stress

What Snow Patrol and Phil Collins reminded me.

We're less than 24 hrs away from getting off of this moving roller coaster ride. But last night, as I was driving the kids home from their AWANA awards ceremony (which we used to live just directly across the street from...it was surreal to drive 35 mins.north after being so used to such a ridiculously short drive) the stress of tying up loose ends and the emotional parts of taking those final things out of your first home overwhelmed me once again. As the tears began to flow, I was filled with both thankfulness and hate. Thankfulness because of how God has done all of the moving in this process...beginning to finish. And hate, because as I look back, I'm slightly embarrassed at how I've handled these past three months.

As stress has compounded over each new card that's been dealt to us, I've found that my faith is a lot weaker than I thought. My patience a lot more thin, sometimes it resembled tissue paper. And my plate was piled higher than I could manage to carry efficiently.

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I'm a notorious station flipper while driving. I'm so picky about what I listen to and I will flip, flip, flip through until something catches my attention. I stumbled upon a familiar melody but I couldn't quite catch what song it was until about 10 seconds in. It was a Snow Patrol song from about 10 years ago. One of my favorites. Coming from one of my favorite albums while in college. Snow Patrol is like catching up with an old friend. And as I was listening, I automatically think back to a time when I really thought my life was stressful. I thought that 18 credit hours, marching band, having no money, keeping up with a long distance relationship, and being in spiritual leadership was too much sometimes. I thought paper writing, keeping up friends and staying up late working on a group project was a lot.

But in comparison to now, well, there really isn't any grounds for comparison. What I thought was stressful as an older teen/early twenty-something really was just a lot of circus-like juggling. It was leisure and deadlines and staying up wayyyy too late and waking up early. Sure, some aspects of college can be overwhelming, but I was understandably naive about what real adulthood held. And I took this time for granted. And I thank God and Snow Patrol for the reminder last night.

Coincidentally, immediately after Snow Patrol, one of my favorite songs from childhood came on sung by the notorious Phil Collins. I still love Phil Collins. His music is timeless and almost every song reminds me of the time when I was almost completely innocent. In fact, when I hear anything Phil Collins, I think of those times when my dad would have the garage up and his songs would be blaring through that ugly giant brown radio he had. I would ride my bike up and down our gravel driveway and swing on our metal swingset at dusk with corn fields all around.

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That time too, I took for granted. I've always been the type that looked forward to the next thing, the next stage, the next birthday. I wanted to grow up so badly...so quickly. I wanted to be an adult and stay up late and make my own rules and have my own house.

Never fully satisfied with whatever stage of life I'm in, I constantly look forward to the next thing...the next event on the calendar, the next time I get to _________ [fill-in-the-blank].

So I regret. I regret the time I wasted looking ahead when I should've been savoring the now. Even now, I regret the many consecutive days these past few months I spent allowing this process consume my heart, my attitude, my thoughts, my emotions. I regret it all. Because now, 3 months later I am left with a version of myself that I do not like. A battered and bruised, exhausted and drained type of me.

I'm thankful for the reminder the radio gave me last night. That whatever season of life you're presently living through, that you be all there. That even through the stress and trials, you don't lose focus on what He (God) has for you in this time. That you would be so taken with Him that you have no reason to look within yourself. To miss yourself entirely would be ideal because once we begin to look at ourselves, selfishness, pity, and possibly depression may come in the midst of these times of trouble.

Lesson learned. Next time, I hope I pass.

Love, Alicia

I [dont] want to be a mom.

Those days. Sometimes they run consecutively. Sometimes they're sprinkled in the midst of the joyful, fun days. Sometimes they stay a while and wear out their "unwelcome". The days I [don't] want to be a mom.

I bracket the "don't" because on these days, two parts of me battle within....one part is begging and pleading in surrender and the other part doesn't want anyone else to step in and steer the ship because that's my job. It's only my job.

The days I [don't] want to be a mom are filled with frustration, depression, anxiety, and most of these days are coupled with "no playing outside" weather. (Although, not always the case)

The days I [don't] want to be a mom are filled with envy. Envy towards the jogger on the sidewalk, envy towards the moms who get dressed pretty each morning and get a break from their houses and kids and head off to work. The envy is towards my husband as he backs out of the driveway waving and smiling, with an undetermined amount of time away from home {what I sometimes consider "my personal prison"}. I envy the solo drivers I pass while taking my 12 passenger van to the store for butter or milk.

I envy the moms who have time for weekend getaways and who get regular dates with their husbands. I envy my 20 year old self and how I took for granted not being followed to the bathroom, being my sole responsibility, and the hardest choice I had all day was if I was going to eat in the cafeteria or take my lunch back to my dorm room.

These days are filled with feeling like a failure, a recluse, a non-virtuous example of what I'm supposed to be.

On these days, I keep quiet, not to burden another soul with my self-pity and inward loathing. I picture a better time, long ago, when mothers had help {and it was the norm} and mothering was exactly what it should be. The nasty competitiveness and comparability was missing from everyday interactions, unlike how it is today.

I often think about how back in easier times, everyone was a stay-at-home-mom, young and old, and there was a community, a team, an interweaving of encouragement and ideas. Child-rearing was done simply and a mother wasn't the only source of care and wisdom that a child received. There were grandmothers, aunts, cousins, grandfathers, and fathers that usually worked from home. I wish life was that simple and beautiful again. A time I never experienced but long for nonetheless.

I wish some days, I wasn't everything. On these days, I rethink everything: homeschooling, breast-feeding, child-training, faith-instilling, cloth diapering, etc. I want to dump everything off my plate, into the trash, and just do the bare minimum.

if only I didn't care so much

On the days I [don't] want to be a mom, I become bitter towards and resentful of the help I don't receive. I think that while I am busy thinking of everyone else and everything in this prison cell, no one returns a thought for me.

But then I hear His whisper. He speaks with a love I cannot rightly fathom. And if my head isn't too clouded to hear Him, I am gently reminded that this is where He has put me: in this exact place with these exact children that He saved just for me to mother. He reminds me that He allowed me to be a mother in this era of time (the most difficult time in history to be a mother) because it's part of His great masterpiece. He understands and knows that I am lonely, burdened, and hopelessly flawed.

"nothing you do goes unseen"

While the life we have been called to will never be easy, [it's not supposed to be], I pray that we will "encourage one another, build each other up" (I thess. 5:11). And bare each other's burdens in love. We may not have a network of helpers that we can share some of the mothering load with, but I encourage you to go to a fellow mom friend and take her kids once a week so she can take off her mom hat for a bit. We must be there for one another, and stop being combative, sensitive, and competitive....especially on the days we [don't] want to be a mom.

-Alicia