March 18, 2010

I'm weak, how can I possibly be made strong?!

Things are just going well in our homeschool. I have to admit...when they aren't going well, I'm largely at fault. I find that I get sucked so easily into spending hours online, just browsing, checking email, FB, and wasting valuable time, yet I'm always feeling like there is never enough "me time".

These last two weeks I have drastically limited myself from getting on the computer and have retaken the position of being mother and teacher. As I'm sure most homeschooling moms can relate, I'd turned into the "yeller".

"Get your math done!"
"Quit getting distracted and do your writing!"
"Have you finished your reading yet? NO? How many times do I have to remind you?"

I was no longer a teacher, instead I'd become a task master. Now I've been concentrating on just loving them more. Finding that quiet time with them to just tell them that I love them and that I am glad they are in our family. Two weeks ago, all I wanted was a break and wanted to be as far away as possible from being a mother. It's counter-intuitive that to feel happier, I need to do the exact opposite of what I feel. I find that when I want to shirk my responsibility of being a mom, is precisely the time when I need to embrace it the most.

I'm sure other moms struggle just like I do, being really "present" with your children, feeling connected with them. I thought my 6 year old son described it really well the other day.

"When I feel like you love me, and I love you, there is electricity that connects our hearts".

He's right, it feels exactly like that. For me there is nothing better, or more keenly missed, than having that connection of electricity between my heart and the people I love."

This is an excerpt from a blog post I wrote a few weeks ago. I was happy and content. Since then, I've gone from one extreme to the other and now find myself somewhere in the middle. My question is...why can't it always be bliss? Why do I have to feel the sting of guilt and shame after I've just screamed at one of my children? Wishing I could have a rewind button, to undo the damage I've created in our relationship. I think of how disappointed God must be in me. How He must be ashamed of my weakness. Deep down I feel like I shouldn't be forgiven. So I punish myself instead of doing what I should do. Which is actually using the Atonement by repenting and moving on.

Over the last few months I've started to look inward. I've noticed my pattern: righteousness - show of weakness - self-punishment - and finally, repentance. Unfortunately, in this cycle I tend to dwell in the self-punishment phase way too long. This phase is typically a withdrawal from the Spirit, emotional disconnectedness from my children and a feeling of always being overwhelmed and never up to the task of being a mother. I am plagued with feelings of self-doubt, depression, loneliness, selfishness, and playing the victim (powerless). All these things are tools of Satan. So I've asked myself, why do I choose to stay in this frame of mind for so long? It really is a choice. I am actively choosing to not forgive myself, barring myself from using the blessings of the Atonement.

As I've searched the scriptures to better understand my actions, I have been drawn to this scripture over and over. I understand it quite differently than I used to.

Ether 12: 27 And if men come unto me I will show unto them their aweakness. I bgive unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my cgrace is sufficient for all men that dhumble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make eweak things become strong unto them.

God gave me weakness, on purpose. God doesn't love me in spite of my weaknesses. He gave them to me on purpose to bring me closer to Him. Being weak is a natural trait God has given me. Do I hate myself for having brown hair? That would be ridiculous. So why do I feel the need to punish myself so severely, when I stumble and make mistakes? My weaknesses are meant to humble me, to bring me to my knees so that I rely on God, NOT on my willpower. God didn't say that with my willpower things will be made strong. The scripture specifically said with humility and with faith (in Christ) weak things would be made strong.

As I look back, there are so many days, that through gritted teeth, I did my best to be patient - using my willpower. How differently would I have felt (and my children) had I softened my heart, been submissive and humbly asked the Lord to give me patience when I knew I didn't possess it?

So I come to the same question: why do I choose to not repent immediately and take advantage of Christ's sacrifice for me? Why do I punish myself for so long? To the point that it is negatively affecting not only me, but my entire family. It is at this point, that I realize I have to repent for their sake, if not mine.

I think my problem lies in the fact that I view Christ's sacrifice as so incredibly sacred, that I should only use it when absolutely necessary. That it should be like a formal dining room - only to be used on very special occasions and if used everyday, it somehow lessens the specialness of the room. I've realized that the Atonement is really supposed to be like my favorite piece of stoneware, black and stained with use. I value and prize it! The more I use it, the more seasoned it becomes and easier to use. After all the years I've had it, I'm still excited to bake with it. I know exactly what it is capable of, and I can always depend upon it's performance. This is as the Atonement should be. We should use it over and over, and as we use it, we discover that it continues to perform well, getting better with each use. As we take part in the Atonement, the love and appreciation for Christ grows within us and we want to become more like Him. We understand Him better and value His sacrifice for us.

