There are days in motherhood when I am totally on top of my game. I’m feeling great. The kitchen is clean. I’m doing meaningful activities with my five adorable kids. Everyone is laughing and getting along. And then there are the other days.
The days that I’m looking at the clock in utter disbelief, “It’s not even noon yet?” and I have no idea where I’m going to get the energy for the next eight hours. The days where no matter what new activity I introduce, they’ll find a way to fight about it.
Luckily, the readings for today provide some excellent tips on what to do when your vocation is draining you a.k.a when you’re just barely surviving, not thriving.
In the first reading we meet an utterly exhausted Elijah. He is fleeing for his life because being faithful to God means that evil men are trying to kill him. He’s discouraged, too, because despite giving his all, he hasn’t been very successful in converting the wayward Israelites. He’s reached the end of his rope and is ready to call it quits. His hardships are just. too. much! “I have had enough, Lord!” he cries out (1 Kg 19:4). It’s consoling to know that holy people felt that way, too.
But God knows just what he needs when he’s feeling ready to give up from exhaustion and discouragement: food & drink; a friend (Elisha); and best of all, the “gentle whisper” of divine intimacy (1 Kg 19:7;3). So here’s the best of Sacred Scripture when motherhood is just. too. much, and you feel like you’ve had enough.
1. Nourish your body with your favorite food and wine.
When I’m feeling down or exhausted, I know I need to stop and fill my life with simple pleasures. They have a way of instantly delighting me and lifting my spirits. The Psalms say, “Taste and see that the Lord is good” (Ps 34:8). I love taking that verse as literally as I possibly can.
2. Nourish your spirit by calling a friend.
There’s nothing like a mom-friend who just gets it. I mean, who else can appreciate your amazing ingenuity when your three-year-old cries, “I have to go to the baaaafroom; it’s #two!” and you’re stuck in the carpool line? There’s nothing like a female friend to bring laughter and relief to the human heart.
3. Nourish your soul in a quiet moment with God.
I don’t put too much pressure on myself to have a great “structured” prayer time, at least not in this stage of life with five littles. If it happens, great! I savor it. If not, I don’t let myself feel guilty. I just reveal what’s on my heart to God in the midst of my day and try to hear him speaking to me. Prayer is a relationship that I have access to at any time. It doesn’t have to look “pious.” It just has to be real. I have to show up, and allow God to see me as I really am, and bask in the knowledge that I am deeply loved. This love, above all, replenishes my heart and keeps me going.