Losing my Rag
I am writing for work at the moment on the theme of ‘Mother Guilt’ – something from which, thankfully, I have always considered that I do not suffer too readily. I have always kind of figured that my kiddos will pick up a mix of good and bad from my parenting (hopefully more good than bad), and that they will have their own issues to process and work through as they grow up; issues which, as they process them, will make them more empathetic, resilient, and grounded human beings.
I already see large parts of my personality in Judah, my oldest. The insistence on knowing what ‘the plan’ is for any given day, the motivation to do just about anything for a lolly, and the inability to let things go – or the ability to persevere no matter what, depending on which way you look at it. I also see less of my personality, but more of my quirks in my little Mason – who knew that chewing those little bits of cheek/inside lip (what are those things called?!) is an inherited trait?
Although I don’t fret a lot about how my mothering is going to stuff up my kids’ lives, today I found myself huddled in the corner of the kitchen, sobbing, while waiting for the kettle to boil. You see, with the ongoing ups and downs of chronic health issues, I will sometimes find myself roaring at the kids over something reasonably minor. I know it gives them a fright – and you know what? It often gives me a fright too. I don’t often realise that my body is depleted and my margins are paper thin, until I hear just one more little argument about that stupid fidget spinner.
Because I’m a big believer in the importance of one’s intentions, I can so easily brush off my infractions by explaining to my inner-critic that I never meant to upset anyone, and I’m only edgy because I feel like crap. But explain that to a couple of kiddos who never know which version of their mum they’re going to get today…or a husband, for that matter.
I guess I find myself at this juncture where I feel a sense of responsibility to not lose my rag at my kids, and not be a grumpy presence in my home, coupled with this sense of futility and the thought that it’s just so bloody unfair that I have to try and practice self-control, when I just want to sit in the corner and wallow in how gross I feel.
That’s the thing though, isn’t it? Living in the way that Jesus demonstrated doesn’t come with caveats as to how one might be feeling at the time. He doesn’t command us to love our neighbour, only when we’re feeling good. He doesn’t teach us to put others first, but don’t worry about it if you’re facing stuff.
I don’t for a second think he’s standing there with a big stick, reprimanding me with a stern look on his face. No. I get the sense that he’s gotten down to my eye-level, with compassion in his eyes, and an invitation to lean on him, and borrow his love and grace for the people that I live with. My margins may be non-existent, but his are everlasting.
So friends, if you, like me, are facing struggles of some sort (and who isn’t?), and it feels like you don’t have anything but the scum of your personality to share with those around you, perhaps you will join me in resting in the love of Jesus, and allowing his love to permeate your frailness, and drift through you to your loved ones.
Love you friends,
Crawling out from Under a Rock for a Second…
It’s been a minute since I wrote anything for anything other than work. To be honest, I’ve never felt less qualified to share wisdom/insight/anything in my whole life. Why? Because I’m 100% NOT rocking this COVID home-school, work from home, social distancing life. (Ok, yes, I am rocking the social distancing – it may surprise you to learn that I am, in fact, an introvert, and this time has given me a golden opportunity to polish my inner hermit).
I always said, even long before I had children, that home-schooling was my idea of a nightmare. Even so, I kind of thought, somewhere in the back of my hopeatorium, that actually I would discover a natural aptitude for it and find out that it’s surprisingly rewarding. Well that bubble has been well and truly popped. I hate it. I actually hate it. There’s not many things I hate – that awful yawn-sigh people do, reggae music, loud eating noises (I should probably just get permanent earplugs) – but home-schooling is right up there.
The thing that’s so difficult, is that because those of us here in our part of the States have had the kiddos home for a solid 8 months now, my margins are paper thin. I normally gird my loins for the 3-month summer break, and begin to morph into Harriet the Haggard by the end. And this is 2.5 summers, with no clear end in sight.
When we have no margins is when issues that we are able to keep below the surface with rest, regular moments of respite, relaxation, socialisation etc. rear their ugly heads. For me, this means that I revert to my inner child a lot of the time.
The little girl that wanted to please the teacher and gain her constant approval, is now the parent of a kiddo whose schooling she is overseeing, and she really wants her kid to do well in order to appease her quest for affirmation.
