The fatigue that accompanied mothering when the children were young was sometimes crippling. A day of stress on top of stress took a toll. By the time their dad came home, I was a depressed puddle of a mess.
One thing that invigorated me was going to a mom’s group, or a homeschool mom’s group. We would gather, swap war stories, share ideas, and pray for one another. Going to one of these meetings was sure to lift my spirits.
I often wondered why. Now I understand it.
On puddle days, sometimes my husband would come home to ask, “So, what did you do today?” The question caused ire to rise in my spirit. Surely he noticed that the house is still standing and the children are still alive. THAT’s what I did all day.
My husband’s innocent inquiry was always well-intentioned. Yet, it demonstrated a complete misunderstanding of what the life of mom was like.
So why did my mom’s group rejuvenate me, while my spouse’s inquiries generally did not?
When I talked to my husband, I often imagined when I was speaking that he merely heard a droning mess in his ear. It was a daily litany of complaints that rarely changed.
When I talked to my mom friends, I felt HEARD. I felt listened to.
In a recent newsletter, Dr. James Dobson noted, “For some strange reason, human beings (and particularly women), tolerate stresses and pressure much more easily if at least one other person knows they are enduring it.”
Another mom knows the mind-numbing stress, and heart-throbbing moments of joy of mothering. She gets it.
A spouse, on the other hand, spends their day in a system where the balances and rewards are completely different from life at home. Even if they hate their job, they are rewarded with paychecks and the occasional atta-boy pat on the back.
On the other hand, I never once had a child thank me for researching and purchasing the absolute best phonics program so they could be proficient readers.
Mom, are you tired? May I gently suggest you find someone to listen to you?
Maybe you can work it out with your spouse and both learn the skills you need to affirm one another. If you can’t, please find a women’s group, a mom’s group, a sister, or a trusted friend. If you are completely exhausted by mothering, find a therapist who works with women and moms and who “gets” your life.
In an interesting balance of energy, when Mom feels listened to, she has more enthusiasm for her life and for those she loves and cares for.
Imagine the implications of this for our universe! Is it time to unplug, put down the cell phone, turn off the computer, and start listening to one another?
Listening, understanding, being heard are gifts we can give to one another. (And our spouses and our kids need it too!)