Friday's post featured a conversation with a woman named "Amanda" who is the mother of two young children. Today's conversation is with "Judy," also the mother of two daughters. One is going into the first grade and the other is three years old. She and her husband have been married for 13 years. She has been a stay-at-home mom for six years.
What kind of stress have you experienced as a mother raising children?
A better question would be, “What kind of stress have you not experienced?” The answer would be shorter!
The first thing that comes to mind is sleep. I rarely have a night of uninterrupted sleep. Lack of sleep magnifies the little problems in life, which causes more stress in the household.
I think being alone with children for long periods of time is very stressful. No adult interaction, nobody to “back you up” when disciplining, and no one helping when mom is sick! (I once ran fever for 11 days!!) If I’m not careful, I find myself trying to fill up that time with “adult activities” (for example, computer, phone, appointments, shopping) instead of quality time with my kids. The worst stress for me is when my children are sick or hurt. Nothing is worse than that helpless feeling.
In what ways has rearing children been difficult?
Making decisions that will affect my daughters’ futures is difficult. Right now I make decisions that will shape my girls spiritually, physically, emotionally, and academically. We are blessed with a lot of information in this society, but that can be overwhelming. Which school is best for my oldest daughter? Should we spank our three year old or put her in time out? Am I teaching them healthy eating habits? The list can go on and on.
My days sometimes feel like a vicious cycle of monotonous work. I break up the same fight over the same Barbie five times a day. My youngest asks the same question over and over. The same clothes need to be washed every week. This sounds superficial I know, but it really gets to me if I’m having a bad day.
It sounds like you often feel overwhelmed and worn out from the demands of being a mother.
Rearing children is a 24/7 job that never ends! My parents still worry about me and I’m almost 35. I do have to say the overwhelmed, worn-out feelings are less frequent now that my kids are older.
Do these feelings affect you in other areas of your life (your marriage, friendships, etc.)?
Yes, when I'm feeling overwhelmed and worn out, it seems every area of my life is affected. I am not as efficient. Housework starts piling up and the house gets really messy (instead of kind of messy, which is normal!). My outlook is negative; the glass is suddenly half empty. In public I'm more irritated with strangers. Can't they see I'm dealing with two kids? :-) I don't read as much, study the Bible, or exercise like I should when I'm worn out. This may sound weird, but I can't focus on anything as well (i.e., conversations, books, planning the day). My relationship with God is not as close because I'm not 'in the word' and I'm focusing on the negative.
Luckily, my husband is very helpful with the children when time allows. He has been married to me long enough and is smart enough :-) to know how to help me when I'm feeling this way. This came about through communication and being sensitive to each other throughout our marriage (well, mostly! LOL). I know other moms who are not so lucky.
I think friendships have been affected in two ways. First, I tend to 'shut down' when I feel worn out. Checking on friends is one more thing I have to do. (I know it's bad! But you said to be honest!) My behavior puts a barrier between us. Second, these experiences help me choose friends who are real. Obviously, I don't have it all together. I'm suspicious of moms who have it all together because nobody does. My friends let me vent but help me know nicely when I'm complaining too much. They understand what I'm going through.
How has your relationship with God been challenged through this time of life?
*Finding a private time to study and pray is challenging. Even when I find time, I would rather sleep or “veg” in front of the TV than focus on deep thoughts.
*I’ve been humbled. I don’t know ANYTHING! “Einstein said that he could never understand it all.” -James Taylor
*I’m not in control. I have to give it up to Him. That’s hard to do when it affects my kids.
Through personal experiences God has opened my eyes to see that I am a spiritual model for my children. My relationship with God needs to be sincere; my kids will know if it’s not. They will learn to pray, be God’s servants, and study the Bible if I show them. At the same time they will learn materialism, gossip, and legalism if I show them. Scary thought. So I pray God will prepare them for “the good works he has planned for them.”