The little girl that learned it was desperately important to get things done within a self-imposed timeframe, is now trying to force a seven-year-old to finish up his schoolwork within the same arbitrary window of time.
With the constant stress and pressure of life here in US right now, it feels like every unhealed part of my soul and every unchallenged erroneous belief is simultaneously running the show and beating me up.
So friends, if you’re feeling like me right now – and I know so many of you are, let’s join hands and start to do the things we need to get through this very challenging phase. For some of us, we really need to ease up on ourselves and our kiddos. For others of us, we need to choose a daily rhythm at this time that allows for a lot of extra space. Maybe we need to call a friend just to tell them that we’re not okay. Maybe we need to choose a regular meditation/prayer practice. Maybe we need to go for a walk around the block every day. Maybe we need to stop and realise that although no-one (except maybe the tech gods) are winning in the shit-show that is 2020, we are learning lessons and facing trials that have the potential to forge gold within us.
So, to all the other fellow humans in the trenches right now (even those with their masks under their noses), I give you my biggest smize, and raise my arm in a weary salute to you. You are loved, you are not alone, and you’re going to get through this. And so will I – albeit with a new cavernous depth to the frown lines between my eyebrows.
Love you friends,
Before the world went nutso grando, I was all set to embark on the next glorious phase of my life; Mason was enrolled in daycare three mornings a week, I had taken on 17 hours a week of writing for Thinkladder (which BTW is excellent, and free, and you should probs download ASAP), Judah was at school every day, and I was enjoying working at my local Starbucks several mornings a week, sipping my coffee and being child-free and all profesh.
Now, my dreams of freedom have imploded on themselves, and I have not one, but TWO little boys at home, and I have to try and navigate 17 hours of writing while forcing my reticent-Reginald to do his schoolwork. All that to say, you can see why it’s been a hot minute since I wrote anything…
But here we are, and while I’ve had a few thoughts over the past six weeks, there are none that I can be bothered putting into one cohesive blog, so let me treat you to my COVID ramblings – a mishmash of the infancy of several of my musings of late:
I really don’t like online church. Please hear me out – I am fully committed to always being a part of the church, I used to work for the church and would like to again one day, but one thing that I have had significant struggle with is the performance aspect of church; that haunting feeling that we’re putting on a show to appease aspects of people’s spirituality, without asking them to engage in a way pushes them toward discomfort and spiritual growth. Online church feels like the epitome of performance church. I know pastors are just trying to do their best, and do what they can at this time – this is in no way a criticism of these beautiful people that are just doing their best – it is, however, a series of questions for the church as a whole…what is the church really meant to look like? When we remove the queen from the chessboard (Sunday Services), how does the game get played in a functional and healthy way? How are we reaching, engaging and discipling people in an authentic and meaningful way outside of Sunday? Has Sunday become a giant crutch, bearing more of the load than it was ever meant to carry?
Another of my COVID musings is to do with facemasks…or rather the way they smell. Or perhaps, more correctly, the way my breathe smells in one. It took me about three weeks of shopping in a face mask to discover that the funny (not bad, just a bit odd) smell in my face mask wasn’t the mask, or even my breath…it was my NOSE! Did you know your nose has a smell? I can’t think about it too much or it makes me queasy. And if it’s made you queasy too, my humble apologies.
And along with thoughts on sinus scents and the church as a gathering, I’ve been giving some thought to my personal faith journey also. I have been on a journey of deconstruction of my faith for around 10 or more years. It was a necessary journey, but funnily enough, I’ve almost come full circle in my conclusions of so many things regarding faith, but I kind of needed to unpack everything to understand properly how it goes back together. When the pandemic started getting serious, it really struck me that in times of crisis, it really forces you to face the pointy end of your faith. Questions like, ‘Where am I going when I die?’, and ‘Do I really trust God with my life?’ are shoved in one’s face, and there remains in that moment not much room for ethereal armchair theologising. I have, along with my love of puzzles and desire to rollerblade, discovered the more simple, anchoring faith of my childhood that puts my hand in the hand of Jesus.
