Hearing the tears of an overwhelmed friend reminded me of the difficult load mothers carry and the struggle to find balance. Moms are pulled in a myriad of directions and feel the pressure to do everything well. Moms are tempted to take on all of the burdens of the family while forgetting to care for ourselves.
From tutoring homework, to caring for the emotional, physical, and spiritual needs of their kids, moms are on the frontlines of providing care. Moms often run on fumes, parenting through sleep depravation. Societal pressure to make life Pinterest Perfect only adds anxiety to the workload. Working outside the home also a necessary financial reality for many families. Our burdens may feel heavy, but God does not want us feeling overwhelmed by our load.
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11: 28-30).
Here are some reminders to guide your balancing act.
Trying to keep everyone happy and meet all the needs of your family is not a realistic expectation for anyone. You are one person, and you cannot do everything. Without realistic expectations, we will be living in constant disappointment. You can be in only one place at a time, so cut yourself some slack. Remember that God's desire for you is peace not anxiety.
My mother-in-law still talks about how my kindergartener taught her how to use our washing machine. Grandma couldn’t believe a little tike could sort the laundry, empty the pockets, and start the machines. It was a proud moment for our child to get to teach grandma the right buttons to push. Our families function better when everyone is playing a role within the team. It is easy to think that we could do that job faster or better and attempt to manage things ourselves. Yet, that over-functioning will leave us exhausted and teach our children that they have nothing to contribute to the family. Our kids can do many age-appropriate tasks that that will empower them and give them a sense of belonging in the family.
It is okay to feel overwhelmed, as life does at times give us way more than we can handle. God has placed us in community in order to care for one another and extend his love through difficult times. Use the resources at your disposal to help you get through the day to day challenges. Team up with other moms to watch each others kids and find emotional support. Enlist the help of your family, friends, and church community--you don’t have to do it all yourself. Be mature enough to admit that you need help.
Guilt is a poor platform from which to parent. The worst parenting decisions are made out of guilt. I can remember planning oodles of fun things to do with the kids on my days off because I felt guilty about leaving them to go to work. But my kids didn’t need more tasks, more adventures, more programming; they were content to be at home together with me. Parents do not need to function out of guilt, trying to compensate for the hurts they perceive that their kids might be experiencing. Guilt inspires indulging our kids in ways that are unhealthy.
There is logic behind the airline’s instructions to apply your oxygen mask first before assisting others. You can’t help your children if you are passed out on the floor. We can’t give what we don’t have. Likewise, it is imperative that we feed our own body, mind, and spirit. Filling your fuel tank is what keeps you moving down the road. Prayer is an important practice of selfcare as you lay burdens at God's feet and trust our families into the care of our God who loves them best.
Some days the obstacles can feel overwhelming, but God is at work even when our eyes miss it. Keep the big picture in mind and don’t get too overwhelmed with today. An eternal perspective can help us from getting too bogged down with the stressors of today.
Get rid of regrets about yesterday. Put aside worries about tomorrow. Know that your God is with you through all the challenges and blessings that this day has to offer. Live in this day with Him!
Rev. Dr. Rob Toornstra