Thursday, September 09, 2010

Vulnerable

We all know I'm not very private, but posting about my weak moments still makes me feel vulnerable. The reason I do this is because I have found great solace in the shared struggles with other mothers who have gone through similar situations, and I'm grateful they shared. So this is for any moms out there who feel like everyone else has it all together.

*

Preschool has started. That is a good thing. A REALLY good thing for our family. These last few weeks of summer, full of long days at home with little money and no plans have led to some extremely challenging times with my kiddos. My poor husband has received a fair share of calls from me either irate or in tears. (Poor guy--like he can do anything from work!) Last week was a doozy. Carson and I had a run-in that was so long and so intense, I can barely talk about it now--although the culmination of that battle will make a really funny blog post someday. (Carson locked me and Sydney out of the house. Oh yes. He did. For 23 minutes.) But I'm not able to be funny about it yet.

*

This morning we had another "episode" as I've begun calling them. Basically it's when the train gets off the track and it takes a couple hours or something drastic to get us back on. It started on our way out the door to meet some friends. Suddenly Carson, fully dressed, had to have his "old favorite" shirt. From when he was 2 years old. That is in the attic. With other clothes for a 2 year old. I explained this and he angrily stripped his clothes off, yelled and slammed his door and said that he wasn't going ANYWHERE until I get into the attic and get his shirt down. Yada, yada, yada...we managed to get into the car, but more battles ensued, primarily in the form of siblings kicking and hitting each other. Items were thrown at the driver. Drinks were intentionally spilled. Escalating. Disobedience. Discipline. Disrespect. Escalating. Defiance. I was in the middle of traffic on I-5 for this 60 minute drive and felt completely unable to enforce ANYTHING. I realized I did not have control in my own car. I felt helpless, vulnerable, beyond frustrated, angry, sad...at the END OF MY ROPE.

*

To make an attempt at gaining my own peace, if not the peace of the rest of the vehicle occupants, I put on a favorite song "Never Let Go" by Crowder. As I was driving amidst the yelling, I was crying, wishing that Trent was sitting there in the car with me, because everything (especially the kids' behavior) is always better when he is there. Now, this may sound churchy, but as I listened to the words, I felt overwhelmingly the Holy Spirit reminding me that even when my parenting partner isn't there, HE is there. He is in the car with me. God will never let go of this Mommy. The song talks about His Perfect Love, and I was so acutely aware in that moment how imperfect my love for my children is--although intense and passionate--I will always fall short in my humanness. I also had a total epiphany.

*

Part of what throws me so much about parenting in these circumstance is that I'm not in control. I've always felt like a very capable, independent person, and can just basically figure things out. Have my act together. But this stuff, this child, reduces me. That is the best way I can articulate it. It breaks me and my confidence, has me questioning myself and my choices daily. I fret that I'm messing up the most important task I will ever be given. And in that moment, somewhere between between Canby and Tigard, I knew that was the answer. I'm not supposed to have it all together by myself. I needed this catalyst [parenting in general, but particularly my PFB] in my life to bring me to a point where I CANNOT DO IT on my own--where my success isn't just dependent on a little elbow grease and savvy wit. I am VULNERABLE and I need, I said I NEED my Lord to give me the strength to rise to the tasks of the day. And even with the chaos still reigning supreme in my car, by the grace of God I was given the presence of mind to thank Him--not just for my children, which I did, but for these torturous moments that remind me to seek first His wisdom and strength, which is made perfect in my weakness. I thought I wanted my children to see a mother totally calm, cool and collected. But I realized I'd rather have my children see their mother on her knees, begging for grace each day, admiting that she's not perfect. THAT is what will help me keep it together. Help us all keep it together.
And, hopefully, keep me from killing them before their 10th birthdays.


11 comments:

Rory said...

Oh Jen, you are such a great mom. You had me frustrated right there with you because I have so lived moments like that and wanted to just ESCAPE! Or I've completely lost my temper and then am embarrassed later by the outlandish scene I caused in return for my kids' spasms. Those times I've felt so incredibly lonely and wish for a rescue.:) Hardest job on earth. Hands down. Then in the next moment you moved my heart and brought it back to what it's all about, something I often forget and try so hard to remember--that God is right there with me. I don't think you sound churchy at all. How else are we supposed to do this parenting thing? I surely can't do it on my own and I consider myself to be a person who can execute a plan. But my kids? They don't go by a plan!:) And don't think for a second that in your sharing these trying times that we still don't see that your PFB is an awesome gift, with his mama's wit and some God-given spunkiness. Kids just have a way of UNDOING us sometimes. Oh and P.S. I'm so glad to hear you make phone calls like that to your husband too. I thought I was the only one.:) And yes, the kids are ALWAYS better behaved when daddy is around, and mommy is always much more calm when she isn't quite so outnumbered. Love you girl!

