Thursday, November 12, 2009

Not Sure -- not a light post, be warned

Well, I'm not sure what the outcome of this post will be. I've been putting it off, and mentally composing it for several weeks, so I'm not totally sure the direction I'm going to head in, let the words works their magic, I suppose.
Mostly I need to know if I'm alone in my feelings here?
I am a mother.
I feel like the worlds worst mother sometimes (a lot of sometimes). And I'm not exagerating, or fishing for compliments, or reassurances, I just need to know if I am the only one who feels this way. I love my children 100%, but like them about 70% of the time. I feel like most of my day is eaten up in correction and not in gentle, loving guidance.
There was a time when I wasn't sure if I would have any children, and miraculously, I was blessed with E who has such an enormous spirit that I'm surprised it fits in his body. He is a GREAT kid! He is funny, kind, obedient, smart, respectful, honest, caring, hard working, senstive, but no one can make me as livid as E can.
Then there was a time when I wasn't sure if I would have two children, and miraculously I was blessed with M who is one of the most determined people I know. He was definitely prepared in heaven for the challenges of these last days. He is smart, funny, energetic, determined, happy, loving, goofy, but no one can frustrate me like M does.
I begged Heavenly Father to send me these people, and I promised Him that I would do everything I could to return them to Him. I'm afraid I'm falling short.
I don't know how on earth I deserve to be the mortal custodians of these amazing leaders of Zion. I'm not kind enough, I'm not gentle enough, I'm not nurturing enough, I'm not loving enough, in short, I'm not good enough.
I feel these two huge spirits and am afraid instead of lifting them up and helping them to direct those spirits into greatness that I'm crushing them, ruining the basic purity of who they are.
Why don't I laugh enough with them? I want them to remember a happy childhood, not a grumpy mom.
How do I take a step back and just appreciate them for who they are, and not let the frustration of the moment overwhelm the joy?
I was once promised that I would have joy in my children. So far 'joy' is not the word I would pick for my feelings. The more appropriate sensation is just-making-it-to-the-end-of-the-day-without-sending-someone-to-their-room-or-to-the-corner.
We were thinking of trying to have another baby in the next few months but every time I considered the idea of getting pregnant, I just dreaded the idea. It's not that I don't want more children, it's that I don't want more children, I know that is contradictory, but I just don't know how I would handle another one when I don't appreciate that ones I've got. We've put the fertility treatments on the back burner until I can figure out how to be confident in my abilities to raise these boys and feel like I deserve having someone else in our family.
When I was a teenager I had two friends that everytime I felt like they needed me too much I would stop being their friend and move on to another friend to cling to. Miraculously they forgave me and we have great relationships now, and the hard feelings are resolved. It kills me today to think of how awful I treated them. But I'm afraid I'm doing that to my kids. They need me too much, so I'm pushing them away and trying to find the...something, I don't know what.

The other non-light thought that needs to be resolved is my feeling of being spiritually alone. I've done it to myself. I'm being lazy in my testimony building. But it's a funk I don't know how to shake, I do know how, but I haven't processed the kick that I need to get back into the swing of things. Maybe I need to prove that I want it enough to work at it. It's the little things that are the hardest right now. Getting on my knees everyday, reading my scriptures everyday, feeling grateful. And honestly, having confidence that Heavenly Father loves me.

Rationally I know these thoughts are useless and I know the logic behind the fact that He loves me. But I think of those things and I hear those things from other people and they trail in to: blah, blah, blah.

It's a hard feeling to describe, it's not that I feel that I'm not loved, it's that I feel like I've given up on myself. I'm not good enough to make it to the Celestial Kingdom, so why am I wasting my time? If I died today I wouldn't be exaulted, but my wheels are spinning because I'm not doing the kind of things I need to do to change that.

I have a testimony, I know the church is true, I know the Savior loves me, but I don't FEEL it. I feel alone.

And those are the thoughts that have been stewing for quite a while, maybe just having them out there will help resolve them. Hopefully anyway.


The McKinnon 4 said...

As I read your thoughts on being a mother I felt like you were writing about my thougths. This is something that I too have been struggling with for a while now. I feel like at the end of the day I have failed and have not been the mother I always wanted to be.

Kendra@My Insanity said...

Hey Alicia,

I'm not going to pretend that I have all of the answers. Being pregnant, currently, and not feeling well, when the kids can't seem to get along or there is a lot of contention in our house, I have to ask myself why having #4 ever seemed like a good idea. That being said, I have a couple of ideas to share with you.

