When You Feel Like You’re Drowning (Motherhood.)
I might make it all sound like fun and games around here. And many days, it truly is. I love this family of mine, and I wouldn’t trade this life for anything.
But this life of boys and noise and schedules that always (always!) change, and teenage testosterone, and toddler tantrums…it can get crazy.
My boys are always around, and sometimes my head just spins as they go in and out in around me…
Sometimes I just stop and take in my environment…and I can hardly believe it myself.
And not to be overly dramatic, but sometimes…I feel like I am drowning.
It’s not just because I have four–I remember going through this with one and two…Being a mom will some days suck you dry, no matter your situation. Because that’s just the name of the game.
Today was just one of those days for me:
Where every one needs me all at once, and nothing ever quite gets finished before the next thing begins. Sure, my boys do school mostly independently, but I need to keep up with what they’re doing, and keep them fed (that’s a job in itself.) I need to correct their work, and answer questions, and the laundry…Oh, the laundry. Today I forbid Luke to surf because he needed so much to get caught up in school. My goal was to be there for him as much as possible. And Jonah had at least three tests needing correcting. And Josiah…had a fever. He would never ask for anything, but obviously I wanted to just sit and be near him. I had a huge load of bananas to dehydrate, mail to go through, and the house…Well, this house is in rare form.
So, I started the day with gusto, working down my to-do list with as much focus and calm as I could muster. Deep breaths. Deep breaths. I barely got out of the shower, when I realized that Levi’s three hour preschool would be over in five minutes, and I was late. I took one look at my house, saw bills that I still hadn’t paid, laundry scattered on the floor, dishes in the sink, and the boys…I had hardly given them a fraction of what they needed.
I wanted to fall down and surrender.
I just cannot do this.
It’s too much.
My eyes welled up with tears, and my heart pounded hard in my chest. Is there an escape button? Is there a safe way to get off this ride before I crash?
I don’t think I have medical anxiety, but I think we all can suffer a bit of situational anxiety…
And I’m telling you, some days are full of situations. (Do I hear an Amen?)
This very scenario has led me to lose my cool more times than I want to remember. I hate feeling overwhelmed, out of control.
And releasing that tension in the worst way has been a huge downfall of mine.
Today however, I did not lose my cool. No yelling. No throwing. I didn’t rant, or cry, or call my husband to tell him how hard my life is. (not that I’ve done that before.) (Please don’t ask him how many times I’ve done that before.)
Today…was a small victory.
Today: I walked through messes, and noise, and gave Tylenol, and history exams, (and managed more than one toddler fit,)…And I did it with grace.
This isn’t bragging. I didn’t look very pretty, and I don’t think there was any singing or dancing, but for me: Today was absolute grace.
I don’t know why today I had more grace than other days. Maybe I’m finally growing up. Maybe it’s because I’m thinking of friends I know who are going through so much suffering. Families with cancer. Marriages in ruin. Finances stealing sleep and peace. I’ve been thinking a lot about these people, and praying for them. Yesterday on Instagram I shared a page out of my Jesus Calling Devotional about suffering, and later people thanked me who I had no idea were even suffering. It breaks my heart.
But I’ll be honest: I think I have handled the real-life kind of suffering with more dignity and grace than I usually handle the daily stuff of life.
Because when I’m going through a legitimate trial, I am on guard. I recognize it as a battle.
Yet the daily stuff? I don’t even think of it as a battle, so I let my guard down.
Now I hate to think how much damage have I done by sending out streams of negativity to the people in my life because I am personally exhausted and overwhelmed. And it never ends with us, does it? That stream spreads through the whole family. And it is ugly.
Looking at that devotional on suffering, I realize that it not only spoke to serious suffering, it also speaks to the daily grind: “Bearing your circumstances bravely–even thanking Me (God) for them-is one of the highest forms of praise…On earth also, your patient suffering sends out ripples of good tiding in ever-widening circles.” (Jesus Calling, Oct. 14)
Moms, listen to me: Bearing your circumstances bravely can come in many shapes and sizes: A toddler’s fourth fit of the morning. Piles of laundry. Another question. Another phone call. Bedsheets that have been needing to be changed for way too long, sticky counters, and kids that just need more of us than what we have to offer. Bearing circumstances bravely is homework, and leftovers, and more juice. And spilled juice. And we’re out of juice.
So, here’s what I’m learning: Just because it is the daily stuff of life, Do not deny it is hard. Sure, it isn’t suffering like cancer, and we need to stop and thank GOD for every healthy day we have. Keep perspective. But it is much better to face your day accepting that there are hard things ahead, and gear up to face them with courage, than to deny it and be caught off guard. And then blow it.
