I'll admit it. I've been wallowing in some serious mommy guilt lately. Trying to balance caring for 4 young children and a home is leaving me frustrated, overwhelmed, and burned out many days.
Last night was a doozy. My husband had his men's bible study so I was alone with the children during that difficult hour or two leading up to bedtime. In my hubby's defense, he did offer to stay home (I told him to go) and he came home early, because he knew I was on the edge.
For some reason, post-dinnertime is always the noisiest, rowdiest time of the day. I don't think I can give you the full picture because so often I'm functioning on autopilot. But it goes something like this. Boy 1 and Boy 2 are fighting with each other. I mediate. In the meantime Boy 3 is whining for something (he's still learning to talk, so I'm not really sure what it is). I try to decipher what he's saying. Boy 4 (the baby) starts crying LOUDLY. I turn toward him but Boy 1 & 2 haven't solved their issue yet & that situation elevates. Boy 3 whines louder (I still haven't figured out for what). Dog barks at some unknown thing LOUDLY. Boy 1 hits Boy 2. Boy 2 retaliates. LOUD crying and yelling from both ensues. Baby cries LOUDER. Boy 3 starts pulling on me insistently demanding the unknown item. I need to pee. I've needed to pee for a while (and after having 4 children the urgency to pee needs to be taken seriously). I tell baby to hold on until I run to bathroom. I send Boys 1 & 2 to their rooms until I can talk to them. Boy 3 follows me to bathroom. Phone rings. I ignore it. Finish in bathrooom. I pick up baby. Boy 1 runs back down to tell me Boy 2 is still bothering him. Baby continues to cry. Boy 2 yells down the stairs that he didn't do anything. He says it's Boy 1 who is bothering him. Boy 3 falls on floor out of frustration that I haven't been able to help him yet.
Do I need to go on? Do you get the picture? The thing is, unfortunately, this kind of chaos seems to be the norm. Ok - it's not ALL the time. But, it sure happens more often than I'd like. Last night, after struggling to get the boys bathed (I'm not sure why I tried to do that when my husband was not there to help me),and in their pj's, my nerves were frayed. The straw that broke the camel's back is when Boy 1 and 2 started screaming and crying because each of them kicked the other. I didn't know who kicked first or why and at that point I didn't care.
So, with a screaming baby on my hip, 2 crying big boys, and a wet, naked toddler who still needed to be wrestled into a diaper and pj's, I lost it. I yelled at Boy 1 & 2 that as soon as they had on their pajamas and their teeth were brushed they needed to get straight into bed with no stories. Tears ensued - theirs and mine. I felt terrible. I want so much to be one of those sweet-spirited mothers who always maintain their cool & speak firmly yet calmly. This definitely wasn't the case.
And, this is what my husband walked into when he came home...everyone in tears and the stress level through the roof. He took over with the oldest 3 and I went downstairs with the baby to try to calm & feed him.
And, the mommy guilt washed over me full force. What was I doing wrong? Why is this so difficult? I love my children with a passion & God gave them to me for a reason. Am I messing up God's plan? Am I ruining my children? And, on and on went my thoughts as I cried.
When my husband came downstairs after tucking everyone in he listened to me cry & talk. I had a hard time putting what I was feeling into words. The best I could come up with is 'I'm tired of feeling like a crappy mom.'. He assured me that I'm a good mom, that my children love me, and that it's normal for them to test their limits with me.
But, it's hard to believe sometimes. Sometimes it feels like I'm missing the mark time after time. So, I was excited to find this book recommendation at another blog today. The book is called 'Parenting is Your Highest Calling & 8 Other Myths that Trap Us Into Worry & Guilt'. It sounds like it's right up my alley & probably has some truths I really need to hear right now. I'm not normally an impulse shopper but I went directly to Amazon and ordered a copy.
Parenting IS a huge responsibility, but God also knows that we are human. We are not perfect. Parents are imperfect. Children are imperfect. Life is imperfect. But, His grace abounds. And that's what I'm clinging to today - His grace. And, I hope that somehow I can mirror that grace to my children.