I’m not going to lie, up until pretty much writing this post, I’ve resented being a mother. People tell me, “Just enjoy it, they grow up so fast” …but all I feel is my blood starting to boil a little bit. I’m not saying I regret having children, because I don’t. I wanted them. I wanted this perfect little vision of children and motherhood that I had inside my mind. I had visions of tea parties and family board games (without pieces flying everywhere). I had visions of listening to my children laugh and play nicely together while I got things done nearby. I had visions of perfectly clean, little smiley angels who minded when I asked them nicely to do things as long as I was reasonable. I had visions of enjoying teaching my cooperative, attentive and eager little ones to read and learn about life, language, nature and God as they hung on my every word.
I had visions of enjoying motherhood!
But I didn’t envision being completely overwhelmed by being touched SOOOOOO much. I didn’t envision so many fights, screaming fits for no reason, sickness, excrement, and utter exhaustion. I didn’t envision caring so much about the good of a tiny person who seems to regularly think that I am the devil. I didn’t envision being “hated” so much just for trying to help. I didn’t envision loosing so many brain cells and growing so many heart cells just for them to be broken. I didn’t envision cooking 14 meals in a day and my kids still being “hungry” because they refuse to eat all of them. I didn’t envision feeling utterly, frantically busy all day and crashing in exhaustion at the end of it wondering what I accomplished. I didn’t envision feeling completely worthless and unappreciated and literally unable to finish even simple tasks like laundry and dishes without help.
In the throes of Post Partum Depression I reached my breaking point. I “needed” to get away for a few days. My mother in law generously invited me to go with her for 4 days to Bend, OR to hike volcanoes, eat good food, drink alcohol and get a full night’s sleep in a bed someone else made.
I enjoyed myself immensely but when I walked back into the house, instead of being refreshed and happy to see everyone, I instantly grew almost furious (I’m sure it was heightened by the PPD, but still). All I could see was that things were not “right”. The house was “clean” but things weren’t where they “go” (in my mind). My flowers were dying, the plants weren’t watered, and the fish were barely alive. The food I had bought for the kids was going to waste in the fridge and they had eaten McDonald’s for lunch. And those were just the first things I noticed…
When we finally talked about it, my husband simply responded, “You’re only upset because you expect me to be you!”
I was stunned. He was right!
I thought everything I did all day was obvious, banal, meaningless and easy.
I was upset because I wanted someone else to be able to do what I am called to do in the way that (apparently) only I know it needs to be done.
Once I allowed that to sink in, I had a new revelation. There was new meaning to the phrase “you are irreplaceable”.
Irreplaceable and Called to Motherhood
The reason my children still climb on me even when daddy is home is because I am irreplaceable. The reason my home isn’t the same when I come back to it is because I am irreplaceable. The reason my child needs me to make their scrambled egg and not daddy is because I am irreplaceable. The reason I have to be the mother to these particular 4 children and no babysitter, grandma or auntie can suffice is because I am irreplaceable. The reason my baby cries at me while I am making dinner is because I am irreplaceable.
The reason I am called to motherhood is because no one else can do this.
This revelation would originally have made me even more bitter…. But somehow it has lifted thousands of pounds from my shoulders.
Embracing being Irreplaceable
It has released me from the weight of expectations and disappointments.
It has allowed me to notice all the things that need to be done and let go of them, knowing that they simply aren’t all possible right now.
It has released my husband from the soul crushing expectations I had been thinking he should be able to meet and allowed me to finally LET him be dad (rather than a backup mom).
It has allowed me to finally see my children’s needs simply as pleas for a special kind of love that no one else can give them instead of unreasonable and premeditated ways to make my life unbearable. It has also allowed me to love them back as irreplaceable. No one can push my buttons like they do. No one can break me down or make me whole again the way they do. No one can smile or hug me like they do. No one can make me a better person like they do (no matter how much I balk). No one can grow up into the amazing human beings they are becoming except them….because they are irreplaceable.
You are Irreplaceable
The reason you MUST do what you are called to do, no matter how mundane it may seem, is because you too are irreplaceable.
Sometimes we think of being irreplaceable as “free stardom”. We think of it as something that “ups” our self esteem, that makes us worthy of awards, recognition, praise and prizes. We all long to be seen as irreplaceable because it makes us feel valuable and loved.
It’s a beautiful thing!
But, this is only half of the equation….
We (conveniently) tend to forget that irreplaceability comes with responsibility!
How many times have I gotten bitter that I have to do something for it to be done “right”? How many times have I been angry that my kids still wanted to hang onto my legs or have me help them with something even when daddy was home? How many times have I complained that God didn’t make someone else able to “fill in for me” when I get tired? or lazy? or bored? or simply unwilling?
Who am I? Why can’t someone else take my place? Do what I am called to do? Love how I am called to love? Why does it have to be me? Why does it have to be so bad take a little more “me time” at the expense of someone else? Why does it have to be so bad to cut corners, give one less hug, say one less kind word, to step back and leave something undone? Only because, if we don’t, no one else will… and the world will slowly continue crumbling one undone, inconvenient kindness at a time.
The Responsibility of being Irreplaceable
YOU were given eyes to see the universe in a unique way and that ability allows you to see certain needs as obvious when no one else might be able to see them or fill them in the way they need to be filled.
YOU were given irreplaceable hands, irreplaceable talents and an irreplaceable heart.
It is unreasonable to expect someone else to provide the same love that YOU are called to give the world and the individuals in it. It is unreasonable to expect others to be strong enough in just the right ways to able to carry the cross that only you were meant to carry.
It is unreasonable to expect others to be you!
How to embrace your Irreplaceability
- Stop expecting others to know what you know, or to do things that you think are obvious.
- Stop complaining about what you can see needs to be done – and do your best to do it, (or somehow supervise, orchestrate, or delegate it).
- Stop pushing others away who legitimately need you – even if you don’t want to do what they need. Most often we do this out of laziness, spite, or irritation. You might truly be the only one who can help.
- Learn how to discern what you are called to do. (Read also: Listening to God in a world full of noise)
- Embrace who you are meant to be, and Do Something! (Read Also: Embracing who you are, How to Follow God’s will – Even if you don’t know what it is)
- Never let your love “gas tank” run dry. When you are truly living out your irreplaceability, you will feel drained to your very bones. It is crucial to maintain a strong relationship with God so that you can constantly refill your stores of the love and service that are being so constantly demanded of you. Only God, who is love Himself, is sufficient to replenish the love we are called to constantly give. (Read also: Called to be Filled, Does God really love me? and The True Meaning of “Me time”)
How is God challenging you to be irreplaceable today? or How has someone else impacted you in the way they embraced (or didn’t) their irreplaceability?
#ParticularlyCALLED #Togetherinthetrenches #IamCALLED