Wednesday, March 11, 2009

When a Latte Just Won';t Cut It: Mama Burn-out

Sometimes we all need a bit of rejuvenation. Mothers need a lot. It can come in the form of a latte and a few minutes of peace (in the kitchen while the kids run amuck around you) or a hot shower, fifteen minutes to disappear into a novel, or maybe even two seconds in the bathroom with the kids beating down the door while you simply try to pee for the first time that day. And it's already six o'clock at night. I surely can't be the only one that's happened to!

For the past few weeks, I've found myself losing patience with my eldest daughter. She's two and a half years old, the most loveliest of ages as all mothers know, and seems to run on endless energy from the moment her eyes open until she reluctantly goes to sleep at night. She spends a good part of the day tired from not napping, which has been the pattern for about a year, and then goes absolutely bonkers in her behavior since she's sleepy. There's something in the two year old mind that makes them completely freak when they're tired - one little iota of fatigue unleashes flood gates, fire balls and banshee-like whines.

All of the extra "management" that my daughter's behavior requires when she's in these modes of obstinance, leaves me burnt-out. I found myself being short with her, impatient and a poor example of Christian love. I tried to console myself for snapping at her or feeling irritated at being asked to play Chutes and Ladders (I was just so tired, I needed to lie down!) by telling myself some very worldly truths:

I deserve a break.

I need a moment to myself.

I have two kids now, and they're both young, so of course I can't be the all-in-all for them all the time.

Each of these affirmations are true. I do deserve a break and a moment to myself. But, a break doesn't mean taking the entire afternoon off to be blah around the house and a moment isn't five hours. Having two young children with different demands - one a new baby and the other a toddler - is exhausting, and it's realistic that I cannot go full-steam at all times. However, it's not an excuse to neglect anyone or think that a baby's needs are more important than a toddler's.

I'm a very conscious mother, as many of us are, and I don't parent without a lot of prayer and thought. Recognizing that I was starting to fall into a pattern of frustration and impatience, which was reflected in my daughter's increasingly poor behavior (kids are always affected by the emotions around them), I brainstormed ways to revert back to my happy-go-lucky, jovial persona. I tried getting us done quicker in the morning and into our daily activities with more ease. Useless. I attempted to stick very true to our routine, and then, vice versa, to shake things up a bit. Not much change. I tried to be calm, patient and constructive when my daughter misbehaved, but it didn't always make a dent. The worst part was that I still felt aggitated and guilty. Guilty without reason? No, I deserved the guilt that I felt. I wasn't being the best mother that I could be. I was giving into earthly fatigue and worldly consolation.

I wasn't doing the one thing that could rejuvenate me and bring me back to the happy, calm and loving mom that I naturally am.

I was asking Jesus to "help" me. I wasn't asking Jesus to transform me.

Let me tell you, friends, that I prayed that prayer and woke up a new lady. Well, the old lady!  Monday morning my husband was home asleep from auditing the night shift the evening (and early morn) before, so I got the girls ready even quicker than usual and downstairs. How efficiently our day started! The calmness and positivity that made that possible continued throughout the day, and I noticed that my eldest daughter was peaceful and only about a level five on the scale of banshee-ness. She used to rate an eleven. It's now Wednesday and my patient manner, soothing voice, direct instructions and constructive parenting still persist. The cranky, frustrated mom of the past couple of weeks has decided to take a holiday. Actually, it's more like she had a make-over.

So, even though that hot shower can rejuvenate and refresh you after mommyhood burn-out, the gleam that it leaves in your hair, the warm scent on your skin and the disappearance of those bags underneath of your eyes cannot compare with the new look that Jesus grants when He transforms our hearts. All it takes is prayer, and belief that your desire will be answered. After all, He's been there, too, and no one knows how to transform a heart that bears the weight of the world like Christ. He died not only for us, but for our children, and will do everything in His power to help us raise them for Him. Unlike a latte that eventually runs out, a hot shower that turns cold or a book that must conclude, Jesus the Risen Savior has power and love that are endless, eternal, and, most importantly, always available.

If you're burnt-out, ask the Lord to come into your heart and bring about a change in you today. Ask him to bring you peace - towards yourself and towards others, and ask that He allows you to be an instrument for His love to everyone in your life from the smallest to the grandest. How great is our God!


6 comments:

  1. I've been following your blog for months now, but don't think I've ever commented. This post is EXACTLY what I needed to hear right now. I'm a stay-at-home mama (two boys - 4 and 20 months) and in my late 20s, with a progressive (incurable & terminal) lung condition - which makes me tire easily. We currently live in Mechanicsburg, PA, but are moving to Pittsburgh next week to be closer to my doctor. It took longer for our house to sell than we wanted, and my husband has been working in Pitt M-F for 8 weeks already, while I'm here packing alone. I've hit the point of sheer exhaustion with my kids that you typed about. Just last night I cried out to God that "I just can't do this anymore". I wanna crawl under a rock and just sleep for a week. But it's just not possible now. Thank you for your encouragement to ask God to TRANSFORM me. My to do list hasn't magically disappeared, but my attitude's being adjusted. THANK YOU!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I love this post! Right now I just have one child (an 8 month old girl), but already we are discussing when #2 will enter the picture. So while this post doesn't apply to me a ton right now, it's something I certainly want to remember for the future. Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Wow. Just what I needed to hear this morning! I've been going through a period of exhaustion and short tempers, and after reading this I realized that my prayers have been full of me telling God the many reasons why I'm unfit for this job he's giving me... You have changed my perspective. Thank you. :)

    ReplyDelete
  4. I've been following your blog for months now, but don't think I've ever commented. This post is EXACTLY what I needed to hear right now. I'm a stay-at-home mama (two boys - 4 and 20 months) and in my late 20s, with a progressive (incurable & terminal) lung condition - which makes me tire easily. We currently live in Mechanicsburg, PA, but are moving to Pittsburgh next week to be closer to my doctor. It took longer for our house to sell than we wanted, and my husband has been working in Pitt M-F for 8 weeks already, while I'm here packing alone. I've hit the point of sheer exhaustion with my kids that you typed about. Just last night I cried out to God that "I just can't do this anymore". I wanna crawl under a rock and just sleep for a week. But it's just not possible now. Thank you for your encouragement to ask God to TRANSFORM me. My to do list hasn't magically disappeared, but my attitude's being adjusted. THANK YOU!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Wow. Just what I needed to hear this morning! I've been going through a period of exhaustion and short tempers, and after reading this I realized that my prayers have been full of me telling God the many reasons why I'm unfit for this job he's giving me... You have changed my perspective. Thank you. :)

    ReplyDelete
  6. I love this post! Right now I just have one child (an 8 month old girl), but already we are discussing when #2 will enter the picture. So while this post doesn't apply to me a ton right now, it's something I certainly want to remember for the future. Thanks!

    ReplyDelete