The theme of my concerns over recent weeks/months/years, has circled my role as a Mum. I have this tremendous fear that my insecure reactions may have already damaged my children’s sense of self worth. How it is especially hard trying to raise them to be healthy, happy and secure, while I am still trying to get myself there. I get angry at myself for falling short, giving them less than they deserve. Tears well up as I confess this, it is extremely difficult to share, so please bear with me. I will try to allow my vulnerability and shame to create something worthwhile here…
I lean heavily into my faith, repeating the mantra, “Don’t Stress, Do your Best, God will take care of the Rest and You’ll be Blessed”. I trust in this, yet I admit my trust wavers, especially when it comes to me doing my best, am I really? While He develops my faith, I pursue healing… I must for their sake and my own.
My children are older now (9 & 16), they are dealing with emotional issues, more than behavioural ones. They are extremely well behaved, and try their best to be so. Recently I watched my reactions as a parent to my children even more closely; I saw how often my desire to teach them sounded as if they were ‘less than’. How my attempts to help them understand happiness made them confused and sad. How my reaction to their unhappiness made them self-conscious and withdrawn.
I broke down…
“How is this still happening?” I thought to myself. After over 6 years of therapy and 13 years of developing faith, I still have not figured out how to stop the cycle of damage and self-loathing which has infected its way throughout my family tree.
I wrote and wrote, I poured out my confessions on every scrap of paper I could lay my hand to. I let the tears fall as I held myself accountable for their growing hearts, which need to be nurtured by a Mum that loves in healing ways, not toxic ones. Yet I had no idea why my love was so poisoned.
Then as usual I withdrew again…. into distractions and a couple of glasses of red.
I had a 2.5 hour session with my therapist the other week, and we spent time figuring out the core of my parenting crisis. It was supposed to be the usual hour, but he knew I needed more time and gave it willingly, bless him.
After many tears shed and much rambling, probably mostly incoherent, we came to a few realisations. Firstly, that I have a list of responsibilities in the forefront of my mind. Fighting for the top spot of that list is my desire to make my children happy, along with being an obedient, self aware, child of God, and a supportive, capable and loving wife etc.
We narrowed in on my role as a Mum, to find out what causes me to react in unhealthy ways rather than healthy ones (besides the general thesis that my reactions spring from a platform of shame and insecurity). We needed to discover the more specific catalyst.
Eventually this catalyst revealed itself to be a connection between being happy and being right. I grew up believing being ‘right’ was the be all and end all. I spent so many early years unhappy for being so very far from ‘right’, believing many lies were truth, that somewhere along the way of realising this I have attached unhappiness with being wrong.
As we dug a little deeper we found that whenever I see a need to correct my children’s behaviour or teach them how to deal with something new, my fear of their unhappiness attaches itself to them being human (not perfect) and my panic causes an emotional reaction. This emotional reaction is more powerful than my words aimed to teach, more powerful than my good intentions. My way of defending against the fear is what shows on my face as I react. My anger at myself for believing those early lies is what shines out, and all they must see is an angry, scared Mum. No wonder it doesn’t work out well. 😦
We also figured out that I seem to be missing a piece of the puzzle, the place of stability that helps gauge which situations are worth getting upset about and which ones can be met with a neutral, unemotional response. In my desperate mission to stop my girls ending up like me, I have been allowing my fear to unconsciously correct their emotions and even their opinions. I cant express in words how ashamed I am. Forgive me Father, Forgive me Girls!
And so now that I have become aware of this in more detail, I must learn to give supportive freedom for them to experience their own emotions and opinions in each situation and not link them to being right or wrong, happy or sad, damaged or healed. Just to simply accept them, for all that they are. The Lord will teach them in life what I cannot, I need to change my focus to be less about teaching them how to not be like I was/am, and more on helping them be who they are. Using Affection, Approval and Acceptance to help them believe they are good enough, that they belong and are loved.
My psych has given me some tips to practice, in order to attempt to undo some of these patterns.
- Sitting face-to-face with them wordlessly, non-judgmentally, soothing the internal dialogue inside me, which drives me to teach them to control and avoid imagined catastrophes.
- Sit and listen without responding so much. (Oh my, that is hard for me at anytime)
- Try not to challenge any opinion they have unless 99% sure that it is incorrect.
- Try not to challenge any emotions they have, merely SHARE the experience with them.
- Try not to let their emotions change my emotions reactively. Wait until I can think neutrally before making decisions. This will teach what my words could not, that emotional manipulation is unfair and unhealthy.
