When motherhood feels like misery

It’s been hard lately.

After the rush of the morning, the reminders that spiral into yelling-after-the-fifth-time-I-told-you-to-find-your-boots, the frenzied drive to school and the anger just simmering below the surface, it comes.

The guilt. The pain of wondering how deeply I’ve wounded this morning. The feeling that I’m hurt, too, and I don’t know how to make it better.

Can it be easier than this? Is it lack of organization in the morning? Is it my constant reminders that are the problem? No matter what I try, it’s always 9:05 and we need to be in the van NOW and someone is playing with a car on the floor with one sock on and we have no idea where the mittens went. This is after a morning of a few pushbacks and a couple emotional blowups already, where I’ve explained what the rules are, over again, with the kindness the morning’s mercies give.

But now we are out of time, I am all out of patience, and yelling is my white flag. I give up trying. I smack them over the head with my white flag, too: I know the yelling will get immediate results.

But now they’re motivated out of fear. And I’m the one they’re afraid of.

Just the other night when I was talking with the girl, my oldest, about how we should all take a time out when we’re speaking out of anger or meanness, even Mommy, she laughed and said, “Yeah you should do that! You’re mean a lot.


Just last night I whispered in my boy’s ear that I didn’t want to go through the day feeling like I was fighting with him all the time.

I desperately don’t want it to be like this.

It’s sort of likeΒ  finding a way to stay healthy, for me. I think if I could just find that one plan, that one system, that works, really works, it would all be easy and I could give up the struggle. I could be a nice mommy.

I know in my heart it’s not that easy.

I look at Benjamin and he’s laughing at me, I’m running around so fast, and he’s right. I do look ridiculous. I say a whispered thanks that he doesn’t understand yet, that he doesn’t feel the frustration and anger the way my older kids do. And then I remember that I used to feel the same way about Owen. It goes deeper than just “lately.” If I keep going like this, Benjamin will know soon enough, too.

This isn’t a post with a “lesson learned” at the end, of some grace discovered. I don’t know where the lesson is. I can’t see the grace. I only know I want to enjoy motherhood, to really love (more of) the moments, to help them find their way in this world with joy, showing them how it’s all about love, love, love. I want the burning, crazy love I feel for them to show its colors in every interaction we have. But I feel like I can’t see their character for the missing mitten in front of me.

Can I ask you — what do you do to enjoy parenting? How do you create more joy in the everyday with your littles?

Linking with Kristina.

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16 comments on “When motherhood feels like misery

  1. Anna says:

    Make time for relationships. Play with them, pick a chapter book to read piled up in bed together each night, play and let yourself really laugh. Get plenty of rest, prayer, quiet and time with husband. When I am out of whack physically/emotionally its hard to be “all there” for my family. I found my children could hear me when the relationship was there, they wanted to please me more and honor me when I was the one that painted and played with them, and was available. I wasnt perfect either. Each day is a new day, ask for forgiveness when its needed and give the rest to God. Its all grace isnt it.

  2. Sheri Sternke says:

    I don’t know! I feel the same way….more mornings than I like to admit. We’ve learned a little better routine…but it doesn’t help the days that the baby sleeps late, has a poo right before we’re supposed to leave, or when Josiah has to go potty NOW. But if I get up earlier, if I pack the bag & car first, and if I am completely ready…..and if we start 15 minutes before we HAVE to leave….then it goes relatively smoothly. Of course, I’ve also had to learn more about what each kid “needs” from me in order for the mean mommy to not come out. Naomi needs quiet reminders but quick now ones. Josiah needs mommy down on his level helping him with everything yet (and he’ll be 3 in about a week–so different from my girl!)…and if I yell, it only makes him cry or hide which makes it take longer! My oldest…he needs constant reminders and about 10 minutes before I need him to do them. The baby just needs me. I only can say, if I breathe and say a quick prayer, I ‘lose’ it less often. Just know you are right there w/all of us mommies….learning as we go….asking forgiveness…and watching our kids grow up too quickly right before our eyes πŸ™‚

    • Love this, Sheri. Thank you for the reminder that each one of my kids might need something different from me. And yes, if I could only remember the breathing and the prayer thing. Thanks for the empathy, though — I am definitely feeling like I’m not alone today, thanks to all of you.

  3. Vanessa says:

    For me, it’s all about being brutally intentional about time. Being almost ruthless about what’s important and what just doesn’t make the cut. What always makes the cut – prayer, time with husband, time with daughter, sleep, food, laundry. I let the rest go. Do I do it gracefully? Not yet! I’ve had to radically reduce what I expect me/us to get done in one day/morning/afternoon.Then pare it down again. And again. Plan and prep, plan and prep again. And again. (And this when we’re the most schedule-nazi-efficiency-nuts I know.) If I’m going to really enjoy being with kids, the time has to come from somewhere. If I start treating the time available in my day as if it’s an ever-expanding like an elastic band – well, it’s me who snaps. This means looking at not just how much time an activity takes, but all the added stuff involved. Serving on a board means the meeting times+prep time+time it takes for me to get out of the house+travel time+time to do the things I agreed to do at the meeting. That adds up to maybe 10 hours a month – which I don’t have – so, no.

