Mar 15, 2011

No Standardized Measurement

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.
Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
 I think that's a start.


Chl said...

And here I thought that sundays lesson was just for me! ;) I need to print this scripture up in big bold letters and stick it all over my house.
Take care Nancy, you are loved unconditionally!

Scott said...

Thanks for you post my dear. Husbands also feel guilt with things they should or shouldn't do (thus I am too often coverd in "should" myself) and I apreciate the reminder my imperfections only can be healed by One source.


Klin said...

I am not going even get started on my guilt. Just know that you are not alone.

E said...

So, after a horrible day of feeling and acting selfish, finally I had the kids in bed and I felt I should probably repent (again) for being so snappy with them and my husband and for not being a better person when I know I'm capable of being such...but instead I distracted myself with catching up on a few blogs. After reading through a few favorites, I decided I should get off the computer and do something more productive (like repent), but decided on reading just one more...yours. Nancy, thanks for being a real person. Your post was great. I felt like I was reading my own blog, the unpublished one in my head. I always forget I'm not the only one who beats myself up over these things, who thinks my kids would be better off with a different mother, and who has a feeling of dread come over me when my husband casually mentions a CNN spot on depressed parents hindering their children's development. I <3 you.

M-Cat said...

I can't tell you how many nights I laid awak feeling so much guilt that I physically thought I woud suffocate. Guilt at the very idea that I was the Mom. A loser like me. SOmeone who was so incapable and terrible at it, was allowed to not only breed but them raise them too. I hated Mothers day and all the la-la, fru fur, rainbows and unicorns pooping butterflies crap about Mothers. It only intensified the guilt.

And then, they were grown up. THey started making adult choices and doing a damn good job of it. And they still loved me. And they talk to me, still ask my advice and still want to occasionally hug and snuggle. And just like that, my sleepless, guilt filled nights evaporated.

Your day will come my friend, you day will come. I promise you that.

Until, remember the words in Matthew.

Dakotapam said...

Thank you!

I get the Super Mom comment all the time. Because, I have six kids, so I must be super mom.

But, do you know what? I'm not. I'm a miserable failure a lot of the time, I yell too much, I use swears, I let my kids get away with too much or not enough. The list goes on.

And yet, I am a beloved daughter of the Father! How awesome is that! I don't have to be Super Mom!

CountessLaurie said...

I read this post several times and thought of what I could say. I came up with nothing, except that mom guilt sucks and it stinks to feel that way. I am glad you (and me) have Amy to help put it in perspective for us.

Thanks for sharing. We are not alone in our feelings, that's for sure!

Janis said...

I haven't read blogs in a while yet there is no doubt the Lord led me here today. Thank you for being honest and faithful to speak the truth as you learn them!