Thursday, January 17, 2013

why is it so hard to just let go?

I've been in a funk since early November.

I keep getting online and feeling let down by people.  People complaining and saying stupid, mean things and losing their tempers and being selfish and so damn snarky I want to beg them fortheloveofallthatsholy to just shut up.

And I keep waking up every morning and trudging through the day and going to bed at night and feeling so let down by myself.  Disappointed in my complaining and saying stupid, mean things and losing my temper and being selfish and so damn judgemental I want to just go back to bed so I can stop it.

Today I took my kids to McDonald's for lunch, not because we had the money but because I wanted to get out of the house and drink a diet Dr. Pepper.  Because today, if I was a nanny, I would have quit my job.

I mean, how many times can a kid with diaper rash shart?!  And how many times do I have to tell a 4 year old that she doesn't get to watch hours of tv every morning and every afternoon and her putting her hands on her hip is not going to change my mind?  And how many times do I have to flippin explain that Spring comes after Winter and we are still in Winter and before her 5th birthday we'll have to celebrate Valentine's Day, St. Patrick's Day, Easter, and the birth of a new cousin?  And how many times do I have to ask the boys to not drop DVDs all over the living room floor like its a landmine in a war zone?

And there I was complaining again.

Lately I have baked cookies and made yummy dinners and done crafts with my kids and actually bathed them.  I've sat on the couch and read book after book after winter-themed book because I am a good mom who rotates books so that they always go with the season/holiday.

But my temper is this (-) short and I've been getting meaner and meaner to my kids.  I do this - yell and roar and say mean, cutting things - when I am tired and run down and just plain tired.  Do you know what I'm talking about?  Like I'm tired physically tired but even more so I'm tired on the inside, in all the nooks and crannies of my heart and soul and mind and will.

I keep thinking, "I hate what I'm doing," and then I say out loud, "Damnit! What the hell are you doing? I hate being a mom," in one of my bursts of anger because someone has put a diaper in the toilet again and someone else has crushed crackers into the carpet again while someone else is whining that they are hungry again and I just want everyone to shush and play nicely and let me pleasepleaseplease drink some tea and not be touched or spoken to for a good long two hours.

I loved what Rebecca said here but I know I'm not struggling now because I'm "should-ing all over myself."  I have some ideas about why things are so tough for me right now and one is physical.  Jen talked about something similar here.  But I suspect that, much like Kate, I am suffering because I'm distancing myself from God right now.  I'm still doing my morning offering and praying for the long list of others' intentions, but I need something deeper and more conversational.  I also need the Sacraments, most especially confession.

Abigail wrote so beautifully "I think the hardest thing about stay-at-home motherhood is the mental cross. It's not the pregnancy. It's not the nursing. It's the nakedness of being alone with the Infant Jesus, day in and day out--no distractions. No award dinners. No funny jokes with co-workers around the water cooler. Day in, day out. Intimacy with God."

Man, did she ever nail it.  And why is this so hard for me?  Why do I fight letting go of everything - the anger and frustrations and selfish tendencies that, when acted upon, just leave me bitter?  Why can't I just run to God and throw Him my brokenness and beg Him to fix/love/help/bless me?  Perhaps I am that pigheaded.  Perhaps I am that stupid.  Perhaps I am that human.

But my kids deserve so much better and I want them to be happy and feel loved.  Despite my stupid words I love being a mom and I am so grateful for each child God has given me.  I actually love my life, it's such a shame that my attitude doesn't reflect that right now.

31 comments:

  1. Thank you for your honesty. I think I could have written this or something very similar. I have three kids between 9mos and 3.5yrs and I relate to all of this 100%.

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  2. so sorry you're going through this. it is so hard. i know so many people struggling with motherhood.i do feel like i'm on the other side now that the kids are a bit older, but there are still those days. i struggled so much with it i had to write a book (okay, 2) to process it all. so many of us feel this and beat ourselves up for it. please know you're not a bad mother for feeling this way. it took me a long time to get over that lie that satan kept whispering in my ear. praying for gentle healing for you.

