Squashing Self-Pity

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It can happen all too easily.

First, I wake-up way too early to an inconsolable infant. I use the term ‘wake-up’ loosely, since really, I’ve been awake on and off since 3am. The four-year-old is yelling from his toddler bed to be allowed to wake up, which of course, wakes up the two-year-old. There’s no time to brush my hair or try to look presentable. Even if the older boys weren’t up yet, my arms are full with the baby. I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror and wince a little. Bad wife. Poor husband. What happened to the pretty wife he once married….?

I make it to the kitchen, where yesterday’s dishes await me. Oh, yeah… I run an organizing blog. What happened to my tried-and-true evening routine? I was exhausted, that’s what. I just wanted to nurse my baby and watch Netflix with my husband. Funnily enough, pretending the dishes weren’t there didn’t make them go away. Dried cheese bits and chip pieces from yesterday’s nachos crunch under my feet, reminding me that I didn’t sweep the floor after dinner either. Oh, and the laundry’s still in the hamper. All wrinkled and cold. Bad housekeeper. Poor family. Why can’t I just get my act together?

All the children are up now, tangling around my legs and asking for breakfast while I try to unload the dishwasher. They want cereal for breakfast. Just kidding, now they want toast. They cry at me because I already poured the cereal. I snap at them (though honestly, I feel like throwing them out the window) and force them into their chairs to eat their cereal, or else. I think of that friend of mine who always cooks hot, fresh breakfasts and feel convicted. I should have made hot eggs or French toast. I should definitely have menu planned a healthier breakfast with yogurt and fresh fruit too. But that would take way too much effort and the kids would tangle up my feet the entire time. Bad cook. Poor children. They’re eating way too many cheerios in their life right now.

My husband wakes up, groggy and frowning. He’s even more allergic to mornings than I am. I try to give him his space, but we collide eventually. I remind him about something on his to-do-list (bad timing, I admit). I hear some resentment in his voice and bristle. Really, in the morning, his resentment is directed at the world in its entirety. I shouldn’t take it personally. But right now, it feels aimed at me. Bad husband. Doesn’t he realize how hard I work? The least I deserve for my trials is a morning smile.

I slam the kitchen cabinets closed a little too hard, recognizing the resentment building up in my own chest. The children have the gall to ask to watch a movie. They know that’s not allowed until after naptimes. After I say no, they ask for a cookie. I threaten them with what might happen if they dare ask me for something stupid again. I take a deep breath and try to lower my voice a little. Am I yelling too much? Where is my usual calm? It must be because I didn’t read my Bible today. I slept in because the baby kept me up. The reason I’m having such a rough morning is probably because I have my priorities all messed up. I chose sleep over prayer. No Bible time. Bad Christian. God hasn’t heard from me for days.

I escape onto the internet for a few moments. I laugh at a meme or two, read a couple blogs about shiny, clean homes and better mothers, and then realize my entire morning has gotten away from me. I’ve been awake for too long and accomplished far too little. The baby is screaming now and the toddlers are fighting. I wanted to do some preschool lessons, but those dishes should really be done first. Now I feel guilty for ignoring my children for housework. But then, they do need dishes to eat off of for lunch. Also, my husband would probably appreciate something besides frozen pizza this evening. I really should cook for him more. I stink at this job. Why do I even try?

I realize that I want to be anywhere but here. I seriously consider running off to Mexico. Not that I’d know what to do once I get there. My high-school Spanish is pretty rough.

Bad wife. Bad mother. Bad housekeeper. (Bad husband.) Bad Christian.

My life is too hard. I suffer too much. Nobody understands. Perhaps I’ll bury my head in self pity and wallow there for a little bit. Maybe shed a tear or two. Woe is me.

Yes, that’ll help things get better.

Stop it. Deep breath. Do you see what just happened here? Do you see how quickly life can seem overwhelming and hopeless and terrible?

Let me speak frankly.

We women are really good at self-pity. Seriously, I think we’ve got it down to an art form. All too easily, our gifts from God (our children, husband, and home) can feel like curses to us.

I’ve had a couple days like this lately. They happen more often when there’s a newborn in the house and I’m not getting enough sleep. Especially since we’re still unpacking the moving boxes and everything is topsy-turvy inside the cabinets and closets. I’ve had to sit down and take a few deep breaths and regain my perspective on a daily basis. The guilt, the condemnation, the pity… it can hurt physically. It can make your head ache, it can make your chest hurt, it can make your heart bleed…

But that is NOT what we are called to.

