Stuck in the Ditch

I went to a MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) meeting tonight and this is what I heard while I was there. One of my closest friends said something like this, “The part-time job I do outside of our home is working with greeting cards, not people. My girls don’t exactly affirm the job I am doing as their mother. Where do I get that approval that I need?”

I’m sure you have thought the same thing a million times–I know that I have. If I’ve heard it once, I’ve heard it twice as I have talked with other moms. The need to feel valued is as common as a cold. I haven’t done an official poll, but my observation is that outside of finances, the highest ranking reason for a mom to give up staying home and to go back to work is this…they feel like they are failing as a mother, don’t get the encouragement or support they need, and need something to give them a sense of purpose. When you are swimming in diapers and runny noses, it’s a little (okay, extremely) difficult to see the forest for the trees.

If you are in that spot, let me encourage you that even though I may not know you, I think you are doing a great job! If no ones takes the time to tell you, then I will! If that’s not doing it for you then here are a few simple things that I did when I was drowning in children and only occasionally came up for air. These are brief descriptions and I will fill them in for you in the next few posts.

First, I stopped playing the “he should know how I’m feeling” game and told my husband how I was feeling and clearly communicated what I needed from him. If you don’t have a husband, then maybe there is someone in your life that you can turn to for adult encouragement.

Secondly, I found something I was good at and got involved in it. For some people it might be a skill or hobby. For others it might be an organization or ministry. For me it was MOPS leadership.

Third, I scheduled a break on a regular basis. MOPS filled this need for me, but sometimes I needed a break more than once every other week. Sometimes I needed a weekly break and, yes, sometimes I thought for sure a daily break would not be enough!

Fourth, I found ways to give me sunshine in the midst of my rainy days. For me, it was something as simple and goofy as foo-foo, yummy smelling soap from Bath and Body Works. I know I was paying a high price for that soap (and still do!), but sometimes the smell of that soap was about the only good thing I had going for me that day!

Fifth, I was and still am fortunate enough to have a network of girlfriends to rely on. Through the seasons of life, those women have fluctuated, but overall I have a core group of women that have held me up, given me advice, cried with me, celebrated with me and sometimes just listened when I needed to yell at someone.

Sixth, I have continually made sure that my “plate” is not overly full. I have had to prioritize and to learn how to say “no” to other adults.

Seventh, and I think the most important, is that I have had to work my rear off at finding creative ways to not neglect my spiritual life. It took a light bulb moment to come to this realization, but I do not believe that my life is now in sole ownership of my children. I cannot put off my greatest need–to be daily filled with God–until they turn 18 years old. If there is one thing that I can ask of you, it is this. Please be wise enough to realize that if your cup is empty, you will have nothing to give back to your family. All of the above things that I have done are helpful, but the single most important thing I do for my family every day is spend time filling my cup by spending time with God.

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