So when I have friends, both young and old asking how do you keep your sanity, how do I deal with the pain? How do I....? There are a million unhelpful answers to that question. I have two 20 year olds and a 17 year old underfoot right now - in a very small house! And quite frankly - I am having to do a lot of deep breathing. So - in the middle of hard things - especially right now with moms being home with the kiddos 24 - 7 - how do we cope?
For young women with young families, telling them that time will be gone before they know it and they need to learn to enjoy it while they are in it, just causes resentment - or seems to. I have seen many Facebook rants about how us older women come in and say things like that. So really - that is not helpful at all - though true it may be. When you are in the middle of what feels like constant stress, constant need, constant need from someone - your energy is depleted. Your will is gone. You are used up and feel like you can't take another minute. I do remember those days.
In my opinion - and this goes for both young mothers with little ones at home on up to us middle agers and older women, there are good ways to deal with the "I can't take it anymores".
The first thing is - make sure you are taking time to read and meditate. Preferably in the mornings before you start your day. It doesn't have to be long. Save your Bible study and ruminations for after the kiddos go to bed, or during nap time. In the mornings, set your timer - 15, 20 - 30 minutes, whatever you feel you have time for that day. Choose an easy Bible reading plan that gives you sustaining scripture and read it, then pray it, then think on it - just for a bit. Then pray over your family and your list of things to do that day and get to work. The timer is there just to help you manage your time well.
8 simple daily Bible reading plans -
This means you either have to plan to get up before your kiddos do, or that you will have to get them busy doing something while you take this time. I'm good with setting them in front of Veggietales - or whatever the babies are watching these days.
That brings me to my next point. The age of social media is crushing in it's life sucking standards. We aren't living life when we try to keep up with all the people around us - we are extinguishing real living. I love social media - especially Facebook. It lets me catch up with extended family and all of my discipleship kiddos I have had over the years. It is a blessing to me. But I am easily sucked into the shiny, happy lives of my friends and can find myself wondering why we can't afford to go to Disney every year, or to the Bahamas, or - well - whatever thing our friends are sharing that day can feel like a jab instead of an encouragement. So - limit your time there. Do not follow the friends who are constantly thrusting their glitzy lives at you. Find the ones that encourage you and make you want to love Jesus more and follow them. You don't have to unfriend anyone. But your feed can be full of people that you enjoy. And heaven forbid that you take your high standard friends at their word for what they are actually doing. Keep your standards high - but trust in God's grace to help you with your babies. Your house does not have to be perfect. You do not have to have hard wood floors, and granite counter tops. You do not have to drive a Tahoe. Make your house a home. Be more driven to make it have a feeling of love and generosity - not that it has the latest Chip and Joanna feel to it. Not that that is wrong - it is just extra and not at all necessary. Find a place where you can enjoy your family without the pressure of the list of things you HAVE to do to make your children able to function successfully in the world.
I wanted to be that mama. The one where people thought I had it together and I was on top of it all. It was exhausting. And frankly - it sucked more of the life out of me than I was willing to give as an older mom. I remember telling people what I did and didn't do. I remember telling them "I always" or "I never" and eventually my always turned into nevers and nevers turned into always. So yeah - that plan never works in my opinion. Instead, remember that God loves your babies even more than you, and he is not going to let them miss an opportunity that will grow them closer to him. He will place those opportunities within reach of you and your children as they grow. If you want to run your legs off taking them to every sport, every music lesson for multiple instruments, dance and every clinic and feel that they are missing out if you don't get them into travel ball (can you tell I am talking to myself? Because I am) team out there - then you have no one to blame but yourself. It is equally important that they get to sit and look out the window and let their little minds wander, as it is that they are increasing their knowledge and physical prowess. They need to wander and play and enjoy simplicity. Now I get it - even though I seriously lean toward the lazy - I understand you Type A'ers need to move and do. Just find your balance. Happy medium is my favorite go to. Do not let stress ruin your days. Pick carefully what you fill your lives with and learn to let yourself off the hook when things are too hard. God's grace is sufficient - even if your kids don't get to do what you think will make them the best. It's ok. God has them. Walk in faith knowing that your efforts are not what they always need. God's grace is.
Lastly - and I am sure I will think of a million other things that helped as well - but I found when I leaned into something hard, it helped with the crazy, or the hurt, or the pressure. Leaning into it simply put - well let me just use baseball lingo since I am a 3 boy mom and have experienced years of baseball. If you lean into a pitch that is inside and it hits you...you get to first base. You move forward. This is a tactical play. It stings, maybe it hurts - but you move forward. This is sometimes how I deal with life. I just deal with the hard. I hunker down and take the hit knowing it will pass soon enough and that every moment I am given grace and strength by a loving, heavenly Father. I put scripture up around the house that reminds me that I can do it moment by moment and before I know it, I have moved from one hard stage to the next hard stage.
I think it helps to remember that every stage we go through gets easier in some ways and harder in others. It also helps us keep from thinking we are in a worse situation than the ones that have older children. There is never a stage that our children go through that is not difficult in some way. I remember talking to an older friend when she told me that this stage with her grown, married children was the hardest. I was like WHAT? She said that when they were struggling she couldn't fix it anymore. She had to back off and let them manage it themselves. I was devastated. But the more I thought about it, the more I saw that she was right. My comfort in every stage thus far was that I had a semblance of control when it came to helping my boys. That goes away once they become adults. But once again - leaning into it - hunkering down and mourning their failures as they start managing their own lives. It works. It is not always easy and I will say I fight it, but looking at the worst case scenario and reminding myself that God will take care of them, just as he has me, is truly helpful.
God bless you as you find your way. You are always welcome to contact me if you have questions, or need someone to listen.
mismi40 at gmail.com