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To the Young Mama in the Middle of the Season

It’s the middle of the season.

The excitement and novelty of a new season and new team has died down. We’re not yet to the playoffs when the whole town is vibrating with pride and bleeding school colors. District games are underway and tensions are high with so many must-win games up ahead. Your husband’s hours are getting longer, if that’s even possible, and your schedule is filling up now that school is in full swing.

Your evenings consist of taking the biggest to soccer practice and the middle to piano just in time to turn around and head back to soccer practice to pick her up. Then, the baby is crying because apparently she can’t feed herself.

Some days, you manage to make it up to practice so the kids can see their dad, even if it’s only from a distance.

It’s the middle of the season.

Game nights are … difficult. The kids are exhausted from a full week of school. Whether they make it through the whole game is a crap shoot and even if they do, their little sleep deprived souls will be in shambles for the rest of the weekend. You’ll be the only one around to pick up the pieces.

It’s the middle of the season.

The weekend comes. You get the kids ready for all the things: Big Kid’s soccer game (which never fails to be the 8 o’clock game… who schedules this crap?), middle kid’s friend’s birthday party at 10. You know you said you’d help out at that church event, but you realize by noon everyone is DONE. With fingertips full of guilt, you text to let them know you won’t be able to make it. Stop with the guilt. You’re doing the best you can.

Your friend calls you about joining some girls for dinner tomorrow night, but you don’t have money for a babysitter (“Yes, he works Sundays, too”). And even if you did, you’re not sure you’d have the energy to put a bra on, much less makeup.

It’s the middle of the season.

Your husband comes home after all the kids are asleep and tells you about how the staff ate lunch at Pizza Hut and how the team had a ping pong tournament and he and his partner won. He tells you about kicking that one kid out of practice today and letting another cry on his shoulder about stuff that makes your stomach hurt.

Meanwhile, you tell him about how your middle child followed you around the house all the ding dang day and how the baby smeared poop EVERYWHERE and you didn’t throw up cleaning it. #winningatmotherhood. You feel a little silly telling him about your day and wonder silently if he really cares.

Y’all give each other a tight, lingering hug. Then sit down on the couch together, turn on ESPN, and see who falls asleep first.

It’s the middle of the season.

And you’re lonely.

You love this season. But you also feel like your life is put on hold until it’s over because you’re too busy being everything for everyone.

You need help. You need reinforcements. You need friendship and companionship and just to feel less alone.

Oh, mama. You’re not alone.

You. Are. Not. A. Lone.

Coaches wives everywhere are with you. They are cheering you on and standing with you in your loneliness. They feel it too.

It’s the middle of the season.

And you might feel forgotten. You might feel unseen or unimportant.

You aren’t.

That coach, the one who is working so hard and so long, he knows what you’re doing behind the scenes. He might not say it loud enough but he sees you and he’s thankful for you.

And those other coaches’ wives, the ones whose kids are a little bit older, the ones who sit by you on game nights and help you pack up all your stuff afterward, they know how hard and draining it is. They’ll be there for you if you’ll just ask.

And those players, the ones you cook for and clean for, the ones you loan your children’s father to for a few months to love on, they may not have the words to say it but they are so grateful for the way you’re sacrificing for them.

You, sweet mama in the middle of the season, are not forgotten.

By me, by your husband, or by your God.

It’s the middle of the season.

Hang on. We’re halfway there.

You love this season. But you also feel like your life is put on hold until it's over because you're too busy being everything for everyone. You need help. You need reinforcements. You need friendship and companionship and just to feel less alone. Oh, mama. You're not alone. You. Are. Not. A. Lone.

When You Suck at Asking for Help

“I don’t want you to help me! NO! NO! Don’t touch it!” she screamed as she aggressively jammed the “outie” part of the zipper against the “innie” part of the zipper over and over and over again to no avail.

“Charlee, we have to go. Let’s make a good choice. Would you rather get frustrated and cry or just ask Mommy for help?”

