Tuesday, April 17, 2012

A Mother's Secret Ballad

I'm tired. I'm so tired even when I'm not. I'm tired of being inadequate. Everywhere I turn I am failing something. If I am on top of the homework and school projects, I am neglecting properly brushing their teeth consistently every night. Perhaps I am keeping my tongue better and not yelling, but I haven't made music lessons a priority. My children don't listen the first time they are told to do something. I am letting bad attitudes slip by without addressing them. Thing One's spelling is atrocious. I need speech therapy for Thing Three. I need to find the telephone number to the lady who did Thing One's last assessment, because I haven't received a call back for his next autism assessment. The floor hasn't been swept all week, and the children aren't being diligent with their chores. My kids aren't memorizing Bible scripture or learning instruments. They have to be threatened with punishment to apologize. The back door has fingerprints on it. I haven't shaved my legs since Saturday and I ran only once in the last 3 months or so. We haven't eaten any veggies today. My son has three more pages of homework that will take 3 hours to get through with him. The ironing pile is really, really big. The mending is waiting, too. My seedlings in the garden are almost all dead. I can't grow plants to save my life. The car is often shamefully in need of a vacuum, and the leftovers in the fridge started to qualify as a form of life two weeks ago. The sheets need to be changed, again, even though I just changed them two days ago.

Getting the picture? It all boils down to one word: Guilt. As a mom, we know intellectually that we can't do it all, but we still only see the things that are slipping through the cracks. Everyone has expectations of us. Our spouses, children, our child's teacher, our spiritual beliefs, the dentist, our parents.. the list goes on and on. We simply can't fulfill all expectations that are placed on us by others and ourselves. Life overwhelms at times, but we must simply take a breath, clean up the accidents, and go back to folding the laundry.

 Hopefully during those times we can remember that we are the ones who teach our children how to smile. A hug, a quiet story time, is worth the piles of laundry that won't make it in the drawers tonight. We are not alone. Every mom faces her own Mount Everest, and they take many forms. The slopes are steep, but we won't prevail unless we keep taking those small steps up. There is no summit, no completion, no moment in this life where we can look down and sigh, seeing that all is finished. What matters is not the destination, but the things we learn along the way; the summits of each of our mountains are not in having an empty to-do list, but in mastering ourselves. Don't forget to stop, look up from the snow, and look back on what you have accomplished. In looking only down at the next step, we forget to enjoy the scenery. Have you ever taken a moment to reflect and been surprised at how much progress has been made? Without those moments, we would lose the motivation to continue slogging ahead.

So remember: You are making progress. You may not be where you want. I don't think any of us ever will be where we want to be in our lives, otherwise we would stop improving. Keep pushing, we are there right alongside you. Have realistic expectations for yourself and your family. The long-term rewards come not from always having a perfect house, but from having happy and healthy children with Godly character. Make that your first priority.

Happy climbing!