1-Have you read Robinson's "Believing Christ"? If not, I would get my hands on a copy and read it right away. Pres. Johnson recommended it to us a few years back. Some of what you said, is just like an experience he quotes in the book and feelings that his wife had, when she nearly gave up on trying. It really helps understand the atonement, and what we are realistically supposed to do to be exalted.

2-Barry might be mad at me for saying this, but a lot of what you describe in your post reminds me of him and his frustrations. He has fairly high expectations of the kids, and when they fall short--as kids often will--he is very frustrated, and takes it personally. I don't know if lowering expectations is the right phrase, but I think we can't be too surprised when 2-year-olds act like 2-year-olds, or when our older children melt down in a moment of immaturity. The more realistic our expectations, the less these things will bother us. The thing I'm still working on figuring out is how to not let their effect me and my temper, my ability to be firm but fair, etc. I think you are doing great that you can list all of the wonderful things about your kids. Sometimes when we get so frustrated with them, they become the enemy, and it is hard to see the good, for all of the things that are wrong. I'm just trying to remind everyone in my family that we are all on the same team!

I don't know anyone that enjoys every aspect of parenting, or has it together all the time. I find things are going better when I have found an activity or two that I can actually enjoy doing with each child, and as long as there is some of that fun, happy time, the tough, correction-filled times, aren't so dramatic.

And the best thing about kids...they forgive us and forget about our imperfections. And they are ready to love us again as soon as we let them.

I hope you'll find the peace you are looking for. I think the kids sense that and everything is better when we are at peace. Best wishes! We miss you guys!

Kendra@My Insanity said...

Sorry, I've already written a novel, but I had one more thought on correcting our children. You said you spend too much of the day doing it. When I was doing my student teaching, the one bit of constructive criticism, that my advisor gave to me that really stuck with me, was about how I was correcting my students all of the time. I was trying to present my lesson, but would frequently pause and say, "Tom, will you please quit tapping your pencil?," "Mark, will you get your feet and backpack out of the aisle?", etc. These things were annoying me, but by stopping my entire lesson, to draw attention to them was giving small things more importance than they deserved, and taking everyone's focus away from what they were there to do. She showed me a lot of more subtle ways to encourage better behavior, like moving nearer the offending student, with out saying what was wrong with his/her behavior, or asking them a question related to the lesson. They usually knew, they were doing something wrong, and would straighten-up and figure it out on their own, and my lesson could keep going.

It's a little different with parenting, but I think that kids learn far more from the examples around them, than they do from what we tell them. (Our lectures don't always result in my kids behaving better, but you can bet I hear them using the same language on their younger siblings!)

I think as a parent, there is often pressure to always be correcting your kids, because you don't want others to think you aren't aware of their rude or inappropriate behavior or that you don't care, but sometimes, there are more subtle ways to guide them to behave better, than to tell explicitly tell them what they are doing that is wrong all of the time. Does that make any sense? I'm trying as a parent to compliment the good things they are doing, and see if I can do better in the way I talk to them, to see if it will improve the way they talk to each other. Still a work in progress...

Keri Oke said...

oh Sweetheart dont feel like youre alone at all. All Mothers can relate to these feelings. I remember being in your shoes for many years. I felt lost, frustrated and angry, which affected not only my children but my marriage too. I can give you my advice and hope it might help in some ways.

We had a wonderful visit from Elder Bednar about a year ago. He came down for our stake conference. He held an Adult fireside and in his words I found comfort and direction for all these issues. he had us all imagine those circus people thats spin plates from each finger, toe, and elbows. LOL he wanted all of us to know that if you watch closely at those people you will notice that they can only focus on spinning one plate at a time and its the plate that has slowed down and needs an extra push. he wanted us all to think of that analogy and use it on our lives. We need to realize as Mothers and Wives that we can only spin one plate at a time. He encouraged us to find those plates in our lives that need a spin and focus on them one at a time. To him there is no such thing as multi tasking.

Funny part of this story is it matched up perfect to the solution I found for my issues as Mother years ago through prayer and supplication. Just made me realize that He really does talk for God, and his words just fit perfect.

Let me rewind a bit. back when my 3rd was born I also had a 3 yr. old and a 12 month old. I had no direction. it was utter chaos and i was lost and frustrated. I found through prayer and much though that I need to make a list and start from the top. I did that and have found much happiness.