So there you go friends, there’s some thoughts for ya. Caleb always tells me that my mind is a scary place, so I hope you enjoyed a few minutes holiday in Debsville (since you can’t go anywhere else right now). I genuinely hope that you’re doing okay, and please feel free to message me if you’d like someone to pray for you.
Love you friends,
The Importance of being Important
(Originally published on Sheology.co)
From as early as I can remember, I have wanted to be important – like celebrity grade important. The best way to achieve this, of course, was to become a popstar; and what better way to understand the inner workings of the popstar world than being the president of your very own New Kids on the Block fan club? (Full disclosure, there were only two of us in the club, and yes, I took the attendance register each meeting).
I know that being famous is probably every second kid’s dream, but for me it signified something deeper and more painful. I really did think that I needed to do something to achieve significance. Despite my parents doing the very best that they could, I never felt very important in my childhood years, and this led me to believe that if I could only minimise any negative feedback by being as good as possible, and maximise any positive feedback by doing what I thought others would praise, then finally I would feel like I was noteworthy.
The desire to be important became a major driver in so much of what I ended up doing. As a teenager and in my early-20s I had a group of friends that were like family, and we spent years together doing youth ministry. Every six months or so, a new hobby would take a hold of the group, and a bunch of people would suddenly be into touch-rugby, tennis, Settlers of Catan, 500, etc. In an effort to tick all the right boxes I ended up doing things that, upon reflection, were just desperate attempts to feel significant; things like, running, for example. Marathon running had become the flavour of the day, and despite my janky knees and near-death feelings when I run, I started training for a race (I made it to 10ks before sanity finally took hold). I also bought a half-set of ladies’ golf clubs and starting ‘playing’ golf, purchased a tennis racket despite my obvious lack of talent in this area, joined a gym and became an aerobics instructor, feigned an interest in music that I really didn’t like, and no matter how awkward, I also tried to wrangle invites to social events, because being seen as significant mattered that much to me.
On top of this, I became a pro at recognising what spiritual attributes would be most lauded in the church I was part of. Read the bible in year? Sure, I’ll read it four years in a row. Go to the early morning prayer meeting (at an hour so ungodly I don’t think even Jesus was up yet)? I’ll be there smiling and radiant. Attend church morning and night? I wouldn’t skip it for anything (except perhaps a ‘both ends went in the night’ situation).
As I left school, my drive for significance followed me everywhere I went. When I was at bible college, I had a part-time job in the office at our church preschool. It was the perfect job for me. I loved every minute of it; my cosy corner office, the best boss in the whole world, admin tasks that filled my love of order, treasured co-workers, and the glorious background noise of playing children, made even better by the fact I was not responsible for a single one of them or their poopy nappies. But when I finished bible college and was asked to be the Worship Pastor, I decided that it really would be best if I went full-time at the church, despite the fact I could easily have filled the role in three days per week. Because it was surely more important to be in full-time ministry. I have thought about that job and regretted that decision so much more than I can convey.
Fast-forward through a wedding, a counselling degree, and a change of cities, I found myself pregnant, and determined that I would work from home once the baby arrived. Except he arrived with health difficulties and literally couldn’t nap without being bounced…which meant that my hands were only ever free for long enough to stuff some food in my face, or push the pram for endless hours around the streets of Christchurch.
Then, once we had emigrated to the States, I developed chronic migraine during my second pregnancy, which continues to this day, and it meant that I spent the better part of two years in bed, yelling at my kids, using the TV as a babysitter, and trying somehow to convey to my friends that if I went out for an evening, I would pay for it by spending the next two weeks bedridden.
It was over this five-year period that my drive for significance began to unravel. It’s really difficult to prove your worth when your hands are constantly occupied by a screaming infant, or when you’re a useless lump of pain languishing in a dark room with an ice pack strapped to your head. It’s not easy to use your body to signify to the world at large that you’re disciplined with food and exercise, when you take a drug that gives you the gift of an extra 20lbs that doesn’t budge.
I will never forget one night, lying in my bed in between sessions of throwing up and howling at the moon, racked with pain and feeling desperately low, when I suddenly became aware of the unmistakable presence of love in the room. I was, by all objective measures, the most useless I’d ever been since I was a toddler, but the richness of love, the colour of scarlet, filled my room, and for the first time, I began to understand that my value is not based on my performance.
