from a weary mom after the holidays

becca-garber-kids-tupperware

I don’t know what exactly snapped on Saturday night, but it was at that point that I decided I’d had it with the kids.

Too many mornings staggering around the kitchen half-asleep listening to Lena recite what she would like for breakfast (“I want Grape Nuts with some of your milk in a bowl and then some of Daddy’s milk in a cup! OK, Mama? OK? I want Grape Nuts with some of your milk…”) and putting food on Gil’s tray as fast as he can eat it while just longing to sit quietly, read my book, and sip my cup of coffee. Too many hours on the floor with my children, building the same towers or scooping the same markers and crayons back into the same Tupperware container after we all “color” together. Too many hours in the kitchen throwing together meal after snack after meal after snack for my family. Too much time in the house, not enough time outside, not enough time with other people.

Marriage is like dancing, and at that moment on Saturday night, I just couldn’t dance anymore. One thing I’m learning, though, is that even when your partner stumbles, the music — that is, life — keeps right on going. The kids still need your help, the stomachs still need to be filled, the routine still must go on. Sometimes both partners stop dancing at the same time, and it’s messy and sad. But in that moment, Elliott kept dancing even though I couldn’t. He played with the kids, put them in the bath, and then, after they were in bed, he found me and encouraged me.

In those moments, I felt like a failure. I said I wanted to do this stay-at-home mom thing while the kids were tiny, and Elliott has not only been fine with this but has also praised me, supported me, and been grateful for me. But on Saturday night I just wanted a break from my life.  Unfortunately, there was really no feasible way to do that. Like most situations, the easiest answer was just to get a good night’s sleep, pray for strength and perspective, and start again the next day.

Honestly, I think part of the issue was that I just didn’t get out of the house enough over the holidays. Christmas through New Year’s keep people at home with their families, which is wonderful in some ways, but my home includes two kids two and under… ack! They need more to wear them out than just block towers, and I need more to give me a break than just their two-hour nap every afternoon.

It’s Monday morning now, and it’s a new day. There is coffee in my cup, laundry in the machine, and sunshine streaming through the windows. It’s highlighting all the dirt on the floor, but… I’ll tackle that eventually. Gil is napping, Lena is at a friend’s house, and Siena is rubbing affectionately against my legs, then dashing ahead of me with a little Maine Coon-chortle wherever I go. I pray at the end of Gil’s nap I can pick him up with genuine joy and go to meet Lena with anticipation and thankfulness.

What do you do to help you recharge your batteries when you’re tired of your work, whatever it might be? No matter what our profession, we all have to show up the next day (or right after nap time) with a smile on our faces and a can-do attitude. How do you get there? What recharges you?

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27 Responses to from a weary mom after the holidays

  1. Jen January 6, 2014 at 1:54 pm #

    ah, I can very much relate! my husband was off a lot around the holidays, and just went back full time today. the togetherness was lovely…but mix that with some grey german weather and I have been feeling done as well.

    this is one of many reasons I am very ready to move back to the states, I want to spend the afternoon at barnes and noble, sipping my latte :) that relaxes me.

    • Becca January 6, 2014 at 2:03 pm #

      OMG, Jen, THAT is what I need. A whole afternoon at B&N. I think that really would set me straight! I’m terrified they’ll go out of business one day, because then how can I drink Starbucks and browse classical fiction, bestsellers, knitting books, and stationery all in one place?!

  2. Mary Grace January 6, 2014 at 2:20 pm #

    I love your honesty, Becca! I agree- we must get out of the house often! We spend a lot of time with friends, at church, and playing outside. God gives us the grace we need to make it through those hard moments. This morning I changed one of my goals for 2014 to: Let Him sustain me. I try to substitute coffee, diet & exercise, whatever sleep or rest I can get.. those things are good but they are temporary. I hit my caffeine limit and still feel tired, get in a hurry and run out of time for a healthy meal, have pretty much given up on the gym, and Carleigh is teething/not sleeping well. Even if I do get my act together and all of those things are working right, they only fuel our flesh & mind. Staying in His Word daily & praying without ceasing are the things the fuel our spirit. I so need to apply this to my daily life! I love having mommies like you who I can identify with!

    • Becca January 6, 2014 at 2:35 pm #

      Thank you so much for this, Mary! You are so right and I know this is the real source of peace, refreshing, and refocusing. Elliott and I do read Scripture and pray each day, but (and we were talking about this last night), it’s often the last thing each night. It should be the first part of our evening as soon as the kids are in bed, but more often than not it’s the exact opposite… and we are in bed and falling asleep as we pray!

      Truly, the Lord is the Sustainer and the Encourager, the lifter up of our heads. I want to glorify Him in my work, and I know He delights in the everyday mundane done with grace and patience.

