28 Nov When You Feel Unappreciated
Today I’d like to share with you about a difficult season that I had as a mother. I believe God gives us difficulties so we can use them to comfort and encourage others in the same way we receive comfort and encouragement from our Heavenly Father. For those mamas who feel unappreciated, please read and be encouraged!
At the time that my boys were toddlers, our family business was expanding. My husband’s hours were long and I was home caring for our two children. I’ll admit, this became a lonely time for me. My husband was a wonderful help when he was home and he didn’t want to be gone so much, but, during that season of our lives, long work hours were the norm.
I did the best I could and, for a while, our home seemed to chug along uneventfully. But after about six months of my husband working eleven to fourteen hour days, usually six days a week, I began to crumble.
My heart started to hurt. There were times when I started to get weary. And I started to feel unappreciated. I started to get lonely, wishing for someone else to talk to besides two toddlers. My health started to deteriorate as well. It was at this point that I began to fully understand why the Bible mentions over and over that God created us: spirit, soul, mind, and body. The stress of my life, the loneliness, and the pain was now manifesting in physical ailments. Headaches, fatigue, stomachaches, back pain, numbness, nerve pain, you name it, I had it.
I want to make a disclaimer here that I love being a mother. Being a wife and mom was what God had planned for me to do with my life since the beginning of time.
But just because I know that doesn’t mean that every moment is easy. . .or fun. . .or fulfilling.
Motherhood includes a lot of sleepless nights, lonely nights, and exhausted nights. It also includes a lot of nights of feeling unappreciated.
I remember an evening after a long day during this time.
It was getting late and because of the busyness of the day, my sons’ naps were pushed back to later in the day than they were used to napping. I walked through a messy house to lay them down in their cribs, wishing that I could use the nap time to sit with a hot cup of tea and a good book, but all the while knowing I would use it to pick up the house and start dinner.
My oldest son cried and cried in his crib; and I was surprised because Lincoln usually went to sleep really well. I figured he would cry for a few minutes then fall asleep, but he just kept crying.
It was too distracting to get anything done, so I finally went and let him out and because of missing his daily nap, he was exhausted, and it showed in his behavior.
An hour later, I sat him down at the table to eat dinner. Emmett, my youngest, was still napping and my husband hadn’t come home yet, so it was just the two of us.
Lincoln spent the next half hour fighting me for every bite he took. I remember thinking, “I’m doing this because I love you. I wish you would just understand that.” And I even took my thoughts a step further and thought, “Why can’t you just appreciate all I do for you?”
I didn’t say those things.
What I did instead was snapped at my son for throwing his juice cup on the floor.
I’m not proud of it and I regretted it instantly. I fought back tears because I didn’t want to cry in front of him.
And my younger son choose that moment to wake early from his nap.
The End of My Rope
It felt like I was dangling at the end of my rope.
I was more exhausted that I had ever been. My health was at a state it had never been. And my heart and mind were such a mess that I didn’t even want to address them.
At that point, I would have called someone to help me but my dad was hunting, my mom was at a retreat, and my in-laws were out of town. It was just me. . .and a defiant two-year-old. . .and a sleep deprived sixteen-month old.
In that moment, I had to dig deep because the evening wasn’t over, there was still bath time, cleaning up toys, putting the boys to bed, and then cleaning the house, doing the dishes, washing a load of laundry, deciding what everyone would wear to church the next day, and packing the diaper bag. As well as deciding what would be for lunch the next day.
Going to God
Somehow, I made it through the next two hours. But I have to admit, I didn’t find joy and fulfillment in motherhood that evening.
After my boys were in bed, I went through the house picking up toys they had missed and I cried out to God.
He brought my own words back to me, “Sometimes God allows suffering in our lives because He knows He can trust us to use that suffering to help others. If you’re going through a hard time, don’t automatically assume God is angry with you. It could be that He trusts you to use your pain to reach others who are also hurting.”