Dave got home this evening just in time to take the boys out for a quick surf. I am thankful for the break, and breathing in the quiet. I still need to put dinner together, and that house cleanup?…will just have to wait. But I will go to bed tonight with the peace of knowing that though I did not do it all…I did what I could. With grace. Tomorrow will bring fresh challenges, but I am determined to bear my circumstances–big and small–bravely.
Because at the end of the day, I see my family in the midst of ripples of good tidings in ever-widening circles…
And it is beautiful.
Press on, Mommas.
With Much Aloha,
I searched “when parents feel like they’re drowning” and was so relieved to see at the top of articles that came up one by you! I’ve seen you speak and follow you, and while this post is old for you now, it is right where I am at today! Homeschooling, toddler tantrums, a sick baby, every area of my house is a mess… Your ripples of seeking God and experiencing His grace in motherhood are still spreading, thank you for sharing and for the reminder!
Hey Kelly! Oh wow, this comment blesses me so much.Thank you for taking the time to comment. This also inspires me to share more blog posts! (It’s been a long time!). Big hugs to you and keep on seeking Him as He carries you through. Monica PS. Have you seen me speak in person? – If so, please remind me if we met! xo
Thank you so much and yes keep writing posts! The wisdom and insight is timeless and appreciated! I saw you speak in San Clemente several years ago but didn’t get the chance to meet. Love all that you do though and actually think if you often in my phase of life! It helps to have someone give a Godly perspective and also to know I’m not alone in all this, ha! 🥰
You’re beautiful and awesome, and your article made me cry…in need of a Mom to Mom hug right now, cause really…only Moms “get” Moms. But I swim on, even though some days, I feel like I’m drowning! I cry out for more of God’s grace. Feels like these emotions are killing me…need His rest…inside!!
Oh bless you Amy! You’re so right. I’ve been thinking so much about just what you said “Only moms “get” moms!” You are not alone and one day everything will paint a beautiful picture that you’ll look back on with joy! Hang in there. #noregrets. 🙂 XO Thank you for taking the time to comment!
Sometimes we just can’t love and need God to help us love when we’ve come to the end of us!! Thanks for this post, makes motherhood real, instead of pretending its so easy when it isn’t!
I love your blog – raw, open and full of faith and love. I have a 1 year old and a 3 year old who fill my days with smiles, joy, frustration, anxiety, love, tears, temper tantrums and giggles. This is a difficult season with these two and lately I find myself repeating my mantra “I will choose to enjoy today’s journey that God has set before me” :). Your blog is real, uplifting, humble, encouraging and full of so much love. Thank you for opening your heart and your words. Much aloha to you too!
Wow- I so feel this way. And as a mom of only one- I often feel like I don’t have the right to feel overwhelmed when others have thrice or quadruple the load I have. But when it comes down to it- I guess being a mom in and of itself sometimes is just hard. So thank you. For making me remember it’s okay to feel like we dropped the ball and maybe the person that needs the grace is ourselves.
This is probably the best one of your posts I’ve read. I love it when people really tell the truth. If we all told the truth about what our lives are really like we’d have so much to learn and we’d learn fast, instead of stumbling through life thinking we are alone.
I get so frustrated with myself when I lose it. It all could be so easy if I could just accept everything for what it is, imperfect, never done and always a new task developing. Why can’t I just relax and enjoy motherhood for what it is? One person told me once, she regretted thinking of motherhood as a job, and why didn’t she just enjoy her children?
Elsa–Amen and Amen. 🙂 Thank you! Great words and thoughts and yes–let’s all keep it real!! XO
ps- is this quote from the Bible or just from your devotional? If it’s from the Bible, can you give me the reference, please?
“Bearing your circumstances bravely–even thanking Me (God) for them-is one of the highest forms of praise…On earth also, your patient suffering sends out ripples of good tiding in ever-widening circles.” (Jesus Calling, Oct. 14)
Corinna–I’m so sorry I didn’t reply sooner! (I meant to! :))
The quote is from the Devotional, “Jesus Calling,” which is written by Sarah Young. She takes Scripture and shares it as if the Lord is speaking…On Oct. 14th she cites James 1:2-4, and Psalm 107: 21-22 as her reference for what she wrote.
Hope that helps! 😉
This has been your single most helpful post for me – THANK YOU.