No response as she repeatedly attempted to “DO IT ALL BY MYSEE–EE–LLLL–FF!”

Five minutes later I gathered her limp body off of the living room floor, exhausted from the sobs and the tireless slamming of the jacket against the wall. She had clearly chosen to “get frustrated and cry” as opposed to the alternative, “ask for help.”

Sadly, she gets this from her mother.

I recalled a few months earlier when I had also had my very own “zipper moment.” I had been checking my watch every 38 seconds to see if Clark’s practice was over yet only to realize he wouldn’t be home for 4 hours and 38, no, 37 minutes. Will we all still be alive by then? I could make no such promise. Hattie was 5-months-old and Charlee was 22-months-old and I was done. Mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually DONE.

Charlee was in her room throwing a fit while I sat on the foot of the guest bed holding the littlest one. She was crying, yet again. I was bouncing up and down like a rabbit on 5-Hour-Energy, trying breathlessly to control my aggression, hoping not to approach the threshold for Shaken Baby Syndrome. As I bounced, I remember audibly repeating, “Please. Stop. Crying. Please. Stop. Crying.” Maybe one out of the three of us would listen.

Then my phone rang. It was Clark.

“Hey Babe, I’m gonna be late today.”

I couldn’t get a word out of my throat. I felt a huge knot form and before I could stop he could hear the sobs from the other end of the line. “O…. kay….”

“Has it been a bad day?”

Um. No. It’s been fan-freakin-tastic. Can you hear the two of them? They’re screaming because we’re all having so much fun playing Candy Land and creating educational crafts.

“Call your mom. Tell her to come over. She would love to help you.”

“O… kay…”

“No seriously. Call her. I’ll leave as soon as I can.”

“O… kay… Bye.”

Ten minutes later my phone rang. This time it was my mom.

“Hey, how ya doing? Clark called and said you might want some help. I’m on my way over right now.”

My husband knows me way too well. He knows my independent, I-CAN-DO-IT-ALL-BY-MYSELF heart would never surrender and actually ask for help. I don’t need help. I am perfectly capable of handling this motherhood thing on my own, thank you very much. I got myself into this gig and I can get myself through it with my teeth gritted and my fists clenched.

I knew my resistance had a lot more to do with pride than I cared to admit. God began to show me that asking for help isn’t a show of weakness but in fact the ultimate sign of strength and humility, the admission that I am not God and I was not created to do this alone.

It’s okay to need help. It’s okay to admit that today has sucked. Hard. It’s okay to need a second to come up for air every now and then. And it’s even okay to call your mom to rescue you… when you’re a grown woman.

 

In Exodus 17, Moses has just brought the Israelites out of Egypt. But while traveling they are attacked by the Amalekites and forced into battle. Moses, in his old age, heads to the top of the hill with Aaron and Hur while Joshua chooses the strongest men to go down to the battlefield.

Moses raises his staff as his men fight in an appeal to God for help and enablement. “As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning” (Ex. 17:11). Moses is old and tired. An entire battle is a long time to keep your hands raised up in the air. Thankfully, he has help. Verse 12 says, “When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up — one on one side, one on the other — so that his hands remained steady till sunset.”

I also feel old and tired most days. I also feel like there is a battle raging under my roof most days. And I also, like Moses, can see a difference in the outcome of my battle when I hold up my hands in surrender, in an admission that I can’t do this on my own. Sadly, my arms get tired pretty quickly.

God knew they would. He didn’t create me or Moses or you to hold up our hands on our own. He never expected us to fight our battles in isolation.

But I am not Moses. And I lack the humility to admit that I need someone else to bring me a rock to sit on or someone to prop up my hands. So I just watch my army go down in flames because I am too prideful to admit that I need reinforcements.

I need encouragement.

I need validation.

I need coffee.

I need help.

I have plenty of Aarons and Hurs that are willing to prop up my hands and pull up a rock. And so do you.

It’s just a matter of asking.

Mama, asking for help isn't a sign of weakness, but strength.

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