What is it that really weighs moms down? I wonder if we polled all of the moms out there, how would the statistics read? What really registers on the radar? I couldn’t help but meander back to an early mom memory, and my meltdown. My children were toddlers. I was working parttime, had four under the age of 5 and felt like I was running a race. I had to look at the clock more than I care to admit. This particular night I had a commitment that involved bringing the children with me since David was working late. I had just finished a conversation with the teacher of my 5 year old about a problem in the classroom, my mind still lingered on that conversation while having a million others that sounded more like a drill sergeant barking commands to “get ready quickly, gobble that last bite, hurry hurry hurry”! And we were out the door. I found myself in the mini-van driving with them to our event. Everyone was buckled in, clothed and fed, but far from happy. I was frazzled and tired (huge understatement). We made it through the event with several more “issues” that in hindsight were understandable (baby needing to nurse, toddler crying for attention, 3 year old fell and scraped her knee… you get the idea). Back to the van we go, holding hands, carrying bags and buckling back into our spots. I was driving home and the noise and hustle finally all came crashing in. The damn, that had been holding for awhile, finally broke. I just lost it. I cried and cried…and cried, all the way home. I really wasn’t crying out of self-pity. It was a dawning of what reality had become. It is easy to pinpoint the feeling now because I still experience it. I think every mom does. It’s the feeling of being out of control. My thoughts went something like this: “I should have had a system that planned for _____and ____ and the flow chart in my mind should have anticipated______… and the parenting book said if I make this list, then I can expect ____” “Since _____ didn’t happen, I must be one gigantic failure of a mom.” Although I look back and laugh (a little), I am also sobered by the feeling of defeat. I guess I really want to give all moms a hug and whisper in the busiest moment, “you’re doing great! Look, did you see that smile your little guy just gave you? That’s what you’re looking for!! The clean house award doesn’t matter…you can win that when you’re 50…the best _______award can go to someone else…the loving, now this is what grows those smiling flowers…keep it up. Choose the heart issues.”
The harsh and sometimes crushing reality is that our society adulates control, not vulnerability, and I can’t help but think how detrimental it is in parenting. Babies don’t fill their diapers on schedule and teens don’t have crisis moments in our designated time slots. Disruptions happen every day, in every life, in every career. Parenting is no exception, and honestly some of the most meaningful times aren’t planned, are they? The rub lies in our inability to handle loss of control. When we boil all of our mom frustration moments down to core issues, I wonder how many of them fall into the CONTROL pile and result in our subsequent “grown-up” temper tantrum? What is kind of ironic, is how the journey of motherhood highlights all of our frailties, deepest fears and inadequacies. What is really screaming out to us, at the core, is a call to abandon using the parent role as a means of personal validation. Deep down we hear the call to sacrifice of ourselves at the deepest level in the deepest way, for the benefit of another. We’re could not even begin to understand how it could happen, until we became “mom” and love grew bigger than ourselves.
In dealing with any human relationship in all it’s complexities and idiosyncrasies, it’s seems as simple and as complicated as life. We will succeed and we will fail. It’s most glaring in moments when we put the sticker on the chart while the house is burning down. We must be honest enough to see the futility and beg for eyes to see, ears to hear and a heart pursuing the things that really matter. This is another mystery-paradox in this earthly realm, to love so deeply, to do the best we can, to pray ultimate peace for our babies no matter what the age and in the midst of it all, humbly recognize our limitations. The spade is forever lodged into our heart, sometimes digging, sometimes planting, always teaching. I guess I’m highlighting how it looks to be vulnerable as a parent, maybe even encouraging us not to fear it, but to embrace the reality of it. Love on your babies at every age, let the schedule blow up, defy the rat-race and go play awhile.