It all started with a cold cup of coffee that had been re-heated twice, a usual occurrence in my morning routine. At one time, mornings were my favorite time of the day. Yes, I am one of those annoying people who thrive in the quiet early hours. My mornings were no longer a peaceful haven. I anticipated a morning of solitude, but instead the rising sun brought an eye-opening change of heart by the grace of God. It was the last cup of coffee in the pot, after all, I am a mom of four little ones and early mornings can be quite exhausting. It always amazes me that after a busy day, or even several busy days in a row, children still have the ability to wake up ready to take on the world at 5:00 a.m. Before I became a mom, mornings had a whole different meaning - they once embodied a quiet, slow start to the day, but this luxury had disappeared without even a goodbye.
I have come to accept these early mornings as a beautiful part of motherhood, even though a solid night of sleep would be much appreciated too. I have learned to embrace these moments, but that acceptance came at a price – my spilled cup of coffee along with built-up frustrations.
To be honest, it wasn’t only frustrations; the ugliest of my flaws surfaced. I can’t pretend that motherhood has been a breeze. On the contrary, my life made a full 180-degree rotation. These changes didn’t happen all at once, they were small and sneaky. With the birth of each child came new adventures, until one day I wondered when my life had become such an emotional wrecking ball. I was ashamed to finally admit that I had allowed myself to become utterly self-centered and unhappy. I needed to change. My controlling tendencies had only re-doubled into motherhood, causing myself and my family to suffer. The most beautiful miracle then happened; God stepped in to show me the way.
[tweet "God stepped in to show @dmheckenkamp the way out of unhappiness."]
Before children, motherhood appeared rational. I unjustly assumed that with a solid game plan, control and organization, motherhood would be smooth sailing. Wow, I was very wrong to believe this vocation was just that simple. Unfortunately, due to my stubborn tendencies, it took me a ridiculously long time to admit my failings. Motherhood brought my flaws to the forefront in such a way that I could not choose to ignore them, and it all started with that cup of spilled coffee and Divine Grace from God.
My morning coffee had innocently sat on the counter for several hours just waiting to be enjoyed, yet it also became my daily wake-up call. Moments before the spill, my little two-year-old was demanding attention, I was answering questions from an inquisitive six-year-old, filling an empty sippy cup with water, and reminding my four-year-old son that his toast was getting cold. Instead of taking a deep breath, and focusing on each problem individually, I was multi-tasking, something I do too often. My hand reached across the counter for the soap dispenser, but I never found the soap. Instead my hand landed in the cup of coffee which in turn completely spilled. The coffee didn’t only remain on the counter; oh no, it sprayed onto the ceiling, across my newly-washed shirt, and dripped onto the floor. It was a humbling moment. Just when I believed everything was under control, a sign fell from the heavens to prove me wrong.
In those few seconds after the spill, there was not much else to do but watch the coffee slowly drip from the surfaces. A wave of emotions came over my already tense body: self-pity, sorrow, irritation, impatience, and renunciation. I wanted to leave it there in the kitchen. It was one of those times I wished my guardian angel would silently clean the mess for me. That cup of coffee was the only thing I had left for myself, or so I thought. I desperately wanted to sit on the floor and have a good cry. It wasn’t the most dignified point of my life and the white flag was about to be surrendered for the day by calling my mom for help. Instead of giving in to those emotions, I stopped myself and watched each one of my children as the stood in front of me. Those sweet miracles stood motionless in front of me with small saddened eyes, but they didn’t make a sound. They were watching me. I was left with only one choice, to reach out and hug them, after all, children follow example, but this hug was more than to pacify an example. It was hug that I needed, an instant in time where I needed to stop being just an adult, but also a vulnerable mom.
Those little ones did not hesitate to return the hug. Each one reached their little arms around me in the hopes of sharing their love. Only moments before they were little chatter-boxes, but now they blurted, “Are you okay, Mama?” and “I love you, Mama.” It was pure childlike innocence as these little ones still loved me even through my faults and disappointments. It was the childlike innocence that Christ loves in all of us.
“It is possible to remain little in even the most responsible position.” ~ St. Therese of the Child Jesus.
Motherhood is more than fulfilling daily duties; it is a vocation of reliance. A deep dependence upon God and His much needed grace. Those sweet children brought a realization I had ignored mostly through self-pride - those children were everything I needed. Yes, they were my world, but until that revelation, I had allowed myself to fulfill the daily motions with ridiculous expectations for myself.
From that point forward, I made a choice to love my vocation of motherhood, by working a little bit each day on my flaws in order to regain the simplicity and joy. The gift of motherhood is absolutely remarkable. It has brought me into an entirely different world. A place filled with frustrations, exhaustion, and self-denial, but all those negatives are outweighed by the unconditional love continuing to increase each day between my husband, my children, and myself. I never truly understood the bond between a mother and child, until I was able to experience it first-hand and embrace it. Now I find solace in thinking about this same love between Our Blessed Mother and the Child Jesus.
I am thankful each and every day for that cup of spilled coffee that brought me true freedom, for life is meant to be lived, but also loved. Without God as the center, it is impossible to find purpose. Thanks to motherhood, and my addiction to coffee, I have been shown the path towards achieving a more wholesome and affectionate vocation as a wife and mother.
I no longer view the daily bumps in the road as a hindrance, but another opportunity to grow in my vocation. It is more than just a job, it is an eternal calling by God. Each day will be a battle, but adversity makes life memorable. As I have learned to love my flaws, I have also learned to appreciate my children’s defects and hope to assist them through the difficult moments. I give all to God’s Will each and every day of my life.
I am most grateful for that crazy morning and the spilled cup of coffee. I now aim to live contently with God in my heart, loving myself through all the ups and downs, and strive each day to give myself for those around me. Conversion means nothing if it cannot be shared with others, so each day I will ascertain my defects and labor towards sainthood by the grace of God.
Copyright 2017 Danielle Heckenkamp
About the Author
Danielle Marie Heckenkamp is a stay at home mom and freelance writer who lives in the beautiful state of Wisconsin with her husband and five children. Motherhood has allowed Danielle to re-discover her love for writing. It is through her daily experiences as a mom and the love for her Catholic Faith that show forth in her writing. Danielle is the co-author of a nonfiction book about manners and common sense. She is a coffee-drinking, Midwest girl, who loves to spend time with her family, attempt outlandish recipes, and read any book she can get her hands on. You can find more of Danielle's writing at Loving These Days or step inside her daily life at her instagram account (@dmheckenkamp)