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  3. Bonnie, I can agree with everything you've said here (with my own life). Truth is, when it all comes down to it... it's all a matter of choice and perspective. I find that I tend to choose to be disappointed and hard on others and myself b/c it's the easiest way to deal with whatever other feelings I'm feeling at the moment. It's easier for me to play the victim and then the martyr. Back and forth until the world doesn't look so shiny anymore. It IS exhausting.

    At least for me.

    I agree with the prayer part. Def. that. Also, the letting go part. We need it...but I don't think God intended for perfection to happen in one day. Piece by piece He will refashion our hearts if we let Him. That's why there's so much pain sometimes. But there won't always be. He approaches us with tenderness too. We just have to choose to see it.

    At least, that's how I approach my days that feel like what you mentioned above. We are so alike you have no idea...

    Just remember that you are a phenomenal mother and person. Anyone meeting you for the first time would know this immediately. I hope you realize it too.

    Thank you for being so honest! Many, many blessings to you!

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    1. Easier to play the victim and then the martyr - that is so true!

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  4. YOU nailed it too, you are that human. We are all that human.

    My prayer life is sorely lacking too-but I will try to actually remember to pray for you this next week.

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  5. I just snapped at my kids this morning too...you aren't alone. Why? because I got up too late and didn't get my cup of coffee before they all bombarded me with the morning rush of breakfast, dressed, bookbags, bus run ughhh. I need at least 30 mins to myself every morning to get into "good mom" mindset.

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  6. Hi Bonnie! I've been loving following your blog since Advent - had visited a few times from other faves in the past, knew about amazing James, but am following you now and you.are.awesome. (Truly!!! Thank you for your always-honest and balanced perspective! Even this post shows balance.)

    I only have 2 little ones - I was home full time with #1 but became a DRE so my hubby could go to school 2.5 years ago - #2 came 1.5 yrs ago. I was in a funk for half of October and all of November - it made me feel better to hear someone else in a funk (kind of.) I totally struggle with temper when I'm overtired - it is the #1 correlant to my just.losing.it with them. I am slowly learning that there is just about nothing more important than my sleep for my whole family to feel happy the next day.

    I also find too much internet for me is also difficult - I am so conversational that i find myself internally fixated on the adult dialogue I'm seeing (and probably craving), and wanting to engage there rather than with my little ones in my home. Especially if I see something upsetting I end up processing it and thinking of responses all morning! Sometimes thats emotional space I just can't afford to give to strangers "out there". It's more subtle than it looks on the page - but if the people on the computer are letting you down rather than lifting you up, I think a periodic internet break to re-focus could (maybe?) help clear the mental radar and refresh your energy and heart. (Or on the other hand maybe that doesn't work that way for you! But it definitely does for me.)

    I have also loved having a spiritual director who helps me stay on track. It was so humbling to admit to him repeatedly that my prayer life was sucking big time (mmm yeah chose other words) but the accountability and regular checking in (with a wise and compassionate man) has actually helped me feel LESS hard on myself about the difficulties of managing life-with-little ones and whatever else is on the plate of ministry and marriage and family life. It also helps me to remember God is working and there will be ups and downs, etc- all things I "know" but having someone I trust affirm all that makes it feel more real in the moments I need it.

    Lastly this summer I rediscovered how incredibly important music is in my life - it was such a simple thing I could incorporate with the kids in the house - but transformational for me emotionally! I played piano and sang studied it etc my whole life but lately there has been no music in my life. (Clearly you are a music person who actually does listen to music!) If there are things you can do in your day that feed you (like your excellent choice in soft drinks, lol) I think doing something to "take care of everyone" including you, each day, is truly invaluable.

    I'm sure you know all this already! Mostly just wanted to say you are AMAZING, I love the blog, and even this "down" post is balanced and shows much nuance. The most encouraging is how you HAVE been faithful to the things you know your kids need DESPITE your feelings. That is a sign of a truly mature person capable of the kind of love asked of a parent.

    Love the nakedness insight. Very true indeed.

    God bless you Bonnie! Hang in there! Rom 8:28 :)

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    1. I totally know what you mean about the overtired part. My husband is VERY helpful with this because if I'm exhausted everyone, unfortunately, suffers.

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  7. Bonnie, I can totally relate. I've been grumpy for months, and I just don't have the energy to write about it. Sometimes you just have to get it out.