I had posted that on my Facebook page earlier the exact same week because I had been able to help so many women who struggled with infertility.
The only reason I was able to help them was because I had gone through it.
And God spoke silently to my heart and said, “Use this pain to help other mothers. Because motherhood is not a competition.
It’s not about dressing your boys in cute matching outfits.
Being a mom isn’t a race to see which mother can get their pre-baby body back first.
It’s not about acting like every moment is perfect and enjoyable.
It’s about raising the next generation of godly men and godly women. And it’s hard.”
The One who Sees
I felt so relieved. Instead of doing the dishes and running a load of laundry, I sat on the couch, turned on some worship music and just sat in the presence of God. It didn’t fix all my problems, but it made me see all the reasons that I do what I do.
I do it for Him. And He appreciates me.
God sees me every time I pick up the same little toy truck and put it away. He sees me every time I courageously go down the grocery store aisle with two toddlers in tow trying to pick out healthy foods.
God also sees me when I wake up early to make sure that I have my time in the Word. And He appreciates me.
A friend of mine on Facebook recently put this as her status:
“When you have a good heart:
You help too much,
Trust too much.
Give too much,
And, Love too much.
And it always seems
You get hurt the most in the end.”
It can be easy at times to feel this way as a mom. When you ask your son for a hug and he runs the other way, it hurts your heart. Or when you want your children to just be still and give you a moment of peace and they choose to do the opposite, it hurts.
It can be easy to feel that those who care too much end up hurting the most.
But I want to take this statement even further than that.
Who is it that has the best heart? Who helps the most? Who trusts the most? Who gives the most? Who loves the most?
I’ll give you a hint: The answer is not a mother. It’s a Father.
A Different Perspective
How many times have I hurt God? Or been unappreciative of Him? How many times have I so easily forgotten about Him? How many times have I desired His gifts over His presence?
Too many to count. And I’m ashamed of that.
You see, I said earlier that on that night it was only me and my two sons. But that’s not true.
God was there. He’s the One who gave me the strength to get them fed, bathed, and put to bed, when I didn’t even think I had the physical strength to lift them out of their high chairs.
And while I was feeling unfulfilled, I was also forgetting He was even there.
While I was feeling unappreciated, I wasn’t appreciating the One who gave me the strength to take care of the little boys He entrusted in my care.
Psalm 56:8 “You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.” NLT
Hang in there, Mama
Motherhood is hard.
There are times when it’s fun and fulfilling and amazing and it’s easy to remember why we do all the small things.
But there are also times that make it easy to forget the fun times.
I’m not trying to say that I’m not eternally blessed by my children. I appreciate the opportunity I have to be a mom. I really do.
But I’m just trying to be transparent about the times that I feel unappreciated.
Being a mom is the toughest job.
There is no pay, no sick leave, no vacation time, no bonus checks, and overtime budget. You have to be a cook, a maid, a hair dresser, an alarm clock, a teacher, a doctor, a chauffeur, a monster chaser, and a theological scholar.
And it’s hard.
But because of that cold October night, when I tried to feed a little boy who didn’t want to eat carrots and I tried to give a baby a bath that just wanted to sleep, every time I feel unappreciated, I’m going to take that moment to appreciate the One who gives me strength for every step. The One who dried all the tears that fell from my face after my toddlers are in bed that night.
Thank You, Lord. For helping me, even when I wouldn’t notice Your hand. For loving me, even when it hurt. For trusting me with these little souls, even when You knew I would fail sometimes. For giving Your Son, even when You knew I wouldn’t always appreciate what He did for me on Calvary. Thank You.
Resource for You
If you enjoyed this blog post and share my heart for training up your children in the way they should go, then check out “Hidden in My Heart.”
It’s an online program to help you teach your children God’s Word. Every week, there is a verse with a way to relate it to your child’s life.
It’s not enough for children to memorize verses, they need to know how the power of God’s Word can impact their daily lives.
This program tracks what verses your kiddos have learned and provides audios of each verse. Check it out here!