Pages

Monday, May 7, 2012

Mama: The Tone-Setter of the Household

Peabody (staring sadly out the window as storm clouds gather, thunder booms and the first few drops of rain splatter and pock dry sidewalks with lace-edged spots.): Oh no-o-o-o... now we never gonna get ta go ousside.

Bean: Oh, well. Back to blowing dust off tables, I guess. Si-i-i-i-i-i-gh.

(Then Bean took a deep breath, blew on my bedside table, and created a dust storm that conjured up images of Miss Havisham's decrepit mansion in Great Expectations.)

I wish I could tell you it got better after that, or that this was just one funny anecdote from our weekend, but the truth is it's an honest glimpse into what life's been like around here lately. We're glum, we're crabby, we're dusty... our lives have felt like one disappointment after another. I've been sick, and tired, and busy, and Al too, rushing out early in the morning and coming home late from work, beaten down by the busy season and the demands of his many clients and employees. Even our usually happy, bubbly kids have lost some of their joy and hopefulness and are taking note of the fact that everything feels like it's crumbling around our ears.

As a Mama of seven years, wife of nine, I've slowly discovered and hesitantly emerged into my role as the tone-setter in our home. Here, I live surrounded by mirrors big and small, faces and hearts reflecting back at me the portrait of all that inhabits my soul. My joy giggles back in Peabody's morning greetings, my tranquility smoothes Bean's brow and lightens her steps, my love and passion stands my husband's shoulders tall and shines his eyes confident and future-hopeful. I center and stake this family's emotional circumference -- nobody gets too much lower or too much higher than my own current mood. And I don't know if every mother sets the emotional tone for her family (do you?), I just know that this mother does. It's a noble role, gorgeous really, in theory, I'm lucky to be the rainbow thread that binds hearts and imbues spirits with joy.

But it's a weighty burden too, and crucible-hot when my own soul loses its way and thrashes and aches and sighs out laments. Because when I drop into the sea of tired, anxious and frustrated, my failure to stay afloat bobbles and tosses and threatens to submerge my family in inevitable concentric circles of not-so-good feelings. Having a husband and kids comes with so many surprising reasons you have to grow up and give up self, doesn't it? I think I knew it, but I didn't really comprehend it until I married up, bore my own children and got into the serious thick of mother-wifely things. Selflessness is pervasive in this maternal role. And it stinks sometimes. I mean, can't a woman just slink off into a bad mood without her entire household being sucked into the vortex?!

Apparently, no. But thank God I've got an enormously selfless saviour to show me how this whole sacrifice thing is done.

Here's the catch, though. I know that God leads those of us with young gently. I believe that with all my heart because I have empirical data to prove it. I've seen tight knots of anxiety and confusion loosen and fall away the minute I yield to the soul-tugs of my Father. I listen in the darkness, I capture the lightness of counsel from those I trust, and God unravels snarled tangles of mother-guilty and mother-baffled and wife-inept *poof* in moments. I have many a personal tale to tell of long, stubborn internal struggles set perfectly right overnight when I've just shut up and yielded. His gentle leading is just... well, true.

But gentle leading relies upon a heart willing and able to hear and respond respond. God's quietly-tugging truth only illuminates a soul open and listening and able to recognize His voice, a soul who follows it quickly and willingly. Lately my soul has trouble hearing above the din of just ... life. The rush and business of keeping everything around here on the right rail and moving forward, coupled with this undercurrent of fear and dread and sadness over my nephew's illness and the suffering of so many other friends and family (it's just been one thing after another, y'all), and complicated by me and everybody else being sick, and then compounded by the negativity I'm spewing out and breeding in the space and people around me. I'm SO not who I should be, which makes them not who they should be, which makes me more irritated, tired and frustrated, and GUILTY, until the din of my self-talk and their fussing and his restlessness grows by decibels and my ears ache for quiet so badly I just want to silence everything with easy, available distractions - my computer, a b*tch-session with a friend, the TV, a bag of Cheetos, or blissful sleep, even though I know intellectually that after I give in to these distractions, the din just comes back all-too-quickly, and much louder, fueled by more guilt and frustration than ever.

As good as they may feel in the moment, distractions solve exactly nothing. They just stir the chaos and fuel the crackling, hissing fire of failure and disappointment and blah. They further the distance between who I should be and who I'm stuck in rut being instead. It's an ugly, ugly downhill spiral without something (someONE) to break in and redeem it. My only hope, my only way back to joy and peace and passion, is God - is my Father, who sees and knows all, has a perfect picture specifically drawn and waiting for me to step inside, and yearns for my reliance on Him, for my utterly overwhelmed, face-first fall into His arms, my eyes locked into His eyes and my ears and heart intent on lapping up His counsel. But it's up to me to fall. Up to me to shove aside distractions, find the only-moments it takes, to make them His, and to quietly listen, believe, and obey.

