This post and several others will feature conversations with two mothers of young children. These two mothers, "Amanda" and "Judy," describe some of the challenges of being a mother. They also speak about the impact of this stressful time of life on their faith.
This first post features "Amanda." She has been married for sixteen years and is the mother of two young girls, ages ten and eight.
What kind of stress have you experienced as a mother raising children?
Being a mother can be stressful. There are many different things that are difficult about it. The day-to-day routine can be daunting for those of us who like to see the finished product. That -- the repetitive nature of parenting -- was one of the hardest things for me to get used to. I had just quit a job that required things to be done on a deadline. I was used to working hard for a goal and then enjoying the completion of that task. That is not the way raising children works!
In what ways has rearing children been difficult?
I had to learn that children are not tasks to be completed. When they don’t do what you expect, you don’t get fired or demoted (though there are some days you wish that were the case). This is embarrassing to admit, but there have been many times when I have thought, “Aren’t we past that? Didn’t we conquer that problem already?” etc. This attitude has caused feelings of disappointment for me and a sense of inadequacy in my children. Well, to be honest, feelings of inadequacy for me, also.
It sounds like you often feel overwhelmed and worn out from the demands of being a mother.
I’m sure my stress as a parent in five years (with two teenagers – GULP) will be different than it is now, just as it was different five years ago. That, in itself, is a difficulty in parenting. It is ever changing, evolving. Sometimes it feels like two steps forward, one step back.
The hardest time I have had so far in parenting was when I had a 22-month-old and a new baby with colic. For five to six months I got no sleep, my husband and I had no time to ourselves, and I felt very overwhelmed. I hate to admit that, but I know someone reading this probably feels this way now. I could have handled it better than I did. I took on a martyr-like attitude. You know “I can get through this – grit my teeth, and I can take anything.” I had trouble admitting how difficult it was and asking for help.
How has your relationship with God been challenged through this time of life?
I finally realized I couldn’t do it on my own. (As my 8-year-old would say, “Duh!”) A ladies class study of Bill Hybel’s Too Busy Not To Pray was instrumental in this realization. When I actually prayed for relief, instead of relying on myself so much, the difference in my attitude was amazing. The baby still had colic, the 2-year-old still had demands, and I was still exhausted; but, I had God in my corner!
I was no longer as concerned about what people thought about me as a parent and more willing to let them help me parent. I asked people at church to baby-sit for a couple of hours, I asked advice from people who had raised their children already, and I started acting like I actually believed Philippians 4:13 – I can do all things THROUGH HIM WHO GIVES ME STRENGTH! This scripture took on greater meaning, and through many difficult times in my life I have reminded myself of this simple yet profound truth.