At The Base of the Mountain: When Motherhood Feels Overwhelming

I've been a mom of two for just nine weeks. And in those short nine weeks, motherhood has flipped me over, stretched me thin and spit me out empty. Between a colic/reflux/generally fussy newborn; a curious, demanding and needy toddler; and an unexpected, fast occurring move to a new state; I've pretty much been owned by this season of life.

My temper is short with my toddler, all of my usual patience for his incessant request for cheese, colors and horsey spent. My house, not really ever clean, but almost always picked up at the end of a day, a total mess - crumbs from four different meals are piled below the high chair, toys littered in every room of the house, and clean laundry sits in the dryer, forgotten for the past seven days. And my husband, he receives the brunt of my angst - he and I are burning the candle at both ends these days, neither with any fuel at the end of the day for each other.

Unreturned phone calls, missed thank you notes and unanswered emails remind me of how behind I am. I've missed big events in both friends and family member's lives - not celebrating in their joy, or mourning in their sorrow - as I should. I've stopped and started this very blog post at least eight times - not because I can't find the words, but because I can't find the time.

Most of my nights are spent in our bedroom or a hotel room, up for hours and hours on end, trying to console my daughter's fussing and cries - and at least once a week you can find me crying just as hard as she is at 2 a.m.

Motherhood has broken me.

I've been a mom for nearly two years and while it's tossed me a few doozies over the years, these past two months have nearly done me in.

I have never felt more inadequate, weak and incapable in my life.

Sure, I'm in a more busy season than is typical (Like most people, my husband and I have wondered more than once if we were crazy to say yes to this move right after we had a newborn.), yet my failures and shortcomings as a mother remain the same as they always are; just more acute and bright in this season of life.

The mess and change and chaos of this season have stripped me bare of my coverings and shields, with nothing left but tear-stained cheeks and open, empty hands. I crawl through these days, searching the ground for the light of hope, unable to even lift my head from the burdens slung across my back.

So where do I go from here?

It is here that I stop.

I cry, I cling, and I claim the truth.

I am being broken, so that God can rebuild something new in me.

I may still be in the valley, the fog dense and thick, unable to find the light of hope because of the mountain in front of me, but that doesn't mean it's not there.

Sometimes, God sees it good for us to wait at the base of the mountain, blind and helpless, because that is where our rags are refined, our souls are sweetened and our hearts healed.

Sometimes we need to slip so our feet can finally find the Rock.

We need to bleed so the Healer can bring the cure.

We need to get lost so we can finally be found.

And as mothers, it can sometimes seem that we live at the base of the mountain every day. That more often than not, we are slipping, bleeding and lost on this on this path of motherhood, grasping for something, Someone.

It is in these barren, broken seasons that we must gather up all of our efforts as mothers, the bad, the so-so, and the oh, so few good ones, and deliver them to the base of the mountain each morning.

It is a difficult and shameful journey because even our very best efforts are stained, tattered, blackened and sullied.

But we take them anyway.

Because at the base of the mountain is the cross, the God that makes all things new, the Great Cleaner who will wash, scrub and mend our efforts until they are white as snow.

We must trust that our God is enough. That our God is the God that took five loaves and two fish and fed thousands. He is the God that raised a dead man by just the sound of his voice. He is the God that opens barren wombs, parts seas, heals the blind and protects even the smallest sparrow. We serve the God of the bible - and he was enough for his people then, and he is enough for his people now.

I trust that this trying, tearful season I am shuffling through will lead to a sweet season of healing and mending. That soon my aches and pains, bruises and wounds will be rubbed with the purest, most powerful salve by a pair of nail-scared hands, bringing with them healing, strength and restoration.

But I don't get to enjoy the season of redemption until I have traveled through this season of surrender.

It seems motherhood tends to drive in some of the deepest wounds we will ever experience. But those wounds always heal and scar, serving as reminders of the seasons that tested and refined us, yet left us better and greater than we were before.

So it is among the cuts that continue to go deeper and the bruises have not stopped spreading, we look for the healed scars to remind us of truth: That stains will be washed clean, sorrow turned to joy and hearts made new.

And so I wear my wounds bare and true, raw in form, waiting for them to be touched by the Healer.

This is a taxing, testing period of winter, yet I hold on to the hope of what's to come, standing only because of grace.

And so here I rest. And here I wait.

At the base of the mountain, for the fog to clear.

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*Image courtesy Anne Golliher


  1. Beautifully written - I can relate so much. I walked so confidently and judgmentally about what kind of mom I would be and what type of standard I would hold until multiple children just broke me. Even now, I daily fight my pride which hates the reality that I can't do / be / accomplish or uphold all of my hopes and standards. Even when I do catch the ball in one area, it's only to be quickly dropped in another. As I scale back and back and back, not even finding moments to write, I'm finding more joys in the simple acts and small tasks - getting the dishwasher loaded (win), finding a moment to bake cinnamon rolls (treat), seeing a need and meeting it (joy). But these aren't the 'big' things I feel I should be tackling, like redecorating my whole house, ministering to women through leadership and writing, keeping up with friendships, caring about my neighbors, loving and noticing my extended family. I don't have the resolution to this tension yet - the feeling that what I CAN do doesn't match what I SHOULD do. But I know it rests in surrender and in the gospel. And I find comfort knowing that God always supports and upholds the lowly, the least, the smallest, and the most meager people who seek Him - He isn't impressed by worldly achievements and fully accomplished flashy to-do lists. Love you, sister!

  2. Amanda PhilgreenMarch 3, 2015 at 3:26 PM

    This is just beautiful! Thanks for boldly speaking truth. My soul longs and sits with yours in the testing and the waiting. Love the line about having to go through the season of surrender before you get to experience season of redemption! Just what I needed to be reminded of!

  3. Thanks Panda, so glad you connected with it. Missing you!

  4. Oh yes, oh yes, oh yes Emily! I totally am there with what's realistic (so different from when I just had one and wasn't moving!) to I hope to do. And right now they are SO FAR APART. Thanks for this encouragement that you are right there too - I think you put it right in finding simple joys in small tasks, and putting less emphasis on those big things the world values. Love you too!

  5. Wish I was there to give you a hug and a helping hand. Praying for you in this trying season of life.

  6. For what it's worth... I felt the exact same way after my second baby. I was totally and utterly thrown for a loop. It took me several months to get back to normal, but it did happen! I just had my third eight months ago, and it's so much easier. How weird is that? :P My point is, it will pass, but in the meantime, so much love and tons of hugs for you because I was there and it really does stink for a while. You're an amazing mother and an inspiring blogger. Hang in there, girlie!! <3 <3

  7. Thanks Anna, It's encouraging to know it's been like this for others! Funny that your third was easier, but I can see how in some ways, you're already used to having your attention divided and not being all things at all times for just one little human. :) Thanks for the encouragement!

  8. Thanks Laura, appreciate the well wishes! I'll be sure to post new pics. ;)

  9. Kristin BjorklundMarch 6, 2015 at 9:27 AM

    Praying of you! You have so much on your plate.