“I Just Can’t Do This”—and Other Honest Prayers of Motherhood

I’m so very grateful He’s the God of the big and the little – and I’m not talking about my waist size pre and post baby’s arrival. I’m talking about the prayers I’m firing out between changing diapers and pulling out my hair at 3am, and the ones that have me crying salty tears into a hot cup of coffee.

You see, there are days when at that ungodly hour I’m just barely hanging on to my very own sense of sanity – and, if I’m honest, to the baby that’s slowly drooping in my arms as my eyelids do the same to the soft sound of a lullaby and the steady rocking of this chair. I’m just sending out these little breath prayers

Help me, Lord.

I’m so tired God, please help him sleep.

I just can’t do this, Lord.

Are you still there?

Protect his little heart, Father.

Help him to grow to love you.

The list goes on with little more to them than that.

Just a breath prayer – the amount of words that slip through the mind with a single breath.

And I’m wondering all the while if God above is catching them while He’s keeping this whole spinning world in motion. Because, truthfully, that’s all the mind, all the space, all the thought I have to offer some days. I’m sitting more, stopping more, to feed, to rock, to hold. And yet with all the giving in those stopping moments, my mind is full and empty simultaneously and I’m not sure if much more can live there beyond the breath prayers that seem to form and fall out with the tired sighs.

Then there are the days of the big prayers – when the big stuff that’s brewing under the surface – the stuff I’ve forgotten or buried or haven’t had the space to process –  comes bubbling to the top. Worries and fears about his future and my present, questions about my purpose and value, hopes and dreams for his little life, and uncertainties about the new shape of my heart, home and relationships.

I say oh so many words to Him, hundreds of words, trying to articulate the jumble of thoughts and emotions, swirling inside my heart, my mind, every part of me.

But they all end…

Please God understand more about me than I understand about myself.
Make sense of the mess I’m feeling inside.

I know that from my journey to healthy discipleship and following Christ requires more than that. I confess I’ve thought often that I haven’t given Him enough, I’m not doing enough, I’m not enough. There are many days I scold myself that I know better and I must be better than the barely “breath” prayers or the overwhelmingly big messy prayers that comprise the bulk of my spiritual practice these sleep deprived early days of mommy-hood. I want more for me, more for the Lord and more for my son who will learn what it means to love and serve Christ by watching my example.

And then my own momma’s words, the spoken word of the Spirit, the words of a been-there-before friend remind me…

Have grace for yourself – God has grace for you.

God hears your prayers – the breath prayers – and the big prayers – the ones whispered in private, too messy to share with anyone else.

You’ll get through this.

He’s as close as He’s ever been.

So I breathe a sigh of relief. I brew another cup of joe – decaf this time. I pick up the cooing little bundle from the swing. I sing a little about the sunshine. I whisper, “I love you”. And while I mean it all for this beautiful baby boy I’ve been entrusted with, He whispers it back in the deep and quiet place in me…

You never know, dear how much I love you.

And I wonder if God the Father sings us lullabies…or if I need an extra hour of sleep tonight.

Either way, I think I’ll make it.

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Ashley Kentie
Ashley Kentie is a wife, brand new mom and Children's Pastor from Newfoundland Canada. She's a lover of rich and plenty cups of coffee, sunny days by the sea, new adventures, and time spent with the people dearest to her. Ashley blogs about her experiences and thoughts on motherhood, ministry and life at her blog spillinthebeans.ca.