Just a few minutes ago, I hit a wall. I am fried. I’m surrounded by dirty dishes that can’t even be put in the dishwasher until I unload the clean ones. The counters are messy. Crumbs are everywhere, and if I step on one more Cheerio and hear it crack apart underneath my slipper, I will lose my mind. Don’t even get me started on how maddening it is to catch a piece of sticky granola on your sock. And who was the genius who thought it was a good idea to have carpet in an eating area?
It has been one of those days. The second doctor’s trip in two days for yet another case of pink eye. Another trip to Target for the prescription, only today the drops are out of stock (we must have gotten the last bottle yesterday) and won’t be in for another four hours. My 8 year old is home from school because of her eyes, so for the last two straight days I haven’t had a moment alone. At one point I put my hands over my ears and closed my eyes and with the last ounce of gentleness I had left in me, I asked her to please not talk for just two minutes. I opened my eyes to see her lips closed… but she was staring at her new watch, eyebrows up, ready to start talking again in 120 seconds. Meanwhile, my three year old is freaking out that she doesn’t have each divided spot on her plate filled with food. I don’t even know what her real voice sounds like anymore, I’ve come to the conclusion that she only knows how to whine or scream. I am losing sanity, my boob has a massive clog (I don’t even care who is reading this anymore), I just want to enjoy the last day with my baby being an 11 month old with all the feels and all the emotions and all the doting… but I can’t get past being annoyed with everything in my life.
I have not been a nice Mommy. I have wanted to wave the white flag all day. This isn’t for me. I don’t want to be a mom anymore. I’m tired. I don’t want to cook. I don’t want to hear another “I don’t like this”. I don’t want to discipline. I don’t want to correct. I don’t want to be patient. I don’t want to be gentle. I don’t want to “Watch this!” or “Guess what?”. I don’t want to be needed or wanted. If my walls were any thinner, my neighbors would probably question my faith. I have been snappy, unkind, rude and short-tempered. I have rolled my eyes, huffed in exasperation too many times to count, told my children to shut up, and have reacted immaturely to just about everything they have done.
For my well-being and theirs, I enforced a mandatory nap time for my two little girls, and a two hour rest time for my oldest. I put the baby down, then went to tuck my three year old in, wishing the moments of singing away so I could get downstairs and by myself faster. I was done with them, and I’m pretty sure they were done with me. I told my daughter to roll to her side so I could scratch her back- I was forcing myself to go through the motions of a loving Mom. A minute later she rolled back and looked at me, and held her arms up and in her tired voice said, “I wanna hold you.” My cold demeanor began to crack. I felt my irritability start to dissolve. I wrapped my arm around her and buried my nose into her coconut shampooed hair and just breathed. I felt her little hand scratching the only part of my back she could reach. I looked at her, and she smiled sheepishly. I moved her little baby hairs out of her face and tucked them behind her ear, and just marveled at this gift God gave me. She closed her eyes, and within a few minutes was breathing deeply. I could finally escape to be alone… but all I wanted to do was stare at her and sit with her. I couldn’t believe how horribly I have been treating her, and how she still looked past it and wanted to snuggle with me. What grace she had given me.
I came downstairs to the messy kitchen and just sighed. I know I’m not alone. I had been acting like a brat. I know why I’m tired, and I know why I’m just done. I have been doing all the things in my own strength and all for me. Well, no wonder I’m so disappointed and irritable. I haven’t asked for God’s grace or guidance even once. But I sure am quick to point fingers at Him when things aren’t going my way. I know having four kids is a lot to handle. And to many, it looks seamless for me. But it’s not. I’m completely overwhelmed. It’s not the kids, or the number of kids. I was just as overwhelmed, albeit in different ways, with just one, two, and three.
It’s because I’m doing it in my own strength.
So, what do I do? Motherhood is hard. It’s exhausting. I can’t change that. But I can stop doing it in my own strength. It’s not going to be easy. I’ve done it the wrong way for over eight years. It is hard to break a habit. But if I don’t break it, it will break me.
Are you struggling, too? Have you reached the end of your day of mothering, and while you love being a mom, you’re exasperated and something is just missing? A joy that you know is supposed to be there, but it isn’t? Are you overwhelmed with all the messes, all the appointments, all the extended family issues, all the to-do lists, all the whining, all the homework, all the bills and all the minutes being sucked out of your day? I’m with you. Right there in the trenches with you. It is ugly and it is messy.
The biggest thing that needs to change is me. The way I act and think is a direct correlation between my time in the Word and in prayer. My personal relationship with Jesus needs to come first if I want any chance of being a good mother, a good wife, a good anything. There isn’t a set time we are required to read the Bible or pray. It’s not better or worse if you do it first thing in the morning or the last thing at night. The only time is isn’t healthy is when you’re not doing it at all. I hate admitting it, but I’m about as unhealthy as it gets right now. It is something I have struggled with for almost ten years. When I try and fail to get into a routine of time with the Lord, I let the failures define and defeat me. I give up too easily, giving Satan the foothold he wants to wreak havoc in my marriage and family. I need to remember that God’s grace is always in full supply. When I fail, He’s still for me. He is ready for me to try again. I tend to believe He is disappointed in me when I fail. In truth, He is probably disappointed only when I stop trying all together. He knows I’m going to fail. He knows I am weak, and that Facebook will be more appealing to me than reading the Bible. He knows I will be tempted to watch tv and “veg out” after a tiring day instead of ending my day in thankfulness and prayer. In 2 Corinthians 12:9, He tells us that His grace is sufficient, His power is made perfect in weakness. I have to cling to that grace when I fail, and ask Him to help me see Him as more beautiful and of more worth than anything this world has to offer. And there is nothing wrong with Facebook in and of itself. There is nothing wrong with watching Fixer Upper. It is when I value those things more than spending time with my Creator that they become idols in my life. I have to find a balance. I have to decide what is most important.
Where does that leave me? My kids are still going to need me to help with homework, listening to their reading, filling out all the reading logs, signing all the forms, and making all the goody bags for the learning experience. My three year old is still going to lose her crap when each compartment on her plate isn’t filled or her sandwich is cut into triangles when clearly, she wanted rectangles. There are going to be spills every meal, crumbs on every surface, and never enough time to vacuum. There is going to be a lot of noise, a lot of correction, a lot of Come To Jesus talks, a lot of noses in the corner, and plenty of weeping and gnashing of teeth. There will be pink eyes and stomach bugs, sleepless nights and bad dreams. It’s not going to get any easier. I will always need alone time and to not be needed for five minutes.
However, for the majority of the time when I can’t be alone and have to be needed… I choose God’s grace. I choose His strength. I choose His power in my weakness. I have to spend time with Him so His grace can pour over me, so I can then extend that same grace to my children. Motherhood isn’t going to change, but I can change as a mother.
All three of my girls are awake and rested now. It’s time to go practice what I preached. I think I’m gonna pray for a few minutes before heading up those stairs. Hang in there, Mama. You’re not alone.