Artistically staged pictures of people enjoying their quiet time used to trigger an intense emotional reaction in me that, as a pastor’s wife, I feel horrified to admit. When I would see these posts, I would become irate… And I mean the kind of anger that makes you want to punch a wall. Just writing this, I can even still feel my heart rate accelerating and the tears beginning to form. I remember it like it was yesterday, even though it was almost ten years ago.
For Pete’s sake, I am a pastor’s wife. I love Jesus. Before I had children, I would sit with my Bible and my cup of coffee and enjoy spending my mornings reading God’s Word and preparing my heart for the day. Morning quiet times were a practice that I loved and would encourage others to have as well.
But, these moments happened for me in a world before Instagram. I did not yet know that I could artfully document my quiet times on Social Media. I’m sure if I did, I would have been the queen of coffee/bible/artsy photos. Luckily, for me, I had no idea what anyone else was doing. Those were simpler times… sigh
Social media and children
At the time, my friends made motherhood look incredible. They seemed to adore the baby phase. Pictures on social media made these families look so put together, snuggling their precious littles in their adorable little outfits. Everyone’s lives looked like postcards. One friend had to wake her toddler up at 10:00 am every day because he was such a good sleeper. I couldn’t wait to have a baby and be a mom. It was all I wanted in life at this point, and I just knew that I would be great at it.
Enter… MY children
When we finally grew our family, my reality looked nothing like that of my friends. This baby of mine would wake up at 5 am. He was an okay sleeper, but I didn’t sleep for months. No, years! My oldest is very scheduled by nature. He fell into a pretty good eat, wake, and sleep schedule early on. He did what the books said would happen. But, he was always an early riser. It took me forever to get him to sleep until 7:00.
Just as I got used to my son’s routine, I found out I was pregnant with the second. The pregnancy was a blessing because we got pregnant much faster with the second than we did with the first. As a result, their ages were closer together than we had anticipated.
The second child was the opposite of the first. He’s 12 and still hasn’t found his sleep rhythm. All the tricks that worked with the first one did NOT work on him! I thought I had figured things out, but quickly realized that no formula works for all kids.
Quiet time with hipster coffee is never happening
I had my boys 20 months apart, and they were not low maintenance kids. Before my youngest learned to walk, he would climb out of his crib. His creative mind caused him to line up chairs, boxes, and anything else he could find to make stairs to allow him to climb onto the kitchen counter. My days were spent trying to keep my kids from disaster, and those days began very early in the morning. It was exhausting.
Adult conversations were few and far between, and I was an absolute wreck. Do you know what I REALLY needed in my life? A freaking quiet time with Jesus! (Am I allowed saying that? I don’t have a better way to describe my emotions at that point)
Sleep deprivation is NO JOKE!
Now, I know that I wasn’t alone, and I found some comfort from a few friends who had a similar experience. But this kind of experience was not what was posted all over the internet at the time. It was a lonely time; only I was never alone! I experienced a roller coaster of emotions. “Mom guilt” had already begun to set in because I didn’t love every moment of this phase of motherhood. I was exhausted!
Strangers would walk by and tell me to savor every moment because they grow up so fast. Faking a smile, I would say, “I know, they need to slow down,” but to me, it felt like time was not moving at all, and I wanted it to hurry up. It didn’t feel acceptable to be honest about those feelings. Not even to strangers. I sucked at the infant and toddler phase and wished we could hurry up and get on with the next stage. Then instantly, I felt guilty about feeling that way.
I desperately needed alone time
Before having children, I was accustomed to sitting down every day to study my bible. I felt like I had to continue that practice as a new mom to be a good Christian. It sounds so dumb to me as I write that now, but I had convinced myself that this was the measure of a committed follower of Christ.
Through the practice of morning quiet time, I had grown so much in my faith, patience, and love for others. Encouraging others to “get in the Word” was one of my goals in life because I had seen first hand the impact it can have. Jesus changed me as a person, and much of that happened as I spent time with Him reading my bible. But I had no idea what a privilege it was to have time set aside every morning for this.
I just couldn’t make quiet time work
No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t figure out how to make it work. The advice I received from numerous sources was to get up an hour before my kids. Every time I did, one of the kids would wake up an hour early too. So now I’ve lost an hour of sleep, and I still didn’t get any alone time. It made me angry! All I wanted was 30 minutes to sit by myself at Starbucks and read my bible! Is that too much to ask?
We had just moved three states away from family, so I didn’t have grandparents or siblings nearby to give me a break. Loren was working extra hours during this time because we were planting a church. He offered to take time off to give me a break, but that made me feel guilty too. I felt like this was my job. I don’t want him to have to do my job and his. I started to feel like I was crazy.
For the record, it was not only my job. I could not have been more wrong about that one. Loren and I are a team when it comes to parenting. But, I didn’t have any of that figured out yet. I just kept questioning myself. As a stay at home mom, I felt the full burden of responsibility.
Why don’t I love this time with my kids?
Why am I so angry at my husband for no reason?
Why can’t I make time for God?
I felt like a failure as a mother, a wife, and a Christian.
Now back to the quiet time photo
When I would see the bible and coffee pictures all over Facebook and Instagram, it felt like they were posting them AT ME! It hit every insecurity I was feeling at the time. The image would pop up, and I would read, “Look, Carrie. I am a better Christian than you.” The intent of the one posting was not to say this, but this was how I read it.
I am a freaking pastor’s wife! Before I got married, I was an infant-toddler teacher. Watching babies was literally what I did for a living. I was a professional mom (at least that was my naive perception at the time). This motherhood thing should have been a breeze. Instead, I was failing at everything. Looking back, I can now see that I was homesick and depressed. That phase sucked! The staged quiet time picture was a reminder of the life I gave up when I became a mother. Only, it felt like I was the only one who couldn’t figure out how to do it all.
The reason I write
One of the main reasons I write is because I want people to know that things like this do not make you a failure. Loving every moment of motherhood is not what makes me a good mom. And I was no less a Christian during that phase because I didn’t sit down with my Bible and have a “quiet time”; in fact, I think I am probably stronger now because of it. At that point of desperation, I experienced God in a whole new way as he carried me through. My thinking had to be adjusted to remember that God doesn’t change when my circumstances do.
And guess what?!
I freaking love being a mom, and I can now have a quiet time in the morning if I choose to. That stage that felt like forever when I was in it, now feels like it was ages ago. Every once in a while, I think about how soft my kids were as babies, and I remember that sweet baby smell. Mostly, I remember I was exhausted, and there was a lot of poop and tears, both theirs and mine. I am happy that part of the journey is over, and I do not feel a bit of guilt about that!
Luckily I have come to a place in my life where these pictures no longer hurt me. I’m able to celebrate with my friends who choose to share how they are blessed by their time in God’s Word without feeling like it is an attack on me. Even if I haven’t read my Bible all week, those pictures don’t make me feel bad about it. Because it was never actually about the image, it was always about my insecurities. The more insecure I am feeling, the more I make things all about me. And that right there is MY problem and nobody else’s. So feel free to post coffee and bible pictures to your heart’s content. You can even count on me for a like and a share.
This always makes me laugh
I did find this article from the Babylon Bee that gave me a good laugh. Christian Fake news is my favorite. Report: Christians Who Regularly Share Photos Of Bible, Coffee Significantly Godlier I think they may have had similar feelings about those pictures.
If you can relate to this post, I’d love for you to share in the comments. I enjoy hearing other people’s stories.
You can also visit my about me page to read more about why I started this blog.