the evening guilties, and other thoughts.

the boys are in bed, bryan is out with BEST club, and i’m on the couch downstairs, ruminating.  aaaaaaaalways ruminating.

how many of you moms end the day feeling guilty about something?  either you didn’t answer all the questions with patience or you didn’t say enough “i love yous” or you left the kids in bed feeling annoyed with the childishness of children rather than enthralled.

i remember reading somewhere that the end of the day was not the right time to evaluate my mothering.  whoever wrote that was right, you know.  moms, we are our own worst critics, are we not? i remember receiving some gracious words from bryan after a particularly rough day — he said outright, “jamie, you are just too hard on yourself” and i  started crying with relief, realizing somewhere inside that God had that kind of grace for me, too.  despite the fact that i didn’t have it for myself.

tonite, i feel guilty because it was a fun, but long day (*) that left me feeling like i deserved a break.  whenever i feel that way, i’m never too eager to give extra in the evenings — an extra book, an extra 10 minutes of snuggling or rocking, an extra dose of patience.  inevitably, these are the evenings where the extra is needed by one of the little people.  (why, oh why?!) and before i know it, i find myself picking up a one-and-a-half year old out of his crib for the fourth time to settle him, while yelling, “JONES! be QUIET!” as he whines that i’m helping his brother rather than snuggling in his bed, which he five minutes earlier told me he didn’t want me to be in anymore.  and let me be frank and say that when i type “yelling”, i really mean that i was yell. ing.

i always feel bad when i recognize my anger is a response to nothing other than their childishness — their inherent neediness, which is totally normal and acceptable for them to have.  but as i was walking down the stairs tonite, doing the usual, “God, i really messed up this evening” bit, i realized that however normal it may be, childishness is still, well, CHILDISH. and annoying.  and frustrating.  especially for us big people.

then i started thinking about the grace i needed for the evening guilties.  about how i wanted to escape ending every night feeling like i had a million things to apologize or make up for.  (how am i going to do bedtime alone with THREE of them?)

i’m searching for it.


(*) this morning was a long morning spent at youchien, operating in my second language in “group mode,” which takes much more effort and energy for me than a three- or four-person conversation.  it was the day for moms (and their other littles) to come and play for an hour, then meet with the teacher and principle for a little more than an hour, and individually share some good points of their kid, as well as something they hope their kid can improve on in the next year.  (sidenote: i love that little kids and their antics are just accepted here as part of life.  for example, during the “meeting” part of the morning, moms sitting in a chairs in a circle, and youchien kids still playing outside together, there were at least six one- and two-year-olds running around the room, playing and occasionally screaming “NO!” at eachother.  no one paid them any mind.  for part of the time, ezra was running circles in the middle of the circle, falling over, and getting up to smile at all the moms watching him.  business went on as usual.)

the playtime was full of “watch me, mom!” and “follow me, mom!” and “pick me up, mom!” and “ezra, don’t eat sand!” and “ezra, don’t drink sandy water!” and “ezra, don’t destroy the castle!” and “ezra, don’t kill yourself!”  🙂  and when it was time to leave and i really needed a nap, ezra decided to wake early from his.  this is why the first words out of my mouth when i went back later to pick up jones were, “we’re going to get ice cream!”  we went to baskin robbins (or “sah-tee-won,” as its known here — translation: “thirty one”), and i got a mocha blast.  mmmmm.. two kid cups was an expensive bribe for a few minutes peace with a caffeinated drink, but it was worth it.  until, of course, i had to clean ez up because i let him eat his own ice cream. 🙂


i always have so many thoughts i want to share about my life as a mom here in japan, the things i’m learning from the school, the other mothers, this other culture.  its strange for me to realize that i’ve grown into my “mothering shoes,” so to speak, in a very Japanese way — that this culture has shaped my mothering more than my home culture, and that i’m okay with that.  i’m realizing, though, that i need to be careful to not attach values to these differences of culture, or alienate those who can’t share my experience.  i do realize i’ve been making a lot of statements like “others couldn’t possibly understand” or “some won’t be realize”, etc, in relation to my life here.  i so want to be able to express things in a way that they will be understood, but i don’t words will be an adequate substitute.  i love the trying, though.  i just hate knowing i can’t give a full picture for you, dear readers.