Trying to keep all that you said in mind. Right now I’m trying to figure out how to baby-proof our little house as my baby just learned to crawl, but I don’t even know where to start. He seems to go for the modem first, which would mean no more internet for us (and no more reading your blog 🙁 ).
Guess I’ll start with the modem first.
K, gotta go… nap time is nearly over… ahhhhhh.
You’ve got this!! Yes, cover that modem. But honestly? (I probably shouldn’t admit,) we never really baby proofed w/ any of our kids! haha…So silly, we should have but we just never got to it. (maybe we did a couple of those cupboard protectors so they couldn’t open things that had dangerous things in them.) But as for all of the corners and safety issues, we barely changed a thing. And they all survived! haha. Hang in there–Try to enjoy it all! Aloha-
Well Done, Monica! Some days I handle with grace and others … not so much. I try to recognise when I’m losing the plot before I start screaming (spreading ripples of negativity), and either go and sit in the toilet for a few minutes (one of the few places I’m sometimes allowed to be alone!) or else take a few Rescue tabs to calm myself down. You’re absolutely right, though, we don’t usually sit back and acknowledge that just getting through the daily grind is a battle we need to face with our armour on. My kids (age 16 and 12) are slowly learning to heed the warning signs when I say that after 8pm I want to be “off duty”! That is, SOME DAYS they heed the warning calls and others … not so much. But I also wouldn’t trade my family and its challenges for anything .
I love you for this post! Thank you for sharing your life, both the good times and the difficult. I really appreciate it and find more inspiration from your blog than you can even imagine <3
Thank you so much for this! I truly needed it this morning! In those moments when I feel like I’m drowning I find myself falling to my knees in that 15 seconds of an escaped moment and surrendering myself to our Heavenly Father for grace! Knowing that I am not alone has just made me feel that much better! Thank you!!
My mom has been telling me about your website and forwarded me this link…just what my momma heart needed to hear. I am a mom to 3 boys… A 2 1/2 year old and 10 week old twins! I feel exhausted, blessed, overwhelmed, humbled… I could go on. What an incredible verse to share. It’s all about our perspective and learning to praise God for this incredible messy life we are in. It is by His grace that we can bear our circumstances bravely and I will repeat that to myself 100 times today. One day at a time I have to remind myself! His mercies are new EVERY morning!!!!
OH bless your heart Brittany! Please thank your mom for me for spreading the Aloha, :), and I’m so glad you stopped in today! You keep up the good work and keep telling yourself the truth! You’re in the trenches my friend, but there are many golden moments in there that you’ll remember for the rest of your life! XO
I will be praying for you. You are in the trenches as Monica said! But it sounds like you have EVERYTHING it takes to accomplish the awesome work God has entrusted you to.
I also have 3 boys and my early “mom days” sound a lot like yours. I had a 2 year old son and newborn twin sons—- as well as a 4 year old daughter!! Needless to say— I know where you are
Just so you know—– you will get through this…. Mine are now 19, 17, 15, 15!!! Still challenging… just in a different way now…… teenage whoas!!
If you ever want to bounce any stress my way—- I’ve been there! Would love to be there for you….
Just saw you all on Hawaii 5-0! So fun!!!!
It’s on tonight!!!?? Oh no–I didn’t know! 🙂
Thanks for the head’s up–It hasn’t started here yet! 😉
Thank you! I needed to hear this! I have been feeling overwhelmed alot lately and I am so glad a friend shared you with me! Again-Thank you!
Stephanie–So glad you came by! 🙂 Much aloha and have a wonderful weekend!
BEAUTIFUL!!! and SO true. Thank YOU!!!
Monica, thank you for helping me feel less alone. You inspire me.
🙂 beth tucker, west chester, pa
Oh thank you Beth! So nice to hear that. Keep pressing on! 🙂 Aloha!
It’s like you got right inside my brain and used your writing talents to put exactly what I’ve felt before in words. Thank you a million times for sharing your wisdom and encouragement.
I love how honest and vulnerable you are in your posts Monica! We’ve all been there as parents, and I agree with you, sometimes it’s easier to face the huge trials in our life because we realize it’s a test, but the day to day stuff is also what trips me up the most. I will remember the “ripple” analogy, and pray that my ripples will be to share goodness and grace in this life and not negativity. Your family is so blessed to have such a wise mom! Hopefully some of your wisdom will rub off on those of us reading your blogs and reflecting on our own lives and families. Phil 4:13
Thank you so much for this post . Today I am drowning……I feel anxious, stressed, thinking maybe I have early menopause…and then I read your post and it almost made me cry with relief. I am not alone, I am not crazy, I am a mum. I love it but today it all feels a bit much. Thank you
aw, bless your heart Melissa. I will pray for you! Hang in there and try to stop and laugh at it—Sometimes that helps. 😉
I read the same devotion yesterday and had much the same response to it. Thank you for sharing!