I promise you it works. You would laugh at me but ill confess to you that I could not find the time to brush my kids teeth daily. I know sad. But I made that the top of my list one week. I didnt care if my house was a mess or the kids never got dressed to me brushing teeth daily was my plate to spin that week. Now its become a good habit and that plate doesnt need to be focused on anymore. Sit down and make a list of the most important things you need to change and spin each of those plates on at a time. You can do this Alicia I know you can. I will pray for you and hope that you will be able to conquer all your goals you have in mind for yourself.

Here are some wonderful resources that have helped me tremendously in this adventure of Motherhood. Good luck
*Your 6 Year Old By Louise Bates Ames Ph.D. & Frances L. Ilg, MD (They have a book for every age..they rock)
*The Five Love Languages of Children By:Gary Chapman & Ross Campbell MD
*A Recent Post of Mine

Love ya Keri

Keri said...

Ive been thinking a lot about you his morning and saying lots of prayers for ya! I wanted you to also to remember that we maynot always see the good in ourselves but if you look on the outside and see the kind of loving family you have its proof that youre doing something right. Think of all those broken up families and homes. I can assure you those kids dont have all those beautiful and wonderful characteristics that your sweet boys have. If you ask yourself why? its because they have a wonderful Mother in the Home and that loves and cares for them and brings them upright in the gospel. for that be proud. Youre doing a great job. okay im sure youre tired of hearing from me. love ya

Glazebrookhousepictures said...

Hi Alicia, you are definetley not alone out there! I feel exactly the same way you do about everything that you said! I am sorry I don't know the solution either. I just pray everyday that I can stay positive and have the Holy Ghost with me to recieve inspiration on the things Heavenly Father wants me to do and guide me to bring my children up the way he wants me to. I feel bad for not being able to enjoy being a mom as much as I should because I am so frustrated with my kids and myself all the time! I don't know if this helps you at all but don't feel bad about how you feel. Just don't give up and keep trying, just keep trusting in Heavenly Father. I know we are always harder on ourselves than anyone! ~Emily

The John Family said...

I'm curious if you have asked the boys if they think they have a grumpy mom. The reason I say that is I was having a terrible day and I felt like I was on Teagan's butt all day long. By the end of the day I felt I was horrible to him. Not that he didn't deserve most of it but still. I told him I was sorry I was so grumpy that day. He told me he didn't think I was grumpy at all. Perhaps it would be helpful to see what they think. You might be suprised like I was. I often feel the same way you do. I think everyone would say so if they were honest. Just the fact you care about their feelings tells me things are not half as bad as you feel they are. We all have bad times as a mommy and spiritually. They pass. I'm not trying to be an annoying advice giver. I certainly don't have even half the answers. I do know from my own experience that your feelings are just plain normal and I want you to know your not alone in feeling that way. You are not alone period even though it feels like it sometimes.

Natalie said...

Oh Alicia, first of all you are a great mom just for the mere fact that you want to be better and give your kids more. I'm sure we have all had our moments and struggles with our kids. I think those tough moments allow us to rejoice even more in the greatest moments when our kids have a shinning moment. There are so many things I know I need to do better especially when it comes to my children but the one thing I know is that I love my children and they love me and for that I keep trying to change and be better. Thats all we can do is try everyday to be better. Somedays we wont want to and thats fine as long as the next day we get back to what we need to do. Its hard to be a mom but if we just remember its our calling, its what we were sent here to do it puts it more in to perspective for me that its going to be hard but it will be worth the long and trying hall. We have to also remember that know matter how hard times get heavenly father is mindful of us and he loves us so maybe just maybe he wants to teach us something in those moments so we can grow. Your great so pat yourself on the back for being a mom, its not easy and we are very hard on ourselves. Keep doing what your doing and you will be blessed. also I dreaded getting prego with my third even though I really wanted another baby and it ended up being so great. It was insane how I immediatly was not scared anymore. on another note We will miss you next thursday for new moon!

ERIN said...

oh my goodness, there just must be something in the air. i have been reading so many blogs, mine included, about people just being stuck in these funks. i understood every word of your the letter. Including i want more kids, i just don't want anymore kids...i struggled when we were deciding if Ally should grace our family. i knew she was supposed to come but had no clue how to do it. if i had words of wisdom i would give to you and then tell them to myself:) How about I'll just pray for you that the fog lifts soon. Us crazy people need to stick together:)

Anne said...

You are LOVED!!! You are normal!

