Hmmm..... Why is it that in my search to be free I discourage myself from being free to be real?! I think it is because I am afraid that if anyone knew the REAL me, they wouldn't like me. Maybe too, it is because I have a standard, an "Ideal", of what is acceptable.... and I don't measure up to my own standard. Will others really judge me as harshly as I judge myself? Maybe, maybe not... but I'm afraid to find out. It leaves me vulnerable, open to hurt, target to criticism. I don't like being in that position. But in order to be free, I have to be real! OUCH!
Yesterday I had an awful day. The kind of day that I label "terrible, awful, no good, very bad, Jonah Day"! I am a single (divorced!--yep, I'm divorced) homeschooling mom of four children. If that doesn't paint a clear picture..... how about some help.
Ok, the previous two days before yesterday had been rainy. So, with four children (two boys and two girls, ranging in ages from 14 down to 7) stuck in the house all day..... I was getting quite irritated. I really love my children, but there are sometimes I'd trade them for a chocolate bar in a heartbeat! (Make it a Laura Secord french mint chocolate bar and I'll give you the whole gang.) So, yeah, I homeschool which means ME with FOUR kids, 24/7.
It also means that either I'm a supermom or lots gets left undone. I'm the latter. The laundry is piled up, having been washed and dried (thank God for automatic machines), but left in a pile on the couch awaiting sorting, folding and putting away. It never gets done!!!! Every day I hear the same sobs and whines.... "I don't have any socks." "I can't find clean underwear!" "Mom, have you seen my green shirt, you know, the one I wore to the park on Monday?" I would think that with the constant whining and bickering, I'd be motivated to get all laundry folded and in it's place asap to silence the cheery little chirps! Nope! It doesn't happen. Why?
Well, three square meals a day, plus snacks keeps me always on my toes. It seems I never leave the kitchen, except when I fall into bed at night. Well, unless I'm at the computer. And said kitchen has such sticky, gummy floors that it's hard to walk through without getting stuck. My twelve-year-old daughter seldom has to fill her cat's food dish, because the cat just eats a feast off the kitchen floor! All this preparing for all these meals and snacks leaves lots of dishes piled in, on, beside, and all around the sink. Who wants to wash dishes? Hey, I'm a good homeschool mom! I have chore charts and assigned tasks for each of my kids to do. But then, I'm also the one that has to enforce the doing, or just do it myself. Usually the latter is simpler and quieter; it saves the arguments and explosions of temper, and I don't get the "eye-rolls" quite so much when I just do it myself. Oh, and don't forget.... the 14-year-old son who is never full, and always hungry. Doesn't matter that he just ate a complete meal that I spent all afternoon cooking. He's hungry! "Mom, can I have that apple?" "Hey mom, why don't you make brownies.... we haven't had any in a long time and I'm hungry for brownies." "Never mind, I'll just eat this cereal for a snack."
So, never-ending laundry... I mean, when I actually see the bottom of the dirty clothes hamper, it's cause for a celebration! Never-ending cooking and eating, which leads to never-ending messes and dirty dishes. PLUS I homeschool my children (that's FOUR different grades at once!), and I tutor on the side. Actually, I'm also looking for a full-time job too... need to supplement the income. Honestly, now that I think about it... maybe the full-time job is so I can have a break, and do less work while getting paid more! Sounds good to me.
Okay, so I was saying: Yesterday was a Jonah Day for me. After two days of rain, and the kids in the house the whole time, I was on edge. I felt irritated with the slightest noises, digusted by the constant mess, aggravated that four kids could do so much damage in so little time and not even care. It was time for a pity party! I sent out the invitations to me, myself, and I. They came immediately and together we had the greatest party ever! I loudly banged pots and pans while complaining "I didn't eat this food, why am I the only one who ever does the dishes in this house!" Then I ran downstairs to Mt. Laundry to see if I could find a clean dishcloth and towel. I raised my voice like a yodeller and screamed "WHO dumped all this clean clothes all over the floor?! I want it picked up NOW!!!!" I came stomping back up the stairs to find my seven-year-old making himself a peanut butter and banana sandwich. Three very obvious slices of banana on the floor, went ignored. Okay, that was it! "I've had it!" I yelled in his face. "Go outside NOW, and leave me alone. You're such a pig!" I immediately regretted it, when I saw the tears well up in his eyes and he hung his head as he went out the door with his sandwich. But I was on a roll.... there's no way I was giving in now. So I continued to bang dishes around and fill up the sink.... starting my cleaning, while I kept peeking out the window into the yard to see what my son was doing. He kept himself occupied for a few minutes, glancing once in a while to the kitchen window to try to determine if my mood had changed. I noticed, and felt guilty, but I just kept doing the dishes. Poor child! How many times have I crushed his tender heart with my selfishness?
