One of the hardest things about being a mother is the perpetual feeling of always being completely overwhelmed. Always. And Completely. Nobody can prepare you for this! “What to Expect when You’re Expecting” is mere child’s play, and the “Just wait til you have kids” warning of well-meaning friends usually falls on deaf ears.
I am speaking from experience. If I knew how overwhelming raising children would be, I’m pretty sure I would have entered a convent at the age of 16 and pledged myself to a life of celibacy – just to be on the safe side, you know? ;) Ok, so I’m sort of kidding (but maybe not??!!) I love being a mom, but sometimes I hate it a little too. It’s honestly the hardest thing I have ever done in my entire life, and I’m not into doing hard stuff. This is why I have a 0.0 sticker on the back of my van, even though I live in the land of the fit and the 13.1 and 26.2 stickers!!
And then I decided to add homeschooling to the mix, as if this Mother to Four gig wasn’t complicated and hard enough. Wow. If you’ve never homeschooled and would like to know what that’s like, just imagine every day was “Bring your Kid to Work Day,” only while you’re gone, there are little people trashing your house. That’s the cold, hard truth, folks! I wouldn’t have it any other way, but this is NOT EASY! Saying that I’m often overwhelmed is actually quite possibly an understatement. Two degrees south of crazy might be a better description :)
Some people are fighters. They go swinging into battle when faced with difficulty and opposition. That’s totally not me. When faced with an obstacle, you’ll likely find me curled up in a fetal position with my little blankie. I’m delicate like that. Honestly, my automatic reaction to trouble is flight instead of fight. I’m a perfectionist who was incredibly adept at micromanaging notebooks and classes and straight A’s in school but terribly unprepared for managing the complexity of life, especially motherhood life.
If I can’t do ALL the things and do them RIGHT, sometimes I don’t do any of the things. I just give up before I even get started because I don’t even know where to start. It’s a little pathetic actually, but it’s the honest to goodness truth. This is why there is months old dirty laundry living at the bottom of my hampers and unidentified plastic objects cluttering my kitchen cupboards and drawers and thousands of our family pictures living in cyber space (or on little flash drive thingys, is that what they call them??). I’m not even a quitter. I’m a non-starter!
So, you’re probably wondering why I would even write a blog post titled “What to do when you are overwhelmed”?? Clearly, I do not have my stuff together! How can someone who loses every measuring cup she’s ever purchased possibly be of help to you? Maybe I’m just here to reassure you that feeling overwhelmed is normal for moms. Or maybe it’s more likely that y’all will read this and feel totally awesome about yourselves because “that poor lady over at Messy Perfectionist is really a much bigger mess than I am!!” :) Or maybe being completely overwhelmed for the past 12 years, 3 months, and 2 days (but who’s counting??) makes me something of an expert?? I don’t know. I’m just learning to be thankful for the little things God has taught me over the years, and I try to pass those lessons on to others.
Anyways, inquiring minds want to know “What to do when you are overwhelmed?” The answer is harder and easier than you might think. And no, “Surf the internet for funny pictures of cats” isn’t what I was about to say. You probably already know the answer, but sometimes we all need a reminder. When you are overwhelmed, do this:
1. Pray. Pray specifically for what you need. As in “Jesus, I do not know how to clean this oven. Will you please show me what to do?” Yes, this is word-for-word from my prayer closet. I pray about weird stuff, and He answers me!
2. Do one thing. Do what you can do. Pick up 10 things on the completely cluttered counter. Wash dishes for 10 minutes. Fold and put away ONE basket of clothes, even if there are six baskets waiting for you. You cannot do all the things, but you can do one thing. Do that thing and feel good about the effort you’re expending.
It’s not rocket science, but I forget this so often!! Last week, I had out-of-town guests coming and felt like my house just needed to be bulldozed so I could start over from the ground up, you know what I mean?? Well, I prayed that “Help me, Jesus!” prayer, and twenty minutes later, I was out the door to rent a Rug Doctor. Besides eating and sleeping, I basically ran that thing for 24 hours straight. And guess what, my house got picked up in the process! It was AMAZING! God answered my prayer, and he gave me the strength to do only what I was able to do. And in the end, it was more than enough.
He is so good to me! Call on him for the little things, and you will see your faith grow in ways you never could have imagined. He cares about the details of your life.