It took some really, really hard life circumstances for me to begin to understand this message. And I wish I could say that it’s a fait accompli, lesson learned, doneskies. But I can bet you that I’ll be 95, living in a rest-home, and finding a way to let Ethel and Bob know that I can still make it onto the loo by myself. The deepest and longest held beliefs are the most likely to be lifelong lessons, but I am so relieved to find myself somewhat freed from this strife for importance. My current job, for example, is writing for a counselling app, where every day, thousands of people read the words I have written, but nobody knows it’s me that wrote them – and it brings me so much joy!
I am slowly learning that my innate value cannot be judged, or measured, or earned, or rewarded. My worth was a gift that was sown into the fabric of my being when I was created.
Love you friends,
PS. The irony of writing a published blog about wanting to be important is not lost on me, so you know, feel free to comment, or share, or wait…..no, maybe not….
What if Freedom isn’t all it’s Cracked up to be?
I have been eating up the work of John Mark Comer and Mark Sayers lately. They have a Podcast called, ‘This Cultural Moment’ (I HIGHLY recommend) in which they look at what it takes to be a disciple of Jesus in our current cultural climate. In the episode I listened to this morning (at 6.00am while hiking up our local mountain – which has to be mentioned, because I forgot to take a selfie) they mention that for human flourishing, three ‘tanks’ need to be full; freedom – as in freedom of choice, individuality, expression etc., meaning, and community. I’m sure one could argue for other tanks, like food for example, but at the risk of indulging my contrarian nature, I shall digress.
They go on to say that in our current Western climate, the freedom ‘tank’ is full to overflowing, and as a result, the ‘meaning’ and ‘community’ tanks are suffering. This got me thinking about how true I have found this to be in my own life. Parenting is a prime example; it is, as I often say, the very worst and the very best. In this framework, you could say that this is because while the freedom ‘tank’ is totally plundered by my tiny baboons, the loss is well made-up by the massive deposit in the ‘meaning’ tank…but you can’t have the meaning, without the loss of freedom.
Another example of this is prayer; I have found a liturgy of prayer to be extremely meaningful and peace-making in my life, however I feel the restraint of sticking with it and am legit tempted to grab my phone at regular intervals. My free time is, by my own choice, being used towards a discipline from which I reap substantial benefits, but it takes the loss of small freedoms in order to achieve the reward of meaning.
The point that I take away from all of this, is the reminder that the constraints we face in life can actually be for our benefit. I know that sounds like some form of heresy given the world in which we live – a world in which unlimited personal freedom is Mecca. The problem is that we so often can’t enjoy the beauty and simplicity that God has provided for in this life, unless we have something with which to contrast it. I have never enjoyed sitting in my back yard, breathing the clean air and watching the trees so much as since I have battled with chronic illness. The restraint of physical symptoms has allowed me to find meaning and beauty in things I once took for granted.
Creativity is another such area which flourishes under constraints. We have a buddy that wrote and produced one of the most creative, intricate and peaceful albums I have ever heard using just his voice and one old electric guitar. The limitation of instrumentation brought his creativity to a remarkable place. Similarly (although not comparing my cooking to the aforementioned album), the elimination of grains, sugar and carbs from my diet due to health, has caused me to get really creative with inventing meals that are within the confines of my diet, but still taste delicious…(well, I think they’re delicious, however getting Caleb to try one of my keto ‘treats’ is like pulling teeth – and I gave Judah some of my keto ice-cream once, to which he responded, “Mum…is this an actual treat?”)
So, let’s be encouraged today friends, that whatever constraints and limitations we find around our lives, it’s possible, just possible, that our lives wouldn’t actually be as meaningful without them.
They Never Tell You…
There have been several occasions over the past five and a half years that Caleb and I have started a conversation about some aspect of parenting beginning with, “They never tell you that…” Exactly who the nebulous “they” are is unclear, but assumedly there is a gaggle of experienced parents out there whose job it should be to prepare the newer parents for every surprising eventuality. Having been a parent for five and half years now, I can only surmise that by the time these parents have recovered from the rigors of parenting, they are approximately 98 years old, and have trouble using communication devices, like computers, to share their wisdom.
