Tuesday, July 24, 2012

When You Have a Bad Day

One of those days.  It happens to be Monday, but for this SAHM (stay-at-home-mom) it can (and does) happen any day of the week.  The day that starts at 2am with a three-yr-old climbing into my bed, who announces at 6am that her pull-up has leaked and she is wet (in my bed, remember?).  Which to be honest, I am just now really remembering that 6am announcement with a little shock and horror that I haven't washed the sheets (the only "good" set I own) and it is now 8:43pm and I might want to crawl into my bed soon.  Also at this moment there is another three-year-old (who should be in his bed) saying, "Mommy, I want to sit in your lap." But since I have had some person or another literally attached to me all day long, I am not really wanting the company.  This is the stuff my days are made of.

Our trip to the pool (usually the highlight of the day) was torturous for us (and everyone around us) because my little ones were tired and whiny and I was just out of grace.  For them, for me, for anyone.  And now I am thinking I can't, I just can't get up and do this all again tomorrow.  But I will.  And the next day, and the next... For what looks like forever from where I sit.  But really, I know it isn't... I only have to think of my oldest, driving around in his own car, being his own person, not needing to sit on anyone's lap anymore to remember how fast it went by.  But still, even knowing this, it seems like the days are so long and I am so out of patience, out of grace, out of gentleness...

Some moms appear to really thrive in this environment, and I usually watch in amazement as they smile and say something soothing that actually calms their screaming child.  I am not one of those moms.  I am the mom who is talking to herself in soothing tones saying, "It's only 3 more hours until bedtime.  You can do this for 3 more hours" like a crazy woman.  And at the end of the day, I really wonder if I am cut out for this.

So here are just a few things I am trying to remember when I have a bad day:

1.  Don't be so hard on yourself.  Motherhood is the most demanding and exhausting job on earth.  Give yourself a little more grace.

2.  Don't be so hard on them.  They are little, they are learning, they need grace too.  It is hard to teach a child self-control if you are yelling at them and pulling your own hair out. :)

3.  Pour out your frustration to God and let Him carry the burden.  It's too heavy for you.

4.  Smile. Just do it.  Even if you have to force it.  Put on your happy face.  It does wonders for everyone around you.

5.  Most importantly, remember that tomorrow is a new day, with a fresh start and a clean slate.  For you and for them.  Start out on a cheerful and positive note, no matter how tough the day before was.

"Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail.  They are new every morning.  Great is your faithfulness."  Lamentations 3:22-23

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Call Me Gumby

*This post is actually a continuation of the marriage study series, but I simply had to give it its own title.  Because using the same one felt too confining and also boring.  (Does that give you some insight into my personality? Lexi and I have coined a term for our shared personality type: EDEB- Easily Distracted, Easily Bored.) Now back to the post.

Upon further review of our couple inventory "report", I found some hidden treasures, for which I am very thankful.  I was thrilled to see that in spite of having "low couple agreement" in many areas, we still scored well in "connected-ness", which indicates that our relationship is a healthy, interdependent one.  As opposed to a dysfunctional, codependent one.  Some of you know my personal struggle with codependency, and will understand why this was such a victory for me.  I did wonder how it was possible for us to have such different perspectives on so many things and still maintain that connection.

In my reading for this week (Chapter 3, The Remarriage Checkup) I came across the answer to my question:

"The difference between people who become overly stressed by unforeseen circumstances and those who thrive in them is the ability to adapt. Such persons are able to discern what they cannot change from what they can control and then make the appropriate adjustments."

Interestingly, in our individual profiles, I scored high in the area of "flexibility"... The ability to adapt and change, the willingness to grow...  The key here, for a recovering codependent, is to keep those adjustments "appropriate". Setting appropriate boundaries, even while we compromise.  And strangely enough, we seem to be doing that.  I can only say that it is by the grace of God, because neither of us have experience in "healthy" relationships. We are living proof that the cycle can be broken.  With God's help.  Lots and lots of help.

I tried to think of ways that we are flexible, and really, I can't take any credit... I think I just realized early on that it was the only way to achieve any sense of peace with this many kids, ex-spouses, and ever-changing schedules.  There was nothing to be gained by insisting that everyone accommodate my desires.  In fact, that approach would only serve to bring me massive amounts of frustration.  I did have to pray a lot and grow into it, but I practiced being accommodating without being a door mat until it came more naturally.  ("Sticking up for me without stepping all over you" is a good way to sum up my attitude about boundaries.)  There are still days when I feel I am at my limit.  And there are days when I dig my heels in and say "enough!".  But for the most part, flexibility is coming more naturally, since I get opportunities to exercise it every day.

All in all, I was just thankful to uncover some areas where God has already grown us up a little bit.  Mostly through trying, failing, and trying again.  I am beginning to have hope that He will do the same in all of our "growth areas"... Even the ones we didn't know we needed growth in.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Remarriage Checkup: Part 2

"He remembered us in our weakness.  His faithful love endures forever."

I thought about this verse today, after our life group met at church... Never have I felt more inadequate to try and "lead" a class than I did this morning, after the whole relationship inventory disaster.  (I say that with a chuckle in my spirit, because it really did occur to me that I may have overreacted just a little bit to our less than stellar scores.)  I woke up this morning feeling resigned to the fact that I would, indeed, have to humble myself and share the fact that we don't have it all together and indeed, have zero qualifications to help anyone muddle through this mess called marriage.  Not that anyone really thinks we do, mind you... But that doesn't stop me from wishing we were better equipped!  So I prayed and told God if He didn't help out then I was pretty much sunk.

My plan was simple.  Pass out my neatly typed up fill-in-the-blank page.  Watch video workshop.  Ask for feedback from video.  Guide the other couples through the questions in the workbook.  Simple.

