Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Complaining about my day with the kids = disrespecting my husband

I posted a scene from Fireproof that really flipped me out last week. When I watch the scene first "fight scene" in Fireproof, I think the wife is acting perfectly fine for the first two minutes. I would actually say she's being pretty "mild". On a daily basis, (especially during  pregnancy and this colic thing) I am WAY more irritable with my husband.

But her 'nagging' complaints hurt her husband. She's throwing punches in their marriage without even realizing it.

My chronic complaining about my hard days are a form of disrespect to my husband. It wears on him. I'm not coming to him, asking him to pray for me to have more energy and peace. I'm not asking him to problem solve a specific aspect of my parenting.

For the past seven years, my poor husband walks into the door at 6 PM he gets a litany of how my day sucked as a stay-at-home mom and why this job of raising his kids is so impossible. It really sobered me when I thought about how it would be if I was a paid babysitter watching his children, instead of his wife. Would my husband feel good if every day, a babysitter constantly complained about tiny "mistakes" his children made during the day?

My bitterness is really harmful. I hadn't realized that chronic complaining about my kids was disrespecting my husband because they are also his kids. The greatest act of love I do for him on a daily basis is breastfeed Baby Abigail, watch toddler Tess and homeschool Hannah, Alex and Maria. As a wife I wouldn't think it was okay to constantly complain "Do you know that I had to wash your dress shirts AND hang them up on the hanger to dry. Oh, AND I found a black sock on the floor? Can't you get them into the laundry basket?"

Yet in my head it was okay to say at 6:02 PM, (right after my husband walks into the door) "Did you know that Maria broke her goggles today! The Speedo ones that cost $14! She left them on the bathroom floor--after I told her not too-- and I stepped on them! Can you believe her!" in an irritated tone that would peel paint.

So for Father's Day, I'm giving up complaining. I'm leaning on the deep breaths of patience and prayer instead. I'll keep you posted.


  1. My mom- a mother to 8- (I still don't know how she did it!) would stop everything right before my dad got home from work- she put on some makeup and brushed her hair- greeted my dad at the door and they would spend some time alone - having a beer or a cool drink to talk a few moments. We kids were not allowed to come in the living room. Being older I am very impressed by what she did.
    I don't even greet my hubby at the door!!!

    You have so much going on with a difficult baby and I am sure your husband understands but I will pray for you- it helps us too when we try not to complain. I think it takes wrinkles off of our face and soul :)

    I've got to watch Fireproof again- I liked it but thought some of it was hokey. But what I loved about it was how well they portrayed the ways in which a husband and wife can pull apart by not really paying attention- I thought that was masterfully done.

  2. Abigail- your posts on your husband are touching me deeply and making me reflect on how I treat my husband. And it's not pretty. Thank you for this...

  3. I gave myself a lot of excuses too. My life is just "hard" right now. I'm slowly figuring out this "respect" thing is so deep. My husband needs respect like he needs oxygen.

    (One thing that clued me in was when he said "if you complain so much why don't you put them in public school next year." I KNOW how much he hates public school. So that was a shock to think he hated my complaining even more!).

    For me the complaining comes out of chronic stress. You add a hard out-of-state move, 9 months of hard pregnancy and 3 months of colic and its like 15 months since my husband has seen me "at normal." Irritable actually means "at the knife's edge".

    The other thing that scares me is that I don't know of a Real Life Mom who isn't stressed out. There are people who smile in the park of course. But in terms of having patience and supernatural joy--women who don't complain about messy situations involved in caring for their children--that is not the average Mom. I'm coping the nuns and the saints to get a picture of what that is like.