late pregnancy thoughts:  baby’s head must be pressing against some nerve, because my right leg has been feeling funky all evening.  i’m 38+ weeks, and my saintly california cousins will arrive exactly a week from today to help save our sanity and keep our boys occupied during the crazy times of birth and post-partum. (ladies, you are the BEST!)

how is it that time inevitably slows to a snail’s pace in the last weeks of waiting for a baby?  a week never seemed like such a long time till i typed it just now. a whole week more of waddling around, hoping i don’t gain more weight, and analyzing every twinge and cramp? help me, please!

but then again, i can go another week without the pain of childbirth.  i’m afraid i’m still afraid, even after having survived it twice.  now i know what it feels like, and i must admit that the anticipation of a known and measurable pain has been much worse for me than the anticipation of the “what ifs” of my first labor experience.  i’ve been banking on the fact that girls are smaller, hoping it will make the baby’s exit less painful.  that’s the part that hurts the worst anyway — that last hour to half-hour.  WOWZA.  what i wouldn’t do to skip over that!  bryan taped ezra’s birth, though the camera was at a weird angle and you can only hear and not see — i listened to it once, and that was enough for me.  it freaked me out to hear the sounds i was making.

i suppose that’s enough labor talk. i’m going to scare off all the newlywed brides!


tomorrow is our wedding anniversary.  five years of crazy!   not to be cliche, but it really just keeps getting better.  i love you, bryan!  you and your business socks. 🙂

4 thoughts on “the evening guilties, and other thoughts.

  1. Jamie–I know that many of us say this so often, but THANK YOU for sharing openly and honestly about your life. I am so much more encouraged and energized by reading your words about struggles and whatnot than I am by the seemingly perfect mommy blogs (I know they are not perfect and all of us bloggers pick and choose what we are going to reveal, but seriously, I had to stop reading some of them because they made me feel inadequate and like our life was crap because we weren’t raising our own chickens and eating free-range dandelion soup or something, while I snapped beautifully framed photos of it all).
    Anyway…know that you are not alone in the struggles between responding to your kids in a less-than-gracious way (I am the queen of this, myself) and then feeling guilty about the way you responded. Yes, we all need to lean harder on Jesus for grace in the moment to try to respond in a kind and loving way (which is hard in the face of childishness–which also needs to be directed so that it can mature out of childishness over the many, many years). We also need to lean harder into Jesus’ graciousness to us. He sees our childishness and knows how we struggle. And he understands and forgives and gives grace, each day, as we confess that we mess up and we need him, daily.
    I love 1 John 3: 19-20: “By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him; for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything.” Wow. God is greater than our condemning hearts.

    I guess what I am trying to say is: it’s okay. You’re not alone. We all are in this together. We are praying for you and your soon-to-be-five-people! family. And you will make it through this season of craziness–even when you have to put three (or more) kids to bed by yourself. I am living proof. 🙂
    And I so wish we could sit down with a mocha blast or even just a regular coffee and talk together, so that I wouldn’t have to leave long, rambling comments on your blog. But hey; I am glad that we DO have blogs and such to keep in touch with each other.
    Happy anniversary to you and your hubby. By God’s grace may you make it 60 or more years!

  2. Jamie, I love reading your blog. Thanks for being so open and honest and sharing your life’s learnings with all of us. I have SO MUCH to learn from you friend and will appreciate that you know how soothing a mocha blast really can be at times.

    Love hearing about all your heart is sifting through these days. Love you!!

  3. Oh and p.s. I often go to bed with a case of the guilties and I haven’t birthed my babies yet. I was really interested in how that can carry over from motherhood and maybe even worsen. I usually go to bed feeling guilty about hanging out with friends/discipling times like “Oh, I didn’t love her well.” “I forgot to ask about her day and talked too much about mine.” “I was too pushy when I said …” “I told stupid jokes.”
    etc. etc.
    So thanks for giving me a heads up about mothering… I will definitely continue to be on guard for those stinkin’ guilties and be praying about God to speak into yours as well.

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