Things here have been crazy and I can't admit that I've been dealing with them well. One of the things I've been struggling with is migraines. These lay me out flat and it is so hard, so hard to do what I need, much less with great love. Mostly I just want to puke and pass out. Yes, my husband is a fantastic support. But when dad is out of commission it takes a few days for things to start to topple. When mom is sick this takes a matter of hours. So instead of being 'laid low' for a half a day it became over a week simply because I couldn't get the rest I needed. Combine this with the well meaning "why don't you just" and "you need time for you" and I was about ready to lose it.
Why do I mention this? Because at some point, no matter where we are or what we do, we are in danger of blowing it. In my case it was behaving poorly to my young children who cannot defend themselves. At other times it might have been yelling at a poor person who works behind a counter. Or perhaps yelling at a cop for pulling me over. You get the idea.
Sometimes my problems should not be the problems of the world around me. I'm an adult. It's not my right to make those around me feel bad. I'm a mother, so it's my responsibility to model proper behavior for my children. Actually, I have always believed that it is the responsibility of every adult to model proper behavior for children. I seem to be in the minority. But I digress.
Or maybe this digression is important. I don't think that people set out to be jerks. Maybe we've just forgotten that we have a choice and tools to deal with things when we are at our lowest.
One thing I've notices about western society is that we know everything. Yes, people without kids tell me how to parent. Parents tell teachers how to teach. I can tell a physicist until I'm blue in the face that gravity does not exist and then cry when I feel the effects of it. But I still know best, right?
Well, coming from a place where I nearly yelled at my kids for making noise while they were playing nicely with each other, I don't know it all. Obviously.
Let me repeat: I do not have all the answers all of the time. I do not always have it all together. Some days I feel like a failure. Some days I don't like myself very much. And I do not think it is acceptable for others to be the target of issues that I refuse to deal with.
There. Now that I've established common ground let me get to the point: At some point we need to take responsibility and work towards healing so we can be good caretakers of others. But how do we do that?
The first thing is know thyself. This is more difficult than it sounds because we are bombarded with images of how we should be in order to be acceptable. For the purpose of this exercise ignore those voices. Turn off the tv, radio, computer, and phone if you need. to. Keep them off for a day, a week, even longer. Don't worry, the world will continue to spin.
The second thing is to try to see yourself as God sees you. Let me expand on this one a bit. Try thinking of God as the Source of All Goodness. Now imagine God getting down in the dirt, molding your body with His hands (yes, even the bits you don't like). Now image Him smiling at His masterpiece and blowing life into your nostrils.
Imagine the gut-wrenching pain Jesus felt when He walked among us on earth, seeing us suffer. Do you really think that we were created to suffer? Do you really think Jesus suffered and died for us to suffer? Did I go through the agony of childbirth to hurt my children? Do I get up in the middle of the night to comfort them so I can berate them later?
Okay, sometimes I totally blow it with my kids. I shamefully admit this. But the only way I can get through this is to remember that me and my children (and everybody around me) have been created by the Source of All Goodness and bear His fingerprints; our creator is present and wants to help.
When I lose myself I ask God to find me. This is a simple thing but it is hard. I have been abused and neglected as a child. I have suffered postpartum depression. Twice. I know what it is to be lost, over and over. This works.
I am reminded not that I am nothing, but I am in communion with all around me. Those who suffer despair suffer from isolation. We can do nothing on our own. My suffering is important because it reminds me that I can still achieve great things in the midst of seemingly impossible odds. I am stronger than I think. It also reminds me of what is important. Do I need to take a break? Will the world end if I do? Will I end if I can't? My choice.
I am reminded of God's grace, and I am thankful. I am not thankful for my suffering but for God's steadfast mercy. One day the house was a wreck. My husband would be home soon and I wasn't up for explaining why the kids weren't in bed and the kitchen a mess. (I was assuming that he would judge me and find me failing.) My children were eating and having fun together. (Telling potty jokes, no less. They did NOT learn this from me!) And I was about to lose it! So I took a moment where I was and I asked Jesus to enter. Then in my mind's eye I saw Jesus sitting at the table with my children and he was laughing! I felt a rush of peace. Suddenly the mess was no big deal. There was no need to start yelling. Jesus was delighting in my children, potty words and all. So I bit my tongue. And you know what? By the time my husband came home the house was clean and the children had gone to bed nicely. Don't tell me that wasn't a miracle! My husband told me what I great mommy I am. Gosh. And it almost wasn't so.
Sometimes I need to spend time alone with Jesus. I love going to Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. I can ask Jesus what He wishes me to do. He never wastes my time. I allow Him to remind me of who I am. After all, He did make me. And in all honesty, He likes me better than I like myself. And I cannot be at peace with others unless I am at peace with myself.
But now I must go and make food for my family. One day the children will be off and I will not have the opportunity to 'do for' them.
May God continue to bless you!