Do you ever have difficulty switching gears from mom to wife? I do! I spend most of my days in parent mode and when I am in this mode, I get life in order by organizing and directing. I get into a habit that is at first good and keeps life calm and orderly.
But this habit can quickly take a wrong turn.
It’s as if I have several plates in the air, spinning on tall sticks. You know, the ones you see in a Chinese acrobatic show. I fear that if I stop controlling the plates they will come tumbling down into a broken mess. That mess would require more energy to clean up than if I’d just kept them spinning. So, every wavering plate attracts my attention. I do whatever it takes to keep each one in the air. I become very good at anticipating problems! The real problem is that I’ve inadvertently trained myself to see the problems, to generally think negative.
I forget to encourage people around me for the good they do. The good things seem to fall into a category of stuff that they should just do! I think that praising people for things, they “ought” to do anyway, might in some way, lower the bar. They may begin to think that small good things are “good enough”, not try harder & not grow, and especially leave me with more work!
It gets worse! If I don’t see anything wrong, I find myself beginning to question everything, even things that seem fine. I begin to question my kid’s homework, attitude, salvation, intentions and motives. Then I complain about them to my husband. I hear myself. I know I sound like a nag, a constant dripping, a resounding gong. I go on and on even explaining why I am complaining! Only out of concern of course. Oh, and I repeat myself a lot.
What is wrong with me?!!? If I was listening to anyone else talk like this, I might avoid them. But my husband listens. He keeps his cool. He doesn’t speak. In the moment, I mistake his silence for not caring. I feel so burdened for my family, and so alone. Why isn’t my husband helping?! He’s not acting on what I am saying. He doesn’t see my concern. That’s a problem! So what is a plate spinner to do?…
I begin to spin his plates! I begin trying to figure out how to fix him. After all, he should do something! More plates turn. I can’t see anything else. Now, I am taking on a mom role with my husband. I don’t realize it though, at least not until it’s too late. Soon I’m thinking of all the things he’s not doing to help around here and then all the things that I don’t like about him, especially how I don’t like “having” to act like his mom. How did I end up being mom to every male in my house!? It’s not what I want at all, but it’s where I keep finding myself. Needless to say, this impacts our relationship to the core. When it comes down to it,…. what woman finds herself attracted to a man that she feels she is parenting?
I don’t always think this way. In other circumstances I have been able to ignore problems, overlook them or wait to discuss them at another time, perhaps to salvage and enjoy a moment or event,… only to forget the whole thing before we found the time to talk. So, I knew my thoughts could be flexible. I knew I had some choice in this matter. I’d chosen joy, mercy and grace before… I could do it again. This is not how I would want treated. I would want the “benefit of a doubt”. I’d want others to assume my good intentions and not look for the bad. I’d want them to be an example for me, to encourage me, pull me up.
I needed to clear my head. It amazes me, how clear I think when I’m free from so many distractions & commitments, even if just for a little while. I’d lock myself in the bathroom or go to a coffee shop or whatever works. I’d pray and read and then just listen. Everything seems so clear from a short distance, just a small step away from the busyness.
That’s when I remember the things that I love about my kids and my husband. I reflect on how this has all worked out before. I’m reminded that I don’t have to be in control of everything and everyone. I just need to be in control of me & my emotions. I can say “no” to all that is pulling me in every direction. I can say “yes” to me relaxing, being alone & butting out.
Emotions are indicators, but shouldn’t be drivers. My emotions are not wrong. They are just telling me to pay attention. I sort through my feelings, but not alone. I invite God into the moment. I pray. I listen. I remember that the goal of the family isn’t making everything perfect. It’s about how we love and respect each other. It’s how we impact this world. It’s about our witness.
So the question is “What am I doing in my part of the family witness? Am I helping? Am I glorifying God with my behavior?” I don’t have to fix or appease anyone. I don’t have to be angry. I don’t have to make my kids behave or get my husband to accept and agree with my point of view. On the other side, I don’t have to agree with them. I don’t have to fill all of my children’s or my husband’s desires. I don’t have to “make” them happy. Their emotions are not my responsibility either. I just need to know God and remain sensitive to the Holy Spirit. I have to do right in a loving way. What was right and loving right then, was that I took a break for myself. I needed a “time out“. I needed a clear head and heart. I needed to get back to treating them with honor, love and respect and that starts with making sure I’m healthy enough to do that.
Boundaries; I need them to protect myself and my family. Sometimes I even need to protect them from me! I need to care for others & offer grace, mercy and forgiveness. I also need to remember that I need to give myself grace, mercy and forgiveness. Sometimes I need to jump in with both feet and do a lot. Other times I need to say no to over committing. I find balance in God’s word and in the peace that the Holy Spirit brings. Inviting God into my moments and my days makes me feel less burdened, more loved, and not alone.
A good place to get help with balance is Celebrate Recovery. To find a meeting go to: celebraterecovery.com .
Click below for a great analogy that demonstrates how to avoid carrying too much of other people’s “stuff”.
click below for “Celebrate Recovery” information