I am a recovering “Do-It-Yourself Mom”. Not to be confused with the “Crafty-Made-From-Scratch-Hand-Sewn-Pinterest-Inspired Mom”. I’m talking about the kind of mom who has a To Do list several miles long but never asks for help. The kind of mom who runs around like a crazy person from sunup to sundown working her butt off, but never feels like she’s getting anything done. The kind of mom who yells at her kids like a maniac for doing kid things, like spilling dry cereal on the floor, because she’s so tightly wound and stressed out that everything in her life is starting to feel like a burden. I’m talking about the kind of mom who is so busy doing the jobs of life all by herself, that the joys of life are passing her by.
Being a DIY Mom sucked the life right out of me. I went to bed exhausted. I woke up exhausted. I complained about the weight on my shoulders, but refused to let anyone lighten the load. I hated the negative, ungrateful person I was becoming. Yet, I couldn’t bring myself to give up any of the control I felt I had over the details of my life. In my mind I knew that I had no good reason to take on the world alone but, in my heart, I felt that my very worth as a woman was tied to the amount of things I was able to cross off of that To Do list every day. It was a vicious cycle that tore me apart. I’d often find myself hiding in the bathroom, staring into the mirror as I fought back the tears. I’d talk myself out of crying. I’d convince myself that I didn’t need that moment to breathe but, instead, needed to get back out there and tackle the next item on that list. I was slowly becoming exactly the kind of mom I swore I’d never be. I was putting so much pressure on myself to be everything to everyone in my home that I had completely forgotten to be what my family needed most from me: Myself.
My children began to react to my stress. Then, I’d react to them reacting to my stress…which caused more stress. As I began to sink into depression, family and friends offered to help more often, despite knowing I’d probably turn them down. I held my ground. Refused to surrender any of my duties to anyone. I thought that if they could see I was doing it all on my own, it would prove how strong I was. It would prove my value. The more I could give the illusion that I had it all together, the more I believed I would finally escape my feelings of worthlessness. Buried and overwhelmed, I began to resent those around me for any normal, fun things they’d do. The payoff of knowing I’d accomplished so much busy work was slowly disappearing. All of my “accomplishments” had only left me feeling even more empty and alone. I wasn’t happy…my family wasn’t happy….and it was my fault.
One evening, I’d finally reached my breaking point. I’d yelled at my children for the millionth time over the millionth tiny thing and, as I turned to move on to my next task, a little hand grabbed mine. My daughter pulled me close and wrapped her little arms around my leg. No words, just a hug for the sake of hugging. She smiled up at me as if I hadn’t just acted like a lunatic. In that moment, the Still Small Voice that I’d been too busy to stop and listen to gently whispered to my heart a truth I’d been too prideful to hear:
Do less. Be more.
God had gifted me a loving, devoted husband and four beautiful children and what was I doing with those gifts? Turning them into items on a list. I was serving my family, but not out of joy. Of all of the things I was trying to accomplish, all of the duties I was making a priority, none of them were eternal. I had turned the gift of motherhood into a guilt-driven job. I had let what was once a passionate mission to raise a family built on grace and love turn into a desperate, pride-feuled fight to survive. I had begun to see my greatest blessings as burdens. All because I’d allowed the tapes of my youth to replay themselves in my head. I’d grown up influenced to believe that my worth came from deeds. I had to earn love, earn attention, earn worth. Only…I could never do enough. When the Truth of God’s love made its way into my life and I realized that I didn’t need to earn it, I’d been set free. Yet, over the years, I’d slowly put back on the chains that weighed me down as a child…threatening to hand those chains down to the next generation.
As I said…I’m still in recovery. Some days, I slip back into DIY mode. I’ll always be a mom who likes to get things done. I still find thrill in accomplishment. I still tend to do life in lists, but every day I have to be intentional about what I say yes to, and what I let go of. I have to be honest with myself when I’m trying to do too much and my family is suffering for it. I have to put down my pride and ask for help. I have to make the choice, one task at a time, to prioritize the eternal. Those toys on the floor may drive me crazy, but if my babies need an owie kissed or have a story to tell me, the toys can wait. My children are watching, and I want them to know that it’s okay to be a mess sometimes. I want them to know it’s okay to say no to the kingdom this world has created if it means they’re accomplishing the work of His Kingdom. I want my family to live freely in the Truth that they’re loved unconditionally, regardless of deeds. I want my children to remember that, sometimes, mom sat around doing nothing with them…and it was really fun 🙂