Ragged Around the Middle
This last week has been hard. I mean HARD! No, nobody died, I didn't lose any limbs, the house did not burn down, and all our pets and houseplants are still alive... and yet, I feel like I've been beaten on the inside with a baseball bat. I am tired. No- I am exhausted both emotionally and spiritually. I may look okay on the outside, but man! I am ragged in the middle! I am goo on the insides.
I probably should have seen the potential for a bad week on the horizon. After all, I came off an incredible spiritual high in Houston over the weekend at a Beth Moore conference (#LPMLIT). The Holy Spirit was so palpable there, I had such a soul-renewing experience. I felt that God and I worked some stuff out and He just poured lavishly into me. It was wonderful! My parched soul got some much-needed God balm.
I should have known when I fell sick on the way home on Sunday that there were thunderstorms in the distance. I got home and spent the next day with a high fever and was pretty sure I had been run over by a truck. Two of my 3 kids were sick as well, and between them all they managed to pass the ick around to each other for the entire rest of the week. Just when one got over it, the next one took up the puke baton. I've spent more time cleaning up vomit (on light carpet no less, insert sad face..) than I can remember in recent memory (and I'm a nurse!).
Both my boys decided to go ahead and go through baby boy puberty this week as well. My oldest fell head-long into "I am 5, hear me roar, I don't need you, I won't obey you, I will personally do everything in my power to make your life miserable" mode. Awesome. He's like a tiny bull in my china closet- and, much as I hate to admit it, he did a lot of damage to my psyche this week. The middle kid, who is going through "I am finding my independence, I don't want help with anything, my brother is trying to kill me, I have all these new emotions that I don't know what to do with so I'll just cry ALL the time like a pre-pubescent teenage girl". I am telling you, I literally have PTSD from his cry right now.
My daughter continues to have some pretty serious GI issues with not being able to keep food down. We have a specialist appointment scheduled and it cannot come soon enough. The poor baby can't help herself but she is a hot, sticky, smelly mess more often than not.
Whew! They are exhausting. And, full disclosure... I really don't like my kids right now. I love them, they are mine and I suppose I'm responsible for them, but my love bank is going on empty with them during this particular season. It's just the truth, and I'm not ashamed to admit it. They are just so HARD right now. I know I'm not alone and I know I'm not the first mom who has seriously considered sending her kids to a boarding school in Antarctica... indefinitely. (I'll send them birthday cards.)
Perhaps what is really the kicker for me is I feel there is no small part that I've played in this. Their behavior can only be (at least partially) due to my parenting skills- or, lack thereof. Ouch. It's a hard pill to swallow and one that goes down with no small amount of shame, frustration, discouragement, ire, guilt, regret, and anger. At myself. I am so bad at this at times!
I'm their mom, I desperately want them to be successful and happy, obedient and respectful. In short, I want to raise normal human beings who I don't constantly fear will spontaneously combust with sin. Is that too much to ask?
Right now I'd give myself a solid C- in this parenting assignment. I'm sure there are those who would say that I'm being too hard on myself, but I'm admittedly frustrated. So, because I'm a writer, you get to share in my vent. I'm at my wits end with my boys, and my heart hurts for them, over them, and because of them. This parenting stuff is difficult and not for the faint of heart!
I don't have any reality-shifting insight into this. Except to say that once I get over this emotional muscle-soreness, then it is on like Donkey Kong with my boys. I won't be outwitted, outwilled, or outwiled by two kids that combined don't weigh as much as my left leg.
A few lessons I'm leaning on:
- I am reminded hourly how much I need God's help and wisdom in this season. He is a perfect parent, so I can't go wrong by committing this way (again and again and again) to His direction.
- I am sobered by how my kid's behavior is a reflection of my parenting. It makes me think on how my behavior reflects on my Heavenly Father's parenting. Am I an accurate representation of Him?
- I realize that as much as I want them 'normal', that they are exactly that- they are sinful little heathens that need Jesus. Their behavior is nothing less than what is to be expected. They are as normal as normal can be.
- So, going off of that, I DON'T want them normal... I want them exceptional. I want them different than others. I want Jesus for them. I want more for them than what their own little fallen nature can offer.
- I am very much looking forward to the end of this season, yet need to remain resolute in hashing it out day to day while we are in it. As much as I want to throw up my hands, throw in the towel, take up chain smoking, and punch a wall (let's be honest here), I know that I am called to more and better. These little sinful aliens wrapped in adorable child costumes do need me, and need me to show them better. So I'm required to step it up. I need to model Jesus more and better- consistently and regularly, intentionally and with passion.
- I am not naive to the fact that I am battling for my kid's hearts and souls with Satan. He's fighting for them as well. This ALONE is motivation enough for my endurance...
- I am grateful for God's gentle patience with me and His guidance through this.
So, without a victorious closing paragraph, today Mom I just want you to know that you're not alone. Momming is difficult and it downright sucks at times. We don't have to like our kids all the time. I'm giving us permission to dislike them occasionally. It doesn't change our love for them, but it's a more honest take on this thing called motherhood. We're not perfect and that's okay. God is perfect and as long as we're leaning on Him, we'll be good to go.
On those super hard days and season, lean harder into Him. Or, as I heard Beth Moore say this last weekend, rather kneel down in front of Him- this will get you praying instead of fighting and ultimately out of the way for God to clock your kids Himself. Let their Daddy take care of it!