Loneliness In Our Journey

I read an article the other day about the loneliness modern stay at home mothers have. They had statistics and fancy numbers, but alas, I cannot find the article. However, that is likely a good thing. As the article in question suggested some very, well, in my opinion, terrible advice. But this is something that has been on my mind lately.

mom and boys

Stay at home moms often have very little adult interaction. Our Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat feeds might give that away. But little people, while adorable and awesome, aren’t always the best kind of company. They are always demanding and give very little back. This along with the fact that our work is never done, often very underappreciated, and usually overlooked- well, it can quickly lead to feeling like less than a person. Then when you take into account our inability to shower, constantly fluctuating bodies, and not a lot of time for trivial things like nail polish and facials, well, it becomes easy to see how we get depressed. The perpetual joke of the wife who “let herself go” isn’t so funny to us because we understand and feel the weight of that. It isn’t what we wanted. But life is like that, isn’t it?

lj with glasses big

 

In our current culture, many of us find ourselves living far from family. We’re far from the free help of family babysitters who just want the joy of hanging out with our kids. Date nights become costly as we factor in childcare and pizza for the kids into the expense it takes. It very quickly feels not worth it. No support. No help. Just us organizing all of this alone.

hiking kids

As Christians, we aren’t likely to move to a commune or give polyamory a try. (Which is what was suggested in the initial article.) So where does that leave us? Just treading water until the kids go to college? I don’t think so. I think we can do better than simple survival.

beach boys

First, whether you chose to be a stay at home parent or it simply happened, it is for a purpose. Whether it is temporary or permanent, there is a reason. Knowing that you have a purpose and there is reason for your labor can make the work itself seem easier. Dishes washed get dirty quickly. But dishes provide the canvas where you nourish those in your care. There is meaning in what we do. Making our house happy for those in it provides deep benefits to those living with us. It means something, even if the work is never done.

cooking

Next, we have to build community. It is okay to reach out through virtual means. Staying connected on social media is absolutely okay. (Especially when you are keeping in contact with people you really know in real life.) Just don’t forget that what you see isn’t always the truth. I can photoshop my life to look any way I want it to look. That isn’t the real day to day in my home. That is just a peak. Just the highlight reel. Just remember that. And if the comparison trap entangles you often, it is okay to say no to social media.

pip tangeled

You also have to build your real community. Real people you can talk to and count on. The easiest way to do that is through your church. Join a small group. Reach out. Know that there are other people like you that need someone. You can be their someone. And they can be yours.

race day

Practice hospitality. I know, having people over for dinner seems like the last thing you need. More work. But inviting people into your home is inviting them into your life. These are the people you know you can call when you need emergency childcare at 2 am. These are going to be the people at your door with dinner when you need them. It is a little extra work, but it is well worth it.

peace love pip

Don’t let trivial junk drive your friends away. I know you think you wouldn’t do that, but we do it all the time. We distance ourselves from those who make different choices. Homeschool moms flock to homeschool moms. Public school moms flock to public school moms. The diapers on our kid’s butts somehow tell other moms if we are worthy of their friendship. Don’t be like that. Don’t let literal crap matter that much. Friends are people who are there for you. Choose wisely, because friends can make our lives worse. But know what matters and what doesn’t. Don’t let the small stuff keep you from getting close to people.

friends

Be the friend you want to have. I wrote a whole post on this that I decided not to post. But I think the point still needs to be made. You want someone who will bring your chicken soup when you are sick? Then take a friend chicken soup when they are sick? Want someone to babysit your kid free of charge so you can have a much needed date night? Babysit someone’s kid(s) free of charge so they can have a much needed date night. You have to create the community you want to be a part of.

zoo friends

Don’t push your spouse away. It can get so easy for us to get resentful of their adult interaction and their time not spent scrubbing bathroom walls. But this isn’t an us versus them scenario. We are all working together to make this family thing work. Don’t push away your partner in this endeavor.

ag+lj

Don’t push away from God. I know you’re busy. I know you have things to do. I know the idea of “quiet time” is laughable. But you can still find ways to seek God. You can turn on music while cleaning and praise His name. You can read devotions with your kids that will feed all of you. You can pray while doing any task. Seek Him. He is our Friend.

books

You are not alone. You are doing a great job. Whether this is for a season or forever, the time you give to your family is not wasted. Now, I think someone out there is praying for a friend like you.  

The Day The Comments Wouldn’t Quit

fb timeline

Remember that time when I said I was going to blog the annoying things people say to me so I don’t go crazy on people in public? No. Well, I said it. At some point.