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)

THAT is God’s will for us. Oh, and there’s this one…

A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit dries up the bones. (Proverbs 17:22)

The weapon we use to fight self-pity is THANKFULNESS.

Be grateful.

Be thankful.

Recognize your blessings.

Did your baby (or toddler) keep you up last night? Give thanks that you have a child, a gift and heritage from God. There are many women who battle with infertility. Their arms and hearts are empty. They would switch places with you in a heartbeat. Give thanks for the cute, little culprits who like to argue and deprive you of sleep. They are a blessing. And they won’t always be this little. Thank God for their squishy cheeks, and needy cries, and complete satisfaction while nursing (even if it’s for the millionth time that night).

Is your home a battle to keep up with? Thank God you have a home. Thank God for the dishes to eat on and wash, the food to prepare and clean-up after, and for the sticky fingers that leave peanut-butter-and-jelly handprints on your French door windows. They mean you are blessed. Thank God for the washing machines and the refrigerators, for the dishwashers and microwaves. Not everyone throughout time has had these convenience. Thank God for the milk that comes in gallons (instead of the cow that kicks, moos, and needs milking outside). Thank God for heating, air conditioning, and other modern mercies. Thank God for the internet, that can give you cooking inspiration or show your child what a puffer-fish looks like at the click of a button.

Thank God for your husband, even if he does wake up grumpy in the mornings. Does he say rude things on occasion? Does he not appreciate everything you do?

Well, I have news for you. He’s a sinner. And so are you. You’re not so perfect either. Look past what you can, confront him with what you must, and give him a lot of grace as you would like him to do back to you.

Is he faithful to you? Do you worry about him running off with another woman? Does he play video games from morning till night and let you support his lazy bum? Does he beat you and your children? No? There are many wives in the world who have husbands that do.

Give thanks for your husband, even in his rougher days. Give thanks for his work ethic, his gentleness with your children, even when he makes a mistake and criticizes your cooking or the state of the kitchen. Even when he doesn’t understand how hard you work. Stop and ask yourself… Do you really understand and appreciate him for all he does do?

Do you have some aches and pains? That sciatic pain driving you crazy?

Are you dying of kidney failure? Do you have a loved one suffering from cancer? There are people with worse aches and pains than you.

Battle self-pity with gratefulness. Rid yourself of that broken spirit that dries up your very bones. A cheerful heart is good medicine, especially on the hard days.

21 thoughts on “Squashing Self-Pity

  1. debtgal says:

    Great post! We’ve all been there in one form or another, and it’s helpful to have the perspective.

  2. Megan says:

    Love this post. Thanks. I think you copied my life into your blog. Except I currently don’t have a baby. So what’s my excuse. lol. All right. no self pity for me. I’m going to just be happy with what I can accomplish.

  3. AthenaC says:

    It sounds so cliche, but when I’m feeling overwhelmed I bring myself mentally to the NOW. What absolutely, must be done NOW, no negotiations?

    Examples include:

    – Feed baby
    – Feed other children
    – Bathe baby after they spit up (or at least change clothes and wipe them down)
    – Wipe kid butts when they use the potty
    – Take off your shirt if it has an excessive amount of spit up

    Notice what’s missing? Many days I would get to the end of the day and have a (reasonably) clean baby, other kids in pajamas, and me wearing only a bra (because of course I hadn’t found a second to put another shirt on after taking the other one off).

    Over time you (eventually) get more time to take care of yourself and the house and other things, but in the meantime if all you can handle is emergency after emergency, that’s okay too. 🙂

    Hugs.

  4. Jeanine says:

    Gratitude and perspective are the key! Seasons pass, children grow and then our guilt changes 🙂 Your writing shows that so many of us just try to do our best each day!

  5. Crystal says:

    Really love this post… You are so beautiful, inside and out. So thankful to have an almost 3yr old daughter, loving husband, refrigerator, washer, running water, electricity, health… Thankful also for the ‘hard times,’ they help us see who our true friends are. 🙂

  6. Erin Mc says:

    So appropriate! An you are not a bad wife, or mother, or housekeeper. 🙂

  7. Elizabeth says:

    Hi Kelsey,

    Wow, you are very brave to share all this with us! Good thoughts…thank you for sharing.

    I am wondering if you have ever read “My First 300 Babies” by Gladys West Hendricks. My mother used it for all of us and was quite successful in getting us to sleep through the night at a very young age, and I’m sure that makes a huge difference for the mother’s morale and energy! Mrs. Hendricks explains how you can train babies to sleep 8 hours at night by 1-2 weeks old and 12 hours by 1-2 months old. Just a suggestion! 🙂 You can get the book used on Amazon pretty cheaply.

