I’ve been reflecting on a lot of things lately. Ponder is my word of the year, after all 😉
I was listening to Ven. Fulton Sheen’s talk “Three to Get Married” in the car the other day and one of the things that struck me is how often I expect Husband and V and Baby A to never ever bug me or cross me or disappoint me or hurt me.
But who could live up to that?
Only God. And I’m expecting that of my hard working husband and my young children.
No wonder I’m often overwhelmed with negative emotions. No wonder I’m often simply overwhelmed.
I’ve set myself up for failure with completely irrational expectations. And, quite frankly, they are rather prideful as well.
“I would never hurt them like this.” “I go out of my way all the time to give and give and give.” “I’m not asking for much.” Pride. Pride. Pride.
My husband is not God. My children are not God. I am not God.
We are humans. Beautiful, messy, resilient humans.
I’ve often found myself feeling betrayed by my family when they fail to meet my expectations of them. When they fail to care for me in the way in which I want to be cared for in that specific moment. I know that’s irrational, but it’s the way my brain works.
Reflecting on this seemingly widespread and rampant “mom overwhelm“, I keep coming back to Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane. Knowing what is to come, even He felt overwhelmed.
Withdrawing a second time, he prayed again, “My Father, if it is not possible that this cup pass without my drinking it, your will be done!”Matthew 26:42
Even he felt disappointed that His disciples fell asleep.
“So you could not keep watch with me for one hour?”
“You couldn’t even wash the dishes for me while I bathed our kids?”
“You couldn’t even pick up your toys while I made you a snack?”
Marriage prep and pregnancy classes should include units on managing expectations, on forgiving when you don’t want to, on giving yourself up for them even when they don’t “deserve” it.
When we forget that our goal within our family – our main goal, top level, end all be all goal – is to get our spouse and children to Heaven, we turn inward. We focus on our own needs and how they are not being fed by the other broken, fallen, messy humans in our lives.
When we remember our call is to focus on eternal life and not the present trials, we are free to accept our burdens as temporary. We are free to feel big feelings, to feel the overwhelm, betrayal and fatigue, to feel devastation and absolute misery. Because we know there is more to come, so wonderful as to make even the toughest trials worth enduring.
That knowledge doesn’t always stop me from yelling at the toddler who has been screeching the entire time I am making dinner. But it does remind me I am called to ask for forgiveness. It does remind me I am called to pick myself up off the filthy kitchen floor and sing praises to God for all the blessings we’ve been given. And that I cannot do it on my own.
I may be overwhelmed but I am called to turn to Him for support, to rely on the grace only He can give.
Baby A may see me lose it, disheveled and touched out, but he will also see me on my knees asking for forgiveness and strength, thanking God for the messiness and the cuddles, for the wet open-mouth kisses and poop in the bathtub.
V may see me oozing disappointment at Husband. She may hear me speak harshly using words we aren’t supposed to use because they are unkind. But she will also see me saying I’m sorry. She will see me thanking him for working hard, for vacuuming the floor, for wrestling with the kids. She will see me making him dinner after a hard 12hr shift. She will see me washing and folding his clothes with care. She will see me having intelligent conversations about important topics. She will hear me praying for him.
We may be overwhelmed. We may feel like failures.
But we have to remember they see it all. The good with the bad. The rise with the fall. We are teaching our children to be resilient and to love unconditionally. And that to love unconditionally is hard.
And that’s okay. It’s okay that it’s hard. It’s okay to feel overwhelmed.
Our hope is in Christ.