Updated: Jan 24, 2020
I'm writing this post in a rocking chair on the last evening of my husband's out of town trip for business. I don't need to remind you that I have five children (four biological and one foreign exchange student). It is evenings like these that I am weary. When my husband is out of town I become everything to my family. This week I dealt with an air conditioning company that came out to install our new AC unit only to find our thermostat was, additionally, defective. So we still had an inoperable unit despite the fact that it is new. Ugh. With the company still here, I called my husband. Voice message. I texted my husband. Dots. Finally, I get a callback. We speak for a moment about the AC unit and he has the installer call him. I am relieved.
My husband is a hard worker who has a phenomenal job which takes him out of town a couple of times a month. There are many women who are no stranger to this type of family life- a life with an out-of-town husband. Don't be fooled, either. Being a "single parent" to one kid is just as hard as being a single parent to three, four, or eight. Why? Because trying to juggle life, make decisions, work inside or outside the home, and finish all the things is hard. As a "single parent," even for a day or two, us moms must make decisions based on the good of the family and feel the weight of the consequences on our shoulders. I am so exhausted by the end of my husband's trip and I don't even leave the city!
There is more than one day out of the week I am up until 2:00 am trying to finish "all the things" and get back up to take the kids to school by 6:30 am. I long for a nap, and sometimes I get one; however, there are times the week doesn't provide the refuge of one. This week was one of those weeks.
I sat down in my bedroom chair this evening and thought, "I see you, Momma, I understand you."
What do I see, you ask? What do I understand? I see and understand all the Mommas who:
* race through car rider line because they must get the next kid to school on time.
* don't leave the traffic light intersection fast enough because they are taking one more swig of coffee before putting the pedal to the metal.
* are walking through Wal-Mart with a kid in the buggy still in their pj's because there is no time to dress the child (in fact, you are doing good to have your regular clothes on).
* are late in the afternoon car rider line because the preschooler had to poop before leaving the house.
* have a glaze in their eyes because they haven't spoken to an adult in days but have dealt with teen drama, homework, schedules, and arguments.
* stare at their phone because they just got the voicemail of their husband one-more-time.
* drag the trash can down to the curb as one would drag a laundry basket to its place without a second glance back. Yep, no one looks back at the laundry basket and neither do we our trash receptacles.
* who can't think of one more creative thing for dinner so eggs and toast is the menu.
* who fall into bed completely and utterly exhausted but unable to sleep because of the "to-do" list running through their heads for tomorrow (and if you don't remember these things, who will, am I right?!).
I haven't even written all of the everything I see or feel, but, I want you to know: I see these Mommas. I understand you. Take a second read to the bullet points above. Are you one of these descriptions? You don't need to have a husband out of town in order to fall into one of these categories. Most of these things are just "Momma things;" however, the weight is harder when there isn't someone to help you. Your partner.
How do I handle these times of exhaustion? How do we, as moms, continue? How are we successful? I pondered this as I sat in my chair. How do I do it? How should it be done? How does God view all of this?
1. Firstly, God wants us to stop trying to be gods. As women, we have a hero complex. We want to save, create, and conquer each and every adversary our family encounters whether it be our calendar, a bully, a school test, a timeline, traffic, or the like. Let God be God in our lives and give our burden to Him. Our lives are to be lived for His glory in ALL THINGS, which means we must give all things to Him. It is as simple as prayer. Give Him all the things in prayer, step away, and watch Him work.
2. Secondly, you have to take care of you, Momma. After three days of juggling my family, writing, teaching, uber driving my children to their various activities, filling out government paperwork for passports, etc, I sat down on the fourth evening and thought. "I'm exhausted!" I need to do something for me or I'm going to go crazy!" So, I painted my nails. It was so nice to look down and see my nails all pretty. I woke up the next morning feeling prettier than before all because my nails were painted. Crazy, huh? There are so many ways to practice self-care even if it is lighting a candle and sitting in silence but if you want to read more about this important practice of self-care, simply find it here.
3. Know the true definition of success. As moms, we sometimes feel like we must accomplish all the things before the day is finished; otherwise, we are unsuccessful. According to the Oxford dictionary, success is defined as " the accomplishment of an aim or purpose." Our daily aim should be to live intentionally glorifying God. By simply glorifying God through our obedience, we are successful in God's eyes; however, I know there are still material things that must be completed each day.
Outside of the daily musts (I mean, we need to feed our kids and take bathroom breaks), start by making an A.B. and C list for each day...or even the week. "A" items need to be actioned first as they are of utmost importance and must be completed ASAP. "B" items are important but are secondary to "A." Lastly, "C" items can be put off until next week if needed but it would be nice if they were completed if time allowed.
4. Know your limits. I can tell you that I try very hard to be respectful and pleasant to my children at all times. As moms, this is of the utmost importance in raising a socially and emotionally healthy child; however, there are days I know my temper is very short. I had one of these days crop up on day three of my husband's absence. I was utterly exhausted and one of my teens was being particularly argumentative about an issue for no particular reason. It was late and I was on my last straw since I knew it was going to be another long night.
"Child," I said, " I am really tired, and I am trying to have patience; however, my patience is thin and as much as I am trying to be patient with all these questions you are asking me, I am very close to losing it and I don't want to."
As much as this sounds terrible to some moms, you need to know your limits. This was not a small child. This was a teenager who knew she was pushing buttons and it wasn't the time anymore. We both dropped the subject (it was really not a big deal) amicably, finished what we were doing, and parted ways with hugs and words of love.
In an effort to maintain my patience, I have needed to walk away for a few moments to gather my thoughts, pray, and breathe. This is important to work relationships, marriage, parenting, and friendships. Know your limits, and know when to walk away.
5. Lastly, practice forgiveness. You need to know that you will not always be perfect. Maybe you didn't give a situation to God, you haven't taken care of yourself, you completed a "C" list activity when you should have been doing an "A", and then you lost your temper at your co-worker/kids/friend. We are not perfect; however, God calls us to crucify our sinful nature daily.
2 Corinthians 5:17
" Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:[a] The old has gone, the new is here! "
As followers of Christ, we need to recognize where we went wrong in our day, give God our pain, ask for forgiveness where necessary, and then forgive ourselves. We have to let go of where we have failed and give God complete rule in our lives to make us whole. If we live in grief, unforgiveness, and self-punishment, we are telling God that we don't believe His forgiveness is true. When we give God our burden, we must give it completely to Him knowing:
" Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus "
So, why would we continually condemn ourselves? We should not. Jesus died to make us whole and new, we must live this out in our daily walk with Christ.
Every time I get my husband's voice message, I feel disappointment rest on my shoulders. Normally, when I call, it is for a decision that needs to be made, an important question I have, or an issue I am dealing with; however, I have gotten used to hearing His message come over the other line of the telephone. "Please leave your message after the tone..." Sometimes, I will listen to His message just to hear his voice; however, I have adopted the motto, "if you aren't here and I can't get ahold of you, I am making the decision." Why? Because I am a smart capable woman. I have God on my side and I never need to leave a message with Him. I frequently find the weight of my family on my shoulders, I frequently carry the burden for a while, but then I practice the things you read above. I realize my humanity and give things to God, I take care of myself, prioritize, find success in each day, know my limits, and practice forgiveness where I fall short. My husband is not always home, but I know I am not alone and neither are you. I see you, Momma, and so does God.
* Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, therapist, nor a nutritionist. I am a licensed teacher and mother of four children. The information given above is strictly my own opinions and life experiences. If you have questions and concerns about yourself, your well being, or your child, you should address these with your doctor or your child's pediatric doctor.