Now yesterday was a sunny day, clear and warm. I had pre-arranged a week earlier for a play-date with some friends. It was supposed to be in the early afternoon. But I was having a Jonah Day and didn't feel like visiting with anyone, let alone "playing" with a bunch of kids at the park! Oh, I was irritated! I snapped at my ten-year-old daughter because of her "silly questions" and I grouchily told them all it was their own responsibility to get their things together to go the park. Twice, my friend called to say there had been an adjustment to the plans, and I sweetly agreed with her and said "no problem, we're flexible"; while the whole time I was fuming and just wanted to cancel it altogether. Her sister-in-law was coming too with her kids and had some questions for me about homeschooling. Oh, and her sister-in-law was bringing a friend who was very curious about homeschool and considering doing it with her children too. "Just great!" I muttered to myself.... "now I'm the 'expert homeschooler' and have to hold an impromptu conference with a bunch of people I don't even know!" But of course, once we got to the park I smiled and greeted everyone and we chatted and had a good time. It really wasn't bad, except for the guilt and shame I felt as I watched my fourteen-year-old mirroring my own attitude, while he sat withdrawn from the group and barely spoke to a "new friend" who was coerced to come by his mom intentionally to meet my son. Whoa! It's true... the emotion and ambience of the family is set by the mother. The kids ran, and played, and mingled and had a good time. Actually, so did I!
The tears came later, in the evening. After making supper (which I was not eating), I had retreated to my bedroom, while the kids were out playing with some friends. I sat on my bed perusing the grocery flyers and trying to make up my shopping list. I was again feeling sorry for myself. I mean, why am I left to single-handedly raise four precious, young souls..... and I'm doing such a lousy job of it? Why did my landlord have to make the mistake with the rent cheque THIS month? Finances are tighter this month than they have been in a long time..... and he has to put the cheque in early THIS time? I know, I know... honest mistake and he offered to fix it. But me and my stupid pride said not to bother I'll be fine! "God, why are you testing me like this? What is it you want from me? What about ME needing a break, wanting someone to show me they care about me? Where did all MY dreams and hopes go? Will I ever find true love with a man, or am I doomed to single parenting and loneliness the rest of my life? How can I be so mean to my children who I'm supposed to love and care for?" All the concerns, doubts, thoughts, hopes, worries, fears, dreams, desires started pouring out. And I cried! I felt such freedom crying, and questioning God, and knowing that no matter my attitude... He loves me!!!! I had freedom in knowing that God is bigger than any complaint or blame I can place on Him, and He is patient enough to listen to all my whining without condemning me. Oh the comfort and freedom to really, truly be ME (good, bad and ugly) and still be loved and accepted.
I calmed down and began to read my Bible, letting the love of my dearest Friend wash over me. Soon I put my Bible down and started reading an excellent book for women (Captivating by John and Stasi Eldridge) that I keep in the drawer by my bed. I've read it before, but I love how it expresses the deepest yearnings and aches of my heart. Then there was a knock on my bedroom door. My ten-year-old daughter brought in a cup of green-mint tea (my favourite) in my fancy china teacup and saucer. "Here Mom, I made you some tea", she said and handed it to me. I set it on the bedside table, then gave her a kiss and hug and said "Thank you!" She left to get ready for bed, and as I picked up my teacup to take a sip, the tears began to flow again. I had been so horrible to my kids all day, and she was sweetly bringing me tea and telling me she loved me. "Oh, God" I cried, "I don't deserve this, but thank you. Thank you, Jesus, for loving me even when I'm unlovable and thank you for giving me such precious children."
I'm glad that with my Abba (Daddy), the Lover of my soul I am free to be genuine with all my hurts, pains, troubles, and sin. Yet, He still loves me! That is the ulitmate in freedom. A free that I don't feel I can truly have anywhere else because I might be judged or criticized or misunderstood. But God knows my every thought and He still loves me. He holds my hand all along the path of life, and when I stumble and fall, He is right there picking me up and setting me right again. Thank you Father!
I did apologize to my children, and asked for their help to keep me accountable in a certain matter I'm dealing with. So now I'm off to sort and fold clean clothes, in an attempt to reduce Mt. Laundry to a conquerable size.