Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Having Peace While I'm Screwing Up

This officially marks the first time that I've been awake past 8 PM for several weeks. Gosh, what a humdinger of a time I've had over here. A move. Early Pregnancy. My rock of a husband suddenly leaving his inept and fragile wife Home Alone for 13 to 14 hours each day.

On Tuesday, I didn't get ANY Carmelite prayers done for the first time in several months.

I was completely CRUSHED by the various demands of my life by 10:15 AM.

Today was better, of course.

I'm trying to find meaning in all of this struggle. I feel like I'm very much a black/white thinker in terms of self-esteem. When I bake cupcakes with my daughter, or clean up a messy paperwork mistake over the phone, or I find the elusive size 2 soccer cleats for my son, then I feel like a "good Mom." However, when our home-schooling sessions go horribly wrong, or I'm so sick I can't leave the living room couch for an entire afternoon, then I feel like a "bad Mom."

I thought I left most of that perpetual race of "I have to be productive and competent all the time or I'll be fired" back at the workplace.

But it seems like I dragged much of it home with me as a stay-at-home mom.

And now whether its failing behind in home-schooling, or falling behind in housework, or my failure to even get the frozen shrimp thawed before my husband comes home at 7 PM at night, all of those "mess ups" have my irrationally afraid of screwing up my dear children for life.

I have no idea what a "normal" home-life is supposed to look like when your newly pregnant with baby number five. In God's eyes, its probably perfectly okay for my husband to do all the work, make dinner, put all the kids to bed, and dig out dirty pajamas from the laundry pile, all while a newly pregnant Mommy slinks off to bed at 7:45 PM.

Here's to hoping the cross will help break me of my "irrational Mommy perfectionism" soon!


  1. Thank you, Abby - this post makes me feel SO much better, actually. I struggle with those same "good mom/bad mom" feelings so much, and even more with "good wife/bad wife" since Pat is picking up so much slack already. We have a day like today where I didn't even think of morning prayer until it was almost time to do evening and I know I'm a failure and am not cut out for this. Then there are those moments where Holy Spirit inspiration gives me a good project for the girls and the house is filled with giggles and I have more "job security." But it's comforting to know that once you take a peek out from behind the lens of the crazy-tired-self-critical person, you can see that God is still giving you the grace. For me, it's remembering that even on sucky days my family still loves me. Praying for you!

  2. I have the same kind of struggles with irrational mommy perfectionism (Can we call it "IMP" for short?). Recently I started to actually think about what God thinks about my perfectionism. When I stopped to think about it I was surprised to realize that in my heart I'm convinced that God looks on it with the same amused sympathy I feel for my toddler being frustrated while learning a new physical skill. I realized I'm much harsher with myself than God is. I think admitting that I'm my own worst critic and that my loving Father is more amused than angry has helped me to at least accept some of my perfectionist tendencies as a foible rather than the end of the world.

    When I'm newly pregnant my "normal" is that I am in basic survival mode. For me pregnancy counts as a crisis. (So I think if you feel anything like I do in the first trimester you'd probably be fair to apply the same standards you had as when Tess was in the NICU.) If the small people in my care are fed (and cold cereal counts) and clothed (and pajamas totally count as clothed) and diapered (not much wiggle room there, however) then I've met my minimum standards and we're having as "normal" a life as we're going to have. Anything else on top of that (like cleaning) is gravy. I know my dear husband has to pick up a lot of slack during that time and it is hard on everyone, but I figure that somehow that's in God's plan for my family members as well.

    For me the hard thing is the shift to the second trimester when I have to wake up and realize that I'm feeling better and have more energy and now need to up my standards.

  3. When I was pregnant with Sonja, my morning sickness was so bad I was prescribed Zofran. Which helped ease the "I want to die" feeling I constantly had. However, it came with a lovely side effect: constipation. So, it was like a cruel irony that no matter what, I was to be in the bathroom for close to 17 weeks (heads lasted longer than 12 weeks). Add in pre term labor at 17 weeks with weekly shots to stop the labor, then finally hospitalized bedrest....well, a lot did not get done in our house. As I type this now, that baby we all suffered so much for sits on my lap, watching Finding Nemo with a ritz cracker. This, too, shall pass. And God is so good. Remember, as a Carmelite, this morning sickness IS your prayer, giving glory to God in the surrendering of your will. Allowing Our Lord to bring another unique and beautiful soul into this world, and giving your husband lots and lots of opportunity to practice charity (my Jom scored MAJOR time out of purgatory taking care off all of is during that time!). The laundry will get done at some point and so will school (which I am still learning and accepting), and remember we love you and are praying for you.

  4. This too shall pass. Just consider your life right now in a bit of a vortex. The Lord knows exactly what you are going through, and it is time for you to give yourself permission to have these "off" days. You are much too hard on yourself. One day at a time and before you know it, things will start to fall into place. Blessings to you!

  5. I'll keep you and your family in prayers.

    I"m not a mommy yet, but I can totally relate to the "I have to be productive and competent all the time or I'll be fired" feeling! In my home-wife job and in my work-job.

  6. I've had to work really hard at setting that aside. We're home schooling, but I've had to (gotten to? don't mean to sound ungrateful) work, albeit from home, the last few days and I - I miss my kids!. They're just in the next room, but I want to sit at the table and practice cursive and rattle off multiplication tables, too. It's a measure of grace, really - they're fine, I'm completely out of their loop this week and they're the same happy healthy kiddos they were when I abandoned them Monday morning. Your mere presence matters, it counts for quite a lot, actually. Lying on the couch or fully engaged or working in the next room, they don't see it as screwing up, I don't think. They know you're there.

  7. To make you feel better...I am 11 weeks pregnant with no other kids and I do...nothing. I am lucky if I leave the house once a day and yesterday I fell asleep in the Adoration Chapel. I have been really beating myself up about it - even after my priest told me in confession that I just need to be lazy right now. I think we're just too hard on ourselves.

    In fact, I've been reading your blog in awe at the fact that you could make a fun-shape fruit salad and take kids to daily Mass, while you're not feeling well. I can barely take myself to Mass! You are doing a great job!

  8. What Melanie & CChild said.
    Your pride is getting in your way. Just recognize it for what it is & proceed in peace with what you can.
    I think sometimes of the nun who asked Bernadette Soubirous what, exactly, she thought she was doing lying in bed when she was supposed to be the infirmary nurse. She replied that she was doing her 'job' that day, which was to be sick.