This morning, I checked my e-mail inbox to find that I had a new comment on an older post of mine called "The Incredible Shrinking Family". I could feel the pain of the writer so clearly in her words, and I wanted to reach out to her. Who of us have not been frustrated, tired, and just plain worn-out?
Here's what she wrote:
Hi! I came across your blog today and loved reading this post. I agree with everything you have to say ... in principle. But in practice I find this very difficult. I want to love children and love being a mother, but I just don't!
I have two darling little girls who I love, but I don't love being a mother. Pregnancy was miserable, the sleep deprivation of newborns was horrendous and the tantrums and potty training of toddlers has been torture! Like you say, it takes sacrifice, but I sometimes feel like it is just too much for me. I long for a life outside of my children, for some part of me to be left-over at the end of the day for my husband, for something besides diapers and disciplining and dishes!
So yes, children are important and families are vital and I believe in the LDS doctrine of the family ... but I just can't have more children. I feel it would be disastrous for me, for my marriage and for the children we already have. So I guess what I'm saying is that I totally get why some women do not want to have children or do not want to have a lot of children. I understand what they are feeling!
I would have never guessed that I would be saying this. As a young LDS teen, I yearned for a large family. But now, when reality has set in, I am just not enjoying it at all! I feel like overall I have a good attitude around my children and love them, do all of the good stay-at-home-mom things, but deep-down, I am miserable. Any advice?
I know that often people may think that my posts are so idealistic that I must never have bad days or frustrations, or a bad attitude. I'm sorry if this is a disappoinment, ladies, but I have had those days when I want to throw in the towel. I have moments where I hold my head in my hands and think "What have I done?!"
But those days don't last forever (Thank goodness!) and with the Lord's help we can do the difficult and succeed-- and have joy! (I promise!!!)
Here was my response to her, and to all moms who have those times and seasons where they feel they can't take another step, change another diaper, or wash one more dish:
I am so sorry that you are so overwhelmed and discouraged. Boy, have I been there! But there really is hope and peace on the horizon...
First of all, you are deep in the trenches of one of the hardest times of motherhood! I advise you take a deep breath and try to see into your future five, ten or fifteen years from now.
You will NOT always be sleep deprived and mired in the difficulties of trying to be and do everything on your own. Those little ones you have now WILL grow, they will learn to do more for themselves, and they will not always be so demanding.
The time you take now to patiently, lovingly train them will buy you more liberty and breathing room in your not-too-distant future. Is it hard? YES. But from experience, I can tell you, that when you work hard at training those first few little ones, then they become more helpful to you in your duties AND with any other little ones that may be in your future.
Toddler-hood really is the time that ALL moms want to throw in the towel and say "I'm not cut out for this!" You are FAR from being alone in those feelings, I promise!
It is okay to take a break and let your body and your heart heal for a time. But the secret to that and to surviving and moving forward in everything is to PRAY. HARD. Ask for a blessing from your husband, now and then. Pray for peace. For direction. For patience.
Good grief, I even once had to start praying that I could LOVE my kids!!! LOL! The beauty and blessing was that MY PRAYERS WORKED.
Anything worth doing is difficult-- that's the test of this life. But you don't need to hold your breath as you try to make it through the difficult years. Come up to the surface and breathe deeply in the Father's love, mercy and help.
None of us can succeed at this alone. We need Christ, and He is willing and waiting to take those troubles and burdens from us if we will just give them to Him.
Please don't struggle alone when you don't have to! The Lord loves you and sees every sacrifice and tear and sleepless night.
Don't worry about having another baby right now. Just work on your relationship with Christ. Then everything else will fall into place.
We can "do all things through Christ." But we should not run faster than we have strength. We NEED to take time to be healed by the Lord. He will give us all we need and then some, helping us to do all things "in wisdom and order."
I know the writer and I would love to hear any other advice from my readers. Do you have more to add?
With love to all my sisters in the motherhood trenches,