might be misunderstood. One day, I’m sure someone will be offended (maybe that’s today). But if I weren’t honest about the war I was waging in my mind last week, I wouldn’t have peace about it today. If I just kept muddling through without admitting that something was wrong and I wanted to find a way out, I would still be back there. And I would feel alone.

Because of your comments, emails and words of encouragement — even if it was that you “liked” the post or said you appreciated it, I knew you were there with me. You reminded me that I don’t have to walk this mothering road in the dark. I have the light of my sisters to help guide me, who let me know they’re right there in step with me, and are willing to humbly share the way they’ve found back to joy.

That makes the honesty worth it. That makes the risk of being misunderstood OK.

So thank you.

What do you need to be honest about today? Whatever it is, know this: You’re not alone.

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7 comments on “The Sisterhood of Mothering: Finding Joy

  1. Chasity says:

    Kim~ I’m reading both your last post and this one today. I love your honesty. You know I’m with you, and in so many ways that I’ve never expressly told you. Thank you for being honest, even when it’s unlovely, especially when it’s unlovely. Have you seen the new site? Would love for you to share honestly there sometime, or many times. We are extremely excited for the hope and healing that truth can bring, if only in the very knowing of the fact that indeed you are not alone.

  2. Kara says:

    Got your back, sister.

  3. I’m going to assume here that the reader you’re referring to who called you desperate was me, since I tweeted your post as a “desperate mom”, to share with other mothers who might come alongside you and encourage you. Being desperate is not a bad thing or anything to be ashamed of.
    And there are different kinds of desperate. The desperate I was referring to was of having an urgent need. As the reader, I interpreted your post to be of an urgent need for other moms to come around and support you and encourage you.

    My intent was never to cut down or belittle by using the word desperate. I have desperate moments at least once a week! And being desperate does not make you love your children less or want to be a mother less. It means you’re human and your strength only goes so far.

    Blessings, and again, I apologize if I offended you in anyway. Certainly not my intent.

    • Oh Christin! Thanks for your comment, really. Social media is such a strange thing sometimes and I don’t know how to respond to someone I’ve never met when I appreciate you tweeting my post, but then I’m not sure what you meant by “desperate.” Not the best conversation to have 140 characters at a time!

      Your comment actually brings something else to light for me: I read shame into your tweet because I felt it first. I saw the word and I felt pathetic because that’s the way I was already feeling. Just reading my own emotion into your words, when you only meant them for good, to rally mothers around me, so I’d feel the sisterhood I’m talking about in this post. And I did. So I do thank you. And I thank you even more for coming back, continuing to read, and clarifying your intention. It means a lot.

      And I wasn’t offended, really — it brought up shame, for me. My pride wanted to stand up and say, “well, I may be at the end of my own strength, but I’m not *desperate,*” when that’s exactly what I was. And am. And isn’t that a better place to be anyway — desperate for God to give strength?

      Thanks, Christin. I appreciate your words.

      • Kim,
        You are such a sweet blessing. I am a new reader and yes, only wanted to encourage. 🙂 I am so thankful to clear up any miscommunication. True, social media can be very hard to read the heart of the other side at times.

        Being desperate is definitely a good thing because it puts you (us) in a place where we are dependent on God and not ourselves.

        Anyways, you were brave in writing that post. Motherhood is HARD and it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. It is sacrifice and service. It’s not easy 95% of the time. (Or maybe that’s just me?) But it is rewarding and it is worth it and it is GOOD.


  4. stacey says:

    I so appreciate you being REAL, Kim.