People aren’t always mean. In fact, last week, a few days before Christmas, a lady came and asked me if they were all mine while we waited for a table at a local Mexican restaurant. I replied that they were, and I even smiled. She just smiled and walked away. A few minutes after we were seated, she appeared again, and told me that we reminded her of her family when her kids were small. They are all grown now, she informed me. She said that someone had once paid for their dinner around the holidays, and it was such a blessing to them. Seeing us, she was reminded of that night, and was doing the same for us. Merry Christmas. And that was awesome. So generous, so sweet.

Four times over the weekend (my inlaws were in town, so we were eating out more than often), someone approached me or The Pastor to tell us how wonderfully behaved our children were and how great it was to see our family. (A couple times, I might have looked a little shocked. It isn’t easy on my end to keep them civil while waiting at the chiropractor or waiting for a table in a busy restaurant. And my boys are, well, all boy.) But I was surprised and encouraged. It took a lot of work to keep them quiet, feet not on seats, and eating with silverware, but apparently my hard work was working! People were not bothered by my children, but delighted by them.

boys

Then I have a day like today, and all those positive, encouraging interactions seem to fly out the window in the face of some crummy ones. Today, I felt like a walking target. The kids were being decently behaved. We took them to Waffle House for breakfast. We had to wait on a table because apparently everyone decided Tuesday was Waffle House day. But they were waiting well, in anticipation of waffles and hot cocoa, I suppose.

Then came the comments.

And they came. And they came. And they came.

“Are they all yours?!”

“Oh my God! And pregnant again?!”

“Bless your heart.” (And you Southerners know this is NEVER a compliment.)

“Better you than me.”

“Your hand are full!”

“Please tell me it isn’t twins again! Or worse, triplets!” (Apparently, my boys being dressed alike made many people assume they were triplets or twins.)

“You must have more patience than me! I could just never…!”

And all this, repeated over and over, in front of my kids, while I am working my butt off at that thing where I keep them all nice and polite in public places and not let them tear Waffle House down with their bare hands. I think the worst part was most of it coming from the employees. We couldn’t even get orders out without multiple snide comments. Let me just say, I wanted to be mean. I wanted to put someone in their place. I wanted to scream.

I don’t like being in the spotlight. I didn’t have kids to be in some bizarre public spotlight. This is just our life. A life that I could do without the snide commentary on.

And I’d like my kids not to feel like outcasts, particularly from adults who should know better. (And especially from adults who are expecting a tip from my order for 7 people!) I don’t need pity. My kids don’t need pity.

I wanted to tell these Waffle House workers that yes, the children are all mine and I thank God that I get to be their mom every day. Yes, I am pregnant again, and I find it just as miraculous as I did the first time. The infertile couple now has six, count them, six children! That is what God can do. I’m amazed. Still. Yes, my heart is very blessed and I am very thankful. And while I am glad that God has given these to me, it does make me sad that so many people are so clueless to the blessings that children can be. I am glad that it is me, but I would like for you to be just as blessed, if not more! Yes, my hands are full. My life is full. My house is full. The car is full. All things I am extremely thankful for. My days are filled with a thousand hugs and kisses. (Even kisses on my hands like I am some kind of Queen because my 3 year old insists on kissing my hands all the time.) No, there are no multiples in the bunch. Not in my belly. Not at the tables. I’m not sure why this is disappointing or surprising. Those boys you think are triplets are 3, 5, and 7. They aren’t that close in age. Sorry to disappoint you. Yes, God has given me more patience with the passing years. It is one of the miracles of motherhood, that God uses it to make us better, to make us holier people. Each child makes me a better person if I can let go of myself long enough to let God change me. I didn’t start this journey with unnatural patience. I still don’t claim to have that much, but proof that I endured this barrage of negativity is probably proof that I do, indeed, have more than I once did. But I am happy. We are happy. This is our life. We’re living it like everyone else here right now, eating Waffle House for breakfast on a Tuesday. And we’re enjoying it. My kids are not burdens. They are not problems to be dealt with. They are awesome little people that I am lucky enough to know.

But I didn’t. Instead, I ordered. I pretended the comments didn’t bother me. I helped my kids cut their waffles. I held it in, knowing that just days ago, I encountered encouraging people who helped build me up. I held it in knowing that I knew what they didn’t- we are happy, all of us, and that is something. I let them overcharge me for my meal. I tipped without a grudge. And I hoped that maybe later, we’ll come across some more of those encouraging people who make the days easier. And hoping that I could be that encouraging person that makes someone else’s days easier.