Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Hope for Weary Mamas--My Whys

Recently I shared about a very tiring day I had and apparently struck a note with many other moms out there. The truth is that almost every mom I know is weary at least some of the time. I'm not saying that we're always weary or that we don't love our roles but that the fact of life remains that being a mom is a lot of work and many days we find ourselves quite tired.

In coming days I'm going to be sharing more on the subject but I thought I would begin with sharing some of the whys of my own weariness. This post is not meant to cover every facet of the topic, but be just a glimpse into my own life; after all, a blog is a journal, right?

I mentioned in my last post on this subject that many times books will tell you that weariness is your own fault. It definitely can be! I wrote a post on it a while back. There have been many times in my life when I have taken on more than I should have or have gotten my priorities out of whack.

These four things combined to make things very tough for me a few weeks ago. I feel that these are the main causes of my recent bout of weariness:

*The enormous workload I face as a mama.

Someone said to me a couple of years ago, "Stay at home moms just cook all day. That's why they're all overweight." Rude and untrue, I know! This list is for folks who say things like that!

On an average day I:

Do 3 loads of laundry

Spend 1-2 hours doing dishes

Pray with the kids

Help the kids memorize Scripture

Change outfits on the boys 5 times

Change 7 diapers

Discipline kids with reprimands/consequences 30 times

Load kids in the van to go to one activity (whether park playdate or just running to the post office or bank) and unload them

Sweep the kitchen 3 times

Wipe the table down 3 times

Pick up toys all around the house twice and enforce clean-up

Scrub out the bathroom sink

Dump the potty-chair twice

Oversee boy going potty 6 times a day

Make lunch for my kids and hubby and I (whether re-warming leftovers or making a meal from scratch)

Make supper from scratch

Prepare 6 bottles of formula

Feed baby 5 bottles

Wash out bottles and nipples

Prepare snacks for the kids 4 times

Deal with pee-pee messes, whether from spraying or having an accident or a leaky diaper

Phone calls, mail sorting, bill paying, paper sorting

Fill 10 cups/sippy cups per day or more with drinks for the kids

Read to the kids

Play with the kids outside

Wipe poopy bottoms 4-8 times (what can I say...my kids are regular =)

Clean up 3 meals and 2-3 snack times

Attend a church meeting, watch a movie, go to Bible study, go grocery shopping, or for a family walk (one of these options per evening)

Read/listen to my Bible

Make homemade bread or a dessert

Do a project like raking the yard, cleaning a room, organizing something, etc.

Wash hands 8 times with a washrag

Play with Justus

Cuddle Jerby

Help my hubby get the 3 kids ready for bed

Have a showdown with Ali over nap

Give countless commands and directions to teach and enforce concepts and rules

Kiss 20 ouchies

This is just the stuff I can think of quickly. Life is full and busy! I didn't list the things I consider "fun" like time with hubby, internet time, reading, sewing, etc. Being a mom is a lot of work, and while I do cook a lot, I don't just cook and eat all day! Having an active/curious/strong-willed child is a full-time job. Having a two-year-old who tries to throw fits and makes messes everywhere and has recently been potty-trained is a full-time job! Having a baby who is getting active and social and eating lots is a full-time job! So, technically I juggle at least a couple of full-time jobs! Wow, no wonder I have weary days! And some moms out there are on their own or have double the amount of kids I have, or have to work full-time on top of being a mom and keeping the home as well. I could keep 2 employees busy if I had them at my disposal to work under me!

There are always little things we can adjust in our schedules if we're feeling too pressured but the majority of work and pressures I face are things I absolutely have to do like feed my kids and keep them clean and safe. So, the stuff that is the most relentless is the stuff I really can't give up! I do recognize this is a stage and that in the blink of an eye my kids will all be getting their own drinks and doing more chores, etc.

*Spiritual attack from the enemy.

Recently I shared with you that God brought about some healing/forgiveness in my heart in a difficult relationship. But immediately afterward I felt besieged by the enemy. I realize Christians tend to either think about the devil too much or too little and I'm not going to give my theology of the devil in this post or even describe how one can know he is at work. All I'm going to say is from my training in the Bible on this subject and experiences in the past, I can recognize that he is at work and know sometimes that I am under attack in a stronger-than-usual way. I felt him tempting me constantly to choose anger and bitterness again instead of forgiveness and love. He was bringing up past hurts and irritations at the person and was trying to make me think I was crazy for being so vulnerable. Not only did I feel attacked in this relationship but also in my role and job as a mom. It's interesting that we tend to think missionaries and pastors, teens, former addicts, victims, etc. get attacked more by spiritual forces of evil, but we tend to overlook the fact that moms are in a spiritual battle as well. Sometimes it seems that we think satan doesn't have much to do with us. But he does! He can plant doubts and negative feelings about your role as a mom and try to convince you that it's too hard. He can tempt you to envy others who have lives that look easier from the outside or magnify SELF and throw a pity-party. He can feed your mind/time with good things and distractions so that you neglect the best things. Standing strong in prayer is work and it can be tiring to fight the battle for our mind.

