My husband and I agree that this weekend has been the hardest time of our parenthood. Ever.
For 24 hours I was knocked out on the couch, alternating between hot sweats and chills, too weak to even stand up to go to the bathroom on my own. Our 10 month old was coughing and congested (and teething!), our 2 year old caught the “Hand-Foot-and-Mouth Disease” and passed it on to the rest of us, and my hubby has had a sore throat and chills as well.
Being sick sucks, but as a mom it’s even worse. And on top of everything (just between us ladies), my Monthly Visitor has arrived and is back in full force 😛 )
I tell you all this not to complain, but to be honest.
Motherhood is full of many amazing moments, but also plenty of bad days.
And the thing is, on those bad days we can’t just stop mothering. Our kids need cuddles, our families need to be fed and the house needs to be kept in some type of order. You’re not allowed to “call in sick” as a mom.
These “bad days” may be because of physical sickness, emotional overload, or something else. When I find myself in a rough place where mothering isn’t easy, here are 4 things that I know are important:
- Don’t try to do it alone. I know not everyone has family close by who is willing to help, but ask your in-laws, a friend, or that neighbour who once offered a hand if they can take your kids outside for a bit, or come and bring by a meal. Even just a half hour break can be enough for you to refuel and keep going.
- Remember it’s okay to be lenient. Being sick is not the time to enforce rules if it causes extra stress. Let your child watch a longer movie than they’re normally allowed to. Have ice cream for supper. Sit in your PJ’s all day. This isn’t about giving into power struggles but about relaxing the rules a bit.
- Give up on comparison and people-pleasing. Don’t be ashamed of a messy house or be afraid to cancel a few appointments. Everyone has been sick before and will understand if you have to say no to a commitment.
- But don’t let your bad mood be an excuse for bad behaviour. I don’t know about you, but when I’m cranky it is so easy for me to snap at my husband or my kids. My hubby is gracious enough to kindly re-direct me, asking, “Can you please rephrase that in a nicer way?” To be honest, in the moment it usually bothers me to hear that from him, but it also helps get me out of the “everything revolves around me” mentality.
I remember the last time sickness hit our home…
Me not feeling well meant that my bundle-of-energy toddler had been pent up inside our home for the entire morning until (thankfully!) my husband came home early.
By 10:00am that day I had already given him 3 time-outs….one for hitting his sister, one for kicking me while I was trying to change his diaper, and one just so I could nurse the baby in peace and quiet without him climbing all over us.
My patience runs low some days anyway, but when you’re sick every problem seems magnified x10. I lost my temper, I was rough and unkind, I was simply trying to survive.
At one point during the chaos I tried to explain to my 2-year old what was going on. “Buddy, Mama is sick today. I have an ow-wah in my head and neck and back and legs. I am sorry for being mad at you. I know you need my attention but I need to lay on the couch.”
Then, the best thing happened…he gave me a great big hug.
I know he understood.
When we, as Moms, are having a bad day, we need to give ourselves and our children grace.
The good thing is, God has lots of extra grace available to help us make it through as well.
Take the other night at our house, for example. I slept on the couch since I was too weak to move, so my amazing hubby took both kids into our room so he could care for them during the night. The thing is, our daughter has been waking up 4 times a night for the last week and a half, constantly wanting to be nursed since she’s teething. Usually she throws a fit when Papa tries to comfort her, whining until she gets to suckle. Well the night that Papa was on duty she only woke up TWICE, and each time she easily took a bottle and fell right back asleep again.
Whew, were we relieved!
Another blessing was that my nephew from America and my hubby’s sister from northern Germany were here visiting and were an enormous help with changing diapers, cooking and cleaning. Just their presence was a reminder of God’s grace and that we would survive.
I’ve often heard well-meaning Christians say, “God won’t give you more than you can handle.” I have to disagree. We often find ourselves in situations that are way too difficult for us and where we don’t see an easy way out or a “light at the end of the tunnel.” But it is IN OUR WEAKNESS that God offers His strength. It is when we are at the end of our rope that His hand is there to grasp.