Sometimes, like today, I feel blind-sided by how difficult it all is. 4 kids, a dog, a broken body, a marriage. Yes, I know I just listed my blessings, but they are laced with the Curse. They are my work. Moms don’t get to lament or express frustration with their jobs the way other people can. After all, my work consists of caring for the most precious humans in my world. Some people long for a relationship and can’t find one, long for children but can’t or don’t have them. How can I, in good conscience, express dissatisfaction? For fear of judgment, I keep quiet a lot when the day is more curse than blessing because the standard responses, no matter how earnest or cheery, all feel like slaps on the wrist.
Consider established my love for my family, my recognition that they are gifts from God, and my knowledge that this phase is short. Then, please consider that my work is cursed too. I do business with 4 intense wills bent on destruction of themselves and each other non-stop throughout the day, to say nothing of my own inner struggle to choose gratitude and peace-loving and model the behavior I expect. I fight to show an honest but not despondent, dependent but not demanding, and gentle but also strong spirit to my husband. If I/you/we cannot express the challenges, the difficulties of these uphill battles, the sadness and anger can burn an abscess into our hearts, a black pit where the negative stories we tell ourselves but never bring to light take on a sinister forms: resentment, contempt, and self-loathing.
I often tell my children: “Start telling yourself a true story.” Usually, I’m trying to talk a kid back from a familiar ledge, one like ungrateful crabbiness, selfish cruelty, or depressed lack of confidence. Instead of, “He always does that to me. He NEVER lets me play.” Or, “No one likes me because I am not a cool person.” I encourage the kids to say what is really happening: “It’s hard to be younger than my brothers. I feel sad when they don’t include me, and I really wish they would.” I insist that they stick to the facts but also that they honestly admit how they are feeling. They cannot always do this on their own, and sometimes it takes a long time for us to get to a point where the child is able to say what’s true. Although I am pretty good at helping my kids cry or be angry in healthy ways when they need to express those things, I can be really hard on myself. Being thankful and being dissatisfied at the same time is very challenging. Here is how this battle goes for me:
Story Number 1: “If I could just be less selfish and more thankful, if I can put their needs ahead of mine, then everyone will feel better and things wouldn’t feel so stressful around here.”
On the surface, this seems like a true story. I should strive for gratitude rather than selfishness and love often looks like laying aside our needs for the needs of others, especially when it comes to children. However, my hypothesis is incorrect! Things very well may NOT feel better and the stress level may not change at all no matter how I’m acting. I could be the most perfect being to ever walk the earth and still suffer the pains of the planet and the relationships thereon (Ummm, JUST LOOK AT THE LIFE OF JESUS!). In telling myself this story, I am demanding that I make everything better. By asserting that eradication of stress is a possibility, I’m setting myself up to fail, and fail, and fail and become more distressed and angry with either myself for being unable to meet my standard or my children for being too difficult to yank back from their bad attitudes.
Story Number True (I couldn’t resist): “If I can acknowledge that sometimes being a SAHM is just painfully hard and admit that I’m frustrated, sad, and need a break, then I can stop trying to make my children and myself pay for the fact that we cannot be perfect. I do need to stop and look for reasons to be thankful. I also need to identify my stressors in order to see that they are legitimate hurdles. I can give myself credit for dealing with my true problems rather than looking for reasons/excuses as to why I’m unable to be the perfect woman I wish I was. Then, we can address these real problems and help each other which will relieve some of this stress or, at least, let in some grace.”
The content of that paragraph may be the most difficult to birth writing I have done. Telling ourselves true stories stretches our hearts and minds! And, now, for my enumeration and potentially your amusement or empathy, my stressors du jour.
You know that poem about the girl with the curl in the middle of her forehead? All true. It has been true about me longer than it has been about her. No one ever says it to your face to insult you, but you know they are saying it because it's true. My recitation hurt her feelings the same way it always hurt mine. Now as a grown-up I think it about myself all the time: "Horrid."
"Eruption" is exactly the right word for the baby's new molar. There is blood and purple swelling.
The dog is obsessed with treeing the squirrel and barking nonstop to announce his success. The squirrel is a sadomasochist.
Did you know that your partner is not actually an extension of yourself designed by your fantasies but instead is his own person with a completely different personality and brain than yours? I forget and remember about 10 times every day. (He's my favorite, though)
I injured my neck and spent money for an adjustment that I probably just ruined by doing the unavoidable, required duties of my job, like holding a flailing baby, yanking kids out from the path of cars, and lifting the long-sought, Goodwill rollerblades up out of the cart only to fully visualize the broken wrists and frantic car ride to the ER.
With that, here I go to enforce quiet play time and attempt to take a shower, pray, and take more ibuprofen!