Thursday, May 22, 2008

Give It a Rest

Despite its name, Working Wednesday is not working. Not at this point in my life anyway. I have enough deadlines, commitments, and must-dos looming over me to create a self-imposed one that isn't something I have to do.

There's that whole cliche of striving to be a human being instead of a human doing. Well, I tend to be the latter. I'm always doing, doing, doing, and frankly, I'm tired. Exhausted, really. Not that I won't still be doing very similar posts on a fairly regular basis. I just don't want to tie myself down to doing it on Wednesdays (or any other day). I want to do it when inspiration strikes and when it fits into my life.

I don't need the pressure of having a Wednesday deadline right now. Actually, the ones who really don't need that pressure right now are my kids. I haven't been the kind of mommy I should be lately. I have freelance assignments that help pay the bills. I have other responsibilities I can't let slide. I have prayers to be prayed, a husband to be loved (not just in theory but in action), and a life to be lived that has little to do with what's happening in Cyberspace.

So I'm my giving up on Working Wednesdays for now and I'm going to cut back on the time I spend on the Internet, something I did during Lent that proved to be extremely worthwhile. If I wasn't such a Type-Aer, I might not have to do this. But I am what I am and I'm tired of being, well, tired.

So long as I've brought it up, I'll share a few more thoughts on my exhaustion. I recently read a great post at Et Tu? called Getting my Life Back spurred me to write an email to Jennifer F. I explained that her post spoke to me on many levels but that her words, "agape is not running yourself ragged" screamed out at me.

Like many moms, I'm often physically exhausted. This in and of itself is difficult for me to accept. Once upon a time I ran circles around the Energizer Bunny. Not so much anymore. Some days my entire body literally aches with fatigue. It's the kind of fatigue I used to only experience after running 15 miles on a long Saturday run, but I don't run anywhere anymore (except maybe in the direction of an outlet that somehow missed the child-proofing inspection to prevent Baby from killing herself).

Still, I can deal with this. After all, being physically drained at the end of the day comes with the territory of being a mom of little ones.

But the kind of flattening lethargy I've been experiencing lately is of a different variety and I think I know why. I've got a huge lump of pride I've got to swallow. Here I am thinking that I can do it all – pray (never enough), parent perfectly, freelance write, minister to my husband's needs, write daily blog entries including a weekly one on Wednesdays that inspires the masses (or in reality, if I'm lucky, a handful of blog surfers), whip together home-cooked meals every night, bake healthy snacks and breakfast breads from scratch, vacuum daily, teach creative writing to kids, start thinking about homeschooling my own kids, exercise, volunteer, etc. – without any help from anybody.

Then, when I fail (which I do almost every single day), I beat myself up. It's a vicious cycle. Mom tries to be Super Mommy. Mom finds kryptonite everywhere in the form of physical exhaustion, perfectionism, temper tantrums, a teething baby, battles over potty time, flat tires, leaky sippy cups, looming deadlines, a husband who has to work late again, sick kids, the inability to say no to requests for volunteering efforts, and other toothpick-like crosses (if you can even call them crosses). Eeyore-like Mommy starts to feel sorry for herself, loses her strength, her patience, and sometimes her mind. Mom stays up too late ruminating about all this, blogging about it, reading blogs of other moms who seem to do it all (and they seem to do it much better than this mom), praying for forgiveness…Yada, yada, yada. Baby wakes up early to nurse. Preschooler wakes up after having a bad dream. Hubby starts snoring. Mom wants to scream (when she should want to pray). Mom falls asleep for a few token hours and wakes up exhausted but determined to be a perfect mom in spite of it. Mom fails again.

It's been the story of my life for too long now.

In her post, Jennifer F. admits that after the birth of her first child, whom she loved with all of her heart, she did sometimes felt like her life was on pause and that she couldn't wait to "get her life back" once her youngest was in school. I think this is a very common feeling. But, honestly, when I first became a mom, I never found myself mourning my "old life." Being a mom was all that I'd ever wanted. Now I had it and my life felt perfect. (My family was actually worried I might have something like mom mania instead of those baby blues you hear about because I was in overdrive for the first few months postpartum.)

Motherhood was consuming, but I wanted to be consumed by it. I wanted to soak up every minute of it. But back then, I also wasn't afraid to ask for help from God or anyone else. In fact, I can remember being so thankful to finally have a good enough excuse to cut myself some slack. "I'm sorry. I'm a new mom. I can't." Oh, it felt so good to say no to things. I'd been saying yes to everyone and everything in my life for a long, long time.

I was definitely still tired in those early years of motherhood (if you've stopped by my blog before, you know that my 3 1/2 year old still doesn't sleep through the night; she's what Minnesota Mom and others refer to as a spirited child), but I was able to recharge because I wasn't nearly as prideful. I took a break from freelance writing, didn't have a blog, didn't compare myself to other moms, and prayed for strength before praying for forgiveness.

Somewhere along the way, things seem to have gotten a little mixed up.

Maybe the reason I'm so exhausted – other than the fact that I stay up way too late regretting what I did or didn't do or am constantly trying to keep up with the blogging Joneses – is because I'm failing to accept my limitations and to humble myself before my Loving Father who wants nothing more than to sustain me and to fill me with his graces. But I have to swallow pride and let him. Perhaps my exhaustion is God's way of reminding me that I'm not resting in Him, the one who never grows tired, the one who will lighten my load and give me rest.

Lord Jesus, today I come to you tired and burdened and ask that you give me rest. Right now it's easy to see that I need you. I am exhausted and frazzled. Yet, I ask you to help me to see that I need you even when life is easy and I think that I've got everything under control. Above all, help me to to accept my limitations and to remember that you are the only one I need to always say yes to. Amen.

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