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My daughter recently went with me to a speaking engagement where I shared the journey of my pregnancy with her (you can read about it here). It was one of the most distraught times of my life. Although Cauri had heard the story many times, she had never heard the feelings I experienced during that time. It moved her to tears to know I loved her so much.
And that broke my heart.
I realized although I sometimes share reasons for my teaching or discipline with her, many times I don’t share what I’m feeling.
So my dear, darling, challenging daughter, I want to share with you what I feel almost on a daily basis raising you.
I wake in the mornings and feel worried.
Worried that your heart will be hurt by unkind peers or impatient teachers.
Unfortunately, as the morning continues, I feel angry.
After fighting to get you out of bed, we argue about running late, lost homework, complaints about nothing to take for lunch, and leaving a huge mess in the kitchen for mom to clean since you “don’t have time.”
When you leave for school, I feel relieved.
Relieved we have time to get over ourselves and come back together in the evening for a fresh start.
Relief quickly turns to sadness.
Sadness that I am the one who caused you hurt before the day even had a chance to begin.
The day is then spent feeling helpless.
Helpless as I wonder about your day. How the test is going for which you spent so much time studying, if your friend is still upset with you and turning mutual friends against you, if the bully who sits behind you in two classes is calling you “stupid,” again, about your decisions and if they are wise or made out of emotion. And knowing you’re dealing with all of it away from me and beyond my help or rescue.
By the time you waltz in from school and you look content and happy, I feel reassured.
Reassured all went well during the day.
Reassurance quickly turns to feeling irritable.
Irritable from the complaints over what I’m making for supper, from all the arguing between you and your siblings, from all the things I’m trying to remember: which kids have activities, who is driving what carpool, everything on my to-do list that did not get finished earlier in the day, how much homework each of you has for the evening, calls or emails I need to return before the evening is over. I’m irritable and don’t listen well. I’m short with my words and yell.
As the evening progresses, I feel tired.
Tired from not knowing how to help with homework, from not knowing how to give you direction with your life question, from the sibling arguments, from disrespectful talk toward your dad and me, from feeling unappreciated after having worked at my job and on the house and taking care of all your needs throughout the day, tired from my brain working in overdrive, and tired from all those feelings I’ve been experiencing.
When the evening is over and we all go to bed, I feel guilt.
Guilt over not handling your questions well, not listening when you were trying to tell me something important, saying things to you I shouldn’t have, not having all the answers to your needs.
And guilt for feeling worried, angry, relieved, helpless, irritable, and tired. All of which reminds me of my shortcomings as a mom.
I leave my bed to check on you sleeping kids and I feel thankful.
Thankful God gave me such wonderful kids, thankful all of you are tucked safely in your beds in our warm house, thankful you made a decision to accept Christ’s sacrifice and are guaranteed eternal life, thankful you are mine.
I feel thankful and I kiss you on the forehead as you sleep.
And then I pray! I give all of my feelings and all those things out of my control to God.
Through it all, I feel indescribable love for you.
But know love is MORE than a feeling. While feelings change, my love for you never does! And that love, dear child, will never be compromised!
© 2015 Connie Davis Johnson
“If we don’t clean this bathroom soon, we’re going to need shots to use it!”
“Hurry, someone just pulled in the driveway! Grab everything near you and throw it in a closet, cabinet, or the dishwasher!”
“Argh!!!!! I can’t think straight in the middle of all this mess!”
These are all statements I’ve made when talking about our house. Since weekdays are busy, our family goal is to clean on Saturdays. However, it takes about 6 hours to get the house to “mom clean,” so it’s easy for other plans to interrupt cleaning.
The strain of knowing what needs to be done and not having time to do it makes my stress level soar! So instead of our home being a relaxing refuge from the world we all desire, it becomes nothing but tense turf. Because we all know when mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy!
Something would have to change to maintain sanity and healthy family relationships.
I began with a plan. My kids still need to learn responsibility so I made the decision they would continue to take turns doing laundry and dishes, they would be responsible for keeping their rooms clean, and they would take turns each Saturday cleaning their bathroom.
The rest of the cleaning duties were written down and split throughout the week. Testing and tracking revealed each weekday took 1 hour of cleaning. To make this doable, I simply cut back on social media. Weekend tasks don’t take as long and fit well with any additional plans made by the family.
It’s been two months and the changes within our household are amazing!
- Our house is consistently clean making it a joy to welcome visitors.
- My stress level has decreased which makes the entire family happier.
- I’m now more efficient in other tasks since cleaning worry and guilt no longer take brain space.
- Our home is now the refuge we desired.
Is this method for everyone? No! Some find it easier to do everything in 1 day, others to receive daily emails with tasks assigned, and many who want their kids to have more responsibility than in this plan.
What is the right way? Whatever works for YOU. I’m simply sharing this method as an option for anyone who find themselves in a similar situation.
Here is the plan:
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© 2015 Connie Davis Johnson