Ever feel like you're failing at motherhood? You're not alone

I had no idea how much I would be faced with the issue of control until I became a mother. Our son Christian didn’t walk until he was fourteen months old. By then friends and family expressed concern that he was behind the appropriate markers for his age and size. I told them I was convinced my son, who could crawl at the speed of a Lexus, had no interest in markers and would walk when he was jolly well ready to. And he did!

I was speaking at an event in a large arena and my husband Barry brought Christian to the edge of the stage to crawl to me. He’d been doing that for weeks. It was his party trick. That night, however, he paused for a moment, looked around at the crowd, at me, and then he got up and walked. I remember thinking, I do hope he doesn’t require an audience for all major milestones in life. This could be challenging. But he simply liked doing things at his own pace.

It was the same with potty training. I introduced the concept of moving from diapers to big boy pants with the enthusiasm one usually reserves for a trip to Disneyworld. According to all the child-rearing textbooks he was at the optimum age. But he was not impressed. He said, no, but thank you. Then one day I took Christian and one of his friends, who was a few months older, to McDonald’s for lunch. After their Happy Meals and running around in the playground for a while, his buddy announced that he needed to use the bathroom. Christian made the significant discovery that day that his friend was wearing “Toy Story” big boy pants. It was a eureka moment. On the drive home he announced, “Mom, I’m done with diapers.” He never wore them again.

One of the greatest lessons parenting makes clear is that we are not in control. With children, we’re not in control of the moment they decide to be born, how they’ll feed, what they’re willing to eat or spit up. We’re not in control of how they sleep, or don’t. Christian was not a fan of sleep for the first nine months, at night or for naps. I thought I might lose what little of my mind I had left.

We absorbed every piece of advice from friends who swore that they had found the one thing that would make the most reluctant baby sleep like an angel. We tried them all. We sat his car seat on the clothes drier. We ran the vacuum cleaner in his bedroom until there was no pile left on the carpet. We sat him by the bath and let the water run until we were concerned we might be solely responsible for the apparent water crisis in our state. Barry put his car seat in the car and drove him around until he fell asleep but the moment he brought him inside, he resumed the angst-filled cry of the midnight warrior.

There are moments in life when there is nothing you can do to control what’s happening. In those times, find your hiding place under the shelter of God’s wings.

One evening Barry, seeing how exhausted I was, told me that he’d be on duty all night so that I could finally get a full night’s rest. At about 2 AM I heard Christian begin to cry but Barry got up straight away. I pulled the covers over my head and tried to go back to sleep but I couldn’t. It seemed unnaturally quiet in the other room, so I slipped out of bed to check on them. It was quite a sight to behold. Barry was fast asleep on the sofa with Christian in his arms. On closer examination Barry was holding the bottle in Christian’s ear. Minimal nutritional value there.

The word control in itself is neither positive or negative. Its weight and meaning rest in what it’s attached to. In many situations control is very important. When you’re walking in a busy crowd with a child you need to be in control. If you struggle with food, alcohol, or any addiction, control is your friend.

There are, however, many situations where the word, control, has negative weight. When we call someone a “control freak” it’s clearly not a compliment. Spouses often complain about a controlling wife or husband. In the work place no one wants a controlling boss or co-worker. Within church culture people have left their church home because the leadership is too controlling.

I love the song, “God Is in Control.” The title song was an immediate radio hit as the lyrics were so encouraging. They spoke to the truth of God being in control no matter how things appeared and declared our response that we would not be shaken.

They are powerful lyrics but what do you do when the circumstances of your life don’t match the lyrics? Where do you go when life feels out of control and God appears to be oblivious to your pain? What do you do when as far as you can see, you have been forsaken? Who do you turn to when you’re shaken to your very core? What do you do when you’re absolutely convinced that you heard God’s plan for your life, but nothing is falling into place?

These are some of the most foundational questions we can ask in our lives. These questions matter, and God never shies from things that matter to our souls.

There are moments in life when there is nothing you can do to control what’s happening. In those times, find your hiding place under the shelter of God’s wings.