They never tell you, for example, that you will develop an entirely new vocabulary dedicated solely to the description of poop. Real life examples in our family include, but are not limited to, “nugget”, “squidgy”, and the horrifying, “code orange”. They also never tell you that you will spend an unholy amount of time researching and baking your kid’s second birthday cake from scratch, in the shape of an American school bus, and using an entire bottle of yellow food dye, only to have it turn out looking like one of those really odd, flat one-person fertilising trucks. But, you allow yourself a secret smile and a self-deprecating Facebook post, because you just know this little guy is going to think it’s the coolest bus in the world…except all you get is, “What is it?” followed by a refusal to even eat the damn bus.
They never tell you that you’ll get to the end of your rope, then discover that you have to hang there by the skin of your teeth while trying to remain coherent and patient and nice. But they also never tell you that the desperation for the kiddos to go to sleep at the end of the day, is surpassed only by the swell of your heart when you hear your two year old stumbling into the lounge like a tiny drunken sailor in the morning.
They never tell you that while you feel pretty chuffed that you let the five year old stir the pancake batter once, and there was also that one time in a moment of parenting awesome-sauce that you set up a giant piece of paper with some crayons, that there are actually parents who do finger painting (AT HOME!!) and woollen pom-pom making, and who love school holidays because they get to do all the fun activities, and their kids only watch an hour of TV a month, and they make muffins comprised of 8 different kinds of antioxidant ancient superfoods that kids somehow magically love.
They never tell you that your kids are gonna have strange and unusual quirks that you most definitely did not teach them…like putting their brother’s stinky gross socks on their hands and wiping their face with them, or having a Chernobyl size meltdown because you won’t let them leave the house with undies on their head.
They never tell you that the moment your kids enter the world, the range on the volume knob on life gets immediately expanded; the lows are so much lower, the highs so much higher. Or of the horror you will experience losing your kid at the museum, or of the uncanny ability you now possess to pick your progeny out of a large crowd simply by the shape of his head.
And they never tell you that somehow, as you feel yourself being stretched beyond recognition, somewhere between the new wrinkles, and peptic ulcers, and sudden disconcerting penchant for repeating old-timey phrases that your mum used to say, somewhere in all of that, there is a sense of rightness. A sense that, even though you would never willingly sign-up for half of what you experience on a regular basis, a life lived in the servitude of others (even tiny belligerent dictators) is really good for your soul.
Love you friends (and may the force be with you).
Dear Parent of Young Children…
Dear Parent of Young Children,
You are amazing – an ordinary person taking on an extraordinary role. There’s not much that can adequately prepare you for the change of everything that is thrust on you when a small person enters your world. You find yourself facing scenarios that you could not have imagined pre-kiddo. Like, that time when you went to a friend’s house for dinner and found it difficult to concentrate on conversation, because something distinctly smelt like poo. Everyone was chatting, and all you could do was nod and smile while your head was trying to Sherlock the birthplace of the malodour. You were hoping like heck it wasn’t you. Perhaps it was the dog? Oh, please Jesus, let it be the dog. But it wasn’t the dog. Your very own human puppy had left a schmeer on your pants, and was found happily eating his dinner and depositing his payload on a lovely and expensive, fabric-covered dining chair.
Or that time you woke up from a nap to discover that your five-year old had hacked his coif with a pair of paper-only kid scissors. You were tempted to garb your mini Lloyd Christmas in a shirt that said, “I did this ↑ to myself” but you didn’t because it would’ve been cruel (obvs) and also, future therapy sessions… so you sucked it up, and began to learn the difficult lesson that your tiny humans have an independent will, make their own decisions, and not everything they do is direct reflection on you.