  3. Marilyn January 6, 2014 at 2:31 pm #

    Great post! And though mine are at totally different stages than yours with college students and young adults in the mix — it is still an issue, especially when you choose to have a big family. I especially like your dance analogy – that you get tired of dancing but the dance hasn’t stopped. I tend to be like you as well – I need the quiet, the book, the coffee, and order. That’s what recharges. Thanks for this post today.

    • Becca January 6, 2014 at 2:37 pm #

      Marilyn, so good to hear from you! Thank you for encouraging me. I continue to be inspired by your work and by the memories of your family and all that you have done together. I know Elliott and I hope to one day be like you all!

      • Marilyn January 6, 2014 at 8:18 pm #

        Oh my gosh – these words are so kind! You will be so much better and wiser than me and we :)Love sharing your live in Sicily and your kids are edible -so.cute.

  4. Rachel January 6, 2014 at 2:50 pm #

    Bible study will begin again soon!!

    I also strongly encourage you to hire a nanny for one morning a week. I felt so guilty spending the money, as well as feeling guilty that I needed time away (which is ridiculous! NOBODY wants to be with ANYBODY 24/7/365)… And it was absolutely the best thing I did for all of us. I became a better wife and mother. I think the most therapeutic part wasn’t the actual time away, but more that I knew the time was coming. The days didn’t stretch endlessly before me with no relief in sight. I was able to put up with a whole lot in anticipation of the break!!

    • Rachel January 6, 2014 at 3:06 pm #

      Oh, and a nanny will help around the house while she’s there!! ;)

      • Becca January 6, 2014 at 4:46 pm #

        This is very wise, Rachel! We have started a great little thing with Shannon Bateman; Lena spends a couple of hours with her at her house during Gil’s nap time once a week or so, and that lets me get work done at home. Actually, that was exactly what was happening when I was writing this blog post! And I DO feel refreshed. It needs to happen more, I think…

        • Rachel January 6, 2014 at 7:54 pm #

          Awww, Shannon is so sweet!! How wonderful for you!

  5. Tiffany January 6, 2014 at 3:34 pm #

    I used to eagerly plan and look forward to “Mommy vacations”; even if only for two nights away with much needed rest, but back here in the states travel is much more expensive. I’m still trying get a balancing act together, but reading, writing, and running (when I can) have been my oases.

    • Becca January 6, 2014 at 4:45 pm #

      Thanks for these ideas, Tiffany. Have you tried a short mommy vacation to the bookstore?! That idea from Jen at the top of this post sounds like heaven to me right now! And cheap, too!

  6. Bethany January 6, 2014 at 3:42 pm #

    Thanks for this. I’ve been feeling this of late too, especially since things have been extra crazy after making a cross-country move during the holidays. I liked what you said about getting some sleep and praying for perspective. Our pastor at church Sunday morning said some very refreshing and encouraging words. He said, God indeed cares for our souls, but he also cares for our physical needs. When Elijah was ready to quit, God gave him sleep and then sent angels to minister to him with food and more rest and more food. I was encouraged by the reminder that God sees and meets all of our needs–both spiritual and physical. Even Jesus became weary during his ministry on earth.

    I’m not saying this very eloquently, and I’m sure you already know all of this, but sometimes it bears repeating, and I hope it’s a bit of an encouragement to you to remember that God understands that our work as moms is physically, emotionally, and spiritually taxing and that we grow weary. We can trust that he will give us rest and refreshment when we need it, and it may take on various forms–time in his Word, a cup of tea and a quiet moment, a solitary trip to the bookstore, regularly scheduled relief from a nanny (I like this idea a lot and think I might have to talk it over with Brandon). We can also trust that when we don’t get the rest and relief we think we need God will sustain us, because he has promised to equip us for the work he calls us to do. But all that being said, I hope that today you get your cup of coffee and quiet moment with your book of choice!

    • Becca January 6, 2014 at 4:44 pm #

      Thanks for this, Bethany! I am not looking forward to our move in July. Definitely going to bring out a lot stress and “aaaack” moments for me, I’m sure. Also, good wisdom about spending time in the Word. Like I said above to Mary Grace, that is such a good reminder and something we struggle to do in a timely fashion. I know it would sustain me and encourage me more if I actually looked to it for that… instead of a to-do item at the end of the day!

  7. Melissa January 6, 2014 at 4:18 pm #

    I, too, am a stay-at-home mama of two little ones two and under, and fully understand the craziness, tiredness, and yet overwhelming sweetness! Two books that speak wonderfully and encouragingly to this season are Rachel Jankovic’s “Loving the Little Years” and “Fit to Burst”. Short chapters make them quick reads. Both helped give me good perspectives for my “I’m going to the Bahamas! Alone!” moments. . .

