I stood looking down into the hole, watching several people attempt to swing hoes and pick-axes without hitting one another, while I waited with a rickety wheelbarrow. A pile of reddish-brown clay landed into the wheelbarrow, and I was ready for another trip down the wooden planks. I attempted to manage the weight of the clay in the wheelbarrow without it tipping over, while navigating the ruts of the path and the planks which were breaking in places. Sweat ran down my nose and dripped onto the ground as I walked.
This work was more than what we signed up for. When we planned our Guatemala trip, we told our hosts we’d have a team of 10 women and 2 men. We anticipated working on fencing or perhaps a painting project – not digging a hole for a septic tank and cutting and bending re-bar.
The first day was exhausting, almost unbearable. We didn’t know how long we’d be working, and there were no bathrooms on the work site. Our hosts also told us that when a team comes to do this type of work, someone always passes out – a clear indication that we needed to be drinking lots of fluids and taking breaks. Oh, and there were ants – ants that crawled into our boots and bit our legs.
After the first day of work, our hosts gave us the option to choose whether to go back to that work site or not. If we wanted, they would come up with other work for us to do.
Last night, my daughter woke up 5 times. She’s almost 7. She’s been waking multiple times all week, much of the time with anxiety and fears that are unrelenting. It’s heartbreaking, maddening, and exhausting all at the same time. And I’ve been walking around feeling like I did in her first year of life – basically like a zombie.
Parenting, at times, feels like digging that hole in Guatemala. It’s way harder than I ever anticipated. There are moments when the sweat is dripping and I’m a complete mess. There are nights – like the ones we’ve had recently – that feel like the trips up and down that hill, with a wheelbarrow almost too heavy to maneuver. One bump, and everything will spill out. There are times that I wonder if I’m cut out for this thing called motherhood.
After the first day of that back-breaking work in Guatemala, we spent the evening together as a team. We processed and we prayed. We decided to go back to the work site again the next day, but this time we had a bit more of a plan, and we knew what to expect. By the third day on the job, we had a system down pat, and we saw the results of our hard work.
If only we could see results that quickly in this parenting thing, right?
Sure, sometimes we try a new strategy or a new approach, and things improve almost immediately. Yet other times, the challenges don’t get easier, and sometimes, they get even harder.
It’s times like these that I am so thankful for the words Jesus spoke to us. He told us to come to him when we are weary, and He will give us rest. We don’t have to do this alone. So, if the work is too hard, if you feel like the challenges are more than what you signed up for, cling to this, my friend, and may you find the rest you need.