For a second.
No, for a mili-second.
Because right after that ‘relief’ was tremendous guilt. I shouldn’t have yelled, why can’t I control my temper? They must think I’m am so mean. What kind of example am I setting for them? How do other Moms handle this? I must not be as good of a mom as them, I never see my friends yell or lose their temper…
It was just one of those evenings. My husband had come home in a grumpy mood. I asked what was wrong and he told me we’d talk about it later. Now I was anxious, what is going on that he is acting like this and he can’t even talk to me about it now? What have I done that could possibly upset him? All I do is cook and clean and serve him and the kids, if he asks me to do one more thing, I’m going to burst… We get the kids to bed and my husband is ready to talk and I’m ready to explode, ready to combat whatever he is going to bring up because I’ve been stewing for a few hours.
“When is the last time you hugged me or kissed me or even put your hand on my shoulder? We’ve talked about this, you know that I feel loved when you touch me but you’re still not doing it…”
“Touch?!” I replied surprised, “This is all about touch? Do you know how much ‘touch’ I get and give throughout the day? I am touched from the time I wake up until the time the kids go to bed. When they go to bed, I just sit here and enjoy being alone. Untouched. My touch bucket is overflowing!”
My husband leaves the room frustrated and I’m left to my thoughts, Why is it so hard to bring myself to give more of myself to my hard working husband? Why is he on the back-burner? I can see he is hurting, why am I so stubborn? Why can’t I change? I don’t think anyone else has these kind of problems. I must be a selfish wife. Everyone else seems to have happy and satisfied marriages.
Although it is important for us to try to control our emotions, this mom-guilt and wife-guilt is tough. It plagues all of us at one point or another and we simply cannot remedy it alone. We need God’s grace to help us and that is why I took it all to prayer. When I was praying about this, the word ‘fear’ kept coming to mind. All of my guilt and anxiety about my kids, about my husband, about who I am as a Mom and a wife; all of that worry stems from fear. Fear that I am scarring my children when I yell at them. Fear that I am neglecting them when I am spending too much time at work or on social media. Fear that I am the cause of them acting out. Fear that I am not doing enough to help their social and spiritual development. Fear that if I don’t show my husband I love him he will look for it elsewhere. Fear that my husband compares me to other women. Fear that my husband doesn’t like me or doesn’t enjoy spending time with me.
Some fear is healthy as it causes us to act. But some fear is evil and it causes us to self-destruct. The evil fear that I speak of are those heavy thoughts that creep into your head at the end of a long day, “You’re not a good mom.” “He doesn’t love you.” “Why do you even try?” These thoughts are not from our loving God. These thoughts are purely evil and I challenge you to rebuke them and, with God’s grace, start to recognize them and prevent yourself from dwelling on them.
What God tells you is loving and just. His voice is the one that helps you navigate the waters of your shortcomings, “You lost your temper and need to go apologize to the kids. Next time, you need to speak calmly.” “He is crying out to you to love him, marriage is about self-donation, you can do this, you can give more and you can do so joyfully…” These are the fleeting thoughts of our conscience that come from God, that need our utmost attention. Listening and being attuned to this voice takes practice and the best place to practice is with daily prayer time. Ask God to help show you your fears, and ask Him to help you overcome them. He will never lead you astray.
When you are able to recognize your fears and where they are coming from, don’t forget to act on them. Do you need to give your children more one-on-one time? Do you need to put down the phone every evening to further engage in family time? Do you need to go above and beyond to show your spouse how much you love him by scheduling a kid-free date-night, thanking him for a ‘regular’ chore he does or offering a back rub?
You may not be the perfect Mom, but you are THE perfect mom for your kids. That’s why God gave them to you. Same for your spouse; you may not be the perfect wife, but you are THE perfect wife for your husband. That’s why God gave him to you. He truly does not give us more than we can handle and when you feel your fear and anxiety rising, that’s a sure sign that you need to lean on Him and take it all to the cross in prayer.
Thank you Lord for the gifts of my children and my husband. Please take all of these fears that are in my heart and transform them. Shower me with your love and give me the grace to love my gifts as you do.