Monday, May 16, 2011

Day 132: Confessions

They say confession is good for the soul, and I'm counting on it! 

In the past couple of weeks there has been a lot of yelling (I said put that away NOW!), threatening (If you don't put your pajamas on right now, we're not reading!), shaming (I can't believe you woke Max up!), blaming (Why am I yelling? Because you're making me angry!), and intimidation (a nice combo of all of the above that I call the 'House Blend').

I've felt like a failure and a monster. I've felt unworthy of my children and unforgivable. But despite all of this, they somehow continue to adore and accept me. And as I'm reminded that God does the same, I'm motivated to pull myself back up, make changes and keep moving forward. Because to waste all that love and forgiveness by refusing to accept it would be criminal. And to continue on with the labels I give myself in the name of justice and what I deserve would only bring us more of the same.

When I step away from treating myself to an equal dose of the House Blend, I can finally see where it's all coming from. I could easily blame it on stress as so many of us do, but that would only be scratching the surface. At the root of it all is control, and what's driving that need for control is fear.

As a general rule, we're all stressed out and it's taking a toll on our health, our relationships and our quality of life. But I think stress is a really crafty word we all use to cover up the reality that fear is everywhere in our culture and pervading our lives.

When I'm angry (stressed) because I can't get Jackson out the door on time, the truth is that I'm afraid: that we won't get to an appointment on time, that we won't get all our errands done before lunchtime, that we'll be late in getting home and the boys won't get to their naps soon enough, that what I don't get done today will pile up on me tomorrow - that I won't be able to cope with less than ideal circumstances.

When I'm frustrated because he's being loud a normal two year old while Max is asleep, the truth is that I'm afraid: that Max won't go back to sleep, that he'll be fussy if he doesn't sleep long enough and I won't be able to get anything done, that it'll throw off his next nap and then bedtime, that his waking will interfere with whatever task I had slotted for me and Jackson during his nap - that I won't be able to cope with less than ideal circumstances.

And sometimes it's not even about them! Sometimes I'm just stressed about all the things I have to get done in addition to my job as their mother, and I let that fear - of being inadequate or incapable of doing it all - infect my interactions with them too.

It's okay to try to get us moving on time by preparing earlier (not by barking orders at a tiny person with underdeveloped impulse control) and it's okay to try to keep our home quiet for Max's nap by heading outside or reading to Jackson (not by shushing and shaming). Being proactive in order to make things easier would be a great idea!

But things have been spiraling downward because I'm consistently giving myself over to fear, and because I'm more invested in avoiding unfavorable circumstances than I am in enjoying my children and treating them with the respect and dignity they deserve. I'm making the happiness of our home conditional, and it doesn't have to be that way.

I'm going to make a conscious effort to break the cycle by calling a spade a spade. When I feel stressed, I'm going to ask myself, "What am I afraid of?" and "Will it be okay?" Because when I identify the likely inconsequential fear (a delayed nap, really?), nine times out of ten the answer to the latter will be yes. And the rare time that it is a legitimate fear, I'll be able to consider how to cope with "worst case scenario" without dishing out the House Blend.

I am capable of coping with less than ideal circumstances and even experiencing joy through them, so why keep robbing myself of that?


  1. Thank you for this post! It helped me put a few things into perspective.

  2. I needed to read this today. I've been stewing my own House Blend way too often recently. Thank you so much for the encouragement and perspective!