And you most certainly will never forget that ill-fated trip to Fred Meyer two days before Christmas. You dropped your little love at the playland to at least alleviate some of the stress of holiday shopping, and headed off into the mass of humanity to complete your task. That’s until you got to aisle three and your heart sunk as the Christmas music stopped and you heard, “Would the parent of <insert name here> please return to the Playland”. That was bad enough, but on the way to the childcare, your blood positively froze as you began to hear the name of every.single.child subsequently called out for their parents also to return. It transpired that your resourceful wee lad had thought the carpeted corner of the room would make a fine urinal and the whole place had to be shut down for an hour while sanitising measures took place. And as you took the walk of shame with your stinky bundle past the other parents in line, you made a decision about the sort of person you are going to be – not the person giving you daggers because your kid ruined their child-free shopping experience (because clearly you had spent months training your child to find creative and inconvenient places to pee), but the person who gives you a knowing smile, because they know, it’s probably their turn next, and we’re all in this together.
No-one ever tells you that you will scroll through Insta pics of child-free people posting pics of themselves at spendy day spas with captions like, “Taking a much-needed self-care moment.” And it burns, because the only self-care moment you can hope for right now is five minutes in the loo without several knocks on the door and at least one piece of artwork being slid under the door for your critique. But they also never tell you of the restorative powers of a small body leaning in for a cuddle while a tiny arm hooks around your neck.
People will tell you things like, “It’s totally fine changing a nappy when it’s your own kid.” But then you discover, it’s not fine. You discover a deep hate for poo outside the watery confines of the toilet, and your reaction if some gets on your skin is just like you’ve been smeared with Ebola. But then you slowly begin to learn that doing the things you don’t like on a regular basis builds character in the way that nothing else could.
So, fellow comrades in the trenches, take heart. You are not alone on this crazy, exhausting, incredible and humbling journey. I have no doubt that Jesus cheers you on as you undertake this most important of roles. You are loved, you are seen, and you are doing a great job.
The Tree of Life
I have been aware of a nagging sense of discontent in my soul of late. I think it’s probably been there for ages, but as the fog of chronic illness lifts, I am better able to see it. It’s a longing for my life to be different; more full, more productive, more exciting, more fun. I miss my old life when I was younger, was firmly entrenched in a solid crew of friends, and had more invites to events than I cared to attend. Yet, if I am honest with myself, I remember that there was a nagging (sometimes raging) discontent in those times also; I wanted to be married, to own a house and live in America(!). In fact, if I am even more honest with myself, I will come to the conclusion that what I think I need is the free time, energy, health and social status of my younger years, coupled with the current blessings of marriage, family, our own home and a decent education. I want the very best bits of each stage of my life to converge into the present. I want these things because my heart, mind, soul and brain has been tricked into thinking that that is what they need to be content.
When I am in a grotty patch of migraines, I feel strangely more content; resigned to the fact that I can only just barely keep my head above water trying to live and keep two little dudes alive. When my treatment kicks in, the discontent starts squirming and making its presence known. I know that I won’t just be stumbling from day-to-day, waiting until I can stumble into a dark room with an ice-pack on my head. I am aware that I could attend events, I could work a productive job, I could get fitter, I could become more social, and attractive, and popular, and successful. My health would allow me the chance to chase after the things that I so regularly pursue to provide what I think I need for joy and contentment.
Fill in the blank, my life would be more complete/joyous/full if only __________ (I was married/married to someone else/single, I owned a home/boat/car/full head of hair, I was skinnier/stronger/healthier/smarter/prettier/funnier/more popular, I was understood/appreciated/valued, I had a best friend/10,000 followers on Instagram/naturally long and full eyelashes/the magical ability to eat hot chips without gaining weight, I had kids/did not have kids, I had more responsibility/more adventure and less responsibility…).
Unfortunately, when we chase after any of the above and more to fulfil our lives, it’s like sitting down to a meal of lollipops…immediately gratifying and very appealing, but ultimately leaves you with an emptiness within and a longing for something more. The world around us is endlessly whispering to us and enticing us to find life in a million different ways. We get addicted to the sweetness and instant gratification of receiving life from anything other than God, but we end up chasing the proverbial dangling carrot.
