I am sat watching my little boy in a hospital bed waiting for him to go down for an operation. My tummy is flipping and I have a faint sense of nausea and butterflies deep inside.
I can’t concentrate on anything. But this is of course just part of my job, isn’t it? That bittersweet part of being a mummy when no one can love your kids like you do but no one else will ever worry and lose sleep like you either!
I really love my kids and I really really love being their mummy. Do I find it easy? Do I rejoice in my job day in day out? Do I hear birds singing and feel the sun shining everyday?
Well no. I don’t. I struggle. I shout. Sometimes I lose it.
But I recently spoke to a friend who had read two articles in her church’s magazine about being a christian mum and raising your children to know Jesus.
Such an article should have been uplifting, encouraging, real, sensitive and engaging. Sadly it wasn't.
Instead my friend felt like they'd failed as a Christian mum because she couldn’t remember the last time she'd had a quiet time or read the Bible or prayed with her kids.
This article set up mums to feel like a failure. It set measures and aims that real mums might feel they could never fulfill.
Since when does praying have to be a quiet thing anyway? My kids are quite used to me chatting to God on the go. A quick desperate shout for patience or grace because I am running low. I don’t want my children to have to suddenly be serious and quiet because they want to talk to God. He is welcome and a part of the noise, chaos and love in our home.
This unrealistic attitude is a widespread problem in the Church: Too often we idealise Christianity instead of reaching out with good solid advice and a non judgmental and accepting attitude that mums will be able to relate to.
Mums should be able to say, "Yes that’s me!" and "I’m normal!" and "I can include Jesus in my noisy, messy, chaotic, stressful life."
Stories about children who never tantrum and mums who praise God while cleaning the toilets and families who claim they have an hour-long quiet time reading the Bible with each child daily and who talk only of an idealistic household will not relate to many mums.
I know many wonderful mummies. We have a lunch group where we come together to talk, share and pray. Most of our stories, prayer requests, giggles and tears come from our many failures and disasters of being parents as well as our triumphs.
I know so many mums who have struggled with post natal depression. Mums who need help to do their job. Mums whose experience of motherhood does not match the movie or the article in the magazine. But they are the mums I love, whom I admire, who I want to pray with, spend time with and encourage.
Being a Mum is not instantly easier because we are Christians - despite the appearance we may portray or believe we should live up to. Life as a Mum is a journey. I am eternally gratefully that unlike someone with no faith I am never alone, I do not need to rely on my own strength as I often run empty but can call on my loving heavenly father.
Call on him for grace, patience, forgiveness, calm and more patience! That is the message we should be sharing with others.
Let’s be real. Let’s be honest.
Let’s talk about tantrums, about how to include God and pray on the go when we are already running ridiculously late. Let's acknowledge antidepressants, bed wetting, isolation, loneliness, late homework, door slamming and failures as well as the joy, love, fun, craziness, reward charts, behaviour strategies and marble jars!
Let’s be real and reach others. Jesus did. Jesus was. Jesus is. Let’s be more like him.
Helen Miller is a slightly exhausted, happy, delirious, busy, some days working, some days a stay at home mum, wife, daughter, sister and friend