When you need to escape the things that steal your joy

Valerie Woerner has a heart for mamas everywhere especially the ones who’ve been swept into a cultural undercurrent that tells them to accept motherhood as an often joyless and thankless rite of passage. This kind of thinking can seep into the farthest reaches of our hearts and darken our days. When Val found herself wrestling with these very same feelings, she knew it was time to make a change. She knew it was time to start looking at her life through God-colored lenses. With vulnerability and humility, Valerie shares her own journey from cranky and stressed out to joy-filled in her book Grumpy Mom Takes a HolidayShe gives hope to every mama who needs an escape – not from motherhood, but from the things stealing her joy. It’s a grace to welcome Valerie to the farm’s front porch today…

guest post by Valerie Woerner

The trigger for me that something needed to change in my perspective came on an otherwise ordinary day when I was tucking my three-year-old into bed.

As I curled up beside her in her toddler bed under the fluffiest fleece flamingo blanket, I was feeling particularly grateful for her. On that day, I actually thought to pass that information along.

“I didn’t need to take a holiday from my mom life; I needed to take a holiday from being Grumpy mom.”

“You make me smile so much, Vivi!” I said.

You should have seen the way she beamed. Her grin immediately spread wider than I had ever seen it. She said, “That makes me so happy to hear, Momma!”

I reveled in the moment with her and treasured her cute little profile as she looked up at the ceiling and sang made-up songs for me. Then I kissed her good night and scurried off to tell my husband all about it.

I loved that my joy could make her happy too.

But as I reveled in that special moment, I began to wonder why it had made such an impact on her. Was it really so earth shattering for her to see me smile? Why was she so surprised that she’d made me happy? Didn’t that sentiment come across every day?

As I reflected on this scene, I finally made this admission to myself: All right, so there’s a slight chance I’ve been grumpier than I thought. But where did Grumpy Mom come from? What stole my smiles without my knowledge? And why did I struggle endlessly to simply enjoy my life?

I couldn’t let this go. And that meant it was time to do some digging, studying, praying, and introspective thinking.

You know, just a fun Saturday night for a nerd like me. Over the course of the next several weeks, I came to a life-changing realization: I didn’t have to escape my life as a mom when things get chaotic to experience joy. 

It was time for me to take some ownership and start fighting for the good life. 

I didn’t need to take a holiday from my mom life; I needed to take a holiday from being Grumpy mom. 

Of course, I would have preferred to banish her on some exiled island for life, like Napoleon. But I knew that I wouldn’t be able to get rid of Grumpy Mom permanently.

This was a decision I’d have to make over and over again. At least this was a good place to start. 

Armed with a renewed fire in my belly to pursue the abundant life Jesus calls us to, I cranked up a worship playlist, diffused an essential oil (aptly named Joy),and threw back the curtains to let in that early morning (and I mean earrrrly morning) sunshine.

As I did, I realized something: Joy is something we have to fight for. 

The truth is, motherhood at any stage isn’t easy.

We know, deep down, that our children are gifts and that we have so much to be grateful for.

But the grumpy sneaks into our hearts anyway, and we find ourselves huddled in the bathroom or in the closet, sulking about how hard it is to parent day in and day out. When we finally emerge, our kids know to stay out of Mom’s way for a while.

And if they don’t? That’s our cue to start yelling. Many times these aren’t full-blown fits, just tense words with an underlying aggressive tone. In our hearts, we are longing for some sort of escape, preferably involving sunglasses, sand, and the sound of ocean waves.

If Grumpy Mom lives at your house sometimes, you’re in good company.

But God doesn’t just want us to commiserate over the hard stuff; the point is to discover together a better way.

When life gets busy or our kids misbehave or life doesn’t go the way we hope it will, we don’t have to resort to Grumpy Mom status. Through the Holy Spirit at work within us, we have the power to choose joy no matter what’s happening around us.

I’m guessing you have fallen for some of the world’s lies about motherhood at some point. 

We’ve heard it all. Moms are tired. Moms are emotional. Moms are control freaks. Moms are terrible friends.

The worst part is that we allow these things to become the dominant voice determining our thoughts and actions. But this doesn’t have to be the end of our story.

Romans 12:2 is about to become the anthem for anyone who wants to send Grumpy Mom on a holiday: “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will” (NIV).

I love how The Message words this verse: “Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking.”

Without even thinking. That’s exactly the danger— that we accept the world’s subpar clichéd version of motherhood without even realizing we could be living something better.

It becomes second nature for us to stay in the pigeonhole the world puts us in. We think we have no choice but to live up to the stereotype of moms as worriers and hot messes.

The life we live is often far below what God has graciously gifted to us, and it should come as no surprise that this is when Grumpy Mom sneaks in.

We spend our days focusing on the things of this world and end up living an insane life when the Lord has offered us abundance and soundness of mind.

We have bought into an idea of “normal motherhood,” which when you really think about it, is completely not normal.

  • Do you feel totally overwhelmed when falling into bed?
  • Are you consumed with worries about the future?
  • Does your child’s tantrum ruin the rest of your day?
  • Are you preoccupied with schedules and to-do lists?
  • Are you infinitely stressed about how you will get it all done?

If this is what motherhood is most days, then we are in need of a change.

We need that transformed life Romans talks about.

And I for one am ready to fight for it.

 

Valerie Woerner is an author and the owner of Val Marie Paper, where her mission is to create practical tools and content that equip women to cut through the noise of everyday life and find fullness in the presence of the Lord. She graduated from Louisiana Tech University in 2007 with a degree in journalism and English. Her experience designing newspaper pages and her love for writing have come full circle, as she uses both to create content and products that encourage women to transform their lives through prayer and action.

Grumpy Mom Takes a Holiday brings hope for every mom who needs an escape—not from motherhood, but from the things stealing your joy.

Most days, motherhood looks like bottomless piles of laundry; a sink full of dishes; and nonstop, endless days. If that’s all there is, then no wonder Grumpy Mom sometimes sneaks into our hearts and homes. If you can relate, you’re in good company—Valerie Woerner has experienced Grumpy Mom more often than she’d care to admit. In Grumpy Mom Takes a Holiday, Valerie shares what she’s learned about sending Grumpy Mom packing and embracing a joyful, intentional motherhood.

As you journey with Valerie, you’ll be inspired and equipped to find energy in the most unlikely places, pursue your own dreams, be set free from mom guilt, feel content despite unfinished to-do lists, spend purposeful time with God amid the daily chaos, and discover more joyous moments of motherhood.

[ Our humble thanks to Tyndale for their partnership in today’s devotion ]