The Long Obedience of Motherhood

My sweet son had a significant meltdown last night. Like for reals.
It’s the first we’ve had at this level in a long time.
Mothering children with special needs - autism, adhd, anxiety disorder, bipolar disorder
Eventually, he was able to calm down enough to lie down with his service dog, Sammy.
He cried, ran his hands over Sammy’s body and murmured to him for almost 30 minutes. Eventually, he was able to get up and go on with the night.
I stood in the middle of his room, surrounded by what felt like loss.
Broken treasures that he adores and would never damage when he is present and calm.
Water flung everywhere.
Sheets torn.
Posters ripped from the wall and shredded into pieces.
A special project we had just finished and hung up in his room, now in irreparable pieces.
For me to witness and struggle to help.
And always, always, always worse for him –  terrified and overwhelmed, uncomfortable in his own mind and body, and devastated at his own inability to cope.

The Long Obedience of Motherhood

As I cleaned up the significant mess and damage, I felt a great mixture of sadness and gratitude.
Sadness because of so much pain and loss. Sadness because even on good days, his body and brain can overwhelm him. 
Gratitude because it doesn’t happen as often. Gratitude because when it does, we now have Sammy to help.
I woke up this morning with the same blend of emotions. Even as I slept, they were still there, mourning mixed with hope – an undercurrent to the night. 
As I struggled to begin my day, I remembered this Eugene Peterson quote –

“Faithfulness is a long obedience in the same direction.”


This long obedience is not easy and it is certainly not pretty. But it is the essence of faith. 
In many ways, it’s the essence of motherhood itself.
It’s the small steps, the taking one right after the other. 
It’s cleaning up the mess and then cleaning it up again.
It’s letting the pain wash over you, but not define you.
It’s doing only the very next thing and then the next, not able to see any further anyway.
It’s the tears when you thought maybe, there were none left.
It’s the glimpses of progress, of goodness, of God.
It’s loving with everything we’ve got and then loving even more.
It’s the long obedience of motherhood.

Looking for more encouragement and parenting support?

The Life Giving Parent

Clay and Sally Clarkson have just released The Life Giving Parent and The Life Giving Parent Experience (a companion study).
Sally has long been a voice of truth and encouragement – especially for moms of children that have differences. This new book is exactly what I have come to expect from her. Infused with grace and filled with reminders of how much what we do everyday matters (even when it doesn’t feel like it) The Life Giving Parent is a wonderful resource.
More than anything, it is an assurance that this long obedience of motherhood has purpose and design. 

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  1. Right there with you. Hugs to you, sweet friend. XOXO

    1. Hugs right back. Big ones. The ones that squeeze. 🙂

  2. Hugs for you
    And I am on the same path, thank you for this post

  3. Teresa Engle says:

    I can so relate ro this blog. Meltdowns wear everyone out. Our son, 6’4 & 20 yrs old has had them bad enough and violent enough that we’ve had to call the sheriff’s department. They are so understanding and talk him down, they’ve taken him to the ER twice which is the only way for him to get to a psychiatric hospital for help. It was a blessing in disguise. So, so hard for this mama bear. I’ve cried, I’ve wailed, Ive pleaded with God. Right now, he is so full of anxiety. Camp is not working out so well, he’s overwhelmed, too much stimulation and it’s hard not to worry. I’m praying for answers, alternatives because being at home all day, every day is not an option, he needs the structure and does not comply when at home. So here we are in the “gap” 18-21 where the options are incredibly slim and we have no respite. Even the good days are a challenge. I feel that the only people who “get it” are the ones living it like we are. Its hard to be on FB and see all the pics of others vacations they take. Our last vacation was 5 or 6 yrs ago…Disney World….he had a full blown meltdown at the “happiest place on earth”. God is good, I know He is, if not for our faith and trust in Him, we would never make it. God bless you and your sweet family. Thank you for sharing, it means more than you know….Do you know the song by Plumb “How many times”

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