Warning!!! This is not a post about a funny kid story, you know like when Jonathan colored himself blue or one where I tell you that he dumped a half gallon jug of vinegar on my hall way carpet. (Unfortunately a true and smelly story...) No, this is definitely not one of those type of posts.
Being a mother is the single greatest blessing that I have been given. It is also exhausting, frustrating and at times, utterly heart breaking. I know that without a doubt, motherhood is the vocation to which I am being called. But there are definitely days when I wish that I could turn a deaf ear to the call, jump in my car and head north or south or anywhere but here. There are the days when nobody will listen to a word that I say. There are days when no matter what I do, everyone is upset with me. Apparently my sole purpose in life is to make my children's lives utterly unbearable. Being the overachiever that I am, of course I excel at this. Just ask them, I am sure that any of them will tell you, in detail, how horribly mean and unfair I am. Last week, Hannah demanded to know why I insisted on bossing her around. This was after I asked her for the nine trillionth time to wash her face, brush her teeth and comb her hair and...wait for it...change out of her pajamas. I know, I am scarring my children for life. How dare I expect them to be (gulp) clean and hygienic?! The wailing and gnashing of teeth that occurred in my house every morning last week was deafening. What detestable, unfair terribleness was I inflicting on my kids? I made them wear pants to school. Yep, pants. It was a whopping 37 degrees outside and I had the audacity to make them wear pants. My cruelty can be unparalleled.
While these things are typical and normal kid things and (what I believe to be) typical and normal parental actions, it can be overwhelming when everything that you try to do to, and for your kids, is met with resistance. You just want to scream, "HELLO!!! Can't you see that I am doing this for your own good!!!???" As a mother it is our job not only to nurture and take care of the physical needs of our children, but also to teach them how to be good, functioning, loving human beings. How can you feel that you are anything but an utter failure at this when the tiny humans that you are responsible for battle you at every turn? There are days when I feel that I have done just the opposite. Instead of kind, compassionate and hardworking (and clean) people, I have raised a herd of selfish, angry and lazy (and sometimes smelly) people. It can be utterly deflating.
When I look at my children, I try to see them through the lens of love and delight through which God sees them. This can feel almost impossible when your kids are screaming, "You are the meanest mom in the whole world!" Ouch. I don't think that they realize how deeply their words can hurt. It is a little bit easier to let it slide when it is one of the littles. They are so young, I don't think that they realize how hurtful they can be. Besides they are always quick with a snuggle and a kiss. (Not to mention the fact that I can only understand 1/3 of what they say anyway.) A good hug can go a long way to heal a hurt. But when the words are coming form the middle kids or especially the big kids, it can be different. Our feelings get hurt and our heart breaks a tiny bit with each mean or nasty comment. They know that what they are saying isn't nice. They say it with the intention of hurting. But I don't think that they realize how much they can hurt us. Just because I am the mom, doesn't make me invincible. If anything, it makes me more vulnerable. I know how much I love my kids. I know how much I want for them. I know that I would do anything for them, anything. My heart beats for them. As a mom 97% of what I do on a daily basis is for them. To have that thrown back into your face with a back handed comment can be devastating.
Devastating?!? Seriously? Aren't you being a tad bit overly dramatic?? I know that you are probably thinking that. In fact I have felt that myself. I get frustrated when I get so caught up in the drama of it all. I am the mom. I should be "above" that. But I am not. I am not "above" it. I am, in fact, smack dab in the middle of it. This week has been particularly difficult. Maybe it's the fact that the weather is anything but springlike and we all have a bad case of cabin fever? Maybe there are just too many hormones floating around this house? Who knows? Maybe I just need my prozac upped? All that I know is that I am exhausted and frustrated. I am sick of battling kids to dress appropriately for the weather. I am sick of battling my daughter to eat every and any meal. I am sick of putting the baby in bed 14 times before he finally stays. I am sick of being the referee of a 30 round wrestling match between 4 little boys. I am sick and tired.
And then it hit me. What did I do the last time I was feeling this way? I started to make myself the priority. I started to take time for me first. I would exercise and pray first and foremost. Once I had my rosary and morning prayers said and my exercise finished, I felt better. I had more energy and more patience. Both of these things had been severely lacking. With more energy and patience, I was a much nicer mommy. I had a better sense of humor and it was much easier to let things roll of my back. You know things like, "You are the meanest mom ever!" or "You just don't like me! That's why you won't let me wear shorts to school today!" Instead of being so hurt by these things, I would just laugh them off and eventually the screamer would come around too with a sheepish grin and a "Oops, sorry mom." I set the tone and mood in this house. When I don't respect myself, how can I expect my kids to? When I make healthy choices and put my well being first, I have so much more to give to the kids. This last month or so has been so incredibly busy that I have let my exercise slide. There went my energy... Instead of making my prayer time a priority, I was just squeezing it in right before I went to bed. Adios, peace and contentment...I continued to give and give and do and do for my family, because that's my job. But instead of recharging my batteries, I let them die out. It got to the point where I had nothing let to give. I am at the point where I have nothing left to give. I have no doubt that tomorrow the kids will still be fighting me at every turn. The difference is that I am going to wake up tomorrow and put myself first. I am going to pray and run and pray some more. I am going to be ready to do my job. My job as a mother can be a thankless, unappreciated, exhausting job. But I know that it isn't just my job. Motherhood is my God-given vocation. Vocations come with grace and blessings. Right now I need a little bit of a reminder of how big of a blessing my kids are. So I am going to tiptoe back the hallway and peak at them while they are sleeping. Every mother knows that nothing can pull at your heart like an angelic sleeping child. Good Night All!