*Physical fatigue from sickness or premenstrual syndrome

Sometimes physical fatigue comes from staying up too late. I'm often guilty of this! Sometimes it comes just from the sheer physical effort it takes to lift and carry kids and chase them around, especially if you are sick or pregnant or dealing with a health issue. Sometimes we try to get sleep and our kids wake up; with 3 kids, if it's not one it's another waking up for various reasons at night! Sleep isn't something we can count on as a mom. I'm getting over a cold right now, which has caused me to be more tired and I've dealt with some horrific neck pain (that is thankfully gone thanks to a new pillow) that has caused me to feel overwhelmed recently. Constant physical pain is really hard for me to deal with. I can only take so much and then I snap. I can chug along for a week or two and then I just lose it and just wish I could die. I'm so thankful I was able to get my neck fixed at the chiro a couple of weeks ago and get a new pillow. (My usual exercises weren't helping since I had a bone that had slipped out of whack and twisted crazily...ick...I know). My experience with neck pain has caused me to have GREAT compassion for those who have physical pain and I feel called to encourage and help them.

Every month I get very, very tired as my hormones fluctuate. It doesn't matter how much I sleep, I have a day or two where I just feel like a zombie. And then a day or two where I feel really intensely irritable with my family. I've done a lot of research and heard someone describe the fluctuating levels of estrogen and progesterone as a war in your body chemically. Ahah! That explains a lot! I always feel overwhelmed by my endless responsibilities on the day when I feel most irritable during the month. I often have depressing thoughts and can cry or meltdown easily. I know this is a chemical thing in my body that makes me more easily prone to respond wrongfully and yet, I also think satan likes to capitalize on these physical patterns as well. Sometimes it's hard to know where one cause ends and another begins. It has been said that satan is attracted to depression like flies to garbage. So, whether it is physical or spiritual or both, PMS can cause weariness.

*And just to clarify, having physical trials like physical pain or PMS doesn't excuse sin. I'm still responsible for what I say and do even if my body chemistry makes me more prone to react.*

*Tough Circumstances

Endless paperwork with medical bills, the small things in life like a broken faucet, a car that won't start, an unexpected bill, etc. Sometimes we go for a good amount of time without having too many repairs or mini-trials and then somedays we will have 5 things hit us at once. We've had a lot of things like that in May. God allows these things in my life to draw me to Him, to remind me of what's important, to teach me to trust, to teach me patience and character, etc. However, it's never fun in the midst of the tough circumstance! Some of these little trials have come up this month demanding our time and money and resources and instead of saying, "Here is an opportunity to have faith and trust" I have allowed myself to grow weary from the load.

These are the whys behind my recent weariness. How about you? What are your buttons that when pushed cause you to be weary?

Coming Post: Hope for Weary Mamas--What Can I Do About It?


Anonymous said...

Your honesty is lovely.

Bless you in your weary season.

Thia said...

I totally agree. There are so many factors.

The Three 22nds said...

I am glad you posted about all the factors. Just this week I finally figured out part of what my problem is.

I have been SO TIRED a lot since I quit breastfeeding (after 5+ years of continual breasfeeding or pregnancy). I was having abnormal periods etc and went to the MD. He said my body was trying to reestablish it's new "normal", and my whole cycle very likely would be different from what it was before. I also had all the lab tests done etc to make sure nothing else was going on.

Anyway, the tiredness and irritability continued and I have been watching it and it always comes about 5-6 days after i ovulate- a whole week before my period! Never in my life have I had symptoms like these. And let me tell you (even though you already know) that if you are already irritable and then you have to make 49 pieces of toast, clean up failed "experiments" and deal with 3 preschoolers all day- well, everything is 10 times worse.

But you are right, I can't just blame that. But I guess I can be AWARE of it, and maybe try to schedule myself some more breaks during that time, hire a babysitter for a few hours away and clue my husband in so he is not left totally hurt and clueless when I loose it over something totally minor.

Really, I just want to be pregnant again so I don't have to deal with these awful symptoms!

Mrs. Jo said...

3 22nds,
Before I edited and tried to shorten this enormous post I actually wrote that my hubby and I have noticed that when I'm preggo, I'm way more even-keeled. Opposite of the stereotype, I know! But every single month that I'm not preggo, we have a disagreement or I get upset with him over something and it's always during that hormonal time. Mine is worse after 3 kids too and the demands from the kids probably add to the symptoms, like you said. Mine is always 5-10 days after ovulation too!

The Three 22nds said...


I am so glad to hear that! Well, not that you suffer from it too, but that I am not crazy.

