My home is not a happy one at the moment. It hasn’t been for the past month. It is filled with tears, screaming, whining, teasing, and disrespect from all parties, including myself. It’s a place where I don’t want to be most days, especially from 3-6 when all 3 kids are home. In fact, I’m currently hiding out at a Starbucks, avoiding the bedtime routine. It saddens my heart. All I ever really desire is for a home where all who enter feel secure and loved. Instead, it is a place of dread and angst and I’m left wondering, how did it turn into this?
I know in the back of head that this too shall pass and it is a season, like all other times. All five of us are at points of transition in our lives. My youngest has just started preschool two days a week and has a difficult time adjusting to when her older siblings come home from school as she then has to share me after having me all to herself. My middle just started Kindergarten and misses being home like she was in preschool. My oldest, has just turned 7 and is learning to navigate friendships and the demands of first grade. My husband is back to work (he has summers off) and is getting back into the swing of his schedule. I am adjusting to having a few hours a week of free time and trying to plan my time wisely, while also learning how to deal with the quiet of the house. It is a relief yet I still feel lonely.
As I look inward to why I am unhappy at home, I realize I am overwhelmed by parenting, constantly tired from trying to balance too many obligations, and just plain exhausted by the busyness of our lives. I’m a worker bee, and want to be known as a hard worker–to be seen as someone who is always on top of things because in my mind, this is what makes me strong. I need to prove my worth by over extending myself. Since I’m a stay home mom and earn no monetary income, I try to make up for that in other ways–keeping a spotless organized home, throwing big birthday parties, entertaining friends, serving at church, and running my kids around to countless activities. I fear the label “just a mom.” But at what cost am I sacrificing myself, my body, and quality time with the ones I love?
I recently picked up Shauna Niequist’s book Present Over Perfect in which she describes her process in letting go of busyness to embrace a simpler life. She addresses this exact feeling I described above to the T, “If I push enough, I will feel whole. I will feel proud, I will feel happy.” But what the real ache she describes is, “Am I loved? Does someone see me? Do I matter? Am I safe?” This is it. This is the truth behind the perfection, the never sitting still. These are the real questions that I’m asking myself behind the facade.
I wonder, what would really happen if I slowed down? If I let things go or said “no” more often? Would things literally fall apart? I highly doubt it. Instead, I imagine things would be happier at home. If I was more present, and not just pretending to be there, I would be seen. I would feel like I mattered as I spent time at the level of my kids, physically and mentally. I would still be loved, even if the physical appearance of the house wasn’t perfect. And we would all feel safe and heard without the tears.
I think Cher had it right in her song “Perfection”
All my life I’ve been driven by perfection
Pushed it to the limit every day and night
Whoa, I’ve been driven by perfection
But nothin’s perfect when love ain’t right
Nothin’s perfect when love ain’t right
May I work towards a happier home with a little less perfection, and more love and presence.
Your fellow traveler,