The catalyst happened in Sunday School. Josh made the age-old half joke that mothers get a free ticket to heaven, no questions asked. A young father of four, his wife given birth to their fourth child only 7 months ago, she had been incapacitated twice since due to surgeries. He discovered very quickly how much his wife does.
Even as I type this now I can't fully articulate what snapped or why. One brave young mother stuck her neck out and began my own articulation of how I was feeling. We are forced to be selfless when we become mothers. Did I sit a little taller? Feel pride for all my sacrifice? Recognize my self worth? No.
I burst into tears.
Don't call me selfless. Don't tell me I'm a great mom. Don't tell me I've earned my way into heaven. I do love my children dearly and I have sacrificed to be the mother I am but I am not selfless. I am not serving my family with an attitude of gratitude. I feel resentment and sometimes bitterness. I resent that my children manipulate me to solve their problems amongst themselves by making me the referee or tell me half truths so I will resolve a problem for them at school damaging my credibility as an educator and a mother. I deal with feelings of guilt every single day because I don't do more for my children or I feel guilt because I feel resentment.
I feel guilt because I work outside the home and the children come home to an empty house. I feel guilt because I didn't finish the wash and now someone doesn't have clean pants and they have to wear shorts in December. I feel guilt when my husband comes home from work and dinner is not ready (or started) and I'm laying down reading a book. I feel guilty because I'm blogging rather than folding another load of laundry or reading to my 5 year old. I feel guilt when my creative child asks me to take her to the store to buy something for her newest craft and I tell her "not now" and hope she will forget about it soon which she never does.
Ironically, it is the same Sunday School teacher who helped shift my reality a little bit a few minutes later. His dad abandoned his mother and her six children when they were all very young. Working as a nurse in a hospital, she worked long hours and picked up extra shifts. She wouldn't be there to get the kids off to school or to greet them when they returned home. She took her concerns to her bishop. He told her to pray with them daily and read scriptures with them daily. That's it.
Meanwhile, I am pushing myself to throw birthday parties, volunteer in kindergarten, take a class overnighter with my 5th grader, and solve all my 7th grader's social problems, and juggling carpool. Who do I think I am? How much can I really handle before I crack? Hint: About three things less than I took on as indicated by my breakdown.
I know the old adage - You should take time for yourself - but that's actually one more burden to shoulder. One more thing on my endless "To Do" list. I don't want one more thing to do. I have a hard enough time shoulding all over myself and it's not pretty. I am comparing myself to others, comparing my children to others, comparing my marriage to others and since I don't see the whole picture, none of us measure up.
So today my friend, Amy, listened to my lament (okay, who really listens? I mean she read my email then listened to Him) and reminded me of Matthew 11.