The Hardest Part of Motherhood

I feel like motherhood is such a hard transition and being away from family members makes it even worse.  Having your only friends be single and in a bar phase constantly asking the question, “What do you do all day?”, is just infuriating.   They have no idea and, at times, I don’t believe that we can ever have anything in common again.

“You are no longer strangers and sojourners, but you are fellow citizens with the holy ones” (EPH 2:19).

So, hearing these words is a huge comfort.  In my new motherhood, I feel very much like a stranger, and it can be lonely and scary.  Even though, I have lived in Chattanooga for 6 years now I do not call it home;  I haven’t found a community of family that I belong to.  My college friends have all but disappeared, and with them I never had a  relationship based on mutual faith.  It makes it difficult to keep up.

But Paul today makes me feel like I am apart of something bigger.  I am not alone!  I am apart of a community–how wonderful!

Even when I spend 10+ hours a day just me and my six month old, I am never alone.

So, thank you Paul for telling me today that I am in a wonderful group of people through Christ.  It is deeply comforting.

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I Believe in the Ninevites

I remember the story of Jonah well from children’s songs.  God wanted him to go to Nineveh, but Jonah didn’t like that idea very much; therefore he was swallowed by a whale.  When he was spit back out, he went to Nineveh and they repented.  It’s a story stressing the importance to listen to God.  What I didn’t remember were parts in today’s readings and explained to me in my reflection. Jonah eventually went to Nineveh on what he thought was a hopeless mission.  He thought they would ignore him and then God would take care of them. But, they did repent.  They changed.  They survived.  Jesus tells us today how great they were to repent.  They won. Jonah was surprised.

And it seems like everything I read keeps pointing me towards repentance, forgiveness.  Change is possible.  I can do all things though Christ.  Recently, in my life there was a hurt.  Forgiveness is hard, but totally possible.  Believing and trusting that people can change is different story.  The world is bad.  People are bad.  Negativity.  I have been hardened.  I don’t want to believe in change, in good because then I could let my guard down again; I could be hurt, again.  But, Jesus is telling me that ALL things are possible.  That change IS possible–especially through Him.

I don’t want to be like Jonah.  I don’t want to be surprised by the good.  I want to believe.

Stupid Galatians.

O stupid Galatians! Paul is angry today.  He spent so much time teaching them and then they are so easily persuaded to give up their faith.  They gave into the flesh; they gave into the world.  I understand why Paul is angry, but I identify with the Galatians.  I feel for them.  I feel like the world has been persuading me for a long time now that religion is silly and unneeded—even dangerous!  I was making bad decisions left and right, but who cared? I kept wondering why I was so unhappy and blamed it on daily situations.  I was unhappy because of my relationships, because I hated a few of my classes, because my job was terrible and taking me away from school.  Ever since I decided to focus on being good again, on doing things right I’ve been, seemingly, magically more happy.  People have done me evil and life as a new mom is hard, but it is not as heavy, painful, or hard as it used to be.  Life is turning around—I have joy and hope.

Counting My Blessings

Today, Job starts out the reading by saying, “Pity me, pity me, o you my friend, for the hand of God has struck me” (JB 19:21-27).  I feel like I’ve been chanting pity me, pity me  for a while now.  Because Eli won’t sleep; because he has a cold, an ear infection, or constipation.  Because I have to do the laundry, the dishes, clean the toilets.  Because I can’t find a job.  Because our families live hours away.  Pity me.  Pity me.  This morning, I read Job and I thought, “Right there with ya buddy”.  Of course, way more terrible things happened to Job than my list of endless chores, but a small part of me that I hate to admit thought, How glamorous; How exciting!  My life seems to be just continuous menial tasks and I have a hard time not letting a little resentment in,  The most exciting part of my week is going to the grocery store.

Yes, pity me because I have a wonderful man that loves me, a steady income, a degree, food in my fridge, and wonderful families who will do anything for us.  I mean, don’t get me wrong–when Eli spends half his day crying because he is tired, but just won’t go to sleep the perspective that I am striving for gets easily thrown out the window.  But, man, am I lucky!

And when I take the time to think about it, I spend a lot of time complaining about wonderful gifts.  God must find me very ungrateful at times. I know come 3 AM it is going to be hard to remember how blessed I am, but right now I’m just going to say Thank You, because I don’t often enough.

Jesus says in the Gospel, “And whoever receives one child such as this in my name receives me” (MT 18:1-5,10).  Thank You for Eli, the greatest blessing I have ever received and who You are working through.  

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Praying for Poop

I’m not sure what Eli’s problem is, but he hasn’t pooped in three days.  I’m thinking this is contributing to his, now, second night of a 2 hour screaming session.  Man, is it exhausting.  I’ve never wanted to smell poop so bad in my entire life.  Nor, have I ever prayed for poop before but now I’m practically shouting God, give us a BM!

