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My husband recently asked me if I was happy, happy at home, happy with my pursuits on-line. Happy with my day-to-day.
I found the question a little hurtful. I mean, OF COURSE I was happy. How could he wonder about that?
Well,okay, maybe it had something to do with the way I am when he calls home…frantic, trying to talk over the screaming, feeling the victim for one reason or another.
Or maybe it had something to do with the way I am when he gets home…exhausted, grumpy, unshowered, unkept, too busy for him.
Or maybe it had something to do with the things I talk about…how I’m frustrated with the kids, frustrated with him, frustrated with the house, frustrated with the way I look, frustrated with how I don’t have any time to work on the blog, just frustrated.
Oh, okay. Yeah, it’s starting to make sense why he would wonder about my happiness.
But I am happy. Really.
After some hours reflecting and praying about this (and after a particularly beautiful homily this morning) I have come to some conclusions and made some important resolutions.
First off, to my pathetic defense, becoming a mom is a big big deal. As a mother EVERYTHING about me has changed–physically I look completely different (even my hair has lost it’s curl), spiritually I feel both closer to God and further away as I have so much less time for prayer, and mentally I feel like my brain has been rewired. It is hard not to focus on what I have lost in this transition–and how much more I am asked to sacrifice as the parent that stays at home–especially when my husband is off on (what seems to be) fabulous business trips to the other end of the globe. And so, when he calls from some (seemingly) fabulous location it is hard to be the charitable wife and mother I really do want to be. And more often than not I fail.
I told you my defense would be pathetic.
More probably the problem is just that lately I have fallen into an ugly cycle–a cycle we as moms often get trapped in. A cycle where I am the victim. A cycle where I give into cynicism and bitterness and selfishness. I give into these things because it is easier to be cynical and bitter and selfish than to be what I (really truly) want to be—JOYFUL.
I want to be joyful because I have so much to be joyful for. Their names are Gus, Bernadette and Dominic.
We all have so much to be joyful for, all of us mothers. Joy should be an easy choice, given all of the blessings we have.
And yet, it isn’t easy. Whenever we gather, whether in person or on-line, we fall into these same ugly cycles–bashing our husbands, complaining about our kids, one-up-ing each other. Because playing these stupid destructive games is easier than being joyful.
And so, even though I know it will be difficult, my resolution (I am making publicly here…because that’s what bloggers do) is to CHOOSE JOY over my own pride, my own hurt and my own wants.
I am going to turn off all the destructive inner monologues that have been ruling my life–the monologues that list and recite all the alleged wrongs my husband has done, all the privileges others get that I am denied, all of the things I’d like to do but never find the time to do.
I am going to turn off that voice and instead look at the faces of my children, even if they are gross and dripping with snot and contorted with the latest tantrum and I am going to just thank God that they are here, and they are mine. For, there is no greater gift, no greater joy, than being a mother.
This truth was struck home particularly hard last week when my husband and I lost our beautiful friend Lindsey. She was my age, married only in October and desperate to start a family of her own–desperate for the joys of motherhood, joys that are my everyday reality. For reasons I will never understand our Lindsey died suddenly last week while on her honeymoon in Mexico. She was so young, so vibrant, so full of life, and just about to start a family, something she had longed to do for as long as I’d known her.
Lindsey was beloved not only by us, but by our kids. When she held a baby or swung a toddler in her arms there was so much joy–the joy was palpable. It makes me physically ill when I face the facts that this beautiful woman never got to be a mother. I will never understand why this was God’s plan. Never.
I want that joy I saw in my friend every day, every minute I get to spend with my children, even if my husband is gone, even if my own dreams and plans are getting side-tabled. Even then. I want my husband, and the whole world, to know how joyful I am in this vocation of motherhood.
As a testament to my friend, now resting in the lap of Jesus, I am determined to choose joy.