I Don’t Want to be in the Trenches Today

trenchesofmotherhood

It was early on Saturday morning and I was already in a foul mood.  I had been coughed, sneezed, and snotted on too many times to count by 8am.  There is just something about wiping someone else’s mucus off of your face that will cause you to get up on the wrong side of the bed.

Not today.  I don’t want to be in the trenches of motherhood today.  I don’t want to be so heavily needed.

It’s not that I didn’t want to spend the day with my kids – I did.  I just wanted them to wipe their own butts, blow their own noses, properly brush their own teeth, cook their own meals, clean up after themselves, and use their inside voices.  And for the love of organization, I wanted them to just pick one or two toys out at a time rather than dump four bins and decide that they have nothing to play with!  I didn’t want to become the broken record that I am by the end of each day by repeating, “Be gentle.  Be careful.  Be kind.”

After a long week of working mommy, today was stay-at-home-mommy day.  I was girding my loins for a full day in the trenches when I felt so ill-equipped to be leading my troops.  My husband had a ten hour shift and the kids and all of my neglected housework from the week lay before me.  I just didn’t want to do any of it.

Before my husband left for work he could already sense my poor attitude.  I had raised my voice to one of the kids over something that really didn’t necessitate a raised voice.  He called me out on it.  While I knew he was right, I was less-than-thrilled that my weaknesses were being pointed out right in the middle of me displaying said weakness.  I accepted the accountability, but I did give him an icy stare-down for about 30 seconds.

My husband also pointed out that this was my day off and I look forward to stay-at-home-mommy day all week.  That’s when my thoughts overtook me.  Shouldn’t I be thrilled?  Don’t I know how blessed I am?  Aren’t there so many couples who would trade places with me in a minute?  Am I a horrible mother?  The thing is, recognizing how blessed I am only made me feel worse because I couldn’t seem to legitimize my feelings.

Then, as if on cue, Satan made sure that guilt (who he always has on-call) came to keep me company.

I finished my coffee with guilt, grabbed some lunch with guilt (and I severely burnt my tongue), and started the laundry with guilt.

Then something happened.

My oldest son went to spend some time with his grandparents and it was just me and my youngest who was fighting a nasty cough.  My little one coughed so hard that he threw up all over the living room.  Then he just stood there looking at me with his big, blue eyes saying “Mommy, mommy, help me!”

I was the only one who could comfort him and clean him up and assure him that it was okay and he would be fine.  He needed me and in that moment I was so glad that I could meet those needs.

When I got him situated, I suddenly felt like I was walking around without one of my limbs.  I realized that I missed my oldest son terribly and he had only been gone for a whopping ten minutes.  It turns out that I wanted to be needed after all.

I stopped what I was doing and prayed.  I begged God for forgiveness and prayed that He would give me strength and a change in my attitude.  I can’t do this parenting thing on my own.  The trenches can be downright suffocating and I’m truly not equipped to deal with all of these responsibilities every day.  But He is – God is the only one who can give me the ability to deal with life.  Not only that, but my feelings are legitimate to God.  He wants me to pour out my heart to Him rather than keep everything so bottled up that I fantasize about running away (I would never do that, but you know what I mean…maybe just a few hours alone in a bookstore).

I had to continue praying to get through all of my duties for the remainder of the day.  That and the four peanut butter melt-away Easter eggs that I may or may not have eaten seemed to do the trick.  I had a renewed sense of energy to tackle my housework and care for my sick son.  By the end of the day, my precious toddler was feeling better and he asked me to dance with him when he heard his favorite song in a movie.  We danced and twirled ourselves into a fit of laughter and it was amazing.

Not every day ends on a high note and not every day feels like I am deep within the trenches.  But, at this time in my life there are enough of those brutal days that can leave me feeling pretty discouraged if I let them.  I’m just going to refuse to let the hard times get me down.  This is far from my last rough day as a mother, but because I have Christ by my side for eternity I know that I will never be left to handle it on my own.

 

 

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I Just Want to Go to the Bathroom Alone

I am incredibly grateful for the fact that all of my needs and the needs of my family are met – roof over our heads, clothes in our closets, and food on our table. We can pay our bills and while we might not have much left over for material indulgences, I can’t really think of much that I actually want on top of what I already have been given.  I don’t take this for granted and I thank the Lord for these realizations every day. But, there is this one thing that I want more than anything else.

I just want to go to the bathroom alone.

I’m not trying to be gross or inappropriate, but being able to sit down and take care of your business by yourself is one of the simplest life pleasures.   And it is a simple life pleasure that has eluded me for the past four years.

I have always had bathroom issues. Case in point, my high school class once took a train from Pennsylvania to Florida and back for our senior trip. I had to be drugged with Dramamine so that I could relax enough to use the bathroom on the train.   I kept thinking, ‘What if the door jiggles open? What if it didn’t lock? What if someone bursts in to see me?’

Then I became a mother and all of these things happen every single time I try to go to the bathroom.

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It started out innocently enough – put the baby in the infant seat right in front of the toilet. They aren’t going to go anywhere and they won’t remember what’s going on. Soon I found myself multitasking in every facet of my life and the bathroom was no exception.  Let’s face it, nursing while pooping is weird, but sometimes necessary.   I felt weird about it with one kid, then when I added the second kid, I would be nursing, going to the bathroom, and trying to stop the other kid from dumping (pun intended) Q-tips and cotton balls all over the floor.

Once the nursing stopped, I still didn’t find myself with bathroom privacy. Now they will just storm in and verbally ask for things.

“Can I have a snack? Can you get me a snack?”