So, last night, when I finally got Eli back to sleep–in his crib(WHOOP!)–I felt sincere joy.  Unfortunately, Sean found all the rocking, bouncing, walking, etc. to be appetite-inducing.  The loud crinkling of aluminum foil and clanking of dish-to-fork was causing Eli to squirm.  Panic-stricken, I tip-toed as quietly as I could into the kitchen to sternly warn Sean.  But, apparently, I was too quiet and when Sean turned to see me he jumped and yelped.  This, of course, was followed by a sharp cry from the nursery.  What a perfect opportunity to practice patience and kindness–right? Well, it was 2:30 AM and let’s just say we didn’t leave on great terms this morning.  I was not very kind and my patience had all been used up.

When I read the Gospel this morning I felt a twinge of guilt.  Jesus rebuked James and John for being angry at the hostile Samaritans.  (LK 9:51-56)  They had reason to be angry, but Jesus shows us to love anyways and despite any misdeeds.  And what greater sin is there than to wake the baby?!  I should have been kinder.  I should have followed in Jesus’ footsteps.  I should have chosen to show Sean love.

Psalm 138

Today’s Psalm was another great reminder for me.  Especially today.

“I will give thanks to you, O Lord, with all my heart, for you have heard the words of my mouth”

Because a lot of days resentment and frustration can build up and it can feel like God most certainly did not hear the words of my mouth.  For instance, Eli screamed for about 2 1/2 hours in the middle of the night last night and I have no clue why.  And I prayed God, please let me figure out whats wrong.  God, please help me to get him to stop screaming.  God, please let him go back to sleep.  But on he screamed.  And then there were those cruel moments when he would fall asleep in my arms and I’d inch him toward the bed–not even daring to breathe, saying Hail Mary’s like my life depended on it, and finally setting him down with the last crucial moment of moving my hand out from under him.  Mission accomplished?  I think not.  His eyes pop open.  A moment of clarity. “WAHHH!”  Did you really think I was going to let that happen, Mom? And then the cycle begins again.  And again.

At this point, I’m thinking there has been some miss communication between me and God.  Or perhaps, more pressing issues to tend to.

This morning I think I’ll get a break, but that’s never how it works.  Eli is so tired from the night before that he is determined to give me round 2. God please give me a break.  I bounce.  I rock.  I bend my back to get him to stop squirming and whining.  I chant ‘relax’ in his ear over and over, but he just doesn’t get it.

At these times,  I’m really not feeling, “…for you have heard the words of my mouth.”  But, I must read on: “When I called, you answered me; you built up strength within me.”  Maybe God isn’t answering me by putting my baby to sleep easily for hours and whenever I deem convenient, but he does give me the strength to help me.  Of course, I still get stressed; of course it is still hard.  But when I think back to my days with a newborn I have to laugh!  If Eli seemed the least bit uncomfortable, the stress and emotions I had were outrageous!  Being a mom has already made me such a better person.  I cannot forget the gifts and strengths God has been creating inside of me through motherhood.  He might not answer my prayers by giving me the perfect baby (sigh),  but he is giving me the capabilities to handle whatever Eli decides to throw at me.

“Great is the glory of the Lord; In the sight of angels I will sing your praises, Lord.”

Psalm 138

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Psalm 90

“For a thousand years in your sight are as yesterday, now that it is past, or as a watch of the night.”

Oh, how trivial are the things that occupy my mind! How silly are the little thoughts plaguing and worrying my brain constantly.  Will I get a job? Is is wrong for me to want to work?  Should I lose 5 more pounds? Should Eli be sitting up by now? 

In the realm of things, what does this matter? To a God who a thousand years was as yesterday, should I really be spending my whole day worrying if the house will ever be clean enough, the laundry ever put up, or if I am ever going to be skinny enough?  I really think my day will be better spent finding joys in every little thing.  Perhaps, I find it frustrating that my baby will only ever sleep in my arms, but how lucky am I to get the pleasure of holding this beautiful being in my arms all day! How lucky am I for all the good things that God has given me!  In a thousand years will I really remember how clean my house was or if Eli learned to sit up right when the books said he should?

And why do these things matter to me? Just because I feel pressured by society to be this ideal mom who has it all? Who is this person and does she exist?  Is she happy?  I mean clearly she has about 5 other clones doing a billion different things everyday because I try to get everything done and it never is.  Just now, I look around my house and see empty cereal bowls. coffee cups, bags of poopy diapers, overflowing trash cans, crumbs under the table and my society-pleasing driven mind is yelling, “Stop dilly-dallying and get to work!”

But honestly, I am much happier here, sipping coffee, journaling, and cracking the door open to feel some fresh air.

For a thousand years in your sight are as yesterday

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