“I became more and more depressed and began to notice that my mind was crowded with negative thoughts as soon as I opened my eyes in the morning. I could think of nothing else but how I hated myself, what a terrible mother I was, and how I should never have asked God for children.”
This is a quote from my book, Kill the Busy, Save the Bee: What It Really Means to Be Still and Know.
Have you ever beat yourself up because you couldn’t control some aspect of motherhood? I call this the busyness of self-contempt. This kind of busyness will have you believing that you are the worst mom ever and sometimes your kids are happy to concur with that lie and to blame you for all of their woes.
It’s easy to think about such ideas about ourselves because motherhood is HARD. It is a long journey full of twists and turns and as soon as you are confident in where you are going and you feel like you know your child well, that same child makes a complete U-turn and they become someone who is altogether different from the person you knew just a few miles back. At the start of your journey together, you held hands but now this “new person” has to be dragged kicking and screaming. You have to start all over, figuring out how to love and care for this “new person”. That’s motherhood.
I have learned many important motherhood lessons but I would like to share one of them with you today. I wrote it in my journal back in 2018, as I reflected on how hard being a mommy really is. This bit of advice is for those times when your child (whether toddler, kid, teenager, or young adult) is kicking and screaming and treating you (the very one who loves them) as if you are the reason for their unhappiness. I believe writing these two paragraphs in my journal freed me and I know it will do the same for you. It’s a reminder that, Mama, you are not the happiness maker.
I have learned that I am not responsible for the happiness of my children. It feels wonderful to see them smiling or excited and filled with happiness, but if I place myself in this role, "the happiness maker", then my children come to expect me to make them happy, and as a result, when they are not happy they blame me or even worse, I blame myself. Instead, I have resolved to help them find their own happiness and to teach them how to change their perspective when things are not going their way. I want to teach them how to work through their own unhappiness instead of rescuing them from it because even if I distract them with what I think will make them happy, it is most often only a temporary fix. They must decide for themselves to change their attitude and I am here to walk them through this change or these increments of changes. My prayer is that they would not only find some happiness in life but that they would find joy in Jesus whether they are happy or not.
In the same way, I would hate for my children to be weighed down with the burden of making me happy. While I do understand the idea of making our loved ones happy, I do not want them to make choices or life decisions with the sole purpose of making me or anyone else happy. After all, one of my most important purposes as a parent is to give them tools to make decisions and to help them to find and follow God's path for them not to find and follow my path for them. Ultimately, each individual must be responsible for their own happiness, contentment, and joy. It is all about a mindset that chooses the positive perspective.