Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Consider it pure joy

Can I say something out loud that is VERY un-"PC" to say, especially in Christian circles?

Here it is - Some days I do not enjoy mothering at all.

Please make no mistake. I LOVE my children. I would do anything for them. And in fact, I spent the day in tears a few days ago because my dear daughter was running a fever for a week straight and lying wilted on the couch. I just kept wishing I was the sick one, not her. I was completely overjoyed when her fever broke and she was talking, laughing, and yes, even up for arguing with me. But sometimes the days are so long, and the nights can be even longer. Some days I am so tired that it is hard to get proper perspective of the situation. I think of all those older ladies at the grocery store who look at me and my little ones longingly and say "Boy, I sure miss those days." So today as I stood over my son's crib (and as he screamed every time I left the room and was refusing to nap despite being tired) I thought to myself - I can't imagine missing this. Especially when all I want to do is go to my room and throw my pillow over my head.

Now, I am certain that my fatigue and stress level are influencing my opinion right now. But the little idealized Christian picture of motherhood sometimes leaves me feeling irate. I feel like it's a bit stuck in the fifties. Reality is -- kids take a lot of work, time, effort, emotion and it isn't always a pretty sight. Sometimes I am not patient. Sometimes I yell. Sometimes my house is a wreck (certainly my bedroom usually seems to be). Sometimes I resent having to make dinner. Sometimes I don't want to play Candyland, or wrestle a wriggly 25 pound baby and diaper bag into Target, or eat lunch at McDonalds, or listen to Bob & Larry in the car, or watch Caillou. Sometimes I just want ten minutes to think.

HMMMM. Can you tell I've been cooped up in the house with sick children for the past week or so?? I know that my perspective will soon change. I know without a doubt that I wouldn't trade this for anything, when all is said and done. But some days of motherhood sure are tough.

You want to know something funny and ironic?? My daughter just came up and stuck a sticker on me. When I finally took the time to look down at it, I had to laugh. It says "JOY". :)

"Consider it pure joy whenever you face trials of many kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." - James 1:2-4

Words to live by.


Mom said...

This is why it is so great to be a grandparent! I love your kids more than my life and would do anything for them. They are sweet and adorable. BUT, I can enjoy them for a time and go home or give them back. I don't have to be the "bad guy" who disciplines them or gets up at night with them or deals with the tantrums. This too will pass. I love you. Mom

ErinOrtlund said...

Thanks for writing this! Your honesty is so refreshing. I have to take Kate to preschool, but I'm going to likely write more about this!

ErinOrtlund said...

Anyway, yes I think you're right. See my recent blog post on personality and parenting. Sometimes I feel like I have been given a job that is not ideally suited to my personality in several ways, and not only that, I have to do this job 24/7! I feel there is a myth in the culture that women are naturally nurturing and patient, and that being an SAHM is a natural and always fulfilling role for us. In truth, I am not as ambitious as Eric, and when I worked PT in Scotland, I missed Kate a lot. However, that doesn't mean it's easy to go from being a professional with lots of free time to entering the world of small children. I've said it before here I think, but I think being a SAHM in North American society is fairly unnatural. For most of human history, people lived in tribes, and even in agrarian societies, families all worked together, and there wasn't such a home/work dichotomy.

But I hear you on appreciating these moments. Someday before I know it, my kids will be in school all day, and I'll look back and feel wistful about these days--yes, even Caillou and screaming babies and diapers. And I'll probably have work stress instead, and long for the days when I completely controlled my schedule and got to spend so much time with my kids! elusive,eh?

Mama Amy said...

When I feel frustrated with this stage, I try to remember each stage of childhood comes with its joys and trials. Soon enough I will be sending my kids off to school, which will be a nice step of independence, but then at the same time, that brings with it a lot of other issues. Like - who is influencing my child when I am not there? Is s/he making good choices? etc. This current stage holds a lot of trivial (and not so trivial) frustrations, but at least I know where my kids are, and who they spend time with, and what they watch on TV, etc. So, I am trying to focus on the positives of this stage. For example, Christmas is so much fun with a preschooler. And the kids still go to bed early. And I get to act silly sometimes. And my kids still think I know everything!! That will certainly change :) Thanks for your comments, and for knowing that my ranting is just that... truly my kids and family are the best things in my life.

ErinOrtlund said...

Oh that's a given! Same for me.

I've been trying to practice more gratitude too. And perspective. If one of my kids had a potential life-threatening diagnosis, most every little thing I fret over or complain about would seem like nothing. :)