Jo B. said...

Dear PFB of Mine,
I love you more than words can say. Your post is such a great reminder that I need to be in prayer for you as you take on those parenting challenges. Next time we get a chance to talk (in complete sentences), I want to share how I reacted to you when you were C's age. I had some of the same feelings.
Mom

Carey said...

I have a friend who always seemed to have it together. It meant a lot to me when she shared that she struggles too. She cracked me up when she said that she wanted to call CPS on herself just for the thoughts she had about her kids. She was joking, but there was a little truth to it. Her kids drove her crazy too! Thanks for being vulnerable with us!

Said a prayer this morning that both your children and mine will last way beyond their 10th birthdays. :)

Shannan said...

So my first child DID make it to his 10th birthday, but only just barely. Holy cow Jen - do I relate to this summer!! Did you read my post entitled 'Motherhood these days'? We, too, are on a budget (spoken like a four letter word) so that means kids are home, home, home with me as the main entertainment squad. Trust me, I have HAD those battles (and continue to have) the battles that you describe. I have been in tears almost daily Sun - Tues of this week right before they started school. I thought I needed to up my meds, I was that frustrated, crazed, and emotional. So I totally understand.


I am SO not a candidate for home schooling. I told my mom yesterday that if I committed a crime and I was sentenced to either serving 10 days in jail or having to do community service via homeschooling my children - I almost think the jail sentence sounds better.

Anyway, looking forward to the social part of being a mom begins - aka MOPS, M2M, and my small group. Any chance you want to come over and chill out wiht me sometime? :)

Steph said...

So, instead of loudly telling my 4 year old to "GROW UP!" I should pray?? Hahaha. Such a great reminder for all us moms, Jen. I don't know why I ever think I can handle anything on my own. I get so lost in the emotional escalations of my days that I forget that God is already THERE, waiting on ME to call on HIM. Huh. He makes it so easy and we make it SO hard. You, my friend, are an amazing mother. If I've said it once, I've said it a thousand times - WHAT WOULD I DO WITHOUT YOU? Thank you for being vulnerable and honest, so the rest of us don't feel alone. Even in this difficult part of your life, you are a leader. Love you!

Angie said...

Thanks Jen. God's timing is perfect. I needed this post more than ever today!

And your mom's comment brought me to tears, too. Sometimes we forget there really is 'light at the end of the tunnel' with our kids and that we'll actually be friends with them when they're adults (at least we can hope for that, right?) 'Cause when we're battling over t-shirts and sippy cups, sometimes it can seem like we'll never get out of this stage.

Thanks again. Praying for you today...

Tibbslove said...

Jen thank you for sharing with us. Your ability to articulate has allowed me to realize the truth in your words.

As Lucas grows, I'm realizing what we have on our hands here. Lucas is beginning to exemplify serious characteristics of a strong-willed and defiant child (which isn't always a bad thing). I often feel alone when he's acting "crazy" or pushing boundaries. I know it will only escalate as he grows and my aloneness makes it feel so difficult.

Thank you for reminding me that I'm never alone.

I "heart" you my friend. Wish I could hug you.

Becky said...

Thank you for the reality check in motherhood. Hang in there, Jen! Mom 2 mom in just a couple more weeks! :)

Roy B. said...

On our fridge: "Grandkids are God's reward for not killing your kids." SERIOUSLY ironic, however, that one of the grandkids who is my reward is the kid who you are not going to kill before he's 10. ;=)

Nina said...

Thank you for sharing your heart. It brought to my mind my dear brother that became the Music pastor/youth leader/assistant pastor. I remember when he got into trouble at times he would go on the roof . My dad was gone alot traveling from church to church and my brother knew my mom could not get up there. I could hear my mom praying at times crying asking for His grace and wisdom. I grew to honor my mom so much more as I saw and heard her ask God for help and use her own life in the lessons we would need in our life.
I still hear my mother pray out loud every night at 6 p.m. It is such a gift to hear my name! Count on my prayers Jen. Love you so much. You are amazing.

Lisa P said...

Love it. Vulnerable is so hard, but so freeing. and so magnetic to those around you. Strong-willed=able to reduce mothers faster and longer than your average child.

My favorite part of this post:
"I was so acutely aware in that moment how imperfect my love for my children is--although intense and passionate--I will always fall short in my humanness."

So true. Love you.