a mom has needs, too

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“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

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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.

 

0 thoughts on “a mom has needs, too

  1. I cried *kind of* with you on this post Shan.  I cried though when I read how Rich so tender with you.  We don’t deserve our husbands in those moments and yet God graces us with them . . . (Thank you Lord)  Thank you for sharing this and for sharing encouragment.  I need to read fiction books.  I like to get lost in a book.  I like to just have two hours to myself un-interupted.  I like to plan my garden, dream of changes in our home, different colors to paint the rooms, house, I make lists of dreams too. . . . I love you. Lish

  2. Girl, you said it all so well.I love that my husband is a hardworking man but solo parenting so much just wears us out. I had my breakdown last week and now we’re on track again.It is right for us to want more time with our husbands away from work,why can’t we all just live in log cabins and go to bed with the sun?In summer, I mow the yard for peace and quiet. Even when the children were small and dumped juice concentrate down the sink it was worth it.Reading is good, and dreaming of travelling.

  3. I can relate 🙂 Mine is in ministry (smilie again:) and when minster;s wive’s complain…we have to feel guilty for feeling that way (for the sake of the ministry!) Anyway, yes God is concerned about our well being as wives and mothers! You’ve inspired me with some of the sayings in this blog! Keep on keeping on!

  4. hi shanda…….another great thought-provoking post!  i think for many of us, whose husbands are the sole breadwinners of the family, they put even greater pressure on themselves to do well so they can provide for their families, especially in these stressful times.  men often use their work as a means of success, where women look to their family life and children more.  it’s normal, but i also think there needs to be a balance.  all of us strive for that.  it’s obvious rich loves you and the children, and he is taking care of you the best he knows how, but it’s also good you can talk to him about it and make him aware.  i’m often telling my husband the same thing!
    as for time for myself….i believe there are seasons to one’s life.  right now i’m busy with family, homeschooling, housework, etc., which takes up most of my time.  i do try to take time to do pilates, relax, garden, read, knit, go for a walk by myself, or be with my friends.  but right now, it’s more like little snippets of time.  but that’s okay for now.  my time will come.  i think the trick for me is to have at least a little time each day, rather than take a big chunk of time once a week.  i do, however, spend some time with God every day.  that is a must for me. 
    thank you once again for sharing.  it ends up helping all of us!!

  5. ugh…wish I couldn’t relate but..I  can… I too have a husband that is busy busy… so I know that this is hard.  I feel crazy when I have these “crash days” and then I am so mad at myself for being crazy… oh the life of a woman!!!!!!!!haha Bless you!  I am looking forward to seeing that little baby.

  6. Shanda, A big (((hug))) from me to you! Seth looks so adorable in his little pj’s walking through the grass. My little guy loves being outside from the time he gets up he’s saying “bounce! bounce” (means trampoline) to the time he goes to bed. I am loving being able to let him wander in the yard and being able to take him for long bike rides in our little town. I have enjoyed reading all the comments for this post. So many hugs and prayers for your sweet family. I was making lunch in my kitchen today, listening to a new CD called Richest Man on Earth. There is a beautiful song called “In His Own Backyard” about a father who struggles with work and finding time for his little boy. It is soo good. As it played it made me think of this post, which I had been waiting to comment on. I have posted the words to the song, and some of my thoughts, on our family blog.I could relate to everything you said in your post. Being pregnant, being overwhelmed, being lonely and tired, tired tired! I hope you are encouraged and can pop over and listen to the song (link on my blog). You are in my prayers today Shanda~Many hugs~ Cinnamon

  7. Shanda,I so relate to your post.I constantly crave time alone with my husband, he feels guilty for spending so much time from the children.So he spends a lot with them when he gets home and sometime is to tired for our time together. It is hard whenhusbands bring their work home. It’s not that we necessarily need more stuff done around the house or time spent with the children. But you want him home when he is home or present in the room with you.I believe you are an Excellent mother and you certainly are an encouragement to me. You and Lys encourage me to go to God with my struggles here at home instead of going to others first. I used to complain to a girlfriend about things. Now my first thought is to go talk to God about it, then my husband. I know God doesn’t answer prayers on my time. But He is ALWAYS on time. I have found that I need a hobby because otherwise I think I need to much of my husband when he needs to really have a chill time for a bit, then he can be present. Like a detox from work after he gets home. just 20 minutes usually does it for him. I use to dump on him the minute he walked in the door out of sheer frustration. Also I have had a lot of bad advice. Even from church people. They hurt instead of help and make you feel worst instead of encouraging you like a Titus 2 woman should. I hope to be an encourager one day. Encouraging women to love their husbands,love there children and take care of their homes! You will make a wonderful Titus 2 woman. You have a lot to offer!May God richly bless you and your day today!!Love and Blessings,Angie Warren

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