- Before I respond to anything, ask myself this question, “Do I feel good enough or defensive?”, and wait until I feel good enough before I respond.
- Use soft eyes and a low pitch when correcting and teaching.
- Be aware of my fearful reactions during meditation, run through these tips from a calm relaxed place and allow the fear to pass by without being the catalyst for reaction.
This list is not going to be easy for me to apply, but I have been trying and had a few successes. I hope that someone else out there can gain something useful from this post. So that other children don’t have to stay in unhealthy cycles. I ask for your prayers, pray that this is finally the breakthrough I have been waiting years for and that God will reach down His hand and help me walk these new strategies out in my life. That His love will flow through to fulfill my girls when my love is tainted with fear. That my inner enemies will not win out, but will end up in the pit far away from my me and my family. In Yeshua’s Mighty Name I pray. Amen!
As I drove to work yesterday I was listening to breakfast radio, and the female announcer brought up a complaint made by a wife who she had been in discussion with.
The wife was a stay at home mum and her husband worked 10 hours a day to provide for them. Her complaint was that he should help out more at home and not gripe when she gives him jobs. She was adamant that her husband should do more, such as cleaning the shower and toilet, help with cooking and take some responsibility for bathing, dressing and attending to the children etc when he was home.
The male announcer explained the husbands response, which was basically “I have just worked 10 hours and walk in the front door to hear these words or similar come from her mouth. “”Good you’re home, now you can help me with these kids. Can you run them a bath and take the baby for a while?”” I just walked in the door from a long hard day, I want to sit down for 5 minutes and relax with a beer. I don’t think that is too much to ask!”
The female announcer replied “She is obviously unhappy, if he can do more to help her be happier in their relationship, shouldn’t he just do it!”
I saw red! This is one of the most infuriating stances that many women let their inner enemies convince them to take. They may as well be saying “I am going to keep complaining about how unhappy I am until I make the whole house unhappy, so you will have no choice but to bow to my every request’.
Now let me clarify, this wife didn’t work, and her children were in childcare 3 days per week, and she claimed that she never stops, that she never gets a break. Even if they were at home all day every day, pouncing on her husband the second he walks in the door is selfish, ungrateful and unloving. I know because I used to be like this. I was all these things and worse.
One thing I learned some years ago is that miserable complaining only breeds more misery. I know plenty of husbands who have done their best to meet every ridiculous, demanding request of their wives, only to discover they could never reach the light at the end of the list, nor help her find peace and happiness.
“It is better to live in a corner of a roof, than in a house shared with a contentious woman.” Prov 21:9 (ASV)
These relationships fell apart leaving a trail of bitter destruction, and setting the worst kind of example for their children’s future relationships.
I grew up in a home with a single Mum who had to work 45-50 hour weeks to provide for us. She had the responsibility of raising three children, with no family close enough to help her. My younger sibling was only 18months old when Mum became single. Through sheer will and determination she did it all. I watched her struggle to cope, I heard constantly how stressful her life was. As a child I can remember the countless times she would pour tears over her finances, often sharing that burden with us children. She missed out on doing the school run and hearing about our day or our thoughts as we drove to and fro. She was unable to keep watch over us after school to make sure we stayed on track. She had no time to learn new recipes or practice creativity in the kitchen, she just fed us. She had no opportunity to load some of the weight onto someone else just because she was tired. She had no one to share some of the burden at the end of a long day. She just did it, all, on her own.
As a wife and mother I am so very, extremely grateful that I have a man who is willing to work long days to provide for us. I do my utmost to put aside my days complaints and greet him after work with a cold beer, a warm smile and a kiss. As a result he is more likely to: a) Come home! b) Help me, and c) Rush to my aid like the knight in shining armour I always dreamed of.
If we give compliments and praise in recognition of all the things, small or large, that they do for us, they will be more willing to help out when we are unwell or warn thin from a tough day, or if we come across a challenge we need their help with. We need to build them up, not tear them down! We need to recognise that our contentious attitude is causing more problems, and make attempts to change it. We need to call on our inner angels to help us see all the things we are grateful for, and refuse to let disappointment from unmet expectations breed bitterness and misery.
On a final note, (this is an area that I am currently trying to make more changes to myself), we take so much responsibility away from our men due to our controlling, often insecure natures. Even if they do try to help, often we are there pointing out how they ‘should’ be doing it, or criticising them afterward because it wasn’t done the way we do it. When we ask their opinion regarding a decision, we reply with our reasons to disagree. We say we want them to take some of our load, but when they try we yank it back out of their hands.
