How You Feel about the Facts Makes all the Difference
Sometimes we all get “weary in well-doing.” Some days are exhausting. Some kids are particularly trying. I found life to be very hard when my first 3 children were all 3-years-old and under. I was exhausted. I felt like I needed to sleep for days and I spent evenings after the kids were in bed cleaning the house rather than resting.
But nothing lasts forever. My last 3 babies (#6, #7 and #8) were 3-years-old and under and it was a lot different. This time I had a lot of help. The older kids do so much to assist me that it’s much easier to manage.
Plus, I’m just used to it. I’m used to noise. I’m used to mess. I’m used to crying and squabbling and craziness. It doesn’t feel as hard to deal with anymore.
One of the most important things to remember is that how you feel about something is much more important than the facts of the situation. If you arrive at the grocery store saying to yourself that you’re in such hurry and you hate shopping and you want to get out of the store as fast as possible, when you get in a checkout line behind someone with a cart overflowing with stuff (someone like me!), it creates in you great anxiety and frustration. When you walk into the store saying to yourself, I want to get out as fast as possible, but I know that it never goes quick so I’m just going to enjoy the trip for what it is and expect that there will be hang-ups but those moments will be an opportunity to practice being joyful in all circumstance, when you get in line behind that person with the overflowing cart, you feel happy waiting because you’re happy doing whatever you’re doing. You accept that there is always time to do what needs to be done and if you don’t have time it’s because it doesn’t need done.
Parenting isn’t a temporary life situation. It may change over time, but children will always need you in one way or another. If you look at the life you have now and say it’s not like it was before I had kids, but it should be, you’re going to cause yourself a lot of stress. It’ll never be like that again. Even when the kids leave home you’ll be a different person than you were before you became a mother. Appreciate the life you had before you became a mother, but don’t long for it.
I found myself one day wondering why, if I was living the life I wanted, was I so unhappy about it. I realized it’s because I had a false idea that I was laboring under. A mechanic’s shop is dirty and if it isn’t, he’s probably not doing many repairs. A mother’s life is crazy, busy, messy and if it isn’t, she’s probably not doing much mothering. Raising children is holy work. God gives us children to make us better people. When we can selflessly give ourselves to mothering, we are a living example of our faith. When we see the big picture, it’s much easier to overcome those feelings of needed time to yourself.
That’s not to say you shouldn’t take time to rest or study or work on hobbies or be with your husband. Those things are important, too. But don’t begrudge it if those things don’t happen as frequently as you’d like yet or if they get interrupted. The children will grow bigger (and more helpful) so that even when you have more you may find that it’s not nearly as difficult as it is right now. You will be stronger, you’ll have systems in place to help you and the work of mothering doesn’t double with each child. It’s just a little bit more than it was before.