Maybe our house is unique, but it seems like a good portion of our yearly stress hits in November and December. Cooking, cleaning, entertaining, end of semester testing for our daughter, church and social obligations and a pile of other to-do’s means the period from Thanksgiving to the New Year is basically a blur. As mom/teacher, the end of the year is also when I have what I call my annual “panic attack”. I understand real panic attacks are a serious medical condition that call for medical attention. Although, my episodes probably don’t qualify as a classic panic attack, they are still very stressful.
I find myself questioning everything I have or have not done for my daughter. As she is in her junior year of high school, the questions seem to take on an even more serious tone. Did we choose the best subjects to study? Is she keeping up with students in other school environments? Is she developing a strong personal relationship with God? Do I push her too hard? Should she have more down time? More friends? Less friends? Different friends? The questions can go on for hours.
One of my favorite shows is Nineteen Kids and Counting (or is it twenty by now?). I sit fascinated as I watch the mom, Michelle, seemingly breeze through her days raising and homeschooling who knows how many children. Talk about humbling! There are days when I can barely manage raising and homeschooling my one child. I can’t even begin to imagine how to multiple that by nineteen!
Television shows can make you feel either incredibly inadequate or in the case of those nanny shows, probably just a little bit smug. The true reality is that being a “good” parent is a lot of hard work. When I was pregnant with my daughter, I asked some moms of well behaved children their secrets. Ironically, two of them looked at me and said, “There are no compliant children.” Evidently they had worked hard for years to train their children to be well behaved, loving, young men and women. They told me parents of children who were less well behaved would look at them and sigh, “Aren’t you lucky God gave you a compliant child.” The reality is I have yet to meet anyone who received a child who was always perfect. There is a lot of work that has gone on in the homes of those little “angels” you sometimes see in public.
For many of you, Christmas is a relaxing holiday at home with your family. For others, it is a whirlwind of shopping, baking, decorating and social commitments. What is supposed to be a holiday, turns into an event which would exhaust a marathon runner.
A few years ago, we had a beautiful snowy afternoon after the holidays. For those of you who live in more northern areas, you will probably be amazed that about a half inch of snow means at least one snow day in Atlanta. I have always suspected that during the winter, the school system is looking for almost any excuse for what we used to call a “mental health” day.
Scattered throughout the laws God gave Moses are numerous instructions for days and even years of rest. God knew people (and land) needed to have some time when they weren’t working and were made to rest. Farmers have rotated crops for years in order to let the land rest. It allows the land to remain fertile. I believe rested people are more productive as well. Regrettably, over the years we have basically lost the concept of any kind of Sabbath period. Even our days of worship are filled with meetings, showers, chores and errands after services.
As mothers, we fall in love with our children before they are even born. We can’t wait to hold them in our arms and have wonderful dreams of what their childhood will be like. Those first few months are an exhaustive whirl of diapers, feedings and showing your beautiful baby to everyone.
We are so overjoyed when our children utter their first attempts at words. Many discussions are held (rivaling world summits) over whether the sounds were “MaMa” or “DaDa”. Then it happens. We have told our once precious child he cannot do what he wants to do. Or perhaps she cannot have what she wants to own. Suddenly, the words sound more like, “You don’t love me!” or the ever popular (and permanently banned in our house!) “I hate you!”
Where you ever so tired rocking your infant to sleep, you prayed he fell asleep before you did so you wouldn’t accidentally drop him? Have you ever been up all night with one of your children and packed your other child a school lunch of pop tarts and leftover Halloween candy? Does the idea of an afternoon nap sound more exciting than winning a new car?
Parenting can be exhausting at times. If you read my post last week, you may have been trying to parent intentionally for a few days now. The first day may have gone well, but then one of your children got injured and required an E.R. visit. That meant no church for you and the injured child and you spent the afternoon helping your other child with a school project. You barely survived the weekend and have no idea how anyone ever survives parenting, much less parents their children intentionally towards God.