I sit here, looking at a blank screen, and I wonder what to type. What do I write when words fail me? When I can't get my thoughts into order, and they scatter like dandelion fluff on a windy day?
I am exhausted. Our family just went through a week of illness, and it was stressful. It's not over, either. Family member #7 of the 9 just came down with it today.
Also, even though I have been doing the baby thing for almost 18 years, Kelly is my most needy baby to date. She uses me and only me as a pacifier. She doesn't have a favorite blankie. She won't take a paci. She doesn't sleep.(Like, ever. No naps during the day, and she wakes multiple times at night.) On top of nursing her around the clock, I am also homeschooling five children, trying to keep my house in order, cooking meals for nine people, trying to get a piano academy up and running, and being a pastor's wife. My life is a whirlwind of craziness, and sometimes I just want to crawl into bed and pull the covers over my head!
I finally just got Kelly to sleep, and I have a blessed few hours where the house is silent and still. I want to write, I need to write, but sometimes the words fail me.
I want to be an encouragement to other moms, but how do I do that when I feel overwhelmed myself?
As I sit here looking at my screen, I think to myself, "What do I need to hear right now?" So. I am going to write to myself what I need to hear right now. If it helps someone else, great.
1. You are enough. Your children only have one mother, and that's you. No one is better suited for this job than you. Sure, Karen might look like she has it all together, but she doesn't. Anyone who pretends they have their life all together are lying to themselves and lying to everyone else.
2. When you don't have the words to explain to God how you feel, he gets it. He doesn't need you to articulate why you feel the way you feel. He sees your heart; he knows your thoughts. He understands. Even if you don't know the words to say, just ask for help. When I have a really bad day, the verse above continually runs through my head. Sometimes I will just say, over and over... "Lead me to the Rock. Lead me to the Rock."
3. This is just a season. If it's a season of grief, joy will come. If it's a season of stress, peace will come. If it's a season of anxiety, the storm will pass. You will go through seasons of refreshment. You will go through dry seasons. You will go through happy seasons, sad seasons, and slow seasons. Just remember. This too shall pass. It will. It might take a while, but it will pass.
4. Sometimes God is the only one who really can understand. Your husband won't get it. Your best friend won't get it. Your family won't get it. The only one who will really see your heart and understand your pain is the one who sees all and knows all. He will comfort you like no earthly acquaintance can. Listen to the Bible. Read his Word. He will speak to the depths of your soul. His words will be like a refreshing rain to the parched places of your heart. He will bring healing.
5. Take a nap. I am serious. I am talking to myself. Just go take a nap, Cassandra. (I need sleep so badly, and I haven't had any in a year and a half.) Don't feel guilty if you need to take an hour or two each afternoon and take a nap. You need it. Desperately.
6. Vent to someone. Even if you feel selfish, (you're not) tell someone how you feel. It's not healthy to hold it all bottled up inside. Better to tell someone what you are feeling, than to explode on someone later.
7. Show yourself some grace. Yeah, you are a perfectionist. Get over it. So the house is messy most of the time. Oh, well. You have a fussy baby who won't be a baby forever. You are six months late in sending a thank you note. Oh, well. Send it anyway. If it's a mom you are sending it to, she will understand! The kids ate cereal for supper, because you just could not bear the thought of messing up the kitchen yet again. Oh, well. I am sure they won't die from malnourishment. You are your biggest critic. Just stop.
8. Remember that you are raising the next generation. Even if it feels like you are accomplishing nothing, you are. Even if some days all you do is keep the kids alive, that's impressive. Your kids growing up into strong Christians is the end goal, and that doesn't happen by accident. It's going to take a strong, dedicated mom and dad to make sure that happens. You being there for them each and every day is going to help you accomplish that goal. It's a huge thing, this raising children thing. Don't let anyone downplay it. And don't you downplay it.
9. Even if you feel all alone, you aren't. You have a husband. A mom. Family members. Friends. Spiritual brothers and sisters. Chances are, someone you know has faced what you have faced- whether that is betrayal, financial difficulties, exhaustion, grief, loss of a loved one, or stress. You are not alone in this battle.
10. Go outside and get some fresh air every day, and try to do something relaxing. Even if you have to do it after the kids are in bed, give yourself one hour a day. Chances are, the baby will sleep for an hour before she needs you again. For your own sanity, you need to have a relaxing hobby or something fun that is just for you. It's not selfish, it's putting on your own oxygen mask before putting on your kids' masks.
Those are all things that I wish someone would tell me, so I am telling them to myself- and to you. If you are depressed, let someone know. Talk to someone. Especially those in the first year after having a baby. Our hormones are going crazy, and when you combine that with a fussy baby, lack of sleep, and a busy, stressful life, it can really get to you. Don't remain silent.
And when and if you have a bad day, or a bad week, or a bad few months, pour your heart out to God. He understands. We all get overwhelmed. But here is the thing. He is the Rock that is higher than us. He will lift our spirits up like no one can, and he will carry us when we are too weak to go on.
If I didn't have God in my life, I would be most miserable indeed.
Even though I managed to get some words typed out, I still have so many more swirling in my head and my heart. As I go to bed tonight, and I get one or two hours of sleep before Kelly wakes up, I will try to articulate to God just how I feel, but even if I can't, it's ok.
He gets me. He loves me. He understands me.
And he is the same for you, too.