I think that a fish bowl is an accurate depiction of mothers and wives. How often do we feel like we are being run in circles, repeating the same pattern over and over without any way to get free? How often do we feel like we are being watched and judged (judged on not only ourselves, but our house, or kid’s attitudes, etc.)? Sadly, I think a lot of that judgment comes from ourselves.
Allow me a moment to be a wife and a mother (even if you don’t, well I’m sorry, buddy – too late to escape that now). I am tired. I am stressed most of the time, and sometimes all I really want is for someone to help me. But, I can’t ask for help because, well, I’m Mom. I do the helping. It’s my job. 97% of the time I want that help to come from my husband. I want him to stop what he’s doing (especially when he’s doing nothing, because, HELLO) and come help me with whatever I am doing. Of course, I don’t ask him that. Where would be the complexity in that; I mean fun, where would be the fun in that? I expect him to know what I want without me ever having to say it. When he doesn’t, I rightly assume (nothing bad ever comes from doing that, right??) that he doesn’t love me enough to help me with anything. And I mean anything. So, out of necessity (or spite…….potato, potato) I up the ante on my supermom activities and perfecting the art of housewifery.
Notice that I said housewife(ry) and not wife. The importance there is that I want my house and things in my house to appear as perfection, so my time goes into the cleaning, the cooking, the organizing and not so much on being a great wife to my husband. I keep myself so preoccupied with getting my preschooler to school on time every morning (okay, so the on time thing is a bit of a stretch, but I get her there. There’s something in that, right?) , being the primary caretaker of my toddler, still going to work (with said toddler), being in charge of the discipline and appearance of the kids, the housework, the perfect Facebook photos (you know – all the important stuff so that everyone can see how much I am nailing this motherhood thing).Written out like that, it can seem like a lot of stuff. But really, it’s not all that much. It is when every single time your child takes out a toy and walks away from it, you are behind them picking up the mess. It doesn’t even matter that as soon as your child notices that you are putting away their mess all they want to do is make that exact same mess again. That makes my days feel a lot more tiring and monotonous than they really are.
Also what it does is make me want to spend the first half of every day counting down the minutes (hours are for amateurs, folks) until nap time so that I can do whatever I want. The second half of my day is spent counting down the seconds (yeah…..It gets harder as the day goes on) until bedtime so that mommy can do her own thing. Because I am trying to mold myself into this perfect idea of the perfect wife/mother combo (well, really, I’m just trying to mold myself into the appearance of one) I am feeling stressed, tired and overworked. Meaning that any little thing that happens (i.e. a little of my 20 oz morning coffee spilling over the lid LEAVING ONLY 19.89 oz! C’MON!) it feels like the world has begun closing in on itself. Okay, that may be a bit of an exaggeration, but you get me.
This morning as the coffee spilled over the lid (let’s be real here, this happens every single morning because every single morning I put as much coffee as I possibly can into my to-go cup and expect a different result) I grumbled, “Why does everything have to be so hard all the time (again, let’s be real here; I say this pretty much every day)??” And in the most clear and lovingly rebuking voice I heard, “It doesn’t. It never did.”
When my kids are finally asleep I am almost giddy because I get that time to myself. You know what I do? Nothing of value or importance. I watch fictional fluff by way of my favorite TV show or movie while browsing the internet – no, really, my computer is up for the duration that the TV is on and even after it’s off. Or I pour myself into a fluffy fictional book. I want to be clear: Having time to yourself and for yourself is 100% NECESSARY to survival. If you haven’t noticed, motherhood is a jungle – a scary jungle. I don’t mean to make it seem like it’s wrong to desperately want that time, because it isn’t. But I intentionally choose to do things that won’t cause me to look too closely at what I am doing or how I’m behaving; choosing to do things that won’t convict or correct me. I know, perfect moms and wives don’t need conviction or correction because they. Are. Perfect. I, however, do need conviction and correction.
As I heard that loving rebuke (yeah, I know, that was a while ago; I’m long winded) I was hit with the realization that my husband isn’t the one that knows what I need without telling him. My husband isn’t the one that is willing to do whatever, wherever and whenever to help because he simply can’t. Jesus can, though; He wants to. And how much time in a day do I spare for Him? Not a whole lot. Translation: if it’s not church day, and if no one is asking my advice, I sort of avoid Him.
I think about reading my Bible and I think about praying, but I don’t follow through. I am terrified to look too closely at myself. I am terrified that what I am going to find is a poor mother and an even worse wife. I am choosing to ignore anything that can help me (when that’s all I really want) out of fear. Yes, it would be easy to blame the devil, and honestly, I do more often than not (verbally – my heart and my mind know the truth). The fact of the matter is, though, it is by my choice. MINE. The devil doesn’t control me and he certainly doesn’t own me or have any claim to me. So, I am making it hard on myself. I am choosing the hard path. And for what? So that I can say how hard I work? So the world can tell me what a great job I’m doing?
I won’t deny that there are other issues at work here. That there are things I need from my husband that I just don’t get from him (and that is the fault of both of us – not just me). That I have hurts that are buried too deep for me to remember and I am allowing them to fester and shape my behavior. I won’t deny those things. I also won’t deny that I know how to get it fixed. That I know where to get unending and unconditional help, and yet I deny myself that. So I just want to encourage you mothers and wives. It doesn’t have to be so hard. It never did. Look up. Let Him guide you and hold you.
It will make things SO. Much. Easier.