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  8. You're stuck in the tunnel of parenthood and (as someone also in the trenches) I agree it is so hard!

    On a practical note, I can relate to this: And how many times do I have to flippin explain that Spring comes after Winter and we are still in Winter and before her 5th birthday we'll have to celebrate Valentine's Day, St. Patrick's Day, Easter, and the birth of a new cousin?

    My two oldest do this too, and what really helped was to get them each a calendar to hang up in their rooms. We marked in the important dates on it, and every time they bombard me with questions about "When is X happening?" I just say, "Tonight we'll look at your calendar and I'll show you" or "why don't you go look at your calendar and see?" It hasn't completely eliminated the questions but it's helped them understand when X is happening and how far off it is.

    Prayers, Bonnie.

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  9. Oh Bonnie I hear you. I feel this too. I want to share this blog post with you- I've found it so helpful to read and reread on "one of those days".

    http://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts/motherhood-is-a-calling-and-where-your-children-rank


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    1. Jordan, thank you for sharing that link. It was really powerful.

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  10. The internet is the biggest stumbling block in my spiritual life right now too. I need the encouragement of positive friends but how to avoid also seeing the negativity that makes us cranky and impatient and unable to handle children acting how children are supposed to act??

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    1. Well, I'm thinking of deleting my Facebook account. I pretty much know which blogs I can read to be uplifted but who knows when someone will post an "I love Obama and abortions and abortion-loving Obama" memes on FB.

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  11. I think I've said all of the same things in the past two months or so. I have screamed and cried and thought to myself "I hate this!" but then I can't think of any better alternatives. Seriously, I have yelled at my kids for all the same reasons as you except the diaper in the toilet (sorry about that one). I agree that part of it is a spiritual battle, but I also started reading about scientific studies of happiness and contentedness. It's very interesting to me. Multiple times a week I think to myself, "I just can't keep living this way!" And then I cry because my kids deserve better. Really, so many of the same exact thoughts. No advice really, just an I feel you.

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    1. Marie I read your last blog post but there is no comment button on it...I wanted to say ME TOO to everything you said!! =\

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  12. When people post things that piss me off I usually block their FB posts or delete them as friends, unfollow them, etc. I just cut my twitter following list in half and I recently blocked some people posts so they won't appear in my FB newsfeed. There is a lot of negativity and stupidity on the Internet that we can't seem to hide from. Don't delete your FB account. The negativity needs to be balanced by some good old positivity. ;)

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  13. You and me both, sister. Thanks for being so real. This is me too.

    (and I also rotate my books!)

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  14. Perhaps if I share the following you will feel like a better mother. Last night, I yelled at all the kids during their night time prayers. And by nighttime prayers, I mean insane wrestling match of competition about who gets to pray about what that descends into them fighting. So wrong on so many levels. My mom, a wise woman who wasn't exactly a calm mom in her parenting hay-day, but still managed to raise some pretty awesome kids (if I do say so myself...) "Sanctity is in the struggle"

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    1. Oh I have yelled at my kids many, many times while we should be praying. But at least I'm not alone.

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  15. sometimes I pretend there's a tv camera recording me...it helps me behave ;)

    Monthly confession really helps, too

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  16. I relate to this post very much. For the past several years motherhood has become increasingly more difficult for me. And I find myself in the same clenched-up emotionally raw state that you describe, way too often. Part of what's hard is that I always thought things would get easier as the boys got older. And in some ways, of course, they do. Everyone is potty trained and can dress themselves, etc. That helps. But as far as my relationships with them, and interactions with them, and training them how to be decent human beings, it continues to be very hard and seems to get harder each day. And that frustrates me immensely because I feel I have been cheated out of the easier future that I saw for myself. Dumb, I know. In response to this hardship I am seeing a therapist weekly. It is helping but it has been a very slow process. I hope your faith can help you through this. I don't have any advice, I am still trudging through my own hard times. But I wanted to say that I relate to your end-of-the-rope feelings and that I know how much it sucks. You and I are different in many ways, Bonnie, and it's possible that I'm one of the people who bring you down on fb, I realize. But I still hate to see my friend experiencing a dark night of the soul. Just as much as I hate going through my own. We will come out of the other end of this tunnel,and our kids will still love us. Hang in there. xoxo

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    1. LB, you post pictures of your family, your home, and your cat. Even though I hate cats I still wouldn't consider that annoying. But you used to post songs every once and again and I do miss that.

