There, I said it.
I admit it.
I can be quite a grouch.
There is no excuse. I know it. I am the only person able to control my own actions and emotions. Only I have the power to change how I relate to others.
I know this, but I struggle. I do.
I am tired.
No, I’m exhausted. I haven’t had a full night of sleep in going on 8 years. Yes, EIGHT Years. In that time, I’ve had 2 full nights alone without any kids. Both times, it was the night before a delivery…one in a hotel, the other in a hospital.
Someone is always waking in the night: got to go to the potty, bad dream, wet bed, thirsty, plain ol’ “I want to sleep with you” requests.
No one naps…not regularly. If anyone does take a nap, it’s either by accident, they are sick, or we are in the car so I am not able to reap the benefits of sitting quietly and putting my feet up. Every one of my kids is wide open, inquisitive, chatty, and just plain busy. All. The. Time. They never rest…ever. They don’t need it. I do, they don’t…guess what that means…. yep…. got to keep trucking.
Please don’t get me wrong. They are wonderful, healthy kids and for that, I am TRULY blessed, but…
Did I mention I was exhausted?
Exhausted people can be grumpy.
I am overwhelmed.
I’m outnumbered…4 to 1. My husband works long, hard hours and we don’t see much of him during the week. Come to think of it, he doesn’t get much of a weekend either. That leaves just the girlies and me. Guess what! They need me. They need me A LOT. It gets tough to be needed so much. I love helping my children. I appreciate being needed, but I am “needed” for something almost constantly.
No, I don’t have too many kids. I wouldn’t trade one of them for anything in this world. But my life is fast-paced and non-stop.
I cannot count how many times someone has forgotten shoes.
On every outing, I go from the car, back to the house, back to the car, buckle, unbuckle, I forgot something else, “why didn’t YOU grab a binky,” hold on, I forgot my own socks…
“What do you mean you can’t buckle your own seatbelt? You just INSISTED that YOU were going to buckle your OWN seatbelt. You did it yesterday AND the day before.”
This section could go on for a while.
Even on good days, great days, there are four of them and someone always has a need.
Overwhelmed people can be grumpy.
I have guilt.
I am a stay-home mom and do not have an “outside job.” My little bosses don’t pay very well…not at all if you are talking monetary pay, but I get a lot of snuggles, artwork, and fake snacks (they don’t give bathroom breaks, lunch breaks, or vacation either, but that would fit under the last section—overwhelmed…or tired). For this reason, we are a single income family and my husband works so very hard to support us. He misses a lot of holidays and events. He has missed so many of their “firsts.” I cannot imagine how I would feel knowing that I missed all these wonderful things that I have been privileged to experience, but he does, and he has missed A LOT. It makes me sad for him that he has had to live these experiences through photos, video chats, and listening to my long-drawn-out, haven’t seen a grown-up in what feels like weeks, rambling stories.
Recently, we made a move. Not just any move, but a leave behind your friends and all your extended family kind of move. Hard move? Yes. The right move? Absolutely. I have no regrets, but have felt guilty because I made a lot of people, ones who aren’t supposed to cry, cry
Guilty feeling people can be grumpy.
I get lonely.
Being a stay-home mom can feel isolating. I remember my teaching days. No, teachers don’t get much in the way of a break during the day, but I did get to spend my 30-second lunches chatting with friends. I saw adults regularly, had someone to talk to that didn’t ONLY talk about boogers and gross stuff (you guys know who you are).
I have other stay-home, homeschooling, mommy friends, but guess what…they are busy too. Sometimes “life” just gets in the way. We just don’t get to see each other as much as we would like. Oh, and when we are together, there are about 14 kids between the 3 of us, so yeah…
Lonely people can be grumpy.
I don’t WANT to be grumpy. I don’t LIKE to be grumpy. The sad thing about the grumpiness is that when I’m grumpy, it robs me of my joy. The joy that I should feel being the stay-home mommy of four, beautiful, smart, funny (sometimes), inquisitive, healthy little girls.
I have worked at trying to change my perspective. I have carried around a pocket-sized notepad to jot down the things that I see that I am thankful for, things that bring me joy, my blessings. I wish I could take credit for that idea, but I can’t…I recommend reading the book One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp.
Here is my trouble with that…
My kids are known for lifting things from me…things that they think are community property merely because they belong to mommy. I wouldn’t necessarily call it “stealing.” That may be a bit rough, but it’s slightly more than borrowing.
Tape (they LOVE tape)
Pens, pencils, stapler, mirrors, hairbrush (you know the story on that one) …
Having your stuff continually missing can cause grumpiness too…just sayin’.
I forget to count. I forget my list.
I get off track.
Once I am off track, I tend to wander and lose sight of where I was going. I get distracted easily…I can spiral…
I needed an accountability partner…one who could steer me back onto the path that I was TRYING to stay on. I needed this partner to be around every day. I had to find someone to help me remember my blessing counting when I started seeing my troubles.
Who am I with Every. Single. Day?
What can we do, TOGETHER, to help them help me be accountable for my stinky attitude? You know, that mood when mommy feels like she’s in a pressure cooker and she starts releasing steam…grouch, grouch, grouch?
Snap me out of it. Redirect me, please, back to blessing counting…
I informed my kids that we had a task at hand. I sat down with a scrap of paper that I managed to scrounge up from under the couch and a Sharpie marker that I had hidden in the garage closet (that hiding spot has now been disclosed) and drew a not-so-lovely or accurate picture of myself with a BIG, FAT FROWN.
They made fun of it.
My children laughed at my drawing…they get their artistic abilities from their dad.
We took this mocked/laughed at caricature and buried it under a rock in my strawberry patch.
Grouchy Mama has been laid to rest under a rock.
I have a visual reminder. I can see the rock out my living room window.
I have a verbal reminder. Don’t you think that my kids are going to LOVE to remind me of “Grouchy Mama under the Rock?”
We have had to discuss how this does NOT mean that mommy never gets angry and children NEVER get in trouble when they do wrong. Mommy is human after all and so are her little darlings. What this does mean is that that mommy is not allowed to wallow in exhaustion, guilt, loneliness, being overwhelmed…self-pity. Mommy is not allowed to just keep on venting pressure cooker steam, grouching and fussing, without someone stepping in and saying, “hey, we laid grouchy mama to rest.”
Ephesians 4:31-32New International Version (NIV)
31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
I’m a work in progress. I have my good days and bad days…don’t we all. One of my kids told me the other day, “I know why you are having a bad day.”
“Why?” I asked.
She told me that her sister peaked under the rock.
For now, Grouchy Mama is still hanging out under that rock in our strawberry patch. By now, she is soggy and her face is starting to smear.
But, take my word for it… and don’t peak.