I recently listened to an excellent sermon by Tim Keller on the wounded spirit (you can find it on YouTube). In it, he parallels the Tree of Life in the Garden of Eden with the Cross on which Jesus died. He suggests that the Tree of Life, which is cut off to us by deciding to live life on our own terms, becomes fully accessible to us through the sacrifice of Jesus. That is SUCH good news!! Do you know what this meant to me? On the one hand, it is clear that I am going to have to do some work diverting my thoughts away from the ways I habitually seek contentment, but on the other hand, it gives me GREAT joy!! Because it means that the longings I have within do not need to remain going unmet, my discontent can be fulfilled, I can eat from the Tree of Life. Jesus can, and wants to be, my everything. I can give up the exhausting, relentless and ultimately fruitless pursuit of the intangible. Now, that is great hope indeed!
Bless you friends,
My sweet little chilled out Macie has, overnight it seems, turned into a scratching, biting, dirt-eating, roaring, running, scaler-of-all-things-high-and-dangerous. This turn of events, coupled with the sassy-pants attitude of Mr. Four, has pushed stay at home parenthood to a whole. new. level. So here goes my requisite ‘parenting is so hard’ whinge. I figure I’m probably due for one…once a year seems about right.
Before I get into it, I feel the need for a disclaimer. This isn’t going to be one of those ‘find the gold in the hard moments’ posts. Not that we don’t need those, of course, we do. BUT, I read a lot of articles that talk about the trials of parenting and then finish up by talking about how precious our kids are, how cherished this time is, and how fleeting it really is. I read these and initially feel comforted, but somehow end up feeling worse…guilty somehow that in the midst of the chaos I’m not appreciating these years enough. SO…please rest assured, I love my kids to the moon and back, I’m trying to milk the loveliness out of these years, and I understand that one blessed day I shall look back with nostalgia and annoy some harrowed mum by commenting that, “I miss those days!” But today is a vent. Hopefully my venting will let you know that you are not alone in your messy house.
I think the thing that causes me to feel like the breath is being strangled out of me some days is the sheer relentlessness of raising kiddos. On a semi-regular basis, my own version of the Hillsong United song flashes through my head, “This kid is relentless.” Having battled ill-health for a couple of years surely can’t be helping, but I sometimes get to the point where I feel like I’ll explode or just disintegrate if I get asked for one more snack. I have, I kid you not, started sneaking around the house at times, hoping that no-one will notice my presence, quietly going about my business, because I know if I get spotted, Thing 1 or Thing 2 will be inevitably uncontrollably compelled to ask me to do something, or hang on my pants until they start to fall down. I swear they think, ‘Oh look, it’s the lady that does stuff. I must ask her to do more stuff.’
I think one of my main problems is that most days I hunt like a starving stray cat for morsels of the life I used to have. I try and trap moments of time that are uninterrupted and whimsical. I dream of the airy freedom of going about life without having my radar out for a small mountaineer attempting a first ascent. I long for the indulgence of having a grumpy day where I can just shut myself in a dark room and watch Netflix all day. Instead, I am the only introvert in a family of extroverts, and I get approximately 3.5 seconds in the loo before it becomes a shared experience.
Another thing that works against me, is that I am so driven by productivity. There’s nothing that I love more than putting my hand to a worthwhile task, and while I KNOW in my rational self that there could be nothing more worthwhile than raising tiny humans, the productive part of me dismisses the mundanity of daily childrearing as a box I cannot tick at the end of each day. I want to finish a tangible project, email it off to the appropriate parties, and receive constructive feedback and praise on what I have accomplished. Instead I get to scrub the floor, only to have Thing 2 post his newly dismantled banana over the side of his highchair.
I have become scarily adept at spotting the sound of Caleb’s truck arriving home from 14 miles away. Macie runs to the door to greet his D when the workday is done, and I’m about one step behind him. I get almost giddy to have my teammate back at my side. I read an article from a Psychologist recently who mentioned that parents of young children always feel overworked and underappreciated. Never a truer word. But at least the two of us are both clinging on to the same flogged horse together!
So there you go friends, rant over! (For this year). I pray that in this time of our lives God will grant us grace and strength. I also pray that through the continuous squeezing, our characters and personalities become more patient, loving, kind, peaceful, good, gentle, and self-controlled. You are not alone dear parent…and you are doing a great job.