Overall, homeschooling has been one of my greatest trials and blessings. It's caused me to reevaluate exactly who I am, and who I want to become. It has helped me to see what a miraculous gift the Atonement is. Knowing this has given me the strength to pick myself up, brush off the dust and move on after a really bad day of homeschooling and mothering, versus wallowing in my misery for weeks. My mission on this earth is not my mission, it is God's. He will help me complete it, if I'm strong enough to forgive myself, humble enough to ask for His help, and have faith in His son Jesus Christ.

Jenny is the nutty mother of 5 kids and is married to a child psychologist (it's great to have psych help on site). Her varied ramblings are found at We don't call people poopyheads. Her interests are basically anything that makes her abnormal, such as homebirthing, homeschooling, herbalism and natural healing, and a survivalist wanna-be, to name a few.

14 comments - Add a comment below -:

Amy said...

Thank you for this. I felt like it was just for me. We've had a lot of yelling lately, thank you for putting things in better perspective for me.

teresa said...

Thanx for posting this. I too, struggle inwardly sometimes for my failings. I know it's me. I can get beyond it, I think, with the Lord's help.

April J. said...

This was beautifully said. Thank you so much for sharing this thought. It is nice to know that it is OK to be happy as a mom and feel this way. I wouldn't change it for anything!

A Place To Dream said...

I let a couple tears fall as I read this. I could have written that first paragraph..it's me. Last Sunday I decided Sundays were no TV/Internet days along with no drive thru's & no shopping(all new to us). I really enjoyed the day even though it was really hard not to go check my FB. I was sad when the day ended(which felt so much longer w/out the distractions) This Sunday we'll do the same and it may start seeping into the rest of our week. Thank-you for this blog. I'm going to reread it a few times. It gives me hope and validates my feelings of needing to reconnect with my kids as well as myself. It's hard for me to "be still". But that is the best way for me to hear the promptings.

Susana said...

I needed this more than you. I have posted much on this the past couple months on my own personal blog.

This post went straight from your heart to mine.

Thank you so much for sharing this.

Diann R. said...

Thanks for sharing! It's nice to know that I'm not the only one with weaknesses. I can't tell you how many times, I'v felt exactly the same!

Karen said...

SO it looks like the feelings that have been posted show that they are common feelings among the LDS home schooling mom. Hopefully it's not a prerequisite! But it's good to know that although it's a common feeling to find yourself in, we truly understand the way out of the funky feelings and behavior if we choose to listen to the spirit and follow! Thanks for the reminder and the sisterhood! <3

legendswife said...

Wow...thank you soooo much for sharing this. I really needed it:)
God Bless

Dana ♥ said...

I love the analogy of the atonement being your favorite piece of stoneware. I'm going to write that in my Scripture Journal.☺

Aja Jenise said...

How do I put into words how closely I can relate to your thoughts? Not sure... but I could have written that entire excerpt, verbatim. Can we have lunch? LOL I love the dining room vs stoneware analogy also. I need to read this often... its the cycle I experience often... though I am trying to break the cycle. Each of your words, thoughts and sentiments have gone through my mind weekly. I am looking forward to a homeschooling convention in Cincinnati is April, even though I will be missing the Deseret Books, Time Out for Women in Memphis. Not sure which one I need more after reading this...

This is one of the first LDS homeschooler I have met/talked/read... its a relief to know there are LDS homeschooling moms out there, and the first of them that I can relate to... here's to being in the same frying pan (stoneware).

Thank you Jenny!!

Rachel said...

Thank you so much for this. My kids have informed me that I call them idiots and stupid when I am frustrated. Oh the shame! I am so glad I can start over again each day. And that I can apologise.

Laurie said...

I like the concept of self-punishment. Because it is ME doing the punishing... My frustrations and pities - all MY doing.

And thanks for making everyone feel like we can put how we REALLY feel. So many times with homeschooling, you have to watch what you say, because non-homeschoolers just don't get it. ("Why are you homeschooling if you get frustrated at your kids all the time?") So thank you for creating a safe place! :)

Lin said...

I'm printing off this post and putting it in my planner/journal, and the excerpt on my fridge. The computer is my stumbling block--I get cranky b/c I end up spending too much time online, feel guiltly, take it out on my kids, and then feel more guilty. It's completely antithetical to my goals. My most satisfying days are when I AM truly present. I like the quote from a previous commenter: "When your children are in your arms, they are no longer underfoot."

Thanks for posting this again--now I don't feel alone in my struggles. I'm going to turn of the internet now and go clean WITH my children! You're awesome!

Autumn said...

Thank you for posting this. I was reading this and I read an excerpt to my 7 year old daughter who said, "she is just like you mom!". I appreciate the perspective and hope. Thanks!