A Breaking Point
Life has been busy lately. I’ve felt the weight of the world on my shoulders (well, more like on my chest….I get short of breath when I’m stressed out). Nothing in particular has been more than what I think I should be able to handle. Sick kids, but not any more sick than they have been before. A hectic schedule. Friends and family members in need of prayer. For some reason, though, all the things in my life that were pushing the very breath out of my lungs starting ganging up on me and I felt I couldn’t handle one more day of parenthood.
Life lesson: call a grandma.
My husband called his parents and asked how quickly they could meet me at a halfway point between our homes (an hour for each of us) and take home one little girl with them for a couple of days. We were on the road within half an hour. I knew that a few days with “Nana” and “Boppa” would be just what a crabby/insubordinate little girl needed. And exactly what a frazzled mother needed–a small break.
One of the blessings I wasn’t thinking about when I was arranging my little “break” was the time spent alone with my youngest daughter. Beautiful and fun aspects of her personality showed themselves when it was just the two of us. I realized how I had wrongly assumed some things about her. I.e. I had diagnosed her with the attention span of a housefly, but discovered that her “inability” to stick to a task has more to do with her desire to tag after her big sister than her lack of attention span. I always knew that she was an observer, but was surprised to hear her tell me about memories she held in her little 2 1/2 year old mind. She must just never take the opportunity to try to talk over her big sister. I truly enjoyed all the little moments we shared in our time together.
Rest and Refocus (You didn’t think my other “R” was recreation, did you?!)
My small break was not without some looking inward and finding myself guilty of wayward behaviors that surely were contributing to my parenting burnout. (I had been wavering between blaming it all on my kids and just blaming it on the blanket lie that I was “just a bad mom.”) I know all too well that God doesn’t burden us with hopeless guilt, but I was allowing that to be one of my cop-outs when things weren’t going well. Over a couple of quiet days, I felt the Holy Spirit convicting me of anger. Proverbs 29:11 plainly tells of my foolishness: “A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control.” When my children needed consequences, I was too easily giving full vent to my anger. The consequences might have been the same as they always are, but I knew in my heart that my anger was overflowing in my words and body language and I wasn’t even trying to keep myself in check. I spent the following day praying for strength and discipline so that I could display the fruits of the Spirit, not the fruits of foolishness.
Another thing that I beat myself up over regularly is my weakness. Make that weaknesses. I only have two small children and somehow I find myself burned out and depleted. Someday, God willing, we might have more children in our family. Can I just not handle it? Am I just not cut out for motherhood, even though in my heart I feel so called to it? Why am I SO WEAK?
Today I reminded myself how seriously I carry the responsibility of raising Godly children. Whether I have two children or ten of them (Lord help me!), I will always pour everything that I have into it. I have high expectations for the kind of mother I should be. I have high expectations for my children (within reason, I believe). I never take for granted that my children will just “turn out”; I never excuse or ignore behavior just because it’s age-relevant for them. I’m certainly not perfect (read above), but I take my job very seriously. I work hard. Sometimes I can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. Sometimes I become so convinced that my parenting must be completely ineffective that I want to throw in the towel.
And then God reminds me that in my weakness HE is strong. I know I have to work hard. I have to keep at it when it seems like nothing is working. Sometimes I have to ask for help. From my husband (of course!), from family, from friends, from God. Because I cannot always do it on my own strength. And hopefully, if there comes a day when my children grow into Godly women, I will remember Who gets the credit.