The other night when my husband came home I couldn’t help but share an observation.
“We’re on a record around here. I haven’t flipped out in weeks!” I explained excitedly.
He laughed, and I did too. I mean, I totally get that a few weeks of cool momma doesn’t mean I have it all figured out, but y’all, that’s a big deal for me. I don’t know what happened between kid number two and three, but somewhere after my last baby’s arrival I felt like I lost my patience with the discarded placenta. I felt like much of the past two years have entailed me fighting like mad to keep my head above water, and as I struggled not to drown I also struggled not to lose my temper. I failed much of the time.
For a while I’ve been pleading with the Lord to help me not feel like such a humongous failure at this mom thing, and over the last couple of months I’ve seen a light. It’s probably nowhere near the end of the tunnel, but it’s light. That’s worth celebrating to me. I feel liberated, as if I’ve finally flung free of the “crazy momma” shackles, and while some might suggest I’m just getting the hang of mothering three littles, I think there’s more to it. I’ve made some big changes in my approach to life, and I think that’s making much of the difference.
You guys know I’m always saying that I’m a work in progress, but here’s three things I’ve been doing more of so that I can be a more peaceful mother.
1. Praying. Okay, so I’ve been praying for a while, but I’ve also changed the way I’m approaching my prayer life for motherhood. I began to see that a lot of my praying was actually spiritual warfare. I needed to apply the armor of God, and to pray that I could hear God’s voice about parenting rather than that of the enemy.
Satan would have me feel condemned, like I was the worst mom ever who was ruining my children. Whereas God would convict me on areas where I needed to improve, but remind me of His great grace for the journey of motherhood.
I also began to pray specifically for my children, that the Lord could show me the best way to parent each child, and the best way to lead them to Him. After all, it wasn’t worldly matters that ranked important in child rearing. It wasn’t simply perfect reading skills, hitting that home run, or looking like they just stepped out of a Zulily ad. It was showing them the love of Christ, then showing them how to pass that on. My prayers needed to center on kingdom purposes for my family.
2. Focus on the good stuff!
8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
I’ve discovered where your thoughts go your heart follows, and no one sees this better than an overwhelmed momma. How many times had I found myself getting flustered about something and it spiraled out of control? You know the scenario. You pick up some laundry from the floor and you mutter how you’re the only one who knows how to put dirty clothes in the laundry. Then the next thing you know you’re running around cleaning the house and fussing angrily at the mess how selfish everyone is but you! Or am I the only one who gripes at inanimate housework?
For me it became a situation where I fed my own anger, and I multiplied the injustice I felt against myself in such an unrealistic matter that I couldn’t see anything but myself. And while it’s true that kids are selfish, husbands don’t think like wives do, and my responsibilities were often enormous and unequal to that of others, that’s all I saw. I missed all the good stuff most of the time. But when I began to change my mindset I also changed my mood. When I could open my eyes to the gifts of motherhood and being a wife I saw the joy of it all. When I remembered my kids were just kids, my husband was an equal, albeit different kind of contributor, and to focus on what was truly important, I could see more clearly through eyes of gratitude rather than eyes of discontent. I had it made in the shade! Healthy kids, a husband who adored me, and all the necessities of life were at my fingertips. The rest was just window dressing.
3. Don’t overwhelm yourself. Sounds simple enough, right? Haha. Hardly. It’s so easy to put too much on your plate, your children’s plates, and even that of your spouse. It’s easy to get distracted. You begin to think things are important that really are not, and a lot of times it’s because the world today tells you it’s important. The great American Dream tells you that you must have the big house, picket fence, 2.5 children, and the dog too. You have to be the perfect mom at home, but still career-minded. Women don’t want to just be equal to men, but better than men. We want to wear all the hats, do all the things, and look the part. We want to joke that we’re a hot mess, but never show that we are. We want to have our three year old reading, our house pristine, and our lawn fully manicured. We want our ten year old’s Birthday the perfect theme, the new boots that Michelle just bought, and to say yes to that volunteer position at our son’s school that we absolutely cannot fit realistically into our schedule. We want nutritionally balanced lunches packed in monogrammed sacks, first place in the reading fair, and a profile picture on Facebook that doesn’t tell the truth of how utterly exhausted we feel.
We want to have our cake and eat it too. Plus it’s gotta be a two tier cake by the lady that everyone else is using. We want our kids involved in everything because someone somewhere said it’s good for their social skills and life skills, or something like that. We want the vacations we can’t afford, the house with too much square footage to clean, and the gas guzzling SUV! We want the perfect marriage, but can’t find the time to feed into it. We want the loving children, but don’t have enough daylight to cherish their little lives while they’re still young. We’re running on empty, not realizing we sabotage ourselves nine times out of ten. We put too much on our agendas. Why?
I think it’s one we have to revisit frequently. Just like you need to clean out the fridge, your closet, and the kid’s toy box, you also need to prioritize and downsize life. Too many irons in the fire and you definitely get burned. It’s hard to say no, but eventually you gotta. For your sanity. For your family. For your peace.
None of this is to point fingers, and if by chance I am pointing at anyone, it’s only myself. For me, the plates I was spinning were too many, and the hats I wore were beginning to fall off. Some people may thrive under pressure, and they may fly higher the harder they push themselves. But some of us fall flat, or at the very least are unhappy. I had to remember that God wanted me to enjoy motherhood, not be stressed every day. Some stress you can’t avoid, but a lot of it you can. Just my opinion. So why not live a little lighter, smile a little bigger, and walk in peace more often?