Sometimes I reach a point when I feel like I have nothing left to give to my children. I’ve heard “mama” too many times. I’ve responded to so many questions and whines and cries that I feel I cannot bear to respond appropriately one more time. Sometimes I feel stuck because I’ve reached my limit and I know I have to keep going on for another few hours til my husband gets home.
Sometimes I crave nothing more than a quiet moment alone without having to save one of my little ones from harming themselves or making a huge mess. At their age, they just can’t be left alone. At their age, they won’t just play by themselves peacefully. Sometimes I can’t get them down for a nap. Sometimes they skip a nap and are especially cranky and clingy. The great demands wear me out!
When I hit the end of my patience and I feel like I cannot possibly respond kindly to one more whiny word, I pause. I shed a tear to let off the stress if I need to. I listen to myself for a moment. I let my mind think through all the helpless feelings of inadequacy. I hear myself out. I empathize with myself. I tell myself that it’s okay that being a mom doesn’t always come easy. It’s okay that I’m not always feeling like singing songs with them and playing silly games. I’m not always feeling happy. It’s okay.
I tell myself that they won’t always need me this much. The baby won’t always try to eat every spider web. The toddler won’t always need so much feedback and attention from me. The baby won’t always cry when I set him down or leave the room. The toddler won’t always pour water on the carpet or bed. It’s funny really…all the crazy things they do.
Then I pray. I tell God I feel like I can’t go on. I tell God I feel overwhelmed and I ask for His help. He is so loving and patient and forgiving. That is what I’m striving to be. I know He will help me.
My final step is to force myself to do something I enjoy. Maybe I can’t get a moment of quietness alone, but I can fill my needs another way. The last time I reached the end of my rope, I decided to go for a walk. I loaded up the boys in my double stroller and off we went. It refreshed me enough that the rest of our evening went smoothly.
It’s not always the best tactic to just keep pressing onward when I have nothing left to give. That would only set me up to make mistakes. Sometimes I have to stop and take care of myself so I can take care of my kids properly.
When I’m worn down, I can’t decipher what my kids REALLY are asking for. Instead of realizing that my tired toddler senses my stress and needs to be reassured by feeling connected to me, all I hear is that he is being so annoying. All I can see is the behavior and then I start to worry that I’m failing as a mom because he seems so out of control. Sometimes I’m too tired to see a way out. Sometimes I completely forget that a silly game of roughhousing can turn around almost any grumpy mood for my boys. I forget that we’ve been inside all day and they are probably terribly bored. I forget that I haven’t had an adult conversation all day. Sometimes I can’t see their needs clearly or mine because my brain feels overwhelmed.
So I stop. I think. I pray. I let go of my stress by doing something I enjoy. And somehow, I find a little patience left inside me when I thought I had none.