Friday, June 3, 2016

When it's hard...

Friends, you know I like to keep it real. And I'm going to be honest with you here. I'm sure this is going to come as a real shock to you all. 

Being a mom is hard.
I mean it. It's really hard.

The day in, day out of the job of raising small humans. The never-ending piles of dishes and laundry. The non-stopness of it all. 
And that's not even the crisis times. That's the normal. Some days, it's enough to drive a person to the edge.
And there really is no way out. As a mom, you have to put on your big girl pants and deal with it. Because, well, after all, you are responsible. It's kind of your job. Some people have to stock shelves or work in an office. You, mom, you have to clean the pee off the floor, explain to the short ones for the bazillionth time why it is NOT okay to eat boogers, and manage to convince them all to eat enough real food to actually nourish their growing bodies.
There are certainly perks to the job. Kisses and hugs and macaroni art are great fringe benefits. Bedtime stories and snuggles and belly laughs are pretty good, too.

But, if I'm honest, there are times when I'm just not feeling it

It's not that I don't love my boys. I do. Absolutely. I'd jump in front of a train for and Bruno Mars.

But...there are times when I don't really like my boys. Times that I feel disconnected from one or all of them. Days, weeks, when I just don't understand them. When I don't really want to sit down and hang out with them any more than I absolutely have to. When I feel frustrated and irritated by them more than I enjoy them.

Those times, when I just don't...those times are hard. Harder than the normal hard. Dark.

Maybe I'm on my own here. Perhaps I'm really the only one who ever goes through this kind of phase. I'm going to go out on a limb here, though, and guess that I'm not. I'm going to guess that we all have times when we are struggling to connect with, to enjoy, one or all of our children.

I think this is one of those things that, as moms, we just aren't really allowed to talk about. I think we feel shame. We feel guilt. We feel inadequate. We feel...alone.

As moms, we are supposed to think our kids are amazing! All the time! We can't wait to spend more time with them! They are our best buds in the WHOLE! WIDE! WORLD! And if we don't have that kind of relationship with them, well, what kind of mother are we? If your experience is anything like mine, you're reminded of this at least once a week when some (probably well-meaning) woman approaches you and reminds you that "they grow up too fast," that "one day you'll miss this," or that "the days are long but the years are short." Thank you, lady, for that mountain of manure guilt you just piled on top of my already difficult day. Thank you, ma'am, for making me feel like an even worse mother because I was currently not savoring every moment as my child disobeyed me for the umpteenth time today.

I'm here to say that we are fine. We are normal. I am fine. I am normal.

But I also need to be proactive.

I need to work on my attitude in these darker moments of parenting.

It's so easy for me, when I am frustrated with a person, to focus my attention on all the negative parts of his* personality. Every little thing becomes an annoyance. Even things that would otherwise be endearing grate on my nerves. I could so easily compose a funny little blog post about each kid (or the hubs) and his idiosyncrasies, playing it off as "cute" or "funny." Saying how much I "love" the little bugger. All the while, though, my heart would be ugly. I would be focusing on the negativity, the irritation. Not on the lovely. Not where my attention should be focused.

"Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable -- if anything is excellent or praiseworthy -- think about such things." Philippians 4:8

So, here I am in the midst of one of those ugly times, finding it so hard to enjoy my boys. Struggling to savor the moments. And I'm challenged to change my heart attitude. I am not going to passively wait for it to pass, as I know it will.

I am challenging myself to celebrate my boys. Each one of them.

So over the next few days or weeks or months (let's be realistic here), I am going to write a post about each of the Wild Things. With nothing but the lovely, the noble, excellent, and praiseworthy about him. Because everyone deserves to be celebrated now and again. 

It's important to put it specifically into words. And it's important for them to know that they are being praised publicly. Because, let's face it, there are plenty of times they are shamed in the middle of the grocery store for the whole world to hear.

So you'll have to bear with me as I brag on my children for the next few posts.

My hope is that I can encourage you if you have struggled with this at times, too. You are not alone. It doesn't make you a bad mom. 

And, even in the midst of the darkness, you can find lovely things to actively celebrate in each of your children. 

Maybe you'll even join me in writing some public celebrations of who your kiddos are.
Mine are pretty cute.

*Grammar Nerd Alert! I am using the word "his" very purposefully here and for multiple reasons. One, I have no problem with the masculine singular being used in a gender-neutral sense, despite the fact that it is going out of fashion. I'm just old school, I guess, and lots of other languages have the same thing going on. Two, most of the folks I focus my negative energy on just happen to be boys: 1 grown up one and 3 small fries. Outside of that small circle, I'm not so mean.

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