      This part really struck me: And that frustrates me immensely because I feel I have been cheated out of the easier future that I saw for myself.

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  17. If it's any consolation, you made me laugh at the word "shart." And I think the most important thing is that you can step back and see this about yourself. Many people can't - or don't. And I think it's really brave and strong of you to do that, and to write about it.

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  18. Hi Bonnie,

    I can really relate to your post. I have been through this too, and I still have plenty of rough days. Every kid and every mom is different, but I'll share the two things that have helped me the most.

    One is to have some quiet time before the kids hit the scene. I used to think that this was impossible, because I was so incredibly tired in the morning. Then my husband got a job that resulted in a 60 minute commute. I wanted to make him breakfat, so I started getting up at 5:30 am, a full hour and a half before my kids get up. I lie in bed for about 10 minutes in the morning and make a morning offering, pray about my major questions and intentions, consider what the days is going to bring, and think about the times and place in which I tend to go down the not-the-mom-I-want-to-be road. I get up snd have about 30-60 minutes to get my day going while the kids still sleep. I can check email and blogs, etc. and be done for the day. I can even get started on household projects and get a shower before anyone else is up.

    The second thing that helps me a lot is that when I feel us going down the misbehavior/poor maternal response road I separate mmyself from the kid (send him to the stairs if he needs punishment or just to another room to play if he doesn't need punishment) until I've calmed down. Then, after we've cooled down, I sit down with the minion in question, talk about other things, and read a book or do something that he wants to do. Most times I learn that something else is bugging the kid, or that we both just need to reconnect for a few minutes.

    Good luck!

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    1. Thanks for the tips. I agree about #2 and it is a trick that I've used before - I should use it a lot more though!

      #1 just won't work for me, though. My 2 year old wakes up any time after 5am, ready for the day. Plus I really need my sleep. I do better if I am able to sleep, undisturbed until at least 7am. I have no idea what I will do once my kids have to be to school on time.

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  19. Bonnie - I just wanted to say that I have greatly appreciated your opinion on a couple of the blogs / facebook messages that I have seen (I think we have some mutual friends). Anyway, I think you are often a voice of sanity and I admire that you take the time to offer a potentially different perspective to the blogger / commenter, etc. My default setting for dealing with negativity is to block the person on facebook, or unfriend them, avoid their blog, stuff like that. I just don't feel like I have the mental energy to counter some of what people say, so I don't do anything. I am trying to find a balance. Thank you for your honesty, it is refreshing.

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  20. Stunning post. You cut me to the core and I'm crying here after reading this. I am so in awe of being brave enough to write all that out and how you can capture the essence of how beautiful being a stay at home mom is and how we can be truly grateful and happy but our attitudes don't always reflect it.
    Here here! I'll be saving that quote also, I've never thought about the fear of being so silent intimacy with God.

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  21. I'm late in commenting but just wanted to say I am right there where you are. I have two year old twins (one who is autistic) a 21 month old little terror of a daughter and am currently 14 weeks pg due in July. All I can think about is 5:39 when my husband rolls through the door!

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  22. Wow. This says it perfectly. Thank you.

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  23. I just saw this post because I linked from your "What I didn't know I had lost from PPD" post.
    All I can say is I think I can understand my own mom better now (my childhood was LONNNGGG ago). We were six kids. My mom loved us so much, and she did so, so much to give us a happy childhood. And she succeeded. But oh, the yelling! I know she loved us so much she would have died for us. But I ended up not feeling very loved by her because of her anger. By the time I was a teenager, I thought she hated me. And that caused a chasm between us that never should have been, with many hurtful things said, and many accusations on both sides that were just not true. She never said so, but I bet she thought thoughts similar to yours of how much she hated being a mom, and how very, very tired she was. I don't think she really hated being a mom. She probably was just suffering from mild depression and anxiety. But back then there was no Zoloft.
    So thank you. Because of your post here, because of your honesty, I think I can understand my mom a little better now, and forgive her, and know she never meant any of it. And that is a great blessing.
    God Bless. Margaret

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