I ADMIRE you for putting your feelings out there, I bet it was cathartic and such a release. I think to some degree we all have sililiar feelings. The ebbs and flows of spiritual and personal growth is so hard to appreciate sometimes. Pres Kimball once said, (paraphrased) the greatest battles are fought daily in the silent chambers of the soul.

Now take a chill pill and a deep breath and push along! The Adversary would like to see NOTHING less than for you to continue to "feel" alone and unloved.

I KNOW Heavenly Father loves you. I know this because I know he loves me and if he can love a child as challenging as me, he MUST REALLLY love you!!!!! I LOVE YOU!!!!!!

The Bundy Family said...

#1 You are not alone in your thoughts on being a bad mom. We have all felt that way, whether it is shared or not, we all feel it. You need to read my blog on "teaching by the spirit" then you will know you are not alone.
#2 You are a GOOD mom, because you are acknowledging trials and trying to fix them, by writing them down. And you know exactly how your children are.
#3 Satan wants you to feel the way you are feeling, and when he sees discouragement he works and works on you. I know from personal experience on this one. I am a pro by now.
#4 You have the gospel and you are doing the right things in your home to raise wonderful, strong-willed children that were saved for these latter days. As hard as it may be.
#5 I have felt those same feelings about having more children and not being a good mother to the one's I already have. Those are valid feelings, but they are wrong. You and ADam are great parents! Being a mom is just HARD. It just is. We have to do the dirty work. But at the end of the day they still want their mom when they are sad, hurt, or don't feel good. Even if we yelled at them, unintentionally. Those feeling of wanting another child are probably the promptings of the spirit preparing you. These children will be a huge blessing in our lives, in the future, they will I promise.
#6 Finally, you are not alone, EVER. But I know how you feel. I read Kendra's and agree with her about the "Believing Christ". You will be glad you did. We get in ruts, as mother's and as latter day women, we do. OUr lot in life, as stay-at-home-mom's is just dang hard. IT just is and with that comes a lot of discouragement. Just keep hanging on and you will come out of it. My other suggestion would be to ask Adam for a blessing. I have done that and it has helped.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I have had MANY of those days and I am so glad to learn that I am not alone. IF you ever want to feel better just read my blog occasionally, and it will make you feel better. Take care

Strollerblader said...

I know that I am a late-comer here. I've read through the others' suggestions, and I also recommend reading "Believing Christ" and getting *frequent* priesthood blessings.

If you are still feeling around in the dark by now, then I also recommend talking to your doctor about it. It may be that medication can help you start feeling the good feelings again and feeling like the good you again.

Once you are truly able to FEEL Heavenly Father's sure, personal, intimate, and infinite love for you, your life will start to feel right again.

Something that has helped me this year is to keep a journal. This has been a hard year for me, but as I've written about all the hard times and hard feelings, I've also written about how much I have seen and felt the hand of the Lord in my life. The more I have looked for His hand in my life, the more I have found it, been amazed, and known of His intimate knowledge of my life and who I truly am. It is also great therapy for me to go back and read back on the hard times I've already made it through, to see the improvements I *have* made that I would otherwise have forgotten, and to re-realize all the blessings he has bestowed on me this year -- both literal blessings, as well as priesthood blessings. I recommend keeping a journal such as this: one where you acknowledge things you are thankful for and where you record any spiritual happenings in your life, along with the struggles you are facing. I believe that it will bless you the same way that mine has blessed me.

Your mom was always full of such simple-but-profound, everyday-people wisdom. Maybe you can think of what she would say to you. I still miss her all the time. I loved every comment she ever made in Sunday School. I was also blessed to have her as my seminary teacher.

Here is a great place to go read whenever you need a spiritual lift or boost:

and here is a place to go for laughs, commiseration, and even spiritual uplifting:

Best wishes! We miss you here!

Erika said...

I obviously don't check you blog enough! It's almost 1 am and I should be sleeping, but I just felt like I needed to do something on the internet, and I found it! Your post made me miss you so much, because I miss the talks we used to have just like this. I know you know that I feel like this. Every word in your post is how I feel. You are so not the only one that feels this way... just to add on to your post.. I feel the same way about being a wife too, I'm a horrible wife!! But you and Adam have such an amazing relationship - how do you do that?? I am too tired to work on our marriage at the end of the day because of the kids, how do you do it?? I'm serious, I'm so jealous of your relationship - but I don't have the energy to work on that after trying to keep the house clean, kids fed and happy and work on top of it all! And then to try to exercise?? I am failing at every aspect in life! But that's why we are all here right?? To learn from each other. So quit being a loner and call me already!! I need to learn from you :)