I often feel like a swan, appearing to have it together on the surface but underneath madly paddling just to stay afloat.
Circumstances often leave my head spinning. Children playing noisily, a baby crying, a teenage meltdown, the phone rings, the washing pile stares menacingly at me, a meal needs cooking and schoolwork needs doing. Where do I start, how can I find a way forward when everything seems urgent?
My go to phrase is do, ditch or delegate. The challenge is thinking of which to do when your head is spinning, tiredness dulls your mind and hormones rock your emotions.
Having a new baby has certainly given me more opportunity to grow in patience and it’s forcing me to up my game. I know I’m struggling because I crave treats more, chocolate, wine, takeaways, meals out, baths, any escape route from the excess weight of work. All of this is normal, but it’s still hard. Hard isn’t bad though, it’s just hard and success normally involves hard work.
What’s the success I’m aiming for? I’m certainly not looking for a perfectly clean and tidy house, I’d just like to be able to find stuff when we need it. I don’t need perfectly turned out children, just clothes which fit them, are appropriate for the weather and don’t have holes in them. I’m not expecting to churn out a family full of Einsteins, but I would like them all to achieve their potential. I don’t expect harmonious relationships all day long, but I do encourage them to be kind even when they are tired, offended, hungry or hormonal (that point is needing lots of work at the moment!). Mostly I want to be able to stand before the throne of Grace and hear Him tell me I was a good and faithful servant, that I pointed my children to Jesus through my words and actions.
Success is easier to quantify in a workplace setting, but success in family life doesn’t come with pay rises, bonuses or even a pat on the back. We can never resign and we’ll never really get to the end of the ‘project’. We have to find little wins and relish the good moments, strengthening ourselves for the challenges ahead by filling our ‘happy banks’.
For me the way through the overwhelm is living in the moment and giving myself grace. I would love to do everything better, but I’m only human and accepting ‘good enough’ is one way I find peace.
I used to have everything in order, way back when we only had a couple of children. Routines were adhered to with military precision, meals were carefully balanced, activities calculated to ensure maximum learning potential and clothes carefully laundered but I had no ability to be flexible. I knew what I wanted to do for the next 5 to 10 years. I thought if I kept control, life would be good.
Secretly I admired mums who were more relaxed, but I just couldn’t let go. I thought I would never manage more children, broken routines, nutritionally imperfect meals or if I did I would be failing my children. Am I failing them when they eat a biscuit instead of a rice cake, or eat chips 3 times in a week? Am I failing them when we don’t get all our schoolwork done or I shout at them because I’m tired and overwhelmed? Maybe some people would say I am, maybe some people would say I should have stopped at 2 and done my job better, but I think I see it differently now.
Our children are learning about compromise, sharing, waiting, patience, tolerance and caring for others, these are the skills I want them to go into adulthood with. Of course I want them to eat well, learn well and stay clean and tidy, but I’ve learnt to let go of perfection and with that I have found a way out when life gets overwhelming.
Sometimes I wish I could press pause, sit down and have a cuppa, but when that doesn’t happen I try and make it happen. If I need to rest I ask the One who created rest to find me a moment. I use that moment to pray, eat chocolate, drink tea and go the loo alone! God sees my tears, knows my fears and struggles and only pushes me as far as I need to be pushed, in order to fall into His arms.
I’ve learnt to let go of the future, my plans are irrelevant, God’s plans are much better than mine. I would have chosen a safe, predictable life which didn’t push me out of my comfort zone, but I would have missed out on so much. Stepping out in faith is scary and it often leaves us overwhelmed, but that’s when we need to turn to God to bring us through that which He got us into. He’s always been faithful to meet my needs (not my wants) and he’ll meet yours to, if you ask.
Sending blessings to you all and praying you finding the joy of the Lord today.
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