I wonder how many women would tolerate being told that everything we try to do is not done properly, or if every decision we made was overturned and debated?
Trusting our husbands to be capable, and giving their decisions a chance to succeed before we catastrophise them into oblivion, will help boost their self worth, and their sense of masculinity. That way they will have the opportunity to dazzle us with their skills and leadership, and we in turn can relax in grateful appreciation of how lucky we are to have them.
My little miracle baby is today well on her way to her ‘own’ life. Yesterday she passed her learner’s test and can now legally sit behind the wheel of the car (Metaphoric in itself). She acquired a part-time job on the same day and completed her Tax File Number Application (almost) completely unsupervised.
Is that IT now?
How much more can I do within the ‘Motherly’ role I have held for over 16 years? I know nothing else! There has never been a time in my adult life where I was not responsible for her.
She can earn her own money now, she can drive a car. She has grown-up, and I feel like I watched it all with the fast-forward button jammed stuck!
I miss the expression on her tiny face when she looked to me for the simplest request. “My shoelaces are knotty Mummy, I can’t open them”. She would appear in the doorway of my bedroom with her hair sticking out like a birds nest saying “Look Mummy, I did my hair for school all by myself”, she was always the most placid, happy kid, she made parenting look easy. She doesn’t need to look to me for day to day comforts, these days she looks to her Ipod or mobile phone. Once upon a time a cuddle from Mum could soothe away any savage, frightening beast, now she leans into the arms of her boyfriend, much to my discomfort at the reminder of a loosening grip.
Every now and then she emerges from her bedroom with her shirt buttons out of whack. I think she does it on purpose to make me feel useful.
I understand that my influence and control over her life has changed forever, now I need to clamber into an unfamiliar role. I am not sure if I ever got used to the first role, but now that it is slipping from my grasp I want desperately to cling on for little while longer.
I remember being 17 yrs old and saying to my Mother..”You had 17 yrs to teach me how to be what you wanted, 17 years to make my decisions for me…now your time is up! You can’t keep trying to control my life just because you don’t trust that you did a good enough job of teaching me how to control it myself.” That was my defensive way of dealing with her when she didn’t agree with my life choices.
I thought I knew how to make choices I could happily live with, I lived with them regardless. I let my split family drive me to believe I could be happy if I started my own family at such a young age. God obviously had the same plan and I trusted Him, without even realising how profound that was at the time. I needed sound advice and support of my final decisions. This is how I aim to approach this new stage of motherhood (God Help Me!)
So as I step out of my comfort zone into this new phase, I need to remember the foundation of the parental principles which my Dad showed me. He would listen to my dilemma’s and give a variety of choices and explain the possible consequences, then he would say, I can’t tell you what to do, but I will support you no matter what you decide. For all the times I’m sure he cringed at my final decision he rarely showed it, He trusted God to guide our lives and was adamant that if we obey God and trust in Him completely, He can save not only our soul but the souls of our children and our grandchildren. He had obeyed God in the face of every kind of rejection, and I trust His granddaughter into the hands of the Almighty. It is almost completely out of my hands. I must now guide her without the tactics that so easily, reactively spring to mind, without judgment and disapproval, without manipulative control, without guilt trips, without blackmail, without one-sided lectures. Now I need to listen, now I need to support. Now I need to be stable enough for her to know that no matter what life throws her way, I will be there to hold her hand and show her my love, regardless of which way she chooses to direct her life.
There are times when the circumstances of life get heavy for me and the depression I have fought with rises back up against me. I recognise that my mood is contagious, if I am happy and full of joy so is the rest of my family, and if I am irritable and low it seeps through causing a bad mood to set into the whole house. While I am mostly known to be a person of positive and high spirits, I have a hard time being that way all the time, especially behind closed doors. I feel the pressure of that weight on me and sometimes it breaks me.
I want so much to help others find the methods that helped me through the darkest times of my life. But I still have so much to learn, how can I begin to teach others? I guess once again my disorder is causing me to doubt my calling, and it is pretty much impossible to publish a blog when I am filled with doubt.
I can see so clearly ways to help future generations live a life of faith and learn to let God have His way with our lives. To bring the abundance of peace, joy and love that I see when I have visions of the future, where God is once again given ultimate authority over this place.
I see it, I believe it, but I still struggle every day to live this life as that premium version of myself!
I believe my children deserve a Mum who doesn’t drag down the mood of the house with the heaviness of depression and the instability of anxiety, yet I have to submit to the fact that God knows why He chose me for the job.
