Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The Emotions of a Mother

I have had so many conversations with women about certain emotional areas of motherhood. We can all agree that so many emotions go into the massive job of raising souls. Of course, we find laughter, contentment, frustrations, joy, growth, and love. I do believe there are many other emotions that women don't talk about much that are normal and part of our "job description." I believe these that are left "untalked about" lead many women to feel inadequate or that they aren't a good mother. I've mentioned so many times before the blessing I've been given of so many holy and experienced mothers. They have shared with many the normalcy of the wide variety of emotions.

Upon further reflection, I believe God lets us experience these emotions so we have yet another opportunity to share in His Calvary and grow deeper into union with him.

1. Loneliness: As my very content mother at home put it, "The loneliness of motherhood is deafening." We are at home with our little ones making life changing, life altering decisions EVERY day. We are the ones to decide what is best for them and pick for them the things that will affect their entire lives. We are the ones watching a child with a raging fever and trying to decide if we should call the doctor now or NOW. We are the ones with a little one pulling at our leg for attention and we are well aware we haven't given them much attention today, but dinner needs to be cooked, laundry needs to be folded, the bathrooms need to be scrubbed, the baby needs to be held, and we are trying to lose that extra 15lbs, so our thoughts are preoccupied with so many different thoughts. We are at home all day with no one above our knee cap to talk to and that lends itself to loneliness. We are directing traffic all day and yearn for a fellow officer to be with us to ease the heaviness of the job.
I recall an incident once when John was away camping with Dominic. At bedtime, I had let the girls talk for a while, but went back to the room to tell them it was time to be quiet. I said, "If I hear one more word, you will have to sleep in another room by yourself." Torture for someone who is use to having siblings to sleep with. So, long and behold, I walk down the hall and hear some chit-chatting. So, I turn right back around and calmly ask the offender to grab her pillow and blanket and escorted her into the other room. I tucked her in, told her I loved her, and said good night. She was devastated and afraid. I knew she was afraid, but I knew that if I didn't stick to my guns, the behavior would repeat and she would know that I didn't mean business. I remember crying that night. I hate those decisions. I didn't want to make her afraid, but I don't want a disrespectful child who doesn't listen to our requests. I remember feeling lonely that night especially since John was gone and not there to affirm or tell me that I was/wasn't doing the right thing by sticking with my decision. I believe Satan tempts mothers at home with thoughts of "Other women are content, why aren't you. Everyone else knows how to handle these situations, why can't you. All women at home are happy, why aren't you? No one has ever lost their patience like you."

2. A deep desire for friendship which is usually accompanied by the feeling of "not having any close friends."
Oh, how I could write forever on this issue. My wise mother again said, "Mothers need other mothers." No matter how close John and I are, I still yearn for friendship with other women and mothers to talk with, share with, bounce ideas with, cry with, figure life out with, go on girl walks with to talk about girl things with. I think most women are tempted with the feeling of "I don't have any close friends, you know like I did in high school." With children, life is sporadic and doesn't lend itself to the time needed to build close, womanly friendship. We are wearing so many different hats, trying to keep our own homes afloat and then to have the time to nurture a relationship usually isn't there, but the desire is there. I believe Satan tempts us with thoughts of "Everybody has friends, but you."

3. Comparison: This one is a real trap for mothers. There is nothing like being with other mothers and your little one just doesn't quite compare. I remember how well Dominic knew his saints and we attended a boy's club. The leader of the club asked the boys which was their favorite saint. I pridefully thought he would belt out some awesome saint and guess what he said. WINNIE THE POOH. Yes, you heard me. Winnie the Pooh. He knew well he wasn't a saint, so why did he say that?? That was awesome!
I recall another incident when the kids entered their first track meet. I was so excited to see them run and compete. Due to the fact that this was our first athletic event with the kids, I didn't expect much, but also knew they would do great because John and I are athletic peeps. Wrong again. ALL of our kids got DEAD last and some even cried while running. Wow. I was so taken aback by my reaction. All the way to the track meet, I am saying the usual "Do your best." Well, they had the time of their lives while running their little hearts out. I remember Dominic thinking he got first place (he really got last). He came up to me smiling and said, "Looks like we bought the right shoes, I won my race." gulp. What is wrong with me? Snap out of it. I am smiling at him, but my stomach wants to throw up. I was so embarrassed. I learned so much about myself that day. It was such a day of growth. Here I was thinking that all we want from them was their best. That is exactly what they gave us. I really had to do some soul searching on that one. Once again, I was Pridefully comparing. So, off to the confessional I went, and began again.
Mothers are CONSTANTLY comparing, sizing up, and gauging their child because really it is reflection upon how well WE are doing as their mother. There is no other gauge of our efforts than to see how they compare to others. What a terrible trap! It stifles so much joy and robs us of seeing the individuality of each child and helping them progress into whom God made them to be not who God made them to be like as in other kids their age. Comparison leads to discontentment and anxiousness. It makes my heart unsettled and needy. One of satan's titles is "The King of Immediacy." Meaning, we must fix it now, do something about it now because our child might be left behind.

4. Boredom:
The monotony of our work leads to boredom. We say the same things over and over, do the same things over and over, clean the same things over and over. I mention this only because I think women begin to feel bored and start looking for fulfillment outside of the home when in reality it is just part of the job description. The more we can be distracted from our homes, the more our home life will start to fall apart. The discipline of the monotony is so good for our souls. It is refining and purifying. God purifies us through motherhood. At times, I am very aware that I really am not a key factor in this relationship only God is using these circumstances of the every day to get my soul to heaven. When I separate the two, I am free. When I realize that it is God who is parenting them, not I, I am free. He is using me in this relationship to work out my bumps and bruises. Boredom is part of the job, but the answer to this emotion is not outside of the home. It is a shifting of the thoughts and passions realizing how good all the emotions are for our soul. We can go deeper into union with Him.