It's so simple! It's up to me to just shut it all out momentarily, fall into Those arms, to allow myself to be loved and led, to let the Leader do His work in me, so that I can get back to doing His work in my family, setting a tone that points to Him with clarity, joy, faith and honor, and brings out their best along with my own. And now that I've written it all out and mulled it over (for the forty-leventh time - this is a lesson I have to learn over and over again), I guess I'm just going to DO IT.

(And after that, I guess I'm going to dust.)


Pssst! Are you on Facebook? Have you LIKED the FriedOkra Facebook page yet? I share lots more outfits and links and things I love for my kitchen, closet, home and life there every day. Come join me by clicking here and then on the LIKE button.



Y'all can subscribe to FriedOkra's feed here.

13 comments:

  1. My dear sweet friend, thank you so much for being so open more than once I have sat back and said "see you are not alone in the crazy thing we call life." I to have been running around non stop busy yet nothing is getting done, even snapping at my son just because he asked a question yesterday (so not me)but as I read this post I realized what was missing and that is my alone time with my Daddy. That amazing quite time when He listens to my hearts desires and then gives me the stregthen, courage, faith, guidance to take the next step. May today be blessed with Son-Shine!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So far so good here, Tanya. Hope you are having a wonderful, peaceful day today. And you are definitely not alone in the crazy! xo

      Delete
  2. So, so true -- this is good to read prior to the summer months, when all three of my kids and I are together 24/7. Thanks!
    Nancy

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh I KNOW. I'm a bit anxious about that myself. Let's pray for one another in the coming summer months, friend!

      Delete
  3. I'm a huge believer in the power of energy. Not in a hang-a-crystal-from-your-rearview-mirror kind of way, but the real, true energy that we exude and take in. I saw a poster on Pinterest months ago that says "You are responsible for the energy you bring to this place" (or something along those lines). It has stayed with me because - TRUTH.

    And you write so beautifully and powerfully of this truth here, too. Thank you, friend.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I remember re-pinning that one from your board because, um, YEAH. Thank YOU.

      Delete
  4. BEAUTIFUL post, my friend!!! I've never thought about this before, but it makes all the sense in the world. Thank God for grace...and for the little reminders/mirrors all around!

    XO!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, the mirrors make it easier to see my own faults and errors. Blessing and curse! :)

      Delete
  5. "And now that I've written it all out and mulled it over (for the forty-leventh time - this is a lesson I have to learn over and over again), I guess I'm just going to DO IT."

    I think this is just it. We push and resist and ignore the whatever it is instead of just doing it. And all that struggle just makes it seem bigger and harder and it spirals on. Then we finally do it and we wonder why it took so long to get over ourselves. I struggle with selfishness so, so much. I am an expert at giving just exactly enough of what is needed and nothing more. Well, that stinks and is not at all what God wants of me.

    Thanks so much for sharing this. I saw myself in so much of your words.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, with the selfish and the just enough-ness. I can't decide if it's because I'm spread too thin or I've just given over to apathy in the wake of all the emotional upheaval. I hope it's the former, but I have a scary feeling it may be the latter. Which will likely be harder to fix. I love that you said, "Get over ourselves," because that is totally what we need to do. Why is that so HARD? xo

      Delete
    2. I am here as well. And I hate that I am. I know where I should be, I know where I want to be, I know where I need to be. But I still find myself wallowing in myself. It doesn't help that my husband is out of town for a month. Thank you for posting this. I think for me it's just laying aside some time for the Lord and waiting to see what he'll do with it. I agree with you wholeheartedly and hope we both choose to fall quick. I am not there yet.

      Delete
  6. It's gracious of aged to teach us the same lessons again and again, isn't it? I need this constant reminder.

    This is so good. So true.

    ReplyDelete
  7. So well said!! I certainly feel my moods set the tone...and then feel the guilt for all the many bad moods. You are so right!! I can try SO hard to do something about it, and it usually doesn't improve things in the slightest. However, when I lay it all down at HIS feet, it makes SUCH A DIFFERENCE. THANKS SO MUCH!!! My busyness has been bringing me down, and I don't want to let it control US anymore.

    ReplyDelete

Thoughts?