Sometimes we have low points. Not often do we talk about it. This was written during one such time for me, and for a long time I couldn’t post it. I’m not sure why it’s so hard. In hindsight, I’m sure it would have been better for me to share it when I was in the middle of these feelings. But the safer and less courageous thing is to post it once I got on the other side of it. I figure I’d rather post it now than not at all, since I know there are others out there who struggle with similar things. And even though it’s written mainly to parents of young ones, I’m sure in some ways those who don’t fall in that category can relate. (I realize it’s all relative. I am just a mom of a healthy two, there are many who face more pointed challenges, they have my deepest admiration. I also realize these are first world problems, not worthy to be compared with those faced by billions beyond our seas.)
This post is for all the moms (and dads!) out there who feel tired. Especially those who stay at home with the primary role of caring for the house and kids–a never-ending, demanding and incredibly important job that has no official title, salary or built-in vacation time. Who feel ashamed because even though they wouldn’t trade their position for anything, sometimes (and sometimes can be often) upon awakening are already wishing the day away, waiting for that moment when young ones will hit the pillow and there will be silence. Still, free silence. Who have so little energy and yet are chasing ones at peak energy levels; who have “mom brain” and yet are asked a thousand questions and face a thousand demands. Who can feel little desire and then a lot of guilt for not being enough. Who struggle because they’re overwhelmed and have lost sight of their meaning behind all of the dirty dishes and diapers and laundry and wiping up after everybody. Who look around and see what seems to be a plethora of super moms, blogging about their great healthy meals made, their organic gardens and their new cute homemade curtains. These moms homeschool, look beautifully trim, seem to always be peppy, sell their creations on Etsy and are saving their families thousands with their organized couponing systems. Oh, and their kids are already reading books that you’ve never even heard of, and memorizing scripture to boot. I wish I was this mom. I’ve tried to be this mom. At times, I’ve managed a few of these things, and probably when I did I blogged about it, or at least captured it with a picture for Facebook. See world, I can do this too!
I’m not at all bashing the mom I just described, please understand. I admire her. I pray to be her. Proverbs 31, right? I have friends that are genuinely close to this mom, and it’s not a front. But I also see that they struggle too, just like me. And I see that they’re amazed at some things I do. It makes me think all the other moms who I don’t know so well but seem so together just might struggle a little too.
This all got me thinking. Why do we so rarely post about the struggles? I mean really, how often do you see your friends posting pictures of the ramen they made for dinner, or the piles of dirty dishes stacked up in their sinks?
On Facebook I hear of all kinds of lovely and impressive things, and I myself have posted them. Roasted garlic, grilled salmon, peppers stuffed with quinoa and pine nuts. Pictures of happy times at the park, on walks and sitting at the table doing lovely artwork. Pictures of beautiful garden beds and manicured backyards. I won’t stop posting these things, and I don’t want my friends to, either. These inspire me often. I just also feel the need to say, “Hey, anybody else out there got a desk-pile-monster mocking you with stacks of paper, unopened mail, uncut coupons and your son’s misplaced school schedule? Anybody else have weeds taking over their lawn and flower beds, and are having a really hard time getting the tomatoes to grow right? Anybody else feel almost paralyzed when that sweet free moment comes, unsure of how to spend it?”
Anybody else sometimes feel alone, in this supposedly uber “connected” age? Overwhelmed? Inadequate? At times, defeated. And if we’re really honest, at the lowest points the other ugly “D” word looms… depression. I hate to even write it.
Life can be a war for our soul.
This post will not spell out all the answers, I don’t have them. But I know one for me has to do with soaking. Soaking up Life. Words of promise. My low moments have come when I’m focused on all the circumstances around me that I wish were a little different, and I drown in them. I get sucked into the undertow and they usher me to fear, doubt, despair. Then I just want to escape, and all these caves we hide in are just dark and lifeless and soul-sucking. But I know, I know the times of victory and joy have come when I’ve gotten a consistent diet of truth. Renewing my stressed-stained mind with what my Creator has to say. I believe in the Bible for this reason–not because of all the theological and historical arguments for its validity, but because of the impact it has on my core being. I can be in the middle of despairing circumstances and suddenly, like getting an IV from heaven, against all hope I in hope believe. These words are living–water to a plant, food to soul… and I am lifted.
Joy also comes when I choose the hard things, things that my flesh begs me not to do. Running or walking when I want to be lazy. Water when I crave sugar and fizz. Cleaning when I want to veg. Thinking about the countless things I have to be thankful for rather than focusing on the few difficulties I’m enduring. Time in the secret place with God when it’s easier to browse Facebook. Attacking the pile monster on my desk, even if I only have ten minutes. Going out to meet my friends when my flesh screams “pull down the shades and isolate! keep pajamas on and hide!” It’s answering the call from the sweet elderly neighbor who calls multiple times a day because she’s lonely and in pain, when self wants to hoard any spare moments for my agenda and “to-do” list. When I choose these things more consistently, I find life. I walk in the footsteps of Christ and where He is, joy is.
His table is worth the trek it takes to get there.
(As an aside, I need to say for those of you who don’t have kids yet and want them, don’t let these descriptions of the hard moments make you hesitate. Not for one moment. It is a great mystery how even the most frustrating days dissipate with one look at your darling. No amount of money could make me choose differently than this path and honor of motherhood. One writer likens it to climbing Mount Everest–even though the climb is grueling, it’s worth every step. The truest living is in the sacrifice.)