In the last fifteen years, I can pinpoint several specific seasons of motherhood where I was absolutely drowning.
I’m not talking about a string of bad days where everything seemed to go wrong. I’m talking about weeks, months, or possibly even years of struggle upon struggle. During these times, I’m tense, stressed, depressed, complain-y, moody, and an all-around grump with the unusual sense that the glass is perpetually half-empty. It is during these times I know I can’t continue down the current path.
Nope. Nuh uh. No way.
Something had to give or the mama of the house was going to completely FLIP. OUT.
If you’ve felt this way about your mothering, or you’re in this sort of season currently, I’m sorry. It’s a hard place to be.
A fellow mom I’ve known since she was a young teen recently contacted me in this exact position. She was overwhelmed and at the end of her rope. I clung to her words. They made perfect sense to me. I heard her cry for help through the words typed out in a Facebook message. I knew right where she was, because I’ve been there. Her words were so familiar. Her heart beat with a love for her children, and desire to do things differently, resulting in joyful mothering. Isn’t that what we all desire?
Some fun. Some peace. Some love, and some sanity thrown in for good measure?
Meeting and talking with my friend spurred on some of my own thoughts — what sort of things have helped the hard seasons settle back into normal-ish routine and healthy thought patterns where I didn’t feel like running away or sending everyone off to Grandma’s for a
I’ve narrowed it down to a few questions I’ve learned to ask myself when times are exceedingly tough.
1. What feels impossible right now?
Whenever I feel overloaded and burdened, it helps for me to actually put pen to paper and list everything that feels too difficult. Last year I wrote about it right HERE. Just getting it all out of my mind and in front of me in a notebook helps me see that, yeah, my load is lot to bear. It helps me understand that I’m not crazy or wimpy. It also helps me navigate conversations with Jeremy. I’m less ramble-y and more to the point when I’ve untangled the knots and figured out exactly what is making me so stressed. I’m also less likely to melt into a puddle of tears because I’ve already faced everything that feels hard, so the inevitable conversation I’ll have with my husband isn’t the first time I’ve faced it. Husbands appreciate this. Well, at least mine does. Just last night I made a list of all the difficult decisions we’re needing to make in the next few months. My list is ten items deep. I did this all before having a husband/wife chat about it. It helps. It truly does.
2. What seems to help alleviate the struggles?
So now that you’ve figured out your struggles, is there anything that actually helps alleviate some of the stress you’re feeling? Like, maybe you’ve realized that the stress you feel about your chronically messy house is actually helped when you’ve set the timer for 10 minutes before bed in the past and the whole family tidies the place up. Maybe the few months you spent in therapy for yourself really made a difference two years ago. It may be time to revisit that. If you’ve found something that alleviates the stress, jot it down. Maybe it’s the writer in me, but writing things down and seeing them right there on paper makes a big difference. Sometimes we need to stop and remember what has helped, because sometimes we give up new habits too soon.
3. Are there habits I’m clinging to that are draining the life out of my family and I?
Speaking of habits — some are life-giving, some are life-draining. Are there habits you’re engaging in that are sucking the life out of you and your family? Are you spending too much time on social media? Are you spending precious time thinking negative thoughts about yourself and others? Are you allowing your kids to run mealtime and bedtime? At times we get stuck in the way we’ve always done it, and get lost in thinking our current method is the only solution. I’ve seen moms completely lose their junk trying to make each child happy at a meal. “Oh, you don’t like the green beans and grilled cheese I made, my precious little lamb? Here’s some chips and hotdogs instead. You don’t LIKE THAT EITHER?” (Stomps away, or yells, or worse — makes them something else.) Maybe we’ll stop losing our junk if we drop the draining habits. There is another way. Are we clinging to habits that are life-giving or life-draining?
A wise mentor gave me some stellar advice recently when I spoke to her about a struggle I was having on a certain day of the week. She urged me to reorient my mind by making a new routine for that day — to break the unhealthy emotional cycle I was in by changing some of my actions. Do you know what? It’s working.
Let’s stop and consider how our methods are affecting ourselves and our families. And you guessed it! Write them down and consider letting a brand-new habit replace the most draining thing on your list. Baby steps. And if you get brave, and one of those new life-giving habits becomes routine? Tackle the second-most draining next, and so on.
4. Am I finding ways to feed my soul?
Ah, yes. We really do need to take care of ourselves. Are we communing with God through prayer and scripture reading/study? Are we handing burdens over to Jesus? After all, we weren’t meant to carry them. He’s waiting, ready to help.
Are we communicating with and making time for friends? Are we taking time to be “us”? I’m not talking elaborate days or weekends away from our families (though those are fun too!), I’m talking the everyday action of doing something we enjoy. Maybe it’s a date with Netflix after the kids are in bed. Maybe it’s reading or a daily phone call to someone you love. Maybe it’s a bath or painting your toenails. Maybe it’s conversation or a game with your spouse. Whatever feeds your soul, do more of that. Perhaps making a list of all the things we love to do would serve as a reminder to take care of us. More writing, I know.
Some of us are in the midst of difficult times that are not solved by changing habits or writing things down. I feel you. But maybe some of what I’ve shared will help even a little bit. And for that I’m grateful.
Do you need prayer? Let us know in the comments, or email us: info(at)themasterpiecemom.com
We’d be honored to pray for you.
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