There is More: Processing Anger, Control, and Stress in Motherhood
This post could be called many things.
"A day in the life of a stay at home mom trying to blog, bake cupcakes, and babysit"
"Is my three year actually possessed?"
"Why I'm bawling on the couch watching Moana"
"Being more not doing more"
But I picked "There is More: Processing Anger, Control, and Stress in Motherhood" because I want to process with you what is happening in my heart as all the other stuff is happening too.
There is more.
It's good to identify what you are believing or feeling. Anger, sadness, frustration with my job, etc. It's good to find scripture and feel hope that you can overcome. It's good to share what you are feeling with your close circle of wholehearted friends and family. But there is more. I have been learning a sacred pause to ask God, "Why am I feeling this way?" "Why am believing this?" This morning, the Holy Spirit lead me in yet another gentle, sacred pause in something I have been feeling so much over the last few weeks. This is not your story, but maybe my reflections will inspire your own reflections into the "more" God has for you.
I have been so angry with my kids. I feel like they just do not listen. I find myself yelling sooner, louder, and with more shame and berating in my words. Like yesterday, when Nash began squirting his juice box onto the floor of the truck. I went from 0-60 in less than a second. ... ...
... (pause in typing)...
I'm back. My daughter was just irritating me, typing, interested in what I was doing, asking to play the Wild Kratts game she knows exists somewhere in this thing we call the laptop. Sacred Pause (A term I've picked from John Eldridge). I sense the Father saying, "Later. Type this later." Rather than get angry with June for interrupting my creative process, I close the lid and walk over to the living room. The kids had been watching Moana for the 176th time this year. My neck has been so out of whack this week- I sense the need to lay down and rest it. As the movie unfolds, a story I know has touched my heart many times, I see Te Ka in all her fury and think how much this relates to what I was just writing. (watch the clip here) How many of us feel like Te Ka, when in reality, we have just lost our heart- we are really Te Fiti. I listen to the lines from the climax, and imagine the Father saying them to my angry, stressed-out heart, in the midst of literally trying to process WHY:
I have crossed the horizon to find you
Me, your Savior, I'm so glad I have found you, Daughter
I know your name
You're my daughter, and I call you Harbor. My Harbor
They have stolen the heart from inside you
But this does not define you
This is not who you are
Your anger, it's not your heart
You know who you are
You are my daughter. Beloved. Remember who you are.
There is more. I love how the Father interrupts my day to keep my identity in him.
... (pause in typing) ... (again) ...
I'm back. Again. Nash just ran off with a box of toothpicks and threw them all over the playroom floor. Pause. I remember our consequences chart. Instead of flying off the handle, I remember we've got a plan for consequences. Jesus, okay, it's okay. I can calmly address this. Boy, this escalates quickly. Nash steals two cupcakes while in timeout and runs downstairs. He hits Logan. I keep following the consequences chart. Stick with it. 20 minutes later, the ordeal is over. Tears are wiped, apologies made, toothpicks picked up. Toothpicks were picked up about 4 hours later. Whew. I made it. I think I just managed to stay WITH God in that.
The above is the exception for me, not the rule.
But why? Well, I want to control them. I want them to listen. I want peace. A part of me, a part of all of us, seeks to control others and to control situations to avoid pain.
This is not a bad desire- to have a stress-free, pain-free life. It's a desire born in our hearts from a good God. It's a desire that makes us long for joy, it's a desire that exists in the part of our hearts that yearns for eternity in heaven. It's good. But while we're on earth, it's not yet.
We cannot have a pain-free life, and to demand that here and now is taking into my own hands that which God has promised in his time and in his way. The same thing happened in the Garden with Adam and Eve. Can I really conjure up peace by getting perfectly behaved children? If that were the case, I would never need God, and I would never have true peace. It's a trap.
I am learning to tell myself, God, you are WITH me in the broken, pain-filled world. I need you most at the times I am trying to write you out of the story.
As Lysa Terkhest wrote in Becoming I Am, "Every time I go to God and ask him to shed light on my situation, I'm trading a little of my struggle for his strength."
Why am I angry? A part of the answer is that biologically, I need to exercise to help my stress and anger. And I haven't done that much lately. Exercise in balance is caring for my soul. Oh, I get it. No big deal. Exercise is a part of caring for my soul. God just slipped in an answer to a 20-year struggle for me. No big deal. Just a quick lesson from the Father for me. For free. When I'm not even trying to figure out that one. Man, He's a wild God. Exhale. Wow. Thanks, Father.
Why do I want my kids to listen? It's up to me to raise them right. To get them to show respect. To become respecting, functioning adults. Really? Can I get them to respect me if I'm yelling at them? If I don't show respect, how can I demand it? Am I really on my own in parenting? No! If I get them to obey to perfection, the end result is adults who live in a greater dysfunction of perfectionism. Do I really want that? No! My thinking shows all these agreements that are not born from truth.
There is more. More crazy things happened in my day of blogging, baking, and babysitting. More crazy stuff will happen today. But God moves more. There is more for you.
As author Allen Arnold writes, "Being comes before doing." (From The Story of With) Before you try tackling another book, bible study, project, parenting tacit, a batch of cupcakes... stop and think about being more. Giving more of you to more of God. Being rooted and ground in his love, being a fully trusted daughter or son of God, being loved beyond measure. All that "doing" will be so much easier, joy-filled, and satisfying when we begin with God first.
A Google bot with a little help from yours truly created this video mash-up that is such a funny and clear picture of this time, 2017, as a stay-at-home mom. Highlights: All the singing, dancing, and outfits, June crying at the table, and Nash smashing butter into a toy inside the fridge.