Reflections Following a Mom Meltdown

Photo by Total due, via Flickr

I had a meltdown on Saturday night.

It was one of Those Weeks. Four baseball games and one practice on top of the ordinary two nights of lessons (Christian’s), one night of choir practice. Piano. Dance. School choir. Oh, and Christian had to stay late at work twice. Oh, and Julianna’s school spring festival. And I woke up at 2 a.m. on Friday and went, “Oh, (redacted), I have a column due today, and I haven’t even started it.”

I tried a couple of times to catch up on the dishes & laundry, but abortive attempts to clean end up making you feel worse, not better. I had to tell my kids five, six, and seven times to do the same thing, finally resorting to shouting because they were completely ignoring me. And Michael kept bringing Tonka trucks and Duplos upstairs, and disassembling Nicholas’ light saber, and they were fighting over the new Matchbox car mat, and complaining every time I told them to do a chore instead of watching TV.

I just wanted to scrapbook for the first time in three weeks. Was it so much to ask to scrapbook for one hour in peace?

Apparently so: the boys were eating candy in the living room, stepping (and kneeling) on my scrapbook materials, bickering about who was going to be a Decepticon and who an Autobot, and throwing couch cushions. And the dishes were still not done, and although Christian had given baths (thank God!), when I got upstairs I found dirty clothes all over the floor…

Well, you get the idea.

There are times when it just seems hard. Like you keep having to give and give and give, way past the time when it is reasonable to do so. You know going in there are going to be tough times, but you’d think once you’ve been in the hospital with kids a few times, the piddly stuff wouldn’t get to you. Except it all dumps on top of you at the same time, with unreasonable tag-alongs like, yanno, hubby having to stay late at work to make it all feel even worse.

Nicholas was begging me for a walking in the woods story, and I’m telling you, reaching inside and pulling out a piece of myself in the form of a made-up story was already an unattractive proposition even before I got upstairs and found the pigsty of dirty clothes on the floor.

After the ensuing maternal meltdown I was leaning against the chest of drawers in the big boys’ room and thinking, Please God, help me to be bigger than myself. Awkward and ungracefully-phrased it may be, but in the madness of life this is my go-to prayer, because I am constantly having to give when I think I have a right to receive, to forgive when I think I have a right to hold grudges, and to show love and affection when all I want is to send somebody to their room until their next birthday. (In case you’re wondering, the next kid birthday in our house is at the end of November.)

Why is it that all of the effort has to come from me? Not only the effort to give the instructions, but the effort to teach how and to enforce and supervise the carrying out. Take the initiative to bridge the cracks in relationships that were CAUSED BY SOMEONE ELSE, DAMMIT. Why is it MY responsibility to bridge the gap?

I think I’ve quoted this line from Grand Canyon before. It goes something like: “All the good and bad things in life are so close together. I see it in you and me, even, in our marriage.” I can be laughing at a kid funny one moment and ready to tear my hair out the next. I love them with a fierceness that eclipses anything I’ve felt before, and yet most of the time I just want them to leave me alone for a while, for the love of all that is holy!

It just feels friggin’ hard right now. I don’t want to be “bigger than myself.” I want somebody to think about me for a change, instead of me serving everybody else’s needs, real or perceived.

These are the days that bring home with such excruciating clarity how parenthood does indeed model the love of God—the gift of self, the self-emptying, the continual bearing of a cross that carries both suffering and glory in one package. And I don’t feel one whit better to say so. I always want blogging to be a nice, neat package tied up in a “There, all better now” bow, but the reality is that I’m on this roller coaster for the long haul, just like a whole bunch of you who read these words. So I just put these messy, scattered-ended posts out there so we all know we’re not doing it alone.