hard times.

common illnesses don’t really amount to much, unless they’re strung together like popcorn strings on your christmas tree.  then they can feel much bigger than the really are.

after the stomach bug hit all of us — jones TWICE — i was feeling rather weary.  bryan and i had it in the middle of the night, and jones took a turn with that, as well.  doing all sorts of cleaning and laundry when you should be sleeping is a fast-track to craziness.  it was a particularly nasty bug, and all of our stomachs were tender and we weren’t able to eat much until about 10 days after we caught the bug.

then i caught a fever-and-chills type of cold at the same time as ezra.  then he started getting four molars at once, which has turned into a three-week long process. (come in already!)  then hay fever started, and despite the weather being sunny and beautiful, my itchy eyes and plugged nose have confined me to the house.  ug!  (not to mention that i need a haircut and my butt is getting bigger – ha!)

it is so very, very easy to feel depressed and beat-up after a line of things of this sort — physical ailments, little sleep, crying babies, taking care of kids while healing up, being PREGNANT, etc.  not gonna lie, i fall into self-pity rather quickly.  and when i feel that way, i don’t want to go anywhere.  and when i don’t go anywhere, i feel extra bored and i eat a lot.  then when i eat a lot, i feel guilty and go further into the pit than before.  i start seeing the blocks on the floor, the books on the table, the little piles of little things, and feeling very overwhelmed.  how easy it is to feel like a failure at times like this, right moms?

yesterday, i was doing okay, but two particularly trying interactions with jones just took it all out of me, and i was bone-weary.  i laid on the floor of our office for a little bit, thinking about how i didn’t want to think about what to make dinner (much less actually cook it!), and it came to me that i should ask God what He wanted from me, just for the next 20 minutes.  grace! i never think those things on my own.  he said, “sit with your boys.”  so i did.  i went and i sat with them in their bedroom.  they played around me, and i just sat there, but i could smile at them when they looked at me and i could touch them when they passed me, and it helped me remember that the simple ways of loving my family are not as difficult to do as i imagine, even when i’m tired.

i hate being in survival mode, and after a month of illness, entering my third trimester with baby #3, it is inevitably where i am.  how many of you feel like failures for not being able to keep yourself out of this place?  i know that i do.  i know that i live with the thought somewhere that i should always be on top of things, with organized lists and daily bible readings and plans for how i will teach my children and a freezer stocked with made-ahead meals for these not-so-simple days, no matter what my life looks like.  bryan hears this and immediately calls it out for what it is — craziness.  he encourages me to let it go, its just really difficult to do.

moms who have been there, moms who are here right now — how do you get past the utter weariness of having to do the same things, day-in and day-out, no matter how you feel?  how do you know if you just need to give yourself grace and be okay with “survival mode,” or need to kick it up a notch and work a little harder?  how do you let go of your standards?

praying that God will help me cultivate some gratitude, which will help me let go of the bitter and depressed feelings i hold toward the place i currently find myself, physically, emotionally, spiritually.  praying for hayfever season to pass quickly, so i can go outside again and enjoy being there.  praying that i can manage to get a few things in order before this baby arrives.  praying that i can learn to feel “at home” in this house, which is still difficult for me — i have yet to find a quiet, “retreat” spot in this new home, which is so very essential to surviving the days for me.  i suppose i’m praying, too, that God will give me one of those spots in this house!

praying, too, for you other moms out there — the ones who have gone before, giving thanks that they can offer encouragement, and the ones who are along with me now, grateful we are not alone in the amazing trials and joys of being mothers.

4 thoughts on “hard times.

  1. oh, jamie. i hear ya! i couldn’t even count the number of times i’ve told chase that i’m in “survival mode” and that i feel like a total failure. and that’s the NOT-pregnant-and-NOT-living-in-a-foreign-country me. this season is HARD. and you have some extra burdens that many of us other mommies don’t have to deal with. i wish i had answers, or at least a bit of wisdom or encouragement. but all i can say is that i understand. and that the more hands-on time i spend with my kids the better my days seem to go. on those days it doesn’t seem to matter so much if the laundry got put away or if we’re eating peanut butter sandwiches for dinner again. it also helps me to not read too many mommy blogs–you know the ones that make you wonder how on earth they do it all. when i start comparing i hit the bottom of the pit hard and fast. and you are so right, gratitude makes all the difference. hope the illnesses pass soon. hang in there!

    • you eat peanut butter and jelly for dinner, too? 🙂 🙂
      i feel ya on the “mommy blog” thing. there are a few that i previously really loved, but realized i was feeling guilty after reading them, so i’ve had to stop for a while..
      glad i’m not alone!