The video this morning covered conflict resolution, humility and couple flexibility.  Note the term in the middle.  Yeah, the "H" word.  Humility.  And it occurred to me that maybe, just maybe, if Michael and I had scored in the high range on our relationship inventory, I would have walked into class this morning feeling pretty confident.  In me. In us.  I might have even thought I had a thing or two to boast about.  Hmmm...

Now, thankfully, our class is made up of some truly insightful people who love to discuss the principles in our study.  So I really don't have to do much more than keep us on track.  I could have probably breezed through the class time today without revealing much about our own personal scores.  That was my plan.  But with the whole "humility" theme running through my head, I felt compelled to be a little more authentic and open than I originally intended. So, without sharing all the details, I let them know that we didn't really pass with flying colors, and that yes, I spent 2 days crying about it, and that if they, too, were not thrilled with what they saw in their reports, not to be discouraged.  We are all in the same boat, here. So we took turns sharing only strengths, and encouraging one another. And it was wonderfully positive and uplifting.

See, this is exactly why I am a God-girl, Jesus-freak, or whatever you want to call it.  I can't help it because He is so compassionate and kind and ready to rescue... And I so often need rescuing.  And this morning, when I knew I did not have what it took to "lead" anyone, He stepped in and showed me again that I don't have to.  He doesn't need the smartest girl.  He doesn't want the best public speaker.  He just wants a willing  and obedient me.  And sure, I am not always willing, and I am not always obedient.  But He is always Himself.  And He gives grace when we humble ourselves.  Oh, how thankful I am for that.

More to come, maybe about the actual study itself...  But not this evening.  I have a relationship to go work on.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Remarriage Checkup: Part 1

Typically, when I start to read a marriage book, or take a marriage study at church, I am really super-excited about all the conversations Michael and I will have about our relationship and what we are doing right, and what we can improve on.  I consider us to be a happy couple, we truly love one another and generally enjoy one another's company.  So imagine my surprise when an online relationship inventory we took as part of our new study (which we are helping to lead, ironically) pointed out that the only strength (out of 20 categories) that we have as a couple is our shared spiritual belief system.  Ouch.  Ok, well, what now?

My initial response was to laugh.  Then I got really depressed about the whole thing.  Michael was rather amused by how hard I was taking it, which really did NOT help.  I talked to another woman in our class, and was kind of secretly hoping their results had been like ours, but no.  They scored above average in all 20 categories.  So, what did I do?  I cried, of course!  I sat at my kitchen table with the corresponding marriage book, and tried to read the first few chapters in an attempt to rescue the doomed relationship that just yesterday seemed to be going ok... But the words were a little blurred by the tears pooling in my eyes, as I considered the overwhelming work ahead of us if we were to have any chance of "making it".

Michael heard the sniffling, and asked if my allergies were acting up.  "Yes, honey.  Allergies." I put the book down, went to the bathroom to compose myself so as not to alarm any small (or not-so-small) children.

I do realize that these profiles, these studies, are meant to be tools...  But in a season of life that already feels completely overwhelming, I am just nervous to see the warning flags waving over the one part of life I thought was going pretty well.  Because I feel I don't have the energy to even figure out where to start working on it.  And I wonder (as I always do) if I can just be someone different... someone who occasionally gets it right...

That's where I am.  I write this knowing full well that it is not encouraging, uplifting, or even funny... But I plan to write about this throughout our study.  And maybe we'll get to the encouraging uplifting part eventually.  Praying today for some perspective, and some supernatural help.  And for something funny...  Yes, I pray for that.  I need to laugh like I need chocolate!  Dreading Sunday morning, when I will have to share with the class that their leaders are, according to the relationship experts, miserable failures.   Clinging to the promise that when we are weak, He shows Himself strong!

Curious to see how you score as a couple?  Here is the website with the inventory and corresponding resources:


And, if you have a near-perfect score, please don't feel you have to share it with me.  Please. :)

Monday, July 2, 2012

One More Cup

I am definitely NOT a morning person.  This morning began at about 6:30 with Hudson climbing into my bed and digging his little feet into my back, pushing me over in between the pillows.  We were joined a few minutes later by Gracie, who proceeded to climb on top of Hudson, which caused a little scuffle and consequently MORE little feet digging in my back.  All the while, I am thinking to myself, "Why don't I just get up?  They aren't going to stop until I do..." But no, I squeezed my eyes shut and mumbled something to the effect of "Please stop kicking me."  Finally, after about 15 minutes of futility, I gave in to shouts of "Yay! Yay! Mommy's up! Let's go downstairs!"

Make a cup of juice, a cup of chocolate milk, a bowl of cereal, turn on cartoons, start the coffee.  Empty the sink that somehow magically fills up while I sleep... Sit down to check email/facebook/twitter and wait on the  coffee that takes entirely too long to brew on Mondays.  Gracie starts yelling something about her wet pull-up (potty training is a "whole 'nother" story altogether, and I will NOT be writing about it today.) Hudson starts whining about the dart gun (one that is entirely too big and too difficult for a 3 yr old to operate, which is, in fact, why he loves it so much.) And I just want to scream "Can all of this just wait until I've had at least 2 cups of coffee?? Please??" And I am really tempted to go down that irritable path.  Really.  Tempted.

I stop myself  just long enough to think of what I want them to remember about Mom when they are grown... And I don't want their description of me to be "She was definitely NOT a morning person."

So I am deciding right now that at least for this morning, I will be cheerful.  I will be fun.  I will play with dart guns and baby dolls and maybe even play-doh.  Maybe. After one more cup of coffee.