I have been a complainer lately. I have been tired and worn out and not so patiently awaiting for this baby to arrive, to get energy back and better mobility and more than two positions in which I can sleep. I’ve focused on how I feel and have let it affect more than just myself. I have been impatient with my children because it has been harder for me to keep up with them, harder for me to get up a 100+ times a day to attend to a need, harder for me to calm the stress and anxiety I have been feeling.

Selfishness and too many thoughts that start with me.

My children have not changed. My oldest had a birthday and turned five but they essentially have not changed. It is me. The three children chasing after each other shrieking and laughing through the kitchen, hiding behind curtains and giggling uncontrollably have not changed.

I have just lost sight of that joy.

And I get these emails, these devotions and blog posts from various authors and rabbis and groups, and they are all saying the same thing and I keep missing the point until finally it seems to scream from the page at me: Slow down. Praise God. Slow time. Thank God. Focus on your children. Pray. Seek out joy.

Praise. Thank. Pray. Seek.

And I have been so inwardly focused, willing time to speed by, filling my calendar and trying to accomplish things to rush away one more day and all the while losing focus on what matters.

I thank God now that He sends more than one hint to me that I am doing it wrong.

Any mother who says everyday is perfect is lying. There is a reason we call it seasons of life; some seasons are happy and joyful like a warm spring day and others are bitter and cold with selfishness or sorrow or anger, a winter to our souls.  My one rainy day was quickly becoming monsoon season in my own self-pity.

But God gives grace and our seasons of life are not deemed to go in a specific order or be circular and repetitive. They are not predictable or ritual. And there is always grace in every season.

I wake up most mornings and ask for strength to make it through the day before I even sit up. I ask for patience, wisdom, and gentleness. Throughout the day I hear that Whisper, breathe deep. Give grace.

Admittedly I do not always listen. But yesterday I listened with more than just my head when my sister reminded me that I won’t be pregnant much longer and then I won’t ever be pregnant again (according to plan).

Here I was, wasting this gift. This last part of the season of my life of bearing children, to bring one more child into this world, and I was complaining it away. And in the midst of it I was not paying attention to the daily joys found around me. I was missing the light in my little girl’s eyes as she throws her hands up in unrehearsed singing and dancing, spinning and swaying and singing unknown syllables with pure conviction. I was missing the simplicity of my middle child just wanting to sit next to me just for the sake of sitting near me and instead worrying about my own comfort and not being elbowed in the stomach again. I was missing the eagerness of my oldest to ask questions and learn about everything he possibly can and instead only hearing the thousand questions demanding answers, some for which I could provide none.

It wasn’t a switch that was turned on or sudden change. It was a slow dimming of awareness and a pulling inward of myself that caused me to lose sight. It was the daily excuses I made as to why I could not (did not) want to play a game of pretend or answer all those questions. It was the day to day to that was wearing on me because I lost sight of my purpose of actively investing in my children’s lives and not just sitting idly by like a babysitter that simply ensures their well-being for the day. And it is hard when you are tired and achy and the constant awareness of it all that makes the day draining. Pushing through requires effort and strength and a lot of grace.

The season of self-pity is over. Grace is new everyday and more than enough that I can carry it over to my children, overflowing from the grace God gives me. And I can give myself a little of that grace too.

Will this day be perfect? Probably not because this person writing and each person around her is not perfect and there are bound to be mess-ups and mishaps and mistakes. But it can be better when I accept that and accept grace. Besides, no one learns in a perfect world but through the challenges faced daily, the challenge to find joy everyday.

I have so much to be joyful about when I start looking around and not just at myself. Not just my children but all the other small things in life that make me happy, that give me pause to smile and give thanks. And that can be worth enough to slow down and enjoy this season, to change it back to what it should be. To praise, to thank, to pray, and to seek.