    • I'm Kelsey! says:

      Hi, Elizabeth!

      Thanks for the book recommendation. I successfully sleep trained my first son, who slept for eight hours reliably each night by six weeks. However, it KILLED my milk supply and I wasn’t able to regain it. 🙁

      The night wakings are a mixed blessing in that regard. It also helps keep my fertility away (added bonus) since I practice a variation of NFP. I am planning on sleep training him as he gets a bit older (9+ months) though. I reeeaallly don’t function well without sleep and my kids need a well-rested mother.

      It’s survival mode right now. –Kelsey

  8. Theresa says:

    Always love your perspective. Thanks for such a meaningful message.

  9. Melanie says:

    Great post! Something I need to remember often.
    An idea for hot easy healthy breakfast. Get a small (2 or 3 quart) crockpot and make oatmeal ( or other hot cereal). I use steel cut oats and a little buckwheat and chia seeds. Add water. Set to cook on low 4-6 hours. ( I use a timer to start cooking at 1am.) We either put raisins and cream in it, or I’ll throw a cup or so of frozen berries or other fruit to the grains the night before. This has made my mornings so much easier. My kids (5, 2, and 1) wake up starving and needy and I can barely function in the mornings. Having something hot and ready to eat helps tremendously!

  10. Brittany Lanier says:

    I have no words to be able to truly express how much this was needed to read by these very tired eyes. I thank you for sharing. And I thank God for allowing me the opportunity to completely humble myself and rid of my self-pity as well as my self-defeating self-talk! Again. Thank you dear.

    Brittany from Canton Ga

  11. francy says:

    Thanks for such a perfect post! I often find myself in that self pity mood and your words are so refreshing!

  12. Teresa says:

    Today was a self pity doozy. I have never visited your blog before, but God led me here today. This was such a blessing to read. Thank you for the thoughtful and honest article. It hit home and struck a chord. I am beyond thankful to have found your blog. God bless you always in all things.

  13. Evelyn says:

    It is normal that you have your hands full right now! It is not easy to deal with the kids and the housework and to take a proper care of yourself. Don’t stress about it! It’s going to pass! You are very beautiful girl and you should not worry about that! Good luck! <3

  14. mearmoire says:

    O wow just wow! This is the First Blog or post i have read that accurately spells out the life of a sahm or housewife with small children! This is my life. I am up at 3am desperately (again) searching google trying to find help on how to do this life! I’m sick of these ‘watch me clean my house’ vlogs on YouTube or my my cleaning routine vlog while they have not one toddler tangled around their leg. I love the attitude you promote of gratitude I will try this more often. but are there any books out there explaining ‘how’ to do the housewife life during these toddler baby yrs. so you are not left feeling like a crap mum or kids suffering. I haven’t searched your blog yet this is the first post I.have read so far.
    thankyou for this post you really do know what you are talking about!

  15. :o) mg says:

    Good gravy girl, you are wise beyond your years… your words are a sharpened sword separating flesh from bones in a very good way. Just happened upon your blog – yay me!
    Although my kids are older… I still have bouts of “maybe these people would just be better off if I ran away to Arizona living off the grid working for cash in an obscure little diner somewhere”… remembering your wise words in this post will snap me back to reality. 🙂

  16. mdluly@yahoo.com says:

    God Bless you and your family. Your article was well worth the read and very encouraging to a fellow sinner. Proverbs 3:5-6 :o)

  17. Ke'sha says:

    This was such a mirror! Thank you for being open and honest. I have felt alone with these exact feelings and paused at the self pity. Your post pushed the play button and I saw all of my blessings. A loving husband who works to fufill my dream of being ‘The Mom at Home!’ (That’s my super hero slogan) I have 5 healthy,smart, active children which includes a nursing 5 month old and a potty training 3 year old. You helped me to realize that this is chaotic bliss.(ok I am all emotional and crying now but instead of a cry of pity I am so thankful and greatful for all the blessings i’d ignored.)Thank you again. I found your blog looking for home management binder help and for what I really needed.

  18. Lollie says:

    Unfortunately I am the wife who’s husband had an affair. So I tell myself I get to have more self pity 🙂 But even through this there is so many things to be thankful for. God is pruning me and trimming me down. I am thankful for my children and I am thankful that my husband is surrendering to God. I can only trust God right now and that is such a humbling, broken down freeing place to be. The self pity has crept in this week as I look at everything I’ve been through and how my life has turned out. But God does bring beauty from ashes and that is a promise I am thankful for. Great post!

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