What do you do when you just ‘don’t feel like it’?
Like, your mind says “yes”, but your heart says “no”?
Potentially, this could be an incredibly touchy subject, but lately my friends, I have been suffering from a case of the “gimme’s”.
And that, I think, is exactly the problem.
Perhaps it is just schedule overload, I don’t know. But with two kids in football on opposite sides of the city, practicing three times a night with games on Saturday to boot, Church callings, community responsibilities, and various other obligations, I find myself barely able to stay afloat.
In between all of that, there is the inevitable daily routine of chores, cooking, and wrangling homework and breaking up fights.
So, all in all, I’m looking at a great big goose egg when it comes to me time.
This is where I find my focus starting to shift–shifting from “us” to “them”. I begin to feel outnumbered by my own team.
MAKING A CHOICE
For a marriage and a family, this is no bueno. Choosing to make a life together is just that–building a life TOGETHER. It is no longer just about “me” because you have just promised to make it all about “us.”
And the crazy thing is, when I find myself focusing too much on what I am doing for everyone else, and what they are not doing for me, I don’t even realize it. In fact, I feel justified in taking a daily tally of all the things everyone forgot to do.
Sometimes, I might even get a little bit of a rush out of it.
And nope, please don’t even bother to point out how childish that is. I promise you, you just don’t want to go there.
It is almost as if I have allowed a wolf in sheep’s clothing to enter into the very places that I have promised to protect–my marriage and my home.
TAKING MY OWN ADVICE
There is a little saying that I am constantly shouting out to my children:
“IT ENDS WITH YOU!”
Every time they come running to tell me what their brother just did to them, I calmly listen to their side of the story and then I ask them what they did first. It makes them stop in their tracks. You can see their little minds screeching to a halt as they realize that, Hmmm, maybe they themselves did have something to do with getting punched in the gut.
“I punched him first.”
I saw that one a mile away.
“It ends with you,” I calmly (not so much) remind them, and then tell them to go find their brother and give them a hug.
Yep, I usually say that to my kids. But maybe, just maybe, I should say it to myself too.
If I am feeling empty, used up, and under appreciated, it’s probably because I am focusing too much on myself at the moment. I mean, I could make a list a mile long with all of the:
- I did this
- I did that
- I woke up early to do x
- Didn’t you even notice that I did y
- For the last time, I already answered b!
I am sure this all sounds so familiar. I don’t mean to air out the dirty laundry, because I am sure you are tired of doing it over and over and over again and you simply don’t have the time for another load. But the fact is, we all have our loads to carry, it’s just all about how you look at it–what you choose to focus on.
And choosing to make it end with you.
Now, let’s get a few things straight here. I am not suggesting that mothers, or perhaps fathers, should do everything they have to do and just accept that as their lot in life.
I am suggesting, however, that we at least recognize the things that our family members are, in fact, doing.
REWIND, RETHINK, REWORK REALITY
Sometimes I do feel so overwhelmed with my role as mother. I feel so overwhelmed that I can hardly see or hear when my family is helping me. I get so used to feeling sorry for myself that I just assume that they aren’t helping along the way.
It is easy to play the victim because it requires absolutely no brain power. Just like my sons, when they come running to me to complain about being punched in the gut, feeling totally justified in tattling, I sometimes allow myself to feel completely justified in feeling like I want to throw the towel in.
However, when I ask my kids what they did to deserve such retribution, their brain has to stop, rewind, rethink, and rework reality. Maybe there is more to the story than just a swift punch to the gut. Maybe it’s something that they have control over, like–what if they actually threw the first punch?!
So, what if I did a little rewinding, rethinking, and reworking reality of my own. Maybe there is more to the story than what I am telling myself. Perhaps I am simply choosing to not recognize the efforts of others to keep the home fires burning.
You see, when it becomes all about you, division is created and you are no longer a team player. And marriage and family is all about playing on the same team.
BUILD A FIRM FOUNDATION
An oft heard phrase is:
A house divided cannot stand.
Wouldn’t it be a sad thing if one of the very foundations of that house created the instability that made the house fall?
I have admitted to you that sometimes it actually is me that creates the division. If you are feeling discontent at home, I urge you to look inward and consider your own feelings. I have found that sometimes I am setting my sights on goals that are not at the right time or place.
When I find myself thinking too much about “what can I achieve?” instead of “what can we become together?”, I hope I will take my own advice and remember:
It ends with you.
Marriage and families are special things, but they are only as special as we make them. This year is the 20th anniversary of The Family: A Proclamation to the World. I urge you to read it again and listen to a prophet’s voice remind us just how important marriage and families are to life here on earth.
“No other success in this life can compensate for failure in the home”
President David O. McKay
Jessica Clark is a wife, mom, writer, runner, knitter, and proud Canadian. She graduated from Brigham Young University with a degree in Anthropology, and has been a student of people and cultures ever since. Right now she is busy studying the behavior and cultures of the people of Texas.