  2. Jamie, sorry to hear things are rough. Wish I could provide lots of wisdom but I don’t have much to offer. One thing I have learned as a mom, especially one that lives overseas, that I have to give grace. Give grace to everyone, but most importantly, to yourself. I put way too much expectation on myself and what I want my family to look like. Maybe (though I doubt it) if I were in the perfect world, I could achieve this but with little kids overseas it is just impossible. There are too many variables that you cannot control. You have to give grace. So what if I wanted my kids to watch only a little tv- I’m in a third world country with nowhere to go except a pool (but how many times can you go to the pool?) they don’t have friends who speak English, my husband is working often until 7 pm. They are going to watch tv. And a lot of it. Though some consider tv bad for kids, it isn’t physically harmful to them and sometimes they actually learn as well! They can still grow up and be respectful God-fearing men even with a hefty amount of tv under their belt. As long as it is pure and good shows I don’t see anything Biblically wrong with tv. I would also argue that at some points, when I’m at my wits end, it is better for them to watch tv and let me take a moment rather than me yelling at them like a crazy person. Not to just be an advocate for tv, I’m saying that in many areas, there is grace to be had. I want my kids at the table for meals but trying to keep three boys 5 and under (but we are talking since it was 3 and under) at a table while Brett is still at work is crazy. And for dinner, I just don’t push it. Again, does sitting at a table make them better men? So I’ve learned to let go. Same for my house. I want it clean. I want everything in order but it just isn’t happening. There is lots of life going on here and it shows. Do I want my kids to learn responsibility and cleanliness, of course. But does that mean my house has to be spotless? Nope. Give yourself grace. I’m going to venture to say that if you are even asking these questions and pondering these things then you are doing what you can and then you need to just extend grace to yourself, especially when you are pregnant.

    Three kids three and under is tough. Your life is and even more so will be consumed by those three bundles of joy. And though I’m still in the thick of it, I am finally starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. (I think I’m about two years ahead of you,- almost 6 year old, 4 year and 2 year old). Things are getting easier. They all are playing together. Two of the three can do most things for themselves. No more diapers. It is getting easier. Last year or so I hung up Ecc 3 on my wall. There is a time for everything and a season for every activity. This season is a season of little kids. But it is just a season. I want to be out talking with my neighbors and practicing language but after a morning at the hospital the rest of the time is for my kids. Most days I’m ok with this. I do have to remind myself that I can’t be like others who are single or without children. They have more freedom. My highest calling is to my family. I have to embrace that.

    Added to just the season of small kids, you have a third culture to deal with. That adds so much more than I think we often acknowledge. Even if the culture itself is ok, you are still living apart from family and those who could step in and offer a hand. You don’t have all the things in the US that would make life easier. You can’t just go to your neighbor and have a cup of coffee without difficulties. It’s hard. Recently I’ve been struggling a lot with this. Just feeling like a failure in all things. As my role of a mom. In my language ability. In my work at the hospital. I just feel like I’m always failing and not doing what I want. I’ve been reminded of several things and the Lord has been giving me grace in it all. 1- This is not a race. I don’t have to have my life all together at this moment. If it were perfect, what need would I have of a Savior and heaven? This a journey toward sanctification, a journey toward language acquisition, a journey toward medical proficiency. It’s a journey, not a race. I don’t need to be perfect today.
    2-As we all know, it is in our weakness that He is strong. Why do I then look at my weakness and failures as a bad thing? This is when Christ is perfected in me, when His glory shines brighter. I need to embrace this and not seek to have it all together.
    Verses that have been an encouragement to me in this time are Hosea 6:3 “So let us know, let us press on to know the LORD. His going forth is as certain as the dawn; And He will come to us like the rain, Like the spring rain watering the earth.” Maybe because we are in dry and hot season here in Mali, but the spring rain just sounds so amazing. So refreshing. So uplifting. This comes just after the verses that say He has torn us to pieces but He will restore us. He will bandage our wounds. Like a hard rain on the dry soil which cannot take it all in, He will come and replenish and fill us. Restore us. I just find that beautiful.

    Another verse is Joshua 1:8-9 Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
    So I need to be in His word so that I can be successful- not successful in my eyes by what I think I should do, but successful in His eyes because of my attitude and my desire to serve Him and my family. (Though I must say that having regular solid quiet times with little kids is tough- again, I’m just now seeing more improvement in this) I also loved the “do not be discouraged” I guess because I was so discouraged that day. He is with me. He has called me here even though He knew my language abilities were poor and I would have small kids here. He knew this. He knew I would be over my head. But He called me here knowing full well that He was going to stay right there beside me. He is walking this with me. I need not be discouraged.

    I would like to say that these lessons have permeated my brain completely and I don’t struggle with this but it’s just not the case. I am right in the thick of it. Fighting everyday to not give over to discouragement. So I’m not saying anything to you that I’m not just speaking back to myself.

    Since you are a book reader, two books I have really enjoyed and have given good advice and perspective are “Creative Counterpart- becoming the woman, wife and mother you’ve long to be” ( or something close to that for the title) by Linda Dillow who is a former missionary. Another book is “And then I had kids” which was good for just encouragement and to remember this is a season of life.

    Ok, I think I’ve written a novel here now. Rest assured you are not alone is this struggle.

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