Can we all just be honest that this motherhood thing is tough? I’m pregnant, and I’m pretty unfiltered, so buckle up because I have many feelings about it.
Yesterday I read this post on my friend Kristen’s blog, “For When the Mother In You is Desperate,” and the post was great, but the responses stopped me in my tracks. Mom after mom after mom poured out her heart in the comments about how desperate and overwhelmed she felt, and how alone she felt in that place of desperation, like she was failing on a desert island. Woman after woman shared how much she needed grace.
And boy do I relate.
Yesterday my oldest child snuck into Valentine’s candy and ate it all in her closet before 7 am, and in a sugar craze then made huge messes in room after room after room in our house throughout the day every time I turned my back. I spoke harshly to her many times yesterday, which made me feel small and horrible. This morning I spent almost an hour cleaning up glass from the Christmas lights that she unstrung and broke in our backyard (because she wanted colored lights, not white ones) during the 20 minutes I sent her outside to give each of us a small break.
And although I know, rationally, that the sugar played a huge role, and that these things are her expressing natural creativity and curiosity and I am proud of her and I truly think someday God has great plans for her as a creative artist, I do look at her sometimes and think “how utterly I am failing at this.”
A good friend one time asked me why, when our children rebel or disobey, us moms tend to feel like it is our failing and not just our children’s. And I didn’t know the answer to his question. But I do know that is how it feels. And even as moms, when we see other children rebel, we do tend to blame the parents, don’t we, if we’re truly honest? We forget the sin nature and the curiosity and the immature self-regulation and the power of impulse and instead we just feel like the worst mom in the world. We are so quick to judge, and so slow to give ourselves, and other moms, grace.
What a terrible tactic of our enemy. He lays the blame trap, and so often we fall into it. May God help us to see as He sees and avoid this trap. We need to know that we aren’t failing and that our children are just growing and learning, and that just because this is hard doesn’t mean we are bad at it. We need God to help us see the grace that is ours.
“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” – Psalm 4
And to compound this problem, it’s hard to know where to go with these feelings, because it is lonely being a mom. Which is another tactic of our enemy. Isolate and destroy. Isolate and destroy. It’s been his battle plan since the beginning. And he is good at isolating moms of young children.
My friends with children who understand where I live are themselves too overwhelmed to do much more than check in occasionally, and my friends without children have their own busy lives and although they try so hard, the world we live in with young children is hard to comprehend. True friendship is hard to maintain when you are the mom of young children – and it is a season of life where I think we may need friends the most. True friends give perspective when we have lost our ability to see the bigger picture. Thank God most of us have those friends who you can see or hear from once every three weeks and still pick up where you left off, but the hours and days and weeks between significant adult interaction can sometimes spread out before you in an overwhelming chasm.
And social media, although it seems it would help with this problem, just isn’t sufficient to fill that void and I think may even exasperate the problem. I think sometimes we post the fun stuff, because we don’t want to appear crazy and put out there all of the bad feelings, so we fake each other out so we don’t reach out and we don’t know what is on the heart of our friends. We are connected virtually but alone relationally. It’s a bastardization of the true community that we need as humans to grow and thrive, so false and yet what we have settled for. Maybe even what we’ve been deceived to settle for.
And lately, the whole thing has had me on my knees. Justin and I are talking through what to do about the difficulty of parenting and the isolation in the midst of it, and thankfully he understands and relates and takes my feelings and needs seriously. Because I am more needy than usual. I feel lonely and overwhelmed. I want to battle it all – but when we are tired it is hard to battle. So together we are working through what to do with all of it.
- First of all, I deactivated Facebook for lent to force me to have real interactions with people I love and not settle for the social media fake-out. And in those relationships – I’m trying hard to be real and transparent.
- Second, Justin and I are trying to talk to each other more about deep things we feel and about our struggles with faith everyday, making sure we connect over more than TV shows and work updates.
- Third, we’re trying to have more people over into our house and visit the homes of people we love. In-person interactions are truly the best community.
- And fourth, I’m trying to call or text friends to see how life really is beyond the mask of social media and momentary interactions at church on Sundays, especially when the Lord lays them on my heart.
Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Romans 12:9-10
For all of you friends who feel unsettled and alone, I guess I just want to say “me too” and I’m sorry you feel that way. For my offline friends, I am sorry for my part in any relationship that is all surface and no substance. I am working on being refined in this area and truly praying for a revival in the relationships in our life. Because we need each other, especially in this season of life. Because we aren’t failing. This is just hard. It is a season, and it will end someday, and for now we just need to keep working, keep trying, stay humble and loving to our kids when we can, and take a break when we can’t. We need naps and date nights and occasional ugly cries and texting each other the terrible things we think when we are just too tired to fake it anymore. We need the grace and perspective that true community brings. We need new mercy each day. We need more grace than we even know how to ask for.
So what do you think? What has the Lord shown you as a trick to maintain relationships when times get tough and schedules are insane? How do you keep a wise perspective on parenting and avoid the “blame” trap the enemy sets for us? Any wisdom for us overwhelmed moms?
I have 4year old and 12day old daughters – I’ve felt increasingly like a failure recently as my eldest is finding it hard to adjust.
Oh wow. I am so sorry. The haze (what we call the first 3 months after baby) is so hard. I struggled to maintain perspective and hope. I will tell you – you are not failing. You love your pink princesses. You won’t remember much of this phase, thank God. So give yourself grace. Snuggle with your girls. Take naps together. Don’t freak when the walls get colored and the baby cries too much. Turn on worship music. And know that somewhere in Texas another mom gets it, relates, and hurts for you. I am praying today for renewed strength, renewed hope, renewed joy, an exit from the haze soon. God bless you.
I have a 20- year old son and a 10-year-old son, so I’m blessedly past the tantrum throwing stage. My youngest son was particularly stressful as a toddler. I even consulted a child psychologist because I thought he had oppositional defiance disorder. She said he was normal for 3 and it’s a good thing they’re so cute because otherwise, she can’t stand that age. Developing close friendships in a play group helped. Viewing hard, tedious work and calm, loving responses as a form of worship helped (although I failed all too often). Giving my son a lot of structure helped. Finally, living by the motto “do the next right thing” helps to this day, especially since I’ve been a Sandwich Mom with the failing health of my parents and teaching full-time. I can’t do it all and take care of everyone at the same time, but I can always do the next right thing.
Hi Diana (my very favorite name!). Thank you for your comment and your wisdom. Great stuff here – and very encouraging. Your post helps me know I’m not alone! I like the advice to do the next right thing. Exactly what Jesus modeled for us – day by day step by step trusting and obeying. Thanks for visiting and commenting.
Man, I hear this so loudly. I have been begging for deep friendships and feel like I often times cannot find them. I feel like many other moms I know don’t want to take the time to be honest about their lives and no matter how hard I try, I get rejected. It just makes me feel like I am failing on all fronts. Failing being a mom and failing at finding friendships.
Hi Claire – I completely understand. It does feel like failing, doesn’t it? It’s harder than I imagined it would be. I am sorry you have struggled – us women are sometimes good at the surface and terrible at the real community in deep relationships. I am praying today that the Lord would lead you on the path to find a great true genuine friend who you can share your life, struggles, and joys with. Thank you for commenting. I’m praying the Lord blesses you with friends but I also am praying that He would be near to you and give you comfort even in the lonely times.