“Yes, there are wondrous times in mothering! And there are also shocking, unexpected days and weeks, when we quickly come to the end of who we are and what we know and we wonder how we’re going to make it through the next twenty years….or twenty minutes.”
“Moms have continuing needs, too. To sleep. To grow. To talk with someone who cares. To regain perspective and find hope. Ignoring those needs not only jeopardizes the health and well-being of the mom but of the whole family.”
‘Moms cannot effectively meet the needs of their children while ignoring their own. And during the days of mothering young children with intense needs, moms must recognize the value of understanding and meeting their own needs, for the sake of their children and families.”
~Elisa Morgan & Carol Kuykendall, of MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers)
I became a mother when I was in my early twenties. Rich and I were delighted to be parents and enjoyed every moment with our firstborn. Jacob was 14 months old when I had our second son, Ethan. After Ethan was born I experienced several months of post partum depression, which went undiagnosed. I had no idea what was wrong with me. I could not sleep and I spent most of my time anxious and weepy. It was a terrible time for me, I felt very lost and alone. I remember praying and reading my Bible in utter despair, not knowing why I could not make myself BE HAPPY. Thankfully, my depression only lasted a couple of months.
During that time, Rich and I were at a local Christian Bookstore and I found the book, “What Every Mom Needs” by Elisa Morgan & Carol Kuykendall. I bought it and read it, and cried through the entire book. It did not address depression, but it did address the needs of mothers, and the words were FOR ME, as I read I felt understood and not as alone in my feelings, and reading it gave me some good, first, solid lessons on what it is to be a mother. Motherhood is rewarding and involves intense love and devotion, but it is also extremely HARD at times.
I’ve been a mother now for thirteen years and what you see here on my blog is the result of the experience of those years…..I feel more settled and seasoned. Able to laugh and enjoy my days as a stay-at-home mom.
However. When I have a new baby, or when I am extremely overtired, my world comes crashing down around me once again. Usually just for a day or two. I call these times, “crash days”.
Yesterday was one of those days for me. It was triggered by reaching the end of my rope regarding my husband’s insane work ethic. He is rarely at rest, which in turn places a lot of pressure on me as I watch him, at home, “catching up on emails” almost constantly. This lifestyle of *always being available to the cooperation* has been going on for the last 10 years.
Yesterday, as he drove to work, he listened to me on the other end of his cell phone, YELLING and saying all kinds of lovely things like, “I HAVE HAD IT. I AM DONE. YOU SPEND 12 HOURS A DAY AT THE OFFICE AND THERE IS NO REASON WHY YOU NEED TO BRING WORK INTO OUR FAMILY LIFE, TOO.”
And those were the mild, more gentler of points and complaints. I was so upset.
(Do I wish, now, that I had handled the situation better? yes.)
Thankfully, my husband truly loves me and has a tender, forgiving spirit. He listened to me, and promised to think through what I said. I spent the day yesterday in turmoil, praying to God for some divine intervention (in my own heart and my husband’s)….and trying to rest.
I remembered that I have a responsibility to take care of myself, to take breaks before I break, to relax and rest. To get away from the house and the children, for my my own sanity.
I was too upset and overtired to do much yesterday but as I pulled out my old copy of “What Every Mom Needs”, determined to put myself through a refresher course, I began to remember the days when I was home with little preschoolers, all day, every day, with no car. We lived in an apartment back than, and in order to get away from the house for a little while, I would load up the stroller and walk to the park. Or just go outside on the lawn, with a lawn chair, a stack of magazines, paper and pencils. Jacob and Ethan used to love digging and playing with their matchbox cars and would sit and play. We also had one of those plastic three wheeler bikes, which got a lot of use. Sometimes I would fill up a bucket of water so they could wash their cars and their bike. Bubbles were another favorite item to take outside with us.
The times that they played outside gave me some quiet time to just sit and rest, doing my favorite things, reading and writing.
So yesterday I found myself, once again, loading up the stroller. I took Seth and Caleb down the road, and up the trail through the woods to the big big field. Seth could wander around and I didn’t have to worry about him getting into a pond, running into the road, or climbing tall ladders on the swingset.
It was a lovely hour. I want to do it again, more often.
I thought about my dreams. I am seven months pregnant so I am very much baby minded these days, but after Sarah grows there are some things I would like to do, most of which involve traveling. I would like to go to Prince Edward Island. I would like to go to see Laura and Almanzo Wilder’s home in Missouri. I would like to visit Mary Janes Farm on the fourth of July (with spazzymommy and alaskahannah). I would like to meet Joanna on one of her photoshoots out of state. I want to go on more day trips with my friends…Boston, New York City. I want to learn more about sewing. I’m not sure what else. Rich is encouraging me to make a list of dreams.
On our way to the field, Caleb found himself a toad. It became his friend until I became concerned for his life and had Caleb let him go free again.
Seth, still in his pajamas, but wearing socks and sneaks, had a good time wandering around in the grass.
He worked up a good appetite in no time and I was glad I had taken along some crackers, bananas, and his sippy.
I enjoyed watching the little boys play, reading an inspiring book, writing one short paragraph in my journal, and sipping on cold green tea.
What I personally need as a woman and a mother is time in my life now and then to DO NOTHING, to rest, to have some quiet. I need quiet space in my life or the pace gets faster and faster and I get uptight. I need time for dreaming and planning for the future, even though I’m at a stage right now when I have to be home the majority of the time. I need to get out with friends more often.
My sister works part time, and enjoys getting away from the house to make a little money and to be with other adults. Getting dressed nicely and going out on a regular basis, to work, helps keep her feeling alive and strong.
My friend Joanna has her photography business to keep herself learning and growing, along with many other interests.
My mom LOVES to garden.
What about you? I would love to hear what things you are learning about lately. What do you need in your life to keep your mind healthy and well-balanced? What goals do you have for the future (near or far)? How do you keep your focus as a woman? What interests has God given you, to keep your life worth living?
D R E A M S
Rich came home yesterday, an hour earlier than I expected him to. He didn’t have his blackberry with him. He was peaceful and relaxed. We spent time outside in the sun, on the grass together. My eyes were puffy from crying so much but he made me look at him, and he told me I was beautiful, and the tears rolled down my cheeks yet again. I watched him play on the swingset with the children. We went for a little walk (holding hands) around the pond with the children, we heard the toads start their springtime singing for the first time. We watched the funny chickens and walked to the coop to fill up their feeders. Later on, inside, he read a book to Sethie. After the kids went to bed, he actually lounged on the couch, flopped and stretched out, watching tv with me. He was calmer than I’d seen him in a long time. I felt like he was detoxing. LOL It relaxed me, knowing that he was at peace.
And this morning as we talked on the phone during his commute to work, we made plans for a lovely weekend. What a difference in 24 hours. God is merciful, full of grace and redemption.
It’s a beautiful morning. The children slept in, and I ate my breakfast on the porch, listening to the rain and enjoying the cool morning air.