    • Yes, it’s true– I think I allow for all this extra time, but then I see it stretched before me (an hour before we have to leave) and I think I can just squeeze one more thing in… if I’m honest about how long that “one more thing” will really take, when it will surely lead to other things being squeezed in — I think I’d have more margin.

  4. Andrea says:

    Awesome post yet again – wow, this is every day at our house and every morning I seem to either drive home or to work with tears again because that is SOOOO not how I wanted the morning to go – or whatever time of day it was where we needed to do something and it just wasn’t going the way it should have! I read somewhere and it works sometimes (on those days that you realize you are actually going crazy!) to just blurt out – “what are you, 5?” to the 5 year old and it puts it all in perspective as to how little they are and it really doesn’t matter all that much to be late today. One day at a time! πŸ™‚ That and a basket by the door with lots of extra mittens and socks – mismatched is all the craze these days!!!

    • Andrea, I am SO right there with you! This morning after dropping them off I just thought, “do I have to be this miserable every morning?” Yes, yes yes — not how I wanted the morning to go. I say those words to my kids, too, but I’m accusing. Ugh.

      I LOVE the “what are you, 5?” idea, because you’re so right — some of my frustration is that they’re not acting enough like miniature adults. Heading out to Target this afternoon to buy up their stock of winter gear for our basket… Thanks for your comment. I feel better already.

  5. coming from SomeGirl’s Website. . my first time here and I will be back. Love your realness. . I so get it. The anger, the yelling. I am there with you. 2 things I am doing to dillute my anger are 1. cultivating a heart of thankfulness and 2. adding margins in my life so we are not rushed and so I do not lose it when we can’t find a shoe or when the neighbor stops me in the driveway. I have 5 kiddos. . 2 are adopted. . one from Guatemala when he was 10 months and one from Ethiopia when he was 7 years old (he has only been home 7 months) so I am intereted in reading thru your blog and reading about your heart for orphans.

    • So glad you’re here, Su! I love those two suggestions. I think God whispered the word “margin” to me in the hours after I wrote this post, too… it’s even a subject I’ve studied before. πŸ™‚

      I also just told the kids today, after another not-awesome morning, that I’m not going to remind them constantly what they need to do in the morning. I said they know what to do, and if they decide not to get their stuff done, then I’m happy to drop them off at school in their pajamas and without their homework. Too harsh? Do you remind your kids what needs to be done every. single. day? I mean, they KNOW. I think they just wait for me to say things three times because they know I will.

      It’s like so many things… I’ll try something new tomorrow, and something else the next day, and then cobble together a bunch of stuff that works and we’ll keep learning together.

      • My husband says that we (my yelling) should never be the consequence. . that natural consequences are best when it comes to training our kids and at times others that we give. So kids not getting ready for school in morning and you have to leave at so and so time. . the natural consequence would be they get in the car at so and so time and if that means going to school in pjs and with no homework.. .then so be it. This is not too harsh in my opinion. And I guarantee that it will only happen once πŸ™‚ Our goal is to give our kids more and more responsibility. . to take the responisbility off us . .so that when they are on their own they have the character, self-discipline, work ethic, and skills to succeed. Now all that sounds good, eh? Harder to walk out.

        I know that we have made lists for my daughter (the oldest) who moves so slowly and struggles to get going in the morning. That way I do not have to ask: Did you brush your teeth? 4 times. She just simply has to move thru her list. And the consequence we give her if she is not in the kitchen by the time we have agreed on is that she has to go to bed 10 minutes early for every minute she is late (a consequence other than me yelling). Again, something that only has to happen a few times πŸ™‚ . .a 14 year old going to bed at 7:50 is not cool. (and we did tell her this would happen if she was late again so it was no surprise)

        You are a good mom. . .trying new things, thinking thru solutions, listening to God. . .

        My kids are 14, 12, 11, 7, and 5 . I need to go read how old yours are. I look forward to getting to know you.

        Ok. . I have written a book. . I am signing off πŸ™‚

  6. This seems to be a echo I am reading/hearing this week, the frustration level with children and being depleted as moms. And maybe there are no easy answers or quick fixes other than to remember that Jesus is the sllent listener, unseen guest in the car, at the dinner table, alongside the grocery cart. He is there to help you every minute of every day. And I think your honesty here certainly helps the rest of us know we aren’t alone. Thank you.

  7. Rusheika says:

    I have been feeling the same way.. and I homeschool them so they hear the yelling all day if it is a bad day. I can completely relate to everything you said. A verse that helped me this week was:

    Restore to me the joy of your salvation
    and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

    13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
    so that sinners will turn back to you.

    As I meditated on this I changed verse 13 to say this:

    Then I will teach my kids your ways
    so that my kids will turn to you.

    (they are transgressors and sinners that need to be turned to God)

    Notice that verse 12 comes first… and it is GOD that does the work of restoring and sustaining… just ask him to and allow him to do it.
    Be blessed.. you are not alone and this matters to you because you are a good mom.. if you were not, it wouldn’t matter πŸ™‚