I never understood PMS and never had it before kids. And I never realized that it could vary so much as to when it affected you.

Honestly, I love being pregnant. I usually really feel good, and breastfeeding seemed to really keep the irritabilizm at bay too!

I totally snapped at my husband yesterday over something so small...I am sure he was thinking, "who is this crazy woman?" And the thing is I know I am being ridiculous but I can't shake myself from the funk. It does give me more empathy for my kids though if they "get up on the wrong side of the bed".

Anonymous said...

You all are stretched way too thin. So much responsibility 24/7 365 days a year. Your man has the easier road, quite frankly. This is why I get ircked when you mention how your duty is to make your husband's life easier.

ps I am annonymous, but I am not the devil, as far as I know. I do value good over evil. :-)

Lesley said...

I totally agree with you and the people who commented.
I never even knew what PMS felt like until after I had kids too. It's way worse now. I'm still breastfeeding but I feel like there's a hormonal battle going on inside of my body too! Ahhh, the joys of being a woman.

I would say more but I think I'm too weary... :)

Looking forward to your next post on this topic! :)

Lesley said...

I just wanted to re-phrase something I said in my last comment. I said I agree with everyone who commented except I wanted to add that I respectfully disagree with that last comment by the anonymous person.

Absolutely no offense is intended toward that person but I don't think they understand what you were trying to get across in your post or why we mothers/wives do what we do. Our jobs are tough, yes, but raising our children is also a joy. And the reason we seek to bless our husbands and in a way make their lives easier is because that's what God tells us to do. In turn, our husbands do a ton of nice things to bless us, (am I right, ladies? ), help us out with all the work required to keep a home running, and work hard to provide for us. A husband's job may be difficult in different ways and have its own unique set of challenges.

Just some stuff to think about... :)

Mrs. Jo said...

I can see why you would think that it sounds degrading to a woman to bless their husbands because I once had this perspective. I once looked at my mom scrubbing dirty dishes day after day and thought, "I never want this kind of a life!!!" But then I grew up and experienced life in the real world. I came to realize that I was created to nurture and my heart wanted to have children, raise them, and be with them, teaching them and loving them. Suddenly all those dreary chores became a creative outlet. Yes, they aren't always fun or easy, but cultivating a home is an extension of myself and cleaning and organizing and decorating are ways I can be an artist. I am living my dream job, even though there are very weary days!

My husband has the far harder job. He not only provides a living in an economy where jobs are becoming more scarce through literal sweat all day long, but he constantly helps with the kids and takes them for me so I can run errands alone or go have some relaxing quiet time. He puts them to bed and helps me feed the baby and gets their breakfast half the time. We work as a team.

I wouldn't call honoring or blessing my husband a "duty." It's not like something on my chore list like "clean the bathroom." It's a priviledge and a joy and without fail, when I orient my life to bless him, I am blessed more, as Lesley said. It would be a sad kind of marriage if I lived for myself and thought nothing of him or only tried to be nice and kind when it profited me or I got something from it. When you give, you receive. Often my husband spoils me more than I spoil him. And even if he didn't, God blesses me when I show respect to him. I realize some women are in terrible marriages where the man only takes and hurts his family. But the Christian man is to be a servant leader. He is to lead through example and through sacrificial love. It is a much harder role than the woman's I think! Men crave respect and women crave love. A great marriage happens when a woman respects her husband and a man cherishes and adores his wife.

The Three 22nds said...

I think Anon is correct in saying, "you are all stretched way too thin."

I know I am.


And I do it to myself.

You know Mark Driscoll hired his wife a maid and also decided they wouldn't homeschool because it would be too much for her.

I am pretty sure my hubby would hire me a maid too, but I haven't agreed. yet. :)

Anonymous said...

I understand that it is a two-way street for most. But the "submit to your husband" is set up so that if it doesn't work out, it is usually the woman who suffers, that's all.



Lesley said...

I do sometimes wish I had a maid! And a nanny...and a cook...and lots of other people that would work around the house for free. :)

Three 22nds -- I think you're right. There are times I feel stretched too thin but I do it to myself too. I am thankful my husband helps as much as he does, though.

Thia said...

I too am stretched way too thin. I wish we had money to hire a maid or have someone come help with the children. I wish I had money to send them to a school I knew would teach them well, where they'd be safe. Facts are though, we don't nor do many other people. So we do the best we can with what we have. What ultimately matters is if we are being obedient to Christ. Now, before Anon gets all bent, I will say that there have been situations/relationships where submission is not on a healthy level. But for many, it is and Christ would have us take up our cross and sometimes, I think, it's being stretched too thin. There isn't a whole lot I can cut out, I don't have any activities outside my home that I am always running off to. I just think it's this crazy time of life with little kids and so much to do. And the internet is great b/c I know I am not the only one who feels so.

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