    • Becca January 6, 2014 at 4:40 pm #

      Melissa, I loved her book “Loving the Little Years”! Five stars! It was so funny and so encouraging, and I scribbled and underlined all over that thing. I would love to get her new book! Thanks for the reminder… and for making me LOL at the Bahamas idea. :-)

  8. esther. January 6, 2014 at 5:26 pm #

    Know that what you’re doing, despite whether or not you’re receiving a pay check, is valuable beyond measure. For now, this is your calling – and just like anything worth doing – it can be exhausting. In that vein, just as an employee gets time off (sometimes paid, sometimes not) you need to make sure you get time off as well. If it’s possible, make room in your budget to have a day or more per month where you can pay someone to watch your kids (or swap with another mother who is in the same boat as you are) and have an entire day to yourself to do nothing but relax and recharge. Not a day to catch up on housework or blogging or bills (because those opportunities will come at you multiple times per day) but on doing the things that you know recharge your soul. I have no children (as you well know) but I do have some of my own challenges and in the midst of these I am learning that it is not selfish to take time away and recharge but that instead, it is vital to our health and well-being. You will be healthier and happier for it and as they say, “ain’t nobody happy if mama ain’t happy!”

    • Becca January 6, 2014 at 9:32 pm #

      Thank you so much for the reminder about paid workers taking vacation and time off! I always forget about that. It seems like I shouldn’t expect it when I get a 2-hour break every day — much longer than a “lunch break”! — but even the best of us need a little more than that…

  9. Jennifer January 6, 2014 at 9:00 pm #

    My son’s just three, and a jabbering ball of energy! There are days I’ve had enough, too. We are blessed to have two sets of grandparents about an hour away, so they’re usually more than willing to take him off our hands for a day or two. Also, I’m guessing you don’t have this option in Sicily, but here we have drop-in daycares. I’ll drop Cole off there or the YMCA for a couple of hours to get things done or just for occasional me time.

    • Becca January 6, 2014 at 9:31 pm #

      Drop in day-care… wow! We do *sort of* have that option here, but whenever I call it’s generally full. Maybe in the States after this summer there will be easier options.

  10. Lucy January 7, 2014 at 4:10 am #

    I so appreciate your honesty. How great that Elliott recognized your need and helped you. You are constantly meeting the needs of your family, and it’s easy for your needs to get pushed aside…the need for a bit of fresh air, for a bit of quiet. I remember with young children getting physically exhausted … often. I needed and so appreciated some time away by myself that my hubby would give me on Saturday mornings. I relished that time alone.

    • Becca January 7, 2014 at 8:25 pm #

      You are such an example to me, and I really have hardly any memory of you “losing it” or needing to be alone. A huge example for me! Thank you for your love and prayers.

  11. Catherine January 7, 2014 at 12:31 pm #

    Oh I am so right there with you Becca- I have been feeling so burnt out with mothering lately…and Lily, whose about to turn 4, no longer naps and recently has struggled to even rest during her rest time— yesterday after the fourth time of her coming down from her rest time (and after the first time, she had already managed to be loud enough to wake Calaeb!), I truly felt myself starting to lose it. Honestly I never really reset until maybe this AM as I sit in the quiet before they wake with my hot cup of tea! I have recognized lately that I have resented my kids’ needs…and that I need to draw on something more than my own strength to get through the day with them- and more than that, to cherish (most of- no one is perfect!) the day with them— AND that I need to have a godly perspective on my list of what needs to get done in the house and remind myself to be “present over perfect” (ie- getting things-even like laundry!-done). Anyways, thanks for your words- honest mom moments are so encouraging and I do really think the Holy Spirit uses them to help us all process this crazy thing called parenting…because in it, we are being parented too by our Heavenly Father! That’s probably the point of it all, right? I forget that so often! All the best, Catherine Burke

    • Becca January 7, 2014 at 9:02 pm #

      Catherine, I really think I would go CRAZY if my child got up 4 times from her rest time! Lena actually has been waking up a lot in the night and calling for us to put her blankets back on or just tell her it isn’t time to get up yet, and by the third time in the night, we’re so mad. So tired. Just want to sleep before the cycle starts all over again! So to all the children who interrupt their parents’ rest time: you’ve been warned.

      And YES to your last comment about being parented by our Heavenly Father. Such a good perspective. Although thankfully God never needs to nap, so that is one way that we are so much more blessed than our children!

  12. Tiffany January 7, 2014 at 4:29 pm #

    “Sometimes both partners stop dancing at the same time, and it’s messy and sad.” That has been us in the past few months, and it is, indeed, so tough! Hang in there!
    We are both introverted, so any “I” time we can squeeze in recharges us. Music also helps. As does prayer. Will be scrolling the comments to see more brilliant suggestions! :)

    • Becca January 7, 2014 at 9:05 pm #

      Thank you for being so honest, Tiffany! You know I talk about it because I know exactly how it feels. It’s painful and humbling to pick yourself up and keep on loving — and even dancing — after a falling out. I do see maturity and experience giving us grace, though, and I have hopes that we’ll get better at understanding, anticipating, reconciling, and loving as the years go by!

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