  4. Abby, my dear Carmelite often I pray for you. While I do not have the colicy infant anymore (good heavens I still remember it though), I do have the daily challenge of a special needs child. It has been the hardest thing (as you know) that my husband and I have had in regards to the stress it has put on us as individuals, as spouses, and as parents. I have never handled stress well. Neither did my parents. I find myself imitating them a lot, which makes me sad. Because I want to be more for my kids and my husband. And for God. I actually put my kids in public school, for 6 months, because it was honestly just too much. We had gotten to that point where either I was going to lose it (as in a clinical mental breakdown), or my husband was going to lose it..from dealing with me. He actually enrolled them, because I couldn't bring myself to do it (and he is like your husband, does not want it for the kids). I have to say, it was a nice break. Not that I'm suggesting this for your family, but I didn't realize how much I needed a change to be able to sort of pull myself up, and let myself get back to doing normal things...and not having life be in such a constant crisis mode. Next year for us will be such a wonderful, quiet year home schooling wise. David goes to Kindergarten all day, and Sonja will go twice a week for speech. I look back and see that God was trying to show me that I couldn't do it all. I was trying to do it all for Him, but it wasn't His will. His will was to surrender. To do what I thought He would never want us to do school wise, and just take care of my son who needed me the most. You and Jon seem to have a great relationship, you both have been blessed as Carmelites. Extra grace for you both. Love you!

  5. Let me give you a little perspective from the other side of the paid employment divide. I work full time and my husband stays home with the children full time.

    The absolute last thing I want to hear when I get home from a long day at work and a soul-crushing commute is all the things that went wrong that day as soon as I hit the door. There have been times when I have choked up because I am so happy to be home and yet sometimes when I get there, I receive a litany of how terrible it all is. I think to myself, "How about we switch and you spend three hours a day commuting and I'll take the children?"

    Now, that's not to say I don't want to hear about it at all. I do. I'll bet your husband does too. But some decompression time is vital and some recognition that going to work everyday is hard too.

  6. You are one ambitious woman...and I love that about you.

    Let us know how it goes...

  7. It wont be easy but I know you can do it!

  8. That is ambitious - and definitely a great idea to try. Your comment about not knowing any mums who have a supernatural joy about them is interesting. I wonder if they are all teetering on the edge of burning out?
    I've been reflecting on my own situation (currently 7 months into 9 months of maternity leave - we have a long time in the UK) as I prepare to go back to work and know that life is going to get much harder. I know that God's grace can and does sustain me through apparently impossible situations but I also know that burn out is a reality for lots of people and is not necessarily a sign that they just weren't holy enough.
    So I think what I'm trying to say is that I have plan to lean on God and to trust that his grace is sufficient but that if our way of life (two working parents) turns out not to be sustainable and it does all fall apart then I need to be alert to what God is saying to me through that and be prepared to be flexible.

  9. May I also add one thing...I simply feel like I am ungrateful or whatever weakness I am showing because...drum roll...I am not praying enough.

    My husband prays with his bible throughout the will find him sitting and reading it...when you walk into the room...he was a daily communicant until I ruined that for him (ha!) but on the days he commutes to the city goes to daily mass which requires him to get up before 5 am...

    Anyways, who is more peaceful in our house? Who has the greater stamina and equilibrium?

    The praying one does but of course.

    I think it boils down to time spent in prayer. If you can get at least 30 minutes of day of deep contemplative prayer all your external things you are working on will slip away.

    Why should it be any different for moms than it is for religious or missionaries.

    This wonderful missionary group I know that live in the midst of the very impoverished areas they serve, right in the heart of chaos, noise, and it all...they pray around 4 hours a day.

    That's how the roll. That's how the do it. And, the joy in their faces is amazing.

    So, my dear, I think it all boils down to gettin' you some prayer time.

    Then the graced filled waters will flow into your daily life and your head will not have to try to do this or that better.

    It will just overflow from you heart.

    With five kids, it really is not a luxury this prayer time. It is a necessity, like water.

    With one or two kids we Catholic Moms can get away without praying and running around trying to be super moms. Although, it is stupid of us to do it this way.

    So, my prayer for you is that you have a dedicated 1/2 hour of prayer time every day NO MATTER WHAT.

    Then after 4 months of this, check back!