Call me Eeyore

I’m in a bit of a motherhood funk. After literally wrestling our 2-year-old to bed last night, and waking up at 3:30 a.m. for the teething baby, I’d like to chalk it up to being tired, but I’m not so sure. I find myself increasingly irritated, less patient and exhaling frequent heavy sighs. Sometimes, in public. Usually these attitudes I confine to the house, where only passersby or neighbors could hear me lose it with my kids. I almost always cry after it happens, upset with myself for growing so upset.

I can’t even totally pinpoint the problem. I told my husband this morning that part of it boils down to expectations. I have high hopes for the day — for what we can accomplish, for how I’m going to react, for how the kids are going to behave — and 15 minutes or less after we’re all up, those hopes are shot for the rest of day. I could lower my expectations, but that always feels a little bit defeatist, like I’m giving up on any chance of having a good day, but if it happens, then good for us.

It’s also a control issue. I have absolutely no control over my daughter, as evidenced by her repeatedly ignoring my requests to go throw away her juice box in the kitchen garbage. When my husband tells her the same thing, she obeys immediately. Thus, another sigh from me. I realize my attitude has gotten out of hand, though, because this morning, she yelled at me from her room, “Mommy, come here, right now!” When I didn’t respond immediately, she repeated her command. She must have gotten that from somewhere. I’ll confront the guilty party next time I see her in the mirror.

Babies are needy. I know this. I remember our daughter being that way, but I just didn’t think about what it would be like to have two children need you at the same time. And a teething baby is super needy. Thus, another sigh from me, and spiraling thoughts of negativity and hopelessness.

I know, as a Christian, I’m supposed to exhibit joy. But does that mean I have to plaster a smile on my face and keep my problems to myself? How do I show others I have joy when I feel trapped in a state of discontent, disappointment and discouragement. Sometimes I cringe when Christians are told they’re supposed to be joyful always because I think we take that and distort it and do the mask thing. Then we appear to have no problems and no one wants to talk us because they think our lives are perfect. Where the balance lies, I don’t know.

But I think of Naomi, the mother-in-law in the book of Ruth, who loses her husband and sons to death in a land that is not her home; who returns home with a daughter-in-law who wouldn’t leave her; and when greeted by her old friends says, “Call me Mara (meaning bitter), for the Lord has made life bitter for me.” (Ruth 1:20, NLT) That’s certainly not a testimony of God’s faithfulness. The story doesn’t end there, of course, and I know mine isn’t over either. But I appreciate the example of someone dealing with extreme emotion and expressing it to others.

The funk will pass. I feel better having written about it, as usual. Sometimes just airing it makes the weight of it lighter.

I love my kids. And I’m grateful to be able to take care of them. Someday they won’t need me as much, and maybe I’ll look back on these days with longing. Or maybe I’ll be able to live out these words of God:

“Forget the former things;
do not dwell on the past.

See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the desert
and streams in the wasteland.” (Isaiah 43:18-19)

That’s a word for me, now, too. A new thing. I can hardly wait.

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4 thoughts on “Call me Eeyore

  1. I have found that Joy and Happiness are two separate things. As children of God our joy gets to be constant, firm in the knowledge of His love for us and fostered through an ever growing intimate relationship with him. Happiness, however, is of a different kind. We are told that there is a time for everything, time for happiness and mourning. Time for laughter and sorrow. God is with you in your trials, and in your disappointments and in your long days. And even though you may not feel “happy” throughout them all, don’t let yourself feel guilty, but remember the joy you have in your salvation. God knows we are human and He walks with us. Praying for your day, God Bless!

  2. hey lisa!! i just wanted to send you hugs!! i wish i could give you a real hug right now!! my every day used to be like this. every single day. and i still have days like this every once in a while. you are not alone!

    i know a lot of people would say that you need some time to yourself, to do something fun without the kids so that you can get refreshed & able to handle the craziness of kids when you get back, but i rarely have that luxury–so here’s what works for me:

    whenever i am feeling out of control & overwhelmed with mom stuff, i need to relax and reconnect with each kid. i give them my full attention (or as much as i can manage with the other 2 needing me as well) doing something that they love. wrestling and tickles, or an art project, or running through the sprinkler, or whatever it is that they love–just really focusing on them. doing this almost always softens their hearts towards me if we have been been battling for control–but more importantly it softens my heart towards them. after giving them some extra loving i am almost always able to see things from their point of view a little better. and it reminds me that relationships aren’t all about control–and that it’s nothing personal–2 year olds just don’t allow people to control them sometimes (most of the time??!), they crave that independence.

    i also don’t lower my expectations–i agree that that does sound defeatist–but i *change* my expectations. this has freed me so much, i think. i get up every day before everyone else so that i have time to think about my expectations. i remind myself what 2, 4, and 6 year olds are like, and i try to remember a few things that each one of mine struggle with. i remind myself that there are probably going to be a lot of tantrums and fights and they are probably going to ignore me a bunch. but that my job as a mom is to treat them with love and respect, and to gently encourage them to become more loving and respectful. and to me–this is more important than the groceries, the cleaning, the errands, the book i wanted to read, and whatever else was on my to do list. i feel like a “good” day is when the kids are crazy (because they always are, mine anyway), but i handle them patiently and with empathy. the kids and i all feel closer and more content with each other after a day like that. and when our relationship is better the kids are more likely to do what i ask.

    i know this probably doesn’t work for everyone, but it’s pretty much the only thing that has worked for me. and i screw it up all the time–just a couple minutes ago i got in an argument with lucy about a snack she wanted–just something dumb that i shouldn’t have been yelling about. ugh.

    anyway–i love you a bunch, and i know you are doing a great job with your kids. it’s just really hard work sometimes.

    and i know what you mean about Christians and joy. and i have no answers. i sure do feel like I need to change my name to Mara most days–thanks for the reminder that maybe my story isn’t over either.

    love you,
    val

    • Thanks, Val! What great ideas. Even though I have a 2-year-old, I’m still so new at all this mom stuff. Every stage is different. Thanks for sharing what works for you, and for understanding. That’s the best part, really. Sometimes I guilt myself into thinking I’m a bad mom because of these reactions, and I just need to know that it happens to the best of us and we move on. I love you, too! And we’ll hug again soon!

  3. your writings bring back memories…some good…some not so good! 🙂 I hear the word ‘guilt’ a lot. I had a friend who said once that every mother, after giving birth, should just get ‘GUILT’ stamped on their forehead b/c that’s what they’ll be feeling from now until they die! A little guilt can be healthy but wallow in it & it’s a sure sign that Satan’s feeding it. One thing that I started doing/still try to do before responding is wait & count to 30 or 50 or 100 :). It sometimes helps me to respond better than if I just let my mouth fly. Especially when my kids were toddlers. I would ask them to do something & expect it to happen ‘immediately’. If I waited just 30 seconds they usually did it – I just didn’t give them enough time….

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