You are such a talented writer. You really are. But, even more important than how you said it is what you said. Beautiful. I’m so happy that you got through it without getting flustered. I say, “Amen” and “You go girl”! Very inspiring. I totally agree with how much easier it is to deal with frustrating, maddening situations when we keep it in perspective. When I think about what other tragedies other people are enduring, my problems, messes and frustration are so small in comparison. It makes me feel bad to pity myself for such minuscule issues. So I just live in the moment, and (like you said) breathe and thank God for my blessings. I think this was one of my favorite posts of yours because it was so relatable. Thanks. 🙂
Oh goodness, I just love you and I don’t even know you!! I love how real you are, thank you Monica!
Great post. I had one of those days on Tuesday. And I always say that on days I am coping the least…my husband gets home late from work! (Like ‘after the kids are in bed’ late.) Never fails. But thanks for pointing to the connection between feeling overwhelmed and yelling at the kids. Sometimes I forget where it comes from. And last night when I heard my 6-year-old say to my 4-year-old, “want to match our pajamas tonight?” I was grateful for the rare peaceful nights!!
Love this post (love all your posts) ~ thanks for being brave and inspiring me to be also! Amen!
Thank you. 🙂 So nice…ALoha
You have my full AMEN!! Your quote “I wanted to fall down and surrender.
I just cannot do this.
It’s too much.”
These are words I have cried out…like you wrote! And I hear God tell me, you can not do this life without me. You are right, Give up your control ( I very much get overwhelmed with a messy house, things everywhere, and two boys in and out around me at times !) give that up, look to Me first, the Holy Spirit tells me…. see what’s important for the day at hand. I pray I can learn to have more grace like you had this day, ( it is one of the most blessed feelings when god gives us the grace to spread to those around us) I also want to extend grace for myself that it’s ok if the house is a mess, why not just enjoy the fun and silliness with my boys, why not make the most of it and turn the house into a big play fort for the day?! That would have a lasting wonderful impression and memory for my boys, much better than mom getting mad and harping on everyone to pick up their things. I feel when I take the time to play with my boys, they are happy to help mommy with chores as well.
Deanna–Thank you and YES..We had a living room fort up for a full 24 hours this week. 🙂 Giving up control is huge…Thank you for the comment!
You get an AMEN!!!!!!!!!!! from me.
The biggest similarity between teaching and mothering is the feeling of drowning in the desire to do more. It seems the to-do list is never finished and ideas of what “should” be done keep coming.
I’d be ashamed if anyone ever counted the times I have been found shouting over tooth brushing or ranting over low-level sibling spats. And, I agree, I feel victorious, and dare I say proud, when I am faced with a zillion daily obstacles and rise above. I wish it happened more often!
Your angry lecture cycle post helped me tremendously. I own that behavior and have made strides to end it. Still working.
Thanks for the encouragement and aloha from across the balmy seas!
Thank you Shannon. Yes, let’s just keep rising above it! 🙂 And I am SO glad the angry lecture post has been helpful. What a blessing!
Amen, Monica! The big stuff comes once in a while but the daily stuff is just so daily!
Good one Monica! It sounds like a challenging and rewarding day. Those days are good. Also, Alicia and I do not have kids (yet), so I do not understand some of those struggles. But I was definitely glad to hear of Dave arriving home in time for a quick nighttime session with the kids.
Hey Jeff! Thank you, and yes, Dave is really good about that. 🙂 I hope you guys are great (and it doesn’t take having kids to feel overwhelmed either–life is busy/crazy for everyone! :))
Aloha to you guys!
Mahalo Monica. Lately our kids have been wanting more at night. To stay up later, to have me lie with them…I have the computer calling me to build my business, the dirty dishes calling to be washed, the 2 dogs calling to be walked & my husband calling me to come to bed WITH HIM!!!! I know what you’re saying & appreciate your guidance & sharing. I’m volunteering with Plastic Free Hawaii at the Menehune Surf Contest next Sat & hope & pray you & one or some of your boys will be there too! Blessings & Aloha to us Mommas! Amen!
Thank you – I needed to hear this. I was always a super neat woman regards my home and now looking at my house on a daily basis….I feel overwhelmed at how much there is to do and my boy is still little! Needing Grace very day. Thank you Jesus He has enough to give!