My inner enemy is always trying to convince me that my girls deserve a better mother than me. I get so disheartened when I allow the negative poison inside me to overflow out onto them. I know what damage it can do and I want more than anything to protect them from it.
I have had a rough couple of weeks, with health issues and extra emotional pressure. When I get like this I remember all too well how deep I sank into depression the first time I felt this useless. My accident left me damaged and a shell of my former self. I was unable to find any joy or peace, except in my faith. But Faith isn’t as easy to share as you may think. Faith can hold you tight by the ankle as life drags you out over a cliff, on the outside I may look like I am faithless, panicking and freaking out as I stare down into the abyss beneath me. But I manage to stay there until I am once again placed on solid ground, over and over this happens and I guess I must find comfort in knowing that I haven’t been dropped to meet my doom. My faith has held me tight, no matter how far from calm I am.
I hit my lowest point a number of years ago, in my darkest moment I believed that they would actually be better off without me. As I stared at a handful of pills, and kept half an eye on a bottle of vodka, I thought to myself ‘It’s that easy’. I cried out to God to help me! Praise God I snapped out of it! I had to accept that my illness was clouding my clarity of thought. I had to put myself in my girl’s shoes and I realised that they would not understand that I was doing this for them. All they would know was that I left them, and the thought of leaving them alone to struggle through this life without me was even scarier than the damage I thought I was already causing them.
I thank God that He gave me the help to escape the trap my mind was setting for me. I swore that day that I was going to keep on my godly armour, to surround myself with an army of angels and prevent those thoughts creeping back in.
My faith pulled me back over the edge of that cliff and put me back on solid ground, but I had to work hard, I had to keep my eyes on God, and make sure I was honest in my therapy sessions. I kept myself surrounded with people who supported me and had to distance myself from those who may not have realised it but were dragging me down.
During my recent heaviness I shared some of my thoughts with my very faithful, eldest daughter, she said many wise words but mostly she wanted me to see myself through her eyes, that she saw me as a strong, loving and faithful Mum. She also reminded me of the weight of sin Jesus carried, how heavy it was for Him. How He pleaded with God in the Garden of Gethsemane to find another way to save people, to avoid His suffering. Yet He still walked in faith and finished His horrendous job.
So, if God wants me to write, then I am going to keep trying until I finish the job! I will give Him the glory of being my strength when I am weakest.
I may not always be the best version of myself on the outside, but I find comfort in knowing that God knows what is in my heart, He has given me self-awareness and a way to be able to share that awareness with others. I pray for us all that we hold onto our faith even as we stare into the abyss below, knowing that He has got us! For us to grow together through the internal war which the inner enemy is using to try to destroy us, and to find Godly weapons to make us VICTORIOUS!
In the mighty name of your son I pray… AMEN! AMEN! AMEN!
“She’s pink and wiggly”, that’s what they said passing me a photo of my daughter, 3months premature, weighing a tiny 1 pound. I was 18, scared and groggy from the anesthetic. I was told of the baby inside me only 3 months earlier and strangely went insane for the colour mint green. Booties, bibs, outfits, even the bath! I was broke and couldn’t buy nice things for the nursery so I bought a roll of material, yep mint green, I made the quilts, curtains, a baby bag, bumpers, pillows, a nappy stacker, everything was mint green!
At 23 weeks pregnant I was told my baby was coming early and was too small to survive. Somehow I found faith to believe if God wanted me to be a Mum I would be, and if He didn’t I would accept His will. I would do my best to understand motherhood was not yet my time. Two weeks later my baby was still hanging on inside me yet I was traumatised, restricted to a hospital bed, stressed by the possibility of loosing my baby, wheeling between the birthing suite and the ward and back again, told my baby was coming, then wasn’t. I couldn’t cope anymore, I cried out to God “Please knock me out and wake me when it’s over!”.
The next morning they knocked me out (Emergency caesarean). When I woke they told me that my daughter now had a 50% chance of survival, they wheeled my bed towards hers in the ICU (Intensive Care Unit), I noticed all the other babies were wearing bonnets (to help keep their tiny temperature up). Boys in blue, girls in pink, some in white, but I knew God was watching over my tiny baby girl, I knew deep down that she would be ok when I saw the one and only mint green bonnet sitting on her tiny head. I asked if someone had told the nurses, or asked for that particular colour but the nurse said she grabbed it out of the drawer and didn’t think twice.
My little miracle sent from above is turning 16yrs old this month, and is still miraculous proof of God’s existence!
I would love to hear of your miraculous encounters with God, please share them below. Blessing to you all!