Ummm. How do you suggest I get you a snack? I am otherwise occupied and pretzels are going to have to wait for a few minutes.

This is when I hear the kitchen chair being dragged across the floor so that my kid can climb up and get the pretzels himself. Heaven forbid we have to exercise any patience in this home.

Even worse, the minute I sit down on the throne the kids begin to fight. Not just little fights, but they start to scream and push each other and come way too close to the edge of the stairs. Pull up your pants and get out there to break up Friday Night Fights, Mama!

The kids don’t seem to realize that they need me for anything or want to be by my side until I feel that nature is calling. They will knock, but despite this polite gesture, they do not heed my instruction to wait outside of the bathroom until I have finished. First I spy little hands reaching under the door. Shortly after that they will just bust down the door and come in to see what I’m doing. What do you think is going on in here?

Lately, my youngest one comes into the bathroom and wants to sit on my lab while he enjoys a lollipop. Is this real life? Should we have a conversation or just sit here in silence and pretend that this isn’t incredibly awkward? Why don’t we open the window blinds and invite the neighbors to this bathroom pow-wow? Sometimes he will bring a book with him and we will read for a little bit. So you’re telling me that you won’t sit still long enough for me to read to you in the living room on the recliner, but when I’m sitting half-nude on the toilet reading suddenly seems like a good idea?  Ironically, he often chooses the book ‘Everyone Poops’ for me to read.

I could shadoobie at work, but there might as well be a revolving door on that bathroom. It is Grand Central Station in there – not exactly ideal for such a private act. So I hold it in all day, take care of everything I could possibly take care of at home, then at 9pm it hits me that I still haven’t had a bowel movement and it’s probably why I have been so miserable for the last 4 hours. By now everything is practically impacted and even though the kids are in bed and I can use the bathroom alone, it is a less-than-pleasant experience. Good luck passing Stonehenge!

Honestly, all I want to do is wake up and take care of business first thing in the morning. If things work out this way, I will literally skip from my car into the office because I will be in such a great mood. It just never works out that way. The life of a mother means that you are endlessly side-tracked from morning till night. So, if you have to go badly enough, you just adopt the open door policy and roll with it.

In a few years, the kids will realize that it’s not cool to barge in on someone in the bathroom because they will want their privacy in there as well. When that day comes I will rejoice and reclaim this precious alone time.

At the end of the day, if using the bathroom alone is all I really want then there is no room for complaints.

When We Uplift a Man

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We had just settled into our booth and ordered our food when I looked over and saw the sign on the wall. As part of the restaurant’s decor was a sign that belittled a man. I wish I could remember exactly what it said but it was something along the lines of ‘I’m just a helpless man who can’t do anything without my wife.’ Meant as something humorous, I asked my husband what he thought of it. He explained that he sees stuff like that every day, but only about men.

This incident happened a while ago, but ever since then I have tried to be more attuned to advertisements and general things in the media that portray men as helpless. The amount of things I have noticed has been astounding. The popular TV show that has a leading man who can’t accomplish anything or be trusted to watch his kids without his wife swooping in to save the day. The commercials that show an overweight man stuffing his face on his recliner while binge watching TV all weekend. The greeting cards that poke fun at a man’s inability to share his feelings. The local morning radio show that has a segment entitled ‘Help me, I’m a husband.’

Conversely, there are many TV shows that portray strong and successful women – whether they work or stay at home. There are plenty of commercials that show all that moms accomplish. You would never see a Valentine’s card from a woman to her husband that said, “I know I’ve let myself go and I can barely keep the house clean, but thanks for loving me anyway.” The media – local or otherwise – would never dare to poke fun at a woman’s inability to do anything.

Yet, when we belittle a man it’s all in the name of good fun.  Why?

Not only does this bother me for my husband’s sake, but it bothers me for my sons, as well. This has been going on for years and I have become immune to it, which leads me to believe that others have, too.

There are plenty of good men out there. There are millions of wonderful husbands and fathers who don’t get nearly enough credit for all that they do. My husband is one of them.

When I think about the sacrifices that my husband has made for our family, it’s overwhelming. He has put his career on hold to stay home during the day with our children. Do I think this is easy for him? Not at all, but he does it willingly and lovingly.  He loads both kids up and takes them grocery shopping. He takes them to play dates even when he knows that he will be the only man there. Then after a long day at home, he heads out the door and goes to work to further support his family. He is an amazing dad and I tell my kids this every chance I get. I also tell my husband that he is amazing, but I’m sure that I don’t do it nearly enough.

The last thing I want is for my husband to be viewed as some fumbling, bumbling idiot who doesn’t know how to do anything. That image couldn’t be further from the truth. He can fix seemingly everything, he can cook, he can change diapers at warp speed, and he can wrap me up in the best hugs. He’s committed to raising our children in a godly manner and he treats me with nothing but love and respect. He deserves to be praised, not mocked.

I want to conscientiously uplift my husband. I want to build him up and encourage him. I want him to know that he is loved and needed. I want him to know that his work is not in vain and we recognize and appreciate all that he does.

Regardless of how our culture might portray men, I am so thankful that my sons have their Dad to show them the way. He is the best example of all that a husband and father can do.  No matter what life throws at him, he stays positive; he knows what it takes to get back up after being knocked down.

I am hoping that our societal perception of men can turn around. This recent Dove commercial tells me that someone gets it.  I wonder what kind of a difference it might make if we built up the wonderful men around us and encouraged them as husbands and fathers.  What if it enabled the next generation to step up to the plate and follow in their footsteps? Let’s see what positive things can happen in our culture when we uplift a man.

 

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