I’m in a bit of a motherhood funk. After literally wrestling our 2-year-old to bed last night, and waking up at 3:30 a.m. for the teething baby, I’d like to chalk it up to being tired, but I’m not so sure. I find myself increasingly irritated, less patient and exhaling frequent heavy sighs. Sometimes, in public. Usually these attitudes I confine to the house, where only passersby or neighbors could hear me lose it with my kids. I almost always cry after it happens, upset with myself for growing so upset.
I can’t even totally pinpoint the problem. I told my husband this morning that part of it boils down to expectations. I have high hopes for the day — for what we can accomplish, for how I’m going to react, for how the kids are going to behave — and 15 minutes or less after we’re all up, those hopes are shot for the rest of day. I could lower my expectations, but that always feels a little bit defeatist, like I’m giving up on any chance of having a good day, but if it happens, then good for us.
It’s also a control issue. I have absolutely no control over my daughter, as evidenced by her repeatedly ignoring my requests to go throw away her juice box in the kitchen garbage. When my husband tells her the same thing, she obeys immediately. Thus, another sigh from me. I realize my attitude has gotten out of hand, though, because this morning, she yelled at me from her room, “Mommy, come here, right now!” When I didn’t respond immediately, she repeated her command. She must have gotten that from somewhere. I’ll confront the guilty party next time I see her in the mirror.
Babies are needy. I know this. I remember our daughter being that way, but I just didn’t think about what it would be like to have two children need you at the same time. And a teething baby is super needy. Thus, another sigh from me, and spiraling thoughts of negativity and hopelessness.
I know, as a Christian, I’m supposed to exhibit joy. But does that mean I have to plaster a smile on my face and keep my problems to myself? How do I show others I have joy when I feel trapped in a state of discontent, disappointment and discouragement. Sometimes I cringe when Christians are told they’re supposed to be joyful always because I think we take that and distort it and do the mask thing. Then we appear to have no problems and no one wants to talk us because they think our lives are perfect. Where the balance lies, I don’t know.
But I think of Naomi, the mother-in-law in the book of Ruth, who loses her husband and sons to death in a land that is not her home; who returns home with a daughter-in-law who wouldn’t leave her; and when greeted by her old friends says, “Call me Mara (meaning bitter), for the Lord has made life bitter for me.” (Ruth 1:20, NLT) That’s certainly not a testimony of God’s faithfulness. The story doesn’t end there, of course, and I know mine isn’t over either. But I appreciate the example of someone dealing with extreme emotion and expressing it to others.
The funk will pass. I feel better having written about it, as usual. Sometimes just airing it makes the weight of it lighter.
I love my kids. And I’m grateful to be able to take care of them. Someday they won’t need me as much, and maybe I’ll look back on these days with longing. Or maybe I’ll be able to live out these words of God:
“Forget the former things;
do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the desert
and streams in the wasteland.” (Isaiah 43:18-19)
That’s a word for me, now, too. A new thing. I can hardly wait.