Today was one of those days.  You know the kind I am talking about–nothing goes the way it should, and everyone seems to need more of you than physically possible.  It is exhausting and overwhelming, to the point that all you want to do is go to bed but once you are there the unending questions and critical analyzing won’t let you sleep: Could I have handled that better? Why did I say that, of all things?Is this just a phase? Is it really normal for a 5 year old to _____?

Luckily, not every day of parenting is like this.  There are so many ups and downs, so many unknown situations, so many different emotions to navigate through.  It is enough to make you feel crazy. There are so many decisions to make, and so many mistakes will be made that you start to question yourself.  You might even start to lose sight of yourself.

I have been there, that place where it feels like you aren’t cut out for this Mom business.  I spent the first 5 years of motherhood there–feeling out of place amongst my babyless friends, but feeling out of place amongst other mothers.  I wasn’t doing it “right.”  They would judge me, surely, for deciding to breastfeed (or not).  For choosing to use cloth diapers (or not).  For putting my daughter’s hair in a ponytail (or two, or three) instead of braids.  Who knows–the judgement is always there.  The fear of judgement is always even worse.

This year, I tried something different.  I let myself be vulnerable to judgement.  Perhaps by the third baby, you don’t care whether anyone agrees with your choices.  You learn to trust yourself and your judgement to know your child and their needs.  You also learn that you just can’t do it alone, no matter how much you want to.

Joining a MOPS group was one of the best decisions I have made thus far–I wish I had done it earlier in my motherhood journey.  While MOPS is promoted as a Christian organization, it isn’t a replacement for a church sermon.  I would consider it more of a small group specifically targeted at navigating the rocky terrain of motherhood.

Mandy Arioto, author of Starry-Eyed, recently became the president of this organization.  This book was written to encourage mothers with (whispers of spirituality and Christianity)to find grace and peace amidst the rollercoaster ride they experience in raising children, NOT to convert them into Christians.  Many readers seem to find fault in this book for addressing beliefs from other religions–honestly, as a Christian, part of having grace towards others is recognizing that while their choices of religion may not be ours, that doesn’t make them less worthy of our grace and respect.  If you are looking for a book teaching strictly biblical scripture, this is not the book for you.  However, if you are a mother looking for someone to say “me too” or “it’s not just you,” this book will not disappoint.  You don’t have to be a Christian mother to find your tribe of fellow mothers in MOPS, nor do you have to be a Christian mother to benefit from the advice and insight Mandy Arioto has to offer in Starry-Eyed.

The chapters are short and are brutally honest.  You will laugh out loud, you will flinch, and you might even gasp–but you will find yourself feeling right at home reading this book.  Each chapter also has great questions for reflection at the end.  Typically I skip over these questions, but I found myself truly pondering how I would answer some of these with my MOPS group.

This book stood out to me because rather than tell me why I should LOVE motherhood, all parts of motherhood, it instead gently told me it was okay to simply embrace the emotional flood that comes with the territory.  There are days of light, there are days of dark.  Yet, even in the darkest of days, there is some glimmer of light–the stars shine. That doesn’t mean you don’t appreciate the darkness for what it is, or try to change the situation as quickly as possible to make everything “okay.”  Sometimes, it is okay to simply be and let things work out over time.  Babies grow, seasons change.  One thing is for certain–nothing stays the same forever, Momma.