Finding the “Me” in Mommy

I guess I’ve been stuck for a good little while. I had thought I had this being a single parent on weekdays thing figured out. But I was exhausted. Physically, mentally and emotionally. And I ceased to be Kristen. To my children I was “Mommy” and to the rest of the world I had become “Shelby, Joey and Will’s Mommy.” I began to really enjoy my television at night because the characters on tv didn’t know me as anyone…

Last week I lamented on facebook that I was tired and needed a hug. So many of my mommy friends reached “across the wall” arms outstretched. One friend, a guy who’s not yet a Daddy, told me I was doing the most important job in the world. I admitted the reason I was struggling is that I was having a huge problem balancing being a wife, mother and myself. And whatever I compromised something suffered. I said there, and I still intend to do it, I was going to get Holly Pierlot’s A Mother’s Rule of Life. It seems to have helped so many of my friends and other bloggy moms. The weekend came and went. It was my last one working and I did get a ton of clothes out of my closet that I either didn’t wear, didn’t fit or didn’t know I had. But I still felt way behind. On EVERY front.

I have been saying this week I need to get my groove back. And yesterday, something happened. I went over to Katherine’s blog and read this. How making a schedule that carved time out for her was the way to go. And in that post was something else that touched my heart. Her praying the Chaplet of Divine Mercy with her girls. I really enjoyed the post but it didn’t click right at that moment.

After dinner, and Shelby and Will were in bed and Joey was in my bed quietly watching Wall-E. I cleaned the living room and kitchen in preparation to watch Parenthood. This show is one of my favorites in large part because it very accurately portrays the day to day struggles of parenting an autistic child but also because the relationships between Adam and Kristina and Julia and Joel. They are marriages that are varied and complex, but surprisingly real. The episode last week when Julia described Sydney sleeping in the bed with them as wonderful that she could inhale her while Joel offered a pained smile and their discussion where he told her he was the parent all day and in bed was the only time he wasn’t while she said that was the only time she felt like a parent hit home in a house where Daddy is away working all week long. So, I watched last night and was struck mostly by Kristina’s overwhelming empathy for Adam as he struggled with having to lay off employees he had worked with for fifteen years. The way she (and their daughter Haddie) ultimately helped him work through what to say and how to say it was familiar. It’s the way Jeff and I would talk through how to reach a student if he worked closer to home or he had gotten the job earlier in the summer and we were able to go with him.

Last night I went to sleep and did something I hadn’t done in a long time. I cried. Not out of self-pity, but out of submission…I was going to give this to God. For some reason, with all the things I do give over to God, I had yet to give over this struggle. As I prayed for God to help me with this, I remembered Matthew 11: 29-30: “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”  Immediately I felt as if a huge weight had been lifted from me. I was able to quickly fall asleep after this.

A couple of hours later, I was awakened to Joey (who I had moved to his bed when he fell asleep) yelling for me. This is highly unusual and I didn’t want Will up too, so I ran to get him. He asked to watch Wall-E again. We were in the bed watching when I realized it was almost 3 AM. I wasn’t going to be able to sleep anyway, so I got online and went to for virtual Adoration and prayed the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, the Rosary and the Rosary of the Seven Sorrows. I also said a Morning Offering and prayer to St Joseph for my works of the day. I felt refreshed when I finished. Then I thought back to Katherine’s post. This was time for just me. God came to me in the quiet and I listened. As a good Baptist friend of mine is fond of saying, “When you’re knocked on your knees, you’re in the perfect position to pray.” I fell asleep quickly and despite my overall lack of sleep woke to my alarm feeling very ready to take on the day. I got the kids off to school and the boys and I had a good morning at home. We even said an Angelus at noon. After retrieving Shelby from school, Joey took a late nap. While Will and Shelby enjoyed snack and Spongebob, I found myself at 3 pm and went in to watch EWTN and pray another Chaplet of Divine Mercy. Somewhere into the first decade Will toddled into the bedroom and climbed on the bed with me. He grabbed my Rosary of the Seven Sorrows and mimicked what I was doing with my Rosary beads. For half a second I thought about getting out Joey’s large, wooden, chaplet, but immediately thought better of it. Me getting knocked out would not be a good thing. He quietly sat until he got bored and left. He’s eighteen-months. I was pleasantly surprised he was this interested.

I am feeling the best I have since Jeff started working again. I feel like I’m Kristen and “Shelby, Joey, and Will’s Mommy,” and somewhere in there, I’m Jeff’s wife too. It all came down to giving it up to God and finding time for me in all the chaos. It wasn’t easy. And I probably was fighting it harder than I thought, but I couldn’t be happier than where I am right now.

4 thoughts on “Finding the “Me” in Mommy

  1. Kristen,

    Thanks for the link. I just posted an update on how our schedule is going.

    I wanted to let you know, Pierlot’s book was my guide for my schedule. I don’t use her book to the letter as she seemed to write it when she had older kids who could do things on their own and I have only younger ones, but she has an absolutely wonderful 5 P system (Prayer, Person, Partner, Parent, Provider) to prioritize your day and it is so helpful in balancing everything. While God comes first, if I don’t have time for me, I become stretched too thin and fail to be the best I can be at everything else in the process.

    BTW, I love that quote: “When you’re knocked on your knees, you’re in the perfect position to pray.” I SO need to remember that one.

    • Thanks for replying Katherine! The friend who gave me that quote, as I said, is a Baptist who is battling with a non-cancerous brain tumor (they are still a nuisance without the cancer) that was found last year a month into her first pregnancy. Her son was born two months ago and she is struggling with mothering and dealing with the treatments to shrink the tumor but maintains that quote as her life’s duty. I don’t think I would follow Pierlot’s book to the letter either being Shelby’s situation is what it is and that requires a lot of flexibility sometimes, but I think that as the boys get older, it will definitely be helpful!

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  3. I’ve been reading “Full of Grace” by Johnnette Benkovic. Just like in Mother Rule of Life, PRAYER is stressed as the number 1 thing we need to schedule. The book says that just like God multiplied the loaves and fishes, so he multiplies our time when we give it to him (and other things too, like money, charity). I’ve been making time for God and I also am doing pretty well on my schedule and have been feeling great. The kids are better too, MUCH better when they have a solid routine.

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