For the dog days of motherhood when you want your money back

By Lisa-Jo Baker

For LisaJoBaker.com

Published: Monday, June 24 2013 3:30 p.m. MDT

The author, Lisa-Jo Baker, and her three children.


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Editor's note: This piece by Lisa-Jo Baker originally appeared on Momastery.com. It has been shared here with the author's permission.

You don't know me. Hi, I'm Lisa-Jo. But, if there's one thing I'd like to let you in on, it's this:

I was the girl who swore she'd never end up anyone's cliche — barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen. Which is interesting since we currently have three kids, a hamster and a backyard where toys go to die.

I grew up in South Africa, where the streets turn Jacaranda purple in October and we take our tea hot with milk and sugar, and I hadn't turned 18 yet when I swore I didn't plan to be anyone's mother.

It was after my mom had been in hospital for about nine months and the pastor's son was over and caught me trying to figure out how to cook dinner for my kid brothers. I was barefoot. And in the kitchen.

I remember how the late afternoon sunshine was coming in at the window and I had my mom's wooden cutting board out — the one with the pot burns blackened into its surface. We'd been living on takeout, dad was burned out from the hourly evening commutes to the hospital, and that night I was chopping onions to get a real meal started instead.

But William laughed at me and I promised myself I'd grow up to do something big and brave and important.

For a while I did.

After my mom died. After I went to college. After I graduated law school. After I told the boy I was in love with that I needed him to marry me and not my ability to have kids. And he did. There was a while when I felt significant in all the ways that I thought were the opposite of helping someone finish his homework or someone else root through the piles of laundry for clean undies.

I was a legal specialist in Ukraine, and we fought human trafficking with gritted teeth and bared hearts and our guts tied up in knots. It was awful and incredible and necessary and there are things I will always wish I could un-see.

That's the part I need you to know because it's what makes being a mother to three kids so surprising to me.

I turned 30 in Ukraine. And by the time I turned 31 we would be back living in South Africa after a decade away. And I would give birth to our first born three days later.

Here's what I learned in between.

Here's what I want you to hear. Especially you, if you're wondering how life turned out like this, if you feel lost in your own story and looking for a way out.

If you're up to your eyeballs in kids and under the weather and desperate for the laundry to cut you some slack.

If you're gasping for breath and wrestling worries and bills and sweating the end of year report cards.

If you can't bear to come up with one more way to cook chicken.

If you're short on sleep and high on impatience.

If you feel small or invisible or like you are slowly fading away.

Can I just slip my shoes off, slide over on the sofa and tell you this: I believe God sees you. I believe God cheers you. I believe your work is holy ground and I am proud to stand here barefoot beside you.

I am convinced that the God who made you, sculpted you, loved you into being considers your story just as important as the work of rescuing women from the slums in Kenya or the traffickers in Ukraine.

Even on the days when no one knows what you did. Maybe most especially on those days. When there are no awards or headlines or standing ovations. I believe that the God who began this work in and through you will carry it, and you if necessary, across the finish line.

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