5. Just can't keep up/ Just don't add up
We are usually blessed for our own good and humility with a friend who seemingly "just has it together." The kind that every thing they do from their kids, their dogs, their grass, their soap dispensers, their meals, everything just goes well and has an extra little fairy glimmer to it. We, on the other hand, are so proud of ourselves for making our bed this morning, showering and even applying a layer of eyeshadow. Awesome. They usually arrive at our doorstep by 8:30 dressed, all their housework is completed and were just in the neighborhood "dropping off fresh cinnamon rolls" because, and they "can't stay long" because their yoga class starts in 30 minutes. Most days like this, I see God winking at me. Days like this also make me reflect upon who He made me to be and see my own gifts and not compare. Some things just are. I was tempted for a long time with the thought that if I just stayed up late enough to prepare for our homeschooling days everything would go smoothly. I would then be so hard on myself for wanting time to just be with John, or go to be early, or sleep in later than I should. My Aunt told me to stop that immediately. She told me that we can't forget our humanness. We are not robots and are not made to be robots. Don't fall into the temptations of pushing harder.

Once again, I cheer you on! Nothing is more consoling to know that what we are feeling is normal. After I realize what is normal, I then begin to move forward past the emotion. Isn't that all we are looking for? Here's to the reaching of our full potential as an individual mother designed by God to parent these specific children all in the realm of eternity! What freedom!

I read this quote today that said in perfectly for me:
"I wished to have many children so that I could raise them for Heaven." St. Zelie

14 comments :

  1. Lindsay, I loved this...and seriously, always something I need to hear at the time I need to hear it. Thank you for sharing your words, thoughts and prayers.

    Honestly, have you ever thought about writing a book? Something for mothers to flip through? I think it would be such a blessing for others. Just a thought ;^)

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  2. Lindsay,
    Hello! I know I am a stranger to you but I am a cousin of the Slonkosky's/Zuniga's and that is how I found your blog. I have been reading it for a little while now and just had to tell you how much I love and appreciate your wise words as a new mother of two.

    You really have a talent to write so beautifully and truthfully on motherhood, faith, and family.

    I just had a conversation tonight with my husband about these very things I was struggling with at times so this post is amazingly exactly what I needed to hear. Thank you for saying it so well and being such a great example as a mother even through a blog.

    Love,
    Joanna

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  3. Wonderful timing, as always. I was just discussing some of these exact feelings (truly, almost word for word what you wrote, in a couple cases) with Nathaniel last night. Thank you for putting it into such lovely words.

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  4. Lindsay, you nailed it! I can't think of anything to add, just wanted to thank you for your thoughts and say You nailed it!

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  5. Oh, I did think of something to add (imagine that). My friend Bonnie told me about how her then three year old son was struggling with potty training. She said it was good for her that God gave her that struggle because otherwise, she would have been tempted to think that his successes (her son's successes) were attributable to her, when really, they belonged to God. She taught me a lot with that story. :)

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  6. Wow, you are super cool! Aubrey sent me the link to your blog and told me you had very wise things to say....she was correct!

    I have to say that as a working mom who longs to be a SAHM once again, just remember that if you are looking for fulfillment outside the home, you are looking in the wrong direction. The grass isn't always greener. I work because I have to, but my heart remains in the home :)

    Nice to meet ya!

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  7. I've said this before: You have an (many) amazing gifts. I sit in tears having read your words because of course they make so much sense to me as a mother. I feel blessed to know you and to learn from you. While I know that no one's lives are always like their best public moments, I feel like you mother gracefully. I think to myself often that if God blesses me with 10 more children, I would simply chat with you and feel empowered, because I know the way you view this remarkable vocation. *WINK* Thanks for your encouragement...I'm not trying to create expectations from me for you...just humbly saying thank you for being a wonderful woman of God that has been placed in my life's path.

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  8. Thank you. I appreciate what you have to say and your complete embrace of all that goes with motherhood. Sometimes I feel like it's good to love my vocation only 90%. Honestly though, I frequently remember the delight with which you describe your children and your life and I remember that it's good to love my vocation 100% even though from the outside lots of people think it's a little too much...too much of everything that so many people don't want (work, diapers, sleep deprivation, noise, mess, etc). But also so much love from all the kids--Thanks again. I remember you in my prayers.

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  9. Very well put, Lindsay. I especially can relate to the desire for close friends. It really is challenging even to maintain the ones I've had for years, much less foster the few new ones. One consolation is that when it's with other moms of young children, they understand. I'm especially grateful for college friends like you that I still feel connected to just because we shared so much growing time together. Some of us barely see each other, but it doesn't really lessen the deep connect. Now I get to feel like we chat more often by enjoying your blog. Thank you!

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  10. Thanks Lindsay... this was just what I needed! :)

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  11. My Dear Lindsay, thank you for being the wonderful fellow mother that you are, and reminding me that all my friends aren't enjoying the rich, carefree social lives I always imagine them to be. Loneliness is a huge part of staying at home, and it's always wonderful to know I'm not the only one talking to myself on a regular basis. While you keep up the good work, I'll be looking into the economical aspects of sharing a padded cell, as opposed to purchasing one all for myself...
    Love you and your blog. Keep up the great work and God Bless!

    Paige

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  12. very well put...you speak for many mothers here...including myself!!

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  13. I read your blog from time to time and came to your blog specifically looking for ideas, thoughts, guidance on the boredom of stay at home moms because I have been feeling it lately! This post is so so good and really addresses so many things I have been struggling with. Thank-you for writing this. I wish we knew each other in real life! Based on many of your posts I have read, you sound like a person I would love to know and be friends with :) God bless you and your beautiful family!

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