Let’s just be honest for a minute. Mothering is hard. If you think about it, it’s one of the most ridiculous jobs ever. Here’s a tiny human. Take care of all of their physical, emotional, and educational needs. Oh and make sure they turn into incredible adults ready to face the giant crazy world they have to live in. There are beautiful moments. Please don’t misunderstand me. I’m just saying the journey isn’t all sunshine and flowers. Then you add life to the equation. Suddenly, not only do I have to mother. I have to figure out mothering when life is hard. Let me share a bit of what has gotten me through the lunacy lately.
Mothering When Life is Hard
Last week I had a perfect storm kinda day. I woke to a dreary rainy day. I was ok though because it was Zumba day. (Zumba is one of my favorite things ever!) I got to the gym, did my workout, and headed into Zumba. Then it happened. This woman walked in who was not my amazing bubbly zumba instructor. I’m not saying she was the devil. I’m just saying they have probably hung out once or twice. The music was FAST, the moves were complicated, and was there feeling like I was in a dance class I didn’t prep for instead of Zumba.
Then she called me out!
20 minutes into Zumba she looked me right in the eye and in front of the whole group, said I was doing it all wrong. Do you know how absolutely humiliating that was? I almost cried. I’m down 20 pounds and doing my best with this fitness stuff. I didn’t need to be called out like that. By 30 minutes in, I walked out. I couldn’t keep up and I was feeling small and huge all at the same time.
Then the phone rang…
You know there are times when you want to answer the phone and there are times when you don’t. This time I should have just let it ring. It was the mechanic. Hubby’s car needs a new transmission. When I say my bank account laughed at me when it heard the word transmission. I knew we didn’t have money to repair and we would be getting rid of this car. I told the mechanic I would be there on payday and cleared the last of my emergency fund to be able to pay to pick up my might as well be dead car.
I was so defeated
Now don’t get me wrong. I understand we have a working vehicle, a roof over our heads, most of the bills are paid, and my kids are healthy. As someone who went through years of kids with really bad asthma, I understand the value of that. However, in that moment. I was defeated. I felt the weight of everything land on me as I tried to figure out how I would be handling all the coming and going that comes with homeschooling while having a husband who works an hour away. Every hurt and stress from the last six months flooded me. Losing family, failing friendships, financial struggles… All of it. Then I wept. I won’t lie. I didn’t weep. I ugly cried. You know the one. It’s the cry so ugly you almost can’t drive where you beg the kids to just not talk to you for five minutes. The one where they look at you like you have transformed into some sort of alien. That was me.
And then I made a choice..
In that moment as my kids saw me ugly crying over a car I realized I had a choice to make. I turned up my music, made myself sing worship songs I didn’t mean yet, and tried to find the positive in it. (If you aren’t a person of faith, find something else to crank. Music really can change the mood if you pick the right song.) As I drove back toward the house completely defeated I made a choice. When we got out of the car we played in the rain. Me in my workout clothes and them in their clothes. We ran through puddles, splashed each other, and just acted foolish. In that moment, I hit reset for them.
The day still stunk but I couldn’t change that
There was nothing I could do to change the day. In fact, my friend Sarah can attest to the fact that my 7 year old lost his mind that afternoon. (Turns out they both have colds! Yay Life!) It was a really rough afternoon and I wasn’t perfect. Thing is, I couldn’t change the car situation in that moment. I couldn’t undo the nastiness of zumba lady. I couldn’t even make my bank account not look anorexic. In that moment, all I could do was choose the way my kids would see this day.
Would they see me lose it? Would they see me fall apart again? Was I going to crumble under the pressure?
No. Just this once, though the day stunk and I was worn down I chose to give them a good one. For one day, they didn’t have to feel the weight of the world. Wanna know a secret? Changing my actions for them, changed my perspective for me.
So how do you hit reset?
Choose not to fall apart
Your kids will learn more from your reaction to a tough situation than anything else. While it can be really difficult, choose to contain the breakdown until you can be out of their line of sight. Sometimes it is completely ok to shield your children from the messy stuff in life.
Find one way to laugh with the kids
It won’t feel authentic at first. It will hurt and stink and be the last thing you want. Do it anyway. Play tag. Play in the rain. Dance to a silly song. Just find a way to laugh with them. Then they don’t remember your hard stuff. They remember the silliness.
What do you do with your really bad days? Are you going through a hard season right now? You are not alone. It may seem dark right but you can get through this. I know because I am.
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