What does love look like when you’re losing it?
My sleep was interrupted at 2am by a screaming child whose dirty diaper leaked onto her comforter and sheets. This same little girl bounced out of bed at 6:30am, screamed till my 4-year-old woke up, and banged on my bedroom door till I got up, too. I’m tired. I’m grumpy. I pour her a bowl of Cherrios. She dumps it on the floor. She wants scrambled eggs. It’s my turn to scream!
I feel a deep, abiding love in my heart for my daughter. But it’s not always easy for me to love her. I’m selfish. I like my space. I especially like my sleep. And I don’t love it when a wee one tugs on my dress all day whimpering, whining and wanting me to interpret Mandarin, which I can’t possibly understand. People always ask how it’s going. It’s like having a 3-year-old newborn. Totally expected. But very draining. On top of it all, I’m juggling the demands of three other children, a slew of school and doctor appointments, my husband, work, finding childcare on the days I work, and missing the support of my family who live 3,000 miles away.
My life can be crazy hard. I’m sure you can relate. There’s a good chance you have even more on your plate than I do on mine. But I’m grateful for this season. I’m learning what it looks like to love when it’s really hard. And for me that starts with exercising self-control and setting boundaries.
When my daughter threw her Cherrios fit, I almost flew into a rage. But I took a deep breath, brewed myself some coffee, scrambled eggs in a bowl and popped it in the microwave. Yes, I scramble eggs in the microwave, it’s way too early to heat the stove at 7am! I’m finally getting a grip on a hot temper that’s plagued me my whole life. I’d crush my daughter’s spirit if let my verbal vomit fly.
I also place visual cues in my home to remind me where my daughter came from. This is the referral photo we received when she was just a year old. My baby doll! I keep it by my bedside. To think she was labeled with a special needs diagnosis that’s not even accurate and sent to a rehab hospital for help when she really just needed adequate love and nutrition slays me. But it also inspires me to give her the best of myself right now because she deserves it. Today four specialists evaluated her for services. They praised her “spirited response to life” and fell in love with her spunky spirit & desire to connect with people despite never having the love of a family the first three years of her life.
I track her progress every day…and while some days it feels awfully slow, it’s sure steady. And just slowing myself down enough to observe her response to life allows me to really get to know this little creature. What excites her? What makes her tick? When does she feel safe and loved? Motherhood is a process of surrendering your desires for your child’s demands hour by hour. Is there anything more sacred than that?
Surrendering fully to this child also means saying no to social engagements I’d love to be a part of but simply don’t have the energy for. I’m setting boundaries for the first time in a long time, running the risk of hurting people’s feelings for not engaging deeply in friendships right now and realizing there really is so much I can handle. I can’t respond to every email, phone call, Facebook message, request to serve, dinner invitation. But I’m doing my best to show up where it matters most. And right now, that’s in the walls of my home.
How do you choose to love the season of motherhood you’re in when you feel undone?