What to Do When Motherhood Makes You Feel Trapped
- Rhonda Stoppe Speaker and Author
- 2016 31 Oct
“Are you kidding me right now? If one more person spills their milk at the table I’m gonna lose it!”
Tracy stormed out of the room in tears. With wide eyes and hushed mouths, her husband and children watched her in disbelief.
“What’s up with mom?” asked Kimberly, the adolescent daughter who was dealing with her own hormonal mood swings.
Tracy's husband Tom tried to smooth things over with the children when he replied, “Mommy is just having a hard day, that’s all.”
Tom found Tracy in their bathroom. She was looking into the mirror trying to wipe away the mascara that was now all over her face from crying.
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Tom stood there for a moment, remembering all the times he had watched her perform this little ritual–whenever her emotions had gotten the better of her.
Finally, Tracy turned to Tom. “Am I losing it? I don’t know what is wrong with me. It seems like every little thing is just setting me off these days. I feel so overwhelmed by the daily stuff it takes to keep these kids alive. I just want a break. I need a break.”
Tracy went on, “I see other moms with all their happy faces plastered all over social media and I just feel like I am the only one who is not able to handle all this responsibility.”
Tom went over and pulled Tracy to his chest––until the crying in the kitchen drew Tracy away from Tom’s embrace to manage the chaos.
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Can you relate to Tracy’s story? I remember a time that I felt like Tracy. When our kids were young, with little sleep and hormonal imbalances, I remember feeling like I couldn’t handle one more thing.
Isn’t it crazy how much easier it is to be calm amidst the major stuff––like your kid breaking his arm? Why is it that the everyday occurrences can hit your switch and send you into a rant?
I remember one day, I was at my wits-end. My husband walked through the door to find me curled up in a puddle of tears.
After checking on the kids to be sure they were all okay, Steve just held me while I cried. I remember trying to explain to him how I felt.
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I said, “Imagine if you went to work and framed an entire house. At the end of the day you viewed your work with a sense of accomplishment.
“The next morning when you return to work you discover that someone had painstakingly removed every single board you had framed and scattered it all over the yard. So, rather than moving forward with your project, you were forced to start all over again.”
I paused for a moment to allow Steve to feel the effect of the word picture I had just drawn. Then I concluded, “That is how I feel every day. I do the laundry–only to find the hamper overflowing that evening. I wash the dishes–only to have the sink filled again. I bathe the kids, clean the floors, make the meals––only to have to do it all again, and again, and again… And all on very little sleep.”
Steve interrupted me, “Okay. I get it. And I see your point. But what do you want me to do about it?” (Notice how husbands always jump right to the how can I fix this mode?)
I started to cry again, “Don’t you see. That’s just it. There is no fixing this. This is my life and I feel trapped!”
When I used the words I feel trapped Steve’s eyes got as big as saucers. I think it scared him a little bit. I assured him, “Babe, I’m not going anywhere. I just need you to understand how I feel. And encourage me that everything is gonna be alright.”
Over the years, Steve and I had worked with the teens in our church. I had watched the moms interact with these kids. Some mothers were happy to find a place to drop of their teenagers so they could have a few hours of peace, but some moms were genuinely interested in the spiritual growth of their soon-to-be-adult children.
One such mom really stood out to me. She genuinely seemed to enjoy being a mom. One day I pulled her aside to ask her, “How do you do it? You seem to sincerely enjoy the mundane life of motherhood.”
With eyes wide open, she responded, “I love it. And do you know what? If I could do it all over again, I would go back to when my kids were little and just enjoy them for who they are.”
She went on, “I remember being so overwhelmed by the everyday tasks that I missed out on a lot of sweet snuggles, and laughter with my children.”
I listened intently as she concluded, “I know it seems like this is your life––forever, but I promise you this season will be over before you know it. Soon, your kids will be driving and off on their own to pursue their own interests, and you will miss them.”
Wow! She was right. After many years of working in the youth ministry, I had numerous opportunities to watch kids grow up and leave their homes. I don’t even know how many high school graduations we attended, but I know that at each event I saw moms with tears streaming down their cheeks as they hugged their graduate. Over and over again, I would hear mothers say things like, “It went by so quickly… Enjoy this time… They grow up fast.”
In a moment of clarity I thought, of course they grow up fast! And your kids are no different.
I began a conversation with myself in my mind: “Are you going to be a mom who regrets that you spent all your time ranting at the kids over spilled milk? No, no you are not. You are going to be the mom that enjoys every single stage of her children’s lives. And when your kids grow up and leave the house, they are going to be sad that it is time to spread their wings––rather than counting the days until they can be released from your crazy dictatorship!”
In that one a-ha moment my mindset began to change. And with that change I was able to remind myself of the value of being a mom who cherished her children. And I deliberately began spending time with other moms who had the same perspective.
If you are feeling trapped by the everyday occurrences of motherhood, allow me to be the older woman who reminds you how fleeting are these days. And allow me to encourage you to meditate on Psalm 90:12: “Teach us to number our days so that we can gain wisdom.”
Daily ask God to remind you how quickly your days will pass, and ask Him to grant you His wisdom for the wonderful ministry of motherhood to which He has called you.
For more insights to be the mom you long to be, read Rhonda’s book: Moms Raising Sons to Be Men
Listen to Rhonda share with Radio Host Diane Markins: Mom How Can You Find Purpose and Passion
Rhonda Stoppe is a pastor’s wife, speaker, and author. As the NO REGRETS WOMAN, Rhonda has more than 20 years experience of helping women live life with no regrets. Through humor, and honest communication, she helps women build NO REGRETS LIVES by applying sound teaching from Scripture. Rhonda appears on radio programs, speaks at women’s events, MOPs, and homeschool conventions throughout the nation. Rhonda Stoppe’s book Moms Raising Sons to be Men is mentoring thousands of moms to guide sons toward a no-regrets life. Her new book If My Husband Would Change, I’d Be Happy: And Other Myths Wives Believe is helping countless women build no-regrets marriages.
Photo courtesy: Thinkstockphotos.com
Publication date: October 31, 2016