Some days I feel like a great mom. Do you know those days and weeks, where your head is filled with lofty ideas and aspirations?
You are crafting with your children (and enjoying it!), taking park adventures together, and singing and laughing your hearts out?
Then it rains for a week, the kids get sick, everyone is running on low sleep, and life makes a u-turn. Where did my virtue go, I often wonder?
Sanity & Sleep for Mom?
Indeed, I have recently questioned whether or not my virtue as a wife and mother is solely dependent on the hours of sleep I get. Perhaps you feel the same way. Running perpetually on low sleep catches up to us, and we finally reach a point of true humility.
In these moments, I truly turn to Jesus, and beg for His mercy. I realize again that I just can’t do it on my own. I can’t be the loving person I am created to be when I don’t have recourse to the strength of Jesus throughout my day.
Don’t we all need moments of self-abasement, in order to realize anew our weakness and inability to be who we want to be? Of course, even St. Paul felt the same way.
Tiredness and Motherhood
I once read a great blog post about tiredness and motherhood. When feeling overwhelmed and exhausted, the author made a point of reminding herself that “it’s ok, I’m just tired.” The phrase may seem quite common sense, but I think often we become consumed with worry about all the energy we “must” have in order to be the mother that we want to be.
We come down on ourselves when we react with anger and impatience to the needs of our children, and allow ourselves to wallow in the despair of failure. How can I ever live up to my own mother? Granted, we are not there yet, but holiness is a process.
I find it helpful in moments of exhaustion to remind myself that it’s ok, I’m just tired. I’m not going to die, my children aren’t going to be emotionally damaged by my weakness, and all I need to do is be there with them and love them.
Sometimes we have enjoyed the most peaceful days together at home when I am not feeling well, and have spent the day just resting. For this is what children want most anyway, a mom who is physically and emotionally there for them, all day long.
Obviously not every day can be spent luxuriously lounging on the couch (as if that is an option!), but on those especially rough days of fatigue, we can and should give ourselves a mental and physical break in order to relax and focus on being with our kids.
Thoughts & Worries
As I grow in the role of mother, I continue to learn new things about myself. Perhaps I don’t have to have the sleep that I imagine I need in order to function. Perhaps life will go on just fine even if we are cooped up in the house during a rainy summer day.
Perhaps accepting what God hands me will bring peace and joy, even when I imagine that it will not. The more I open myself up to being surprised in life, the better off my entire family is. When I go into each day with preconceived ideas about my needs, or my children’s needs, I experience higher levels of anxiety and stress.
When I step back and acknowledge that it’s ok, these are just thoughts and worries, and they can’t take away my happiness, then I can go on with my day and still experience fulfillment.
Apply Ourselves to this Day
As St. Francis de Sales reminds us, although we must recognize our imperfections, we must not become anxious about them. In his words, “we must apply ourselves to the path that lies before us and to the tasks of this day. We must not pretend that we are about to accomplish the work of the last day before we have finished the work of the first.”
Thus, in order to remain calm and sane amidst the daily stresses of our lives, we must only apply ourselves to this day and its tasks.
When my desires are in line with God’s moral law, then I experience joy. In other words, when my ideals and expectations of life are guided by grace and truth, and when I am acting out virtue even when I don’t feel like it, then I am surprised by the manifest goodness in my life.
For joy is not an abstract encounter with a modern idea of a personal set of goals, but rather, a real encounter with an all-loving God. We can encounter Him everywhere and in every moment – regardless of our sensations of energy, optimism, or courage on that particular day.
He is there with us in our weakness, tiredness, and illness. He waits for us to cry out to Him, to beg for His help in our trials, and He is the strength behind all that we do.
So let’s remind ourselves from time to time: It’s ok, we’re just human, and we need Him. Every day.