I love being a mom. Being a mother to my children is the best job I could ask for. But, believe it or not, I didn’t always feel that way.
Four years ago I made the second best decision of my life. The first best decision is marrying Matt. The second was deciding to homeschool. You might not know what this has to do with being a mom but for me, homeschooling is WHY I can be the mom that I am.
Unfortunately, I know that invariably someone reading this will be offended by what I say today. Therefore, I would like to take a moment to say that homeschooling is something that my family needs in order to thrive. I don’t look down on anyone who uses the public school resources that are available to them, I don’t presume to know what is best for you or your family and assume that you prayerfully make decisions that fit your needs. I am writing this in order to answer a question that is often asked of me and in the hopes that I can help other moms who may be in the same situation that I was, once upon a time.
I have often said that I am no longer the woman that I was four years ago and that I would go so far as to say I’m not even friends with the woman I was four years ago*. Would you like to meet her?
Meet Courtney**. She was a very unhappy woman. She was easily bored, temperamental, and easily distracted. She LOVED her family with all of her heart, but she didn’t LIKE her children very much. I suspect that she only liked her husband because he tried SO very hard to make her happy, but I imagine he felt neglected and taken advantage of. She cared much more about “quiet time”, TV, and scrapbooking than spending time with her family. She had her moments of contentedness, but for the most part she looked forward to the day when life would be “better”. She kept thinking that if she had more time to herself she would feel better. She was convinced that if she didn’t have to spend her days meeting the constant needs of little people, she would finally be happy.
So she spent more and more time on the computer, watching TV, and finding ways to have “me time”.
Guess what… it didn’t work. Not only did it not work but the more she focused on herself the less happy she was with her situation in life. She had dealt with depression before and knew that this wasn’t it. She wasn’t depressed, she was bitter. When her husband would bravely try and suggest that the ways in which she was trying to cope was making things worse, she would just get angry. “You don’t understand!” she would snap. Mixed in with the anger and bitterness she was bombarded with feelings of failure and inadequacy. She didn’t like her kids. She loved them but once they were toddlers she no longer thought they were fun or sweet.
Then one day her husband made a comment that made her think that perhaps he was on to something. He said, “you have always excelled at every job you have ever had in your life. You have always given 110% and done better than anyone else who had ever had that job before… well, THIS is your job now. I just know that if you were to approach being a mother with the same dedication and zeal as every other job you have had, then you would be much happier.” As was the custom at the time, she immediately bristled at his words and responded by flinging her wrath in his face. She spent the next few days grumbling and spent far more time yelling than she did smiling. But he had hit a nerve.
Over the following weeks his words kept eating at her. Surly there was someone OTHER than herself that she could blame. It’s not me! It’s my kids! They are NUTS! Lucy is grumpy and snotty all the time, Emma is off in la-la land, and Spencer never stops going at full speed… EVER! I NEVER get a BREAK! Then she remembered how many hours she had spent the day before on the computer, scrapbooking… and the day before that. She remembered how she yelled at Lucy, brushed off Emma, and ignored Spencer. Could this really have been all my own doing?
It was her. It was all on her. She had been blaming these little angels for her decision to be selfish and lazy. They deserved better… MUCH better. SHE needed to change, BIG time… but how?
to be continued…
*I want you to realize that I am telling this story the way that I remember it. In my own mind, it was much worse than it was in reality. My children have always been loved, cared for, and nurtured. I often would go about my motherly duties with bitterness, but I want to make it perfectly clear that I was not abusive in any way, shape, or form. I didn’t like my job, but that does NOT mean that I didn’t do it. Matt did independently verify that my description is “over the top”.
**names have not been changed because I was in no way innocent
***When I say I didn’t “like” my kids, I mean that I didn’t like spending time with them and I didn’t like their behavior or appreciate their personalities. I would often look at other people’s kids and wonder why mine couldn’t act like that.