J.O.Y.

Eva’s father sent me a text message yesterday (which I will paraphrase to spare you from his spelling and texting abbreviations) that said, “I know you are mad at me, but I’ve been having a lot of personal issues lately. If I’m not loving myself, I can’t love or help anyone else.”

(Lately meaning “since the 90’s.”)

To which I replied, “That’s interesting because I make sure Eva is taken care of BEFORE I do anything for myself. Glad I’m the one providing for her.”

As much as I know being angry is unproductive and destructive, he makes my blood burn like fire (NOT in the good way!)

In what world do parents take care of themselves first? Seriously? Pretty sure the premise of having children is taking care of them as if they are your own flesh and blood…

Right?

Parents, would you ever eat if your child had none? Would you ever worry about having new clothes if theirs didn’t fit? Would you ever buy yourself something that would prevent you from providing for them?

No. No. No.

Unfortunately, our society actually encourages us to believe that we are worthless to others unless we feel happy and fulfilled. Get all those THINGS and do EVERYTHING you want so you feel better; only happy people contribute! Guess what? THAT’S BACKWARDS. Any good mother will tell you that there are nights she does not want to make/drive through and pick up dinner–but she does it. There are mornings she does not want to get out of bed–but she does it. At one point, we all thought that we weren’t going to make it through the first year alive and/or sane. (I’m still not sure my sanity is what it once was. Sleep deprivation is a killer.) Even for people without children, do you believe that you can’t make a difference if you’re having a bad day?

Eva is my reason. I power through the bad days because even when she is making me crazy (which is way more frequentlysince she turned 4) I love her more than free time, more than disposable income, more than going out with the girls, and more than doing what I want.

I’m not saying all parents should be martyrs to their children, we’re still individuals with needs too, I’m saying that the idea you can’t contribute if life gets hard is just wrong.

The past couple weeks have been really hard for me. As I mentioned in my last post, we are entering a season of change. I don’t know where exactly we’re going but it’s somewhere new. The not knowing stresses me out. My job stresses me out. My personal life stresses me out. And when Eva has a bad day or a temper tantrum, I feel like a bad mother. Which stresses me out. It’s not easy putting a stubborn, willful, cantankerous little girl first. The thanks we receive as parents are hugs, kisses, and the occasional unexpected sweetness. I’m still holding on to Eva telling me I am the best mommy ever from MONTHS AGO to get me through this phase with her. But I would rather die than know I was constantly shorting her to make myself feel better.

At the end of the day, we all need to remember that we can find joy in sacrifices. Maybe not immediately, and certainly not if it is a sacrifice made in resentment, but eventually the reward of joy will come back to find you.

A kitschy song from bible camp is playing in my head now about putting others first.

J is for Jesus / O is for others / Y is for you and you and you.

That is our hierarchy of priorities right there. And during this Easter weekend, when many of us are reflecting on a world-altering sacrifice, I hope I can set my stresses aside, lift up my daughter, my family and my friends and be thankful I have the opportunity to sacrifice for the ones I love. Where would I be if He hadn’t sacrificed for me?

Hope your day is filled with joy.

 

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