My name is Chaunie and I am a bitter, bitter mother.
Are you shocked by my confession? Well, here’s the truth: I am bitter because as a mom, my life feels impossible 99.99% of the time. Take today, for example. I have a huge work project due, a project that pays our mortgage for the month, and I was planning on using a babysitter so I could turn it in on time. The project has been delayed once already because I’ve had a very sick child for over a week that I’ve been caring for.
I was counting on today to get caught up and looking forward to my first uninterrupted work day in months. So, can you guess what happened instead?
If you guessed child #3 randomly barfed at 1 AM, you would be correct.
And with his barf all over my floor, my dreams of having a productive work day vanished into thin air, yet again. I wish I could tell you that I reacted to my poor child being sick with care and compassion, but the sad truth is, I felt defeated beyond all belief. Because this isn’t a fluke occurrence in my life; it is my life.
Working from home with four young kids who seem determined to take turns getting sick for the longest amounts of time possible has made getting anything done feel impossible. And unfortunately, my work is not “optional.” My family depends on my income, which means I am staying up late and getting up early and using the TV as a babysitter way more than I would like to.
Recently, I had fallen into a major bout of bitterness over the fact that my life felt so impossible. Instead of realizing that my family life is my life, I had fallen into the pattern of resenting my family for intruding on my life. I can’t wake up when I want, drink coffee when I want, leave my house when I want, take a shower when I want, or even work when I need to, without some member of my family interfering, interrupting, or otherwise intruding upon what felt like all of my time.
Frankly, it was all exhausting.
So many mothers have been in the position I was in — heck, you might even be in that position right now. It’s a horrible place to be, because unfortunately, there isn’t always a good solution. You can’t help if it your kid get sick, maybe you can’t afford a babysitter right now, and you can’t exactly tell your bills to go away, so what do you do in the meantime?
Well, in my case, you change your attitude.
I realized that all of my bitterness and resentfulness not only wasn’t helping to improve the situation, but it was making me and everyone around me miserable. I was snapping at my husband, getting impatient with my kids, and my main mode of communication had become sighing heavily. I didn’t even like myself anymore.
So, I worked, almost immediately to change my attitude. When my daughter woke up with yet another fever the day I really needed to work, I didn’t sigh and wail and complain; instead I said a quick prayer of gratitude that I could be there when she needed me. When deadlines piled up around me and I couldn’t meet any of them, I didn’t stress. I stayed calm and told myself work will always be there, but stress will not help me get it done. And most importantly, I stopped treating my family like they were interfering with my “important” work that needed to be done and placed them back in the center as the most important work of all.
Nothing about the difficulties of my day-to-day life as a work-at-home mom changed, but the change in how I viewed them made an immediate difference. Instead of being bitter, stressed, and resentful, I was able to re-center my thoughts on being calm, grateful, and peaceful about this stage of life. I may not be able to change everything, but I can change how I approach it.
Especially during this month of May, dedicated to mothers and the “beauty” of motherhood, I am getting honest with how difficult motherhood can truly be. The fact that it can be all too easy to resenting the very family that we have worked so hard to create isn’t exactly a sentiment you’ll see on a Mother’s Day card, but for a lot of us, it’s a struggle that will arise and that’s OK. Motherhood is hard and throwing in challenges like sick children or special needs or work or bills and it can be very easy for that bitterness to creep in.
So maybe this Mother’s Day, you say “thank you” to your kids for their handmade cards, you hug your husband over that brunch he insisted you go to, or you pretend to be surprised over the gifts your kids made at school and when all is said and done, you give yourself the best gift of all: letting go of the resentfulness that threatens to steal the real joy of motherhood.