My mom did a lot in the way of helping make sure my brother and I actually had a childhood. We enjoyed care-free days and nights most of the time. She was never too hard on us...and this was because she wanted to counteract the harshness from my dad. Granted, he was tied up inside with all his own junk. I can't necessarily blame him/his problem for all the evil that was in my life. Now that I am an adult/parent, I sense some of the struggle he had...his drug of choice was alcohol...mine is church and food and approval.
I guess I never really pictured my life with kids. I never really considered that I would get married, and this not because of any vow or promise or anything, I just didn't think it was for me. It took not a little convincing on DH's part to agree to marry in the first place. Thank God he was persistent, patient, and prudent. More than anything, being married is forcing me into relationship issues I've long run from. It's hard to avoid some things for forever, as much as I would want to. Currently, I'm embroiled in an internal battle regarding anger issues. It's not been fun to be around me, I'll bet....
What is at issue is that of suppressed grief...and why should I have any really? I have cute, healthy, clever, mostly obedient children. They have what they need and several things they want. I guess it's part of dealing with expectations. You know, before you get married, you have an ideal picture of what married life is supposed to be about. He'll come home from work and act as though you were on his every thought all day long. He'll tell you what a great cook and homemaker you are. You'll cook fabulous meals every night. The housework will be effortless and you'll love every minute of it. ...Then reality sets in. He comes home after a long hard day, hits the computer chair, doesn't come to the dinner table when it's hot. Nevermind that the recipe you used was something that looked good on paper but the actual execution of it was sorta ho hum. If you're lucky, you talk about your hopes and dreams instead of listening to his complaints about the job. You're left to clean the kitchen and do the dishes. He goes back to his computer, and you sit down at yours, too tired to even imagine any scenario different from the one you're in. and you're stuck.
The same is true with before the kids arrive. You have all these ideas about how kids should be raised, what they should DO, how they should talk...your pet phrase starts out "if that were my kid..." Then you get the picture: reality. Maybe the baby comes home and all she does is scream for hours and hours and all you want to do is just get a little bit of unbroken sleep because pregnancy was not kind to you in this department. You have to give up certain foods you LOVE and need while breastfeeding because it causes more crying and less sleep.
Once you make it past infant stage, then there's potty training, self-feeding and baby's favorite game of drop dinner on the floor. Add another kid into the mix of un-managed grief and you're bound to be crazy. Somewhere in the middle of all this, I am barely treading water. I've taken on more in my life than I ever imagined and it's not really making a difference.
The other night, I dreamed that I was going to work for Kroger(a grocery chain in TN). Now granted, I never applied for the job, but they sent me a letter in the mail telling me what my schedule was. I showed up for work with some sort of uniform on, and started working...no training, no meeting with the boss, I just went over to the shelves and started straightening up stuff because it was all in disarray...When I finished that, I ran into a friend on the next aisle and said I'd help her with that aisle. Then I started getting really sleepy...i mean REALLY sleepy. So I just left work and went home to take a nap. I never saw the manager, I never clocked in or out, and I didn't finish my shift. What's more, when I woke up, I had the intention to go back to the store to work more but could not find my uniform. The house was in TOTAL disrepair (not to mention the fact that it appeared to be the house I grew up in and not my current one). I just blew it completely off.
Why bring this up? It's a picture of my life as a mom. I signed up for something unknowingly. I showed up, but never clocked in. I never got my orders from the Boss (who is Jesus for those who claim to belong to him), I never found out what He wanted me to do. Instead, I looked to others, friends, books, etc... In the end, I did not finish the job. It overwhelmed me with sleepiness...and I never got paid.
I don't want this to be the end. I've let myself forget the days that I cried and cried over not being a mom, of losing a baby and the desire to have children. I've let myself forget the sweet moments just being able to hold my boy in my arms and smile at him. I've let myself forget so many of his cute little words or his little fat fingers. My eyes have filled up with the WORK of being a mom rather than on the Joy of just having my babies near me. (Martha v. Mary) I guess I'm feeling the pang of regret because in just 3 short months, he'll be going off to kindergarten....then he'll be entering into yet another phase in his life...toward more independence. Here is one part of the grief.
Another facet is that because of the work of being a mom, there is a loss. I've never really been able to grasp these ultra high feelings of "WOW, being a mom is the best thing in the world, ever." It's been a struggle because of the loss of my freedom, my time, my sleep. In the end, I know the trade off will be worth it, but here in the trenches, it gets pretty discouraging. Couple that with taking on more responsibility/work than is my fair share, and well, you've got a ticking time bomb on your hands. Don't get me wrong, though. I love my kids. I can do without for their sake, but something has GOT to give.
That is where I am. I am learning. I am learning to let go of some stuff for the greater good. It's at this point that I go to the back room where the Boss hangs out and say, "What would you like me to get done today? Can you teach me how to handle the disappointments of being caught off guard when my kids' behavior doesn't match the textbook in my head? Can you show me how to focus on the majors? Can you teach me to handle my own failures in a way that doesn't bring harm in my relationships?"
Lord Jesus, You are my supreme Boss. I look to you for each day's assignment. I look to you to give me the strength to NOT take on the world. I thank you for my mom. I thank you for my babies. Thank you for what they all teach me. Make me more like You.