It might be the dreary weather. It could be the early onset of nighttime (4:00). It's probably just me. My choice. My attitude. Whatever it is, I've been having a rough time. Not quite sure how long it's been going on. It feels like forever. Like maybe since Wes was born. I just feel consistently overwhelmed. Never quite caught up. I'll get really close to under control, and then, suddenly, the next day, I'll walk past my laundry "hall" and see this:
And then somewhere along the way I became a yeller. My poor children. Every night I pray that they know I love them. Because I'm not sure my behavior is good evidence.
I've been unloading things from my responsibility plate in an effort to cope. Grace (for many reasons, in addition to this one) is now in a charter school where she dons snappy uniforms and has tested at a fourth grade language arts/spelling level. I've started calling in to my cub scout committee meetings (where I am currently serving as the primary counselor, cub scout master, and webelos den leader) because I can't seem to get my trash out of the door on a Sunday to actually physically be at the meeting.
Anyway. In a nutshell, I feel like a failure as a mother/homeschooler/housekeeper/church person.
Yesterday I was sitting alone on a bench in our church building. Brad had taken Weston out of the meeting during the administration of the sacrament because he was whining. Our meeting buildings don't really have crying rooms behind the rest of the seats. If they did, we would probably start out sitting there from the beginning.
If you recall, my daughters don't know how to whisper. So, as they quietly chattered, I constantly reminded them to whisper so we could avoid disturbing the sweet middle-aged couple in front of us and the dear single woman behind us. I told Claire she'd have to wait for just a few more minutes to go to the bathroom. I was trying to think about Jesus. And put on a happy face. And set an example for my munchkins. Because sometimes it feels like that's the only reason I'm there: to establish a pattern.
That's when I saw a woman rise from the front row and begin to leave the chapel. She came toward us on her way out. She stopped at the bench in front of us where the Smith couple sat. She said (rather loudly) to Sister Smith, "I feel so sorry for you." When Sister Smith (shocked) asked why, she nodded at me. And my children. Then she smiled at the Smiths and sauntered on out.
It seemed like a good moment to take Claire to the bathroom. And that's where I spent the rest of the meeting. Bawling my eyes out.
For a few minutes it didn't really feel like going to church was worth it. Not if we were ruining people's Sunday experience. And it confirmed my fears of failing as a mother.
Sister Smith called me that evening and told me her heart felt heavy. That she hadn't even heard my children. (I'm sure she meant that she was used to tuning children out. Otherwise she'd have had to be hard of hearing. Which she is not.) That when she joined the church her children were young and she struggled to keep them quiet. That she knew from experience that I was making valiant efforts as a mother. That Heavenly Father loves me and appreciates my taking children to church even when they aren't grasping it.
I cried again. And thanked her. And felt a little better.
But I still haven't felt any less overwhelmed. I am still struggling with inadequacy and discouragement. And the nightmare of failing. Is this something I struggle with alone? How do you get happy? How do you convince yourself in your success as parents?