I’ve told my husband before that I should have picked something I was good at to do with my life instead of floundering in motherhood. (I don’t feel that way all the time. We have plenty of ordinary, stellar days.) But as I’ve examined my life and how things are going it all comes back to me. Obviously I don’t think that I’m spinning the universe or solely responsible for my kids but I do choose what kind of woman I am. When I’m frustrated as a mama my children haven’t suddenly turned into wild animals. It’s not determined by how many months old the kids are. It’s me. It’s always me.
Does that mean there aren’t hard times in motherhood? Of course not. Sometimes the baby is teething and the two year old just discovered that he likes announcing “no” to everything you say and you’re tired. But if I can’t be the woman I want to be in the hard mothering, that’s me. It’s not them.
This can start out innocently. Someone’s sick, then everyone’s sick and I just don’t have the time or the energy to deal with things the way I need to. Sometimes I’m forced to survive motherhood instead of thriving in it but that shouldn’t be status quo. And typically only surviving motherhood is bad enough that I’m forced to deal with myself.
I took some notes on my behavior last time and here are five things I’m NOT doing when I’m floundering.
1. I’m not speaking truth to myself. This is so important. What I say to myself matters. When I mutter “they’ll never get it” and “I should have picked something to do that I was good at” then I discourage myself. I discourage my children if they hear it. And it’s a lie. There’s a verse in Psalm 15 that talks about speaking the truth in our hearts. It matters what we say to ourselves. It’s just as wrong to tell ourselves lies as it is to tell others lies. (I discussed this with my email friends on Sunday- join in here.)
2. I’m not being consistent in discipline. And then when I get frustrated at the disobedience I yell instead of calmly dealing with the problem. Because I’m not doing my part. Deal with disobedience with calm, consistent actions. Then the kids know what to expect and you know what to expect from yourself.
3. I’m not using Scripture in my training. When I tell the kids why we don’t do something I’m forced to have a more coherent discipline pattern. I can’t yell, “But Jesus wouldn’t act that way!!” while I roll my eyes and stomp around the kitchen. Plus, it’s the important part of training in our family. I want my kids to line up their behavior with what the Bible says, not what people want. I want more than good behavior, although I don’t mind large doses of that either.
4. I’m not going anywhere. Occasionally this can’t be helped because of illness or weather or any number of things that disrupt the routine and leave us “stuck” at home. But that’s not how I thrive. I try to break out as soon as possible. Go to the library, a playdate, the park. Go on a walk and breathe the fresh air and feel the sunshine.
5. I’m not doing the little, but important, things. I need to sit and tickle my kids, build the block towers, and read the books. I need to snuggle while I help Micah drink his formula and hold the baby during dinner prep occasionally. When I’m irritated with life, myself, and the kids it’s hard to do those things. And that’s when they are especially important. My kids need to feel my love and I need to practice showing it even if I don’t feel like it. It changes something- probably me.
I don’t think any of us want to make anything harder than it has to be. When I persist in these behaviors I make mothering very, very hard. I make life difficult for my boys as well. Of course, all of these things are too much for me to overcome on my own. I need Jesus. It always stems back to my walk with Christ. I need Him more than I need anything else, including coffee or a vacation or a laundry fairy (although I wouldn’t turn those down either!).
Have you ever paid attention to the things that mess up your mothering? Sometimes I’ll reflect back on what made a day good or bad and I’m surprised at what simple little things made such a big difference.