To be content

Sometimes I wonder if I’m slightly manic/depressive, or maybe I have ADD. Or maybe I’m just discontent, always searching for something new and different. And I don’t understand why I am this way.

Two days ago, I was so blissfully happy in my job as stay-at-home-mother, homeschooler and domestic goddess. I got up and cleaned, fed the kids, stayed cheerful during school time (which is a big deal when teaching a distracted 4-year-old and 2-year-old who wants to do school but isn’t really ready yet), and did a bit of work for my cousin. During nap time, I snuggled with Joshua, drowning in the blissful smell of precious baby boy… a baby boy who loves me and smiles at me like I mean the entire world to him.

The sweetest feeling ever: sleeping baby.

I was so happy that this is my calling and life… I sang “O Come Let Us Adore Him” to Joshua (sacrilegious? perhaps. but I do SO adore him!) and reveled in my domestic tranquility. Proudly, I maintained the cleanliness of the home until Anthony came home. The day was a success!

Then yesterday, a few phone calls sent me off my rocker a bit, and as I went into my “rescue mode”, I began to think about working, and how much we fall short of our monthly budget, and how I could help close that gap and all of that horrible, nasty financial stuff that never ceases to drag me down into the depths of despair. If only I could work, then we wouldn’t struggle with money (such a lie, I know, but I was thinking it). So then the rest of my day, I had a hard time concentrating on the kids, or completing my chores, because in my head are all these thoughts of how what I’m doing isn’t as important as it could be, because I could be out making money, and instead, I’m here with these kids and these dirty dishes and this endless laundry, and how am I having any sort of effect on the family?

Sadly, my effect yesterday was huge. The kids’ attitudes slowly deteriorated as I emotionally neglected them. Of course I cared for their physical needs, but I was not present as a mother. Finally, as they napped, I told myself to get a grip and snap out of it. I AM doing the most important job. If I were to work, SOMEONE ELSE would be adoring Joshua, fixing Hannah’s ponytails,oh those stubborn little pigtails!or teaching Jonathan to read. Jonathan and Hannah love the rhythm of wordsI don’t want anyone else to do my job! Yes, it is really hard to wait for the finances to come in line, but we’re not destitute, we’re just waiting for paychecks to catch up with the hours Anthony has put in.  By next month, we’re going to be just fine. THIS week is hard, but who’s to say next week won’t improve?

I’m just frustrated with myself that I cannot maintain my contentment, but always have to vacillate between this need to provide (which is totally Anthony’s job right now), and my CALLING of mothering our children.

I don’t have the answer yet. Do you? How do you remain content with your calling and station in life?


About daniellaindie

I'm Anthony’s wife, and mother to Jonathan, Hannah, Joshua, and Isabella. When not making PBJs and cleaning, I like to write, immerse myself in a good book, play my piano, or plan epic couponing trips.

Posted on April 24, 2010, in Budget, Mothering, Parenting and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.

  1. Dani,
    I told Dad last night that I had an “unsatisfactory conversation” with you yesterday. I could tell that there was something sad in you…and I prayed for you the rest of the day. I’m glad to know that my intuition was working.
    I am so proud of you for the HUGE adjustments you’ve made during the last few months. You are astonishing and amazing to me. I think that we mothers put too much perfection on ourselves. If we have a down day (one in 3 months or so) we think that we are failing. It is not failure to feel a lull in life. Maybe we need to label those days “Unplug Days” and let them be a part of the rhythm of life. (I am preaching to the choir here.)
    On the other hand, remember the “rubber band” effect? You have been going, adjusting, getting settled, learning a new town, trying to find a new church, making a new life, etc and there just might be a little bounce back happening.
    You are a doer, Dani. I know how you feel. When I don’t have a schedule to keep for Mark or Cassidy I sit around wondering what I’m supposed to be doing (not that I lack things to do, but I’m so used to having their schedule drive mine that I forget where I am in mine!).
    Contentment is illusive. It is based upon, I think, a sense of who I am and my limitations and Who God Is and his un-limited ability to handle what I can’t, or won’t do. Can I ruin my kids with one day of not performing? NO. Can God make up the difference? YES. Just like he can make up the difference with finances. I suspect that some of your discontent is attached to looking at someone else’s life and comparing. That is a definite downer, and the Enemy of our Contentment knows it.
    I love you and think that your kids are so lucky to have a mom like you and a dad like Anthony. You are both Dad’s and my heroes for giving our grandchildren the best home they could possibly have! Mom

  2. Haha! Oh, poor Dani! I can so relate (except to the moving to another state part :-)).

    At the risk of sounding heretical :-), I’ll toss my personal theory out there: I wonder if we can actually truly have times of contentment without the stressful interruptions. Ideally, the answer would be yes we can, but is that realistic? I’ve come to the conclusion that if life were easy and I were content, I would become bored. I think it’s the interruptions which get the adrenaline racing, which then catapults us into wishing for calmer days, which then infuses in us a heightened sense of gratefulness (i.e. contentment) for when those days of peace arrive again. Kind of like all the best novels :-). They’re good because of the tension. The more it builds, the more we enjoy the experience.

    However, don’t remind me of this the next time I’m stressed. I only like this theory during moments of contentment.

  3. Contentment is difficult right now. For me, looking at what I do as my job has helped me. I mean, I wrote a mission statement for our home, I “clock out” for lunch breaks (during nap time) and after 7pm I don’t allow myself to do any household chores (outside of the work of the children). This gives me time to enjoy my home, quiet, my own thoughts, etc. My struggle is different than yours right now; I don’t have financial worries but I do feel lost as an individual on occasion. I get caught up in all that I want to do with my life–become a Lactation Consultant, travel, write, and race–and how I am so held back by the work of the 5 kids. I have those off days where I feel anxious to “get on with it” and live my life without having to plan around therapies and lessons and home schooling and appointments (and foster care stuff right now). I let myself have those off days and I always pop back to my regular self. It is okay to have off days.

  4. Daniel Tomlinson

    My friends, family and I struggle with the same question on a daily basis. I know I’m not telling you anything you don’t know.

    It’s a paradox because we want to be content, but we don’t want to sell out for second best. Maybe second best is just fine, and there’s nothing we can do to make God love us any more or less than He already does, but we certainly want to love Him with all that is in us.

    Fear keeps me from doing this. I’m afraid of success, but I’m afraid of failure too.

    My prayer becomes a request to my Father to remove the fear in my life, so I can live each moment to the fullest.

    Grace and peace.

  5. Having been on both sides of the fence, stay at home mommy with no money and working full time mommy with no money, I can say that you are right that having that extra income does not make things easier. There was stress on both sides of the fence, but the memories made with my own kids are the most precious of my life. They are young adults now and I know I will never ever regret being at home with them and having the opportunity to learn from them. On rough days when things get sad I suggest bubble baths, ice cream, long walks, coloring books, reading aloud, trusting that the universe is unfolding as it should and that tomorrow will be a better day! It makes me so sad that so many parents miss this unretrievable time in their children’s lives.

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