Motherhood was something I planned for, something I wanted, so why was living it out so drastically different from my expectations?” This is a question many an honest and searching mother has asked herself. If motherhood is so good, so desirable, so obviously the will of God, then why does it have to be so difficult? Why does it feel so unfulfilling? This was Sarah Mae’s question as she faced another day of caring for her children after yet another sleepless night—one of those days where she was just too tired and too worn out to be a mom. “Down to the bone, to the deepest part of my soul, is the love I have for my children. Every day of my life is imperfectly offered to them. But the little years, they're hard and oftentimes lonely. It's like a secret we fear sharing, just how life-altering motherhood is, especially when you don't have training or support.”
Mae found both training and support through Sally Clarkson, an author who would also become a dear friend and much-needed mentor. Together they have written Desperate: Hope for the Mom Who Needs to Breathe, a book that, judging by its early reviews, has resonated with mothers.
Sally and I want to encourage you to keep going even when it feels like you can't, and we want to help you. We won't offer you formulas, but we will offer ideas, perspectives, transparency, and wisdom. We have some ideas for you in getting help, and we are making a plea for older women to remember the tired years and come alongside young mothers, so that our children and our children's children will know how to serve and to receive help.
Mae and Clarkson collaborate in a very natural way. Mae, whose oldest child is just six years old, describes motherhood as she goes through it. She identifies concerns, confesses exasperation, asks question. Clarkson responds as the mentor, the one whose children are older and grown, the one who comes alongside those who are in the trenches.
I have no first-hand experience of motherhood, but what I can testify is that the questions Mae poses are the very ones that Aileen and I have discussed so many times. Almost every area of frustration is here: the never-ending piles of laundry, the house that begins to fall apart before the cleaning is even complete, the children who won’t sleep, the children who don’t want to obey. But it goes deeper than that. Here too is the self-reliance and unrealistic expectation. “A good mom, in my mind, was up bright and early before her children woke up; she got dressed, did her hair, put on her makeup, had her quiet time, and had breakfast simmering in the pan as she went to wake up her babes. Of course in my fantasy she was always cheery, always smelled good, and never raised her voice. She was what God never asked us to be apart from Him: perfect.”
The authors’ solutions to such questions and frustrations uniformly lead back to Scripture.
Each of us has a story, but God, who originated the design of motherhood, is the expert advisor to whom we should turn. God has equipped us for every good work, and I am quite confident that He who designed this role to be so eternally significant is the one who is ready to help, support, instruct, and guide. He will provide all we need for the task He has given us to fulfill. But to hear from God we must become women of the Word and women who pray, so that His voice may lead us as we grow into this role with grace. I look back now through all of the huge obstacles, unexpected twists, and challenges on this course of motherhood through my life and see that at each point, He was there, helping, carrying, guarding, and blessing as a true and present advocate. He is the reason for any success or blessing I have felt as a mother.
As the authors share wisdom, they also share hope.