Monday, August 29, 2011

Stealing Joy

I am a stay at home Mom.  I am with my children 24/7.  I am at their beck and call whenever they need me.  I not only take them to their activities, I volunteer at most of them.  I wash their clothes, feed them, care for them.  I take care of their medical needs.  I homeschool them.  I clean up after them.  On paper I look good.  I look like I am doing everything right.  I could easily pat myself on the back. 

I can't.  I know the truth.

I am not only a stay at home Mom but I also work from home.  I sit at the computer from before sun up to past sun down.  I have deadlines that have to be met.  I have responsibilities that I can't shirk.  I not only work from home but I am a teacher at a Co-op.  I have curriculum to write.  Papers to grade.  Other children who need me.  I have a to-do list that is long and wearisome.  I have a passion for special needs kids across the ocean that can't be quenched just because my inbox is overflowing.

But I do have a husband who carries much of my load.   I do have boys who help clean and cook and do laundry.  I do have a dad next door who is forever doing this or that to help us out and who willingly and lovingly spends hours with Aaron every week.  I have been given much.  But too often, in my selfishness, I overlook what I have been given and focus only on my agenda.

And I have hurt my kids because of it.  I DO for them all the time but it is often not the DOING that they want.  They want ME.  They want me to stop, listen, BE WITH THEM. 

On Saturday night I was focused solely and completely on getting a deadline met.  Rob was spending quality time with Ben and Elijah.  I had Aaron.  But I wanted to get my deadline met.  I didn't want to sit in his room and build puzzles.  My computer was more important than building blocks.  My job was more interesting than playing hide and go seek.  So I cheated.  I gave him challenges.  The build this puzzle and call me when you are done kind of cheating.  He was happy to oblige.  I ran up and down the steps.  Dividing my time between work and child.  Each time he accomplished a task, I ran up the steps, praised him, gave him another.  I was buying time until golden hour.  Bedtime.  When it came I ran upstairs.  Aaron was hiding.  I called for him to come so we could do the bedtime routine.  I was in a hurry.  He stayed hidden.  I didn't want to play.  It was not on MY agenda.  So I cleaned his room, picked out books to read and tried to bribe him to come out of hiding.  He wanted me to come find him.  In his usual hiding place.  My closet.  But time was precious so I set out his clothes and yelled for him to come so WE COULD READ BOOKS.  I wanted the points for doing the Mommy thing.  The books were required.  Hide and go seek was not.  He came.  Bottom lip out.  Shoulders slumped.  Brush teeth.  Bathroom.  Pj's.  Book reading.  Kiss and prayers and little boy tucked in bed.  I got my deadline met.  But at a price.

I did all the proper Mommy things but in the end.... I stole my son's joy.  He wanted to be found.  I wanted to work.  He wanted to laugh.  I wanted to rush through the process.  He wanted Mommy to pay attention to him.  Though I took care of his needs - I missed him.

I have to confess.  I do this a lot.  I am often guilty of stealing joy from my kids.  In my fervor to get done with a project that eats at me day after day, I have stolen precious moments from my boys.  Not by NOT being there for them but by NOT giving them 100% of me.  The allure of the computer and the project has robbed my kids of me.  Rob is so much better at balancing work and play.  He WILL stop and give them his undivided attention.  He takes the time to play the silly games Aaron enjoys.  He patiently listens when Ben and Elijah storm into his work area and share their day.  He models how I need to be around my children.  My husband puts me to shame.

I don't want to steal joy from my children.  I don't want my agenda to be so important that though I maintain a nice appearance on the outside, in reality I am robbing my kids of what is precious.  Mom time.  Undivided attention.  I want to be WITH my kids.  100% with them.  I don't want to be torn between work and family.  I am ashamed when I consider how often I have stolen joy from the three boys whom I love with all my heart.

I don't have a solution.  I don't have a quick fix.  I didn't write this for any other reason than the fact that the Holy Spirit has been convicting me of my sin and the reality that I need to change.  This is my confession.  My acknowledgement to my family that I've been wrong.  My commitment to change. 

Thanks for listening.

29 comments:

  1. Julia,

    I too feel this way often. I don't know....does any mother think they have it all together?? And if they do, is that a red flag that they don't? I too need to do a better job of stopping, spending quality time with my kids and enjoying them in this moment.

    The callings of being a wife, mother and homemaker are some days overwhelming with everything that is on our plate. But at the end of the day, the house can wait...so can the laundry. But there will never be that exact moment in time with my children. They grow so quickly. I can't get this time back so I need to cherish each and every moment.

    Thanks for this post. It was a good one for me to read right now as well. Great reminders!!

    Don't tear yourself up about it. He (they) have no doubt you love them. Don't ever question that. :)

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  2. Long lost twins? How many times have I hollered from my desk rather than go and tend to a child? How many times have I made the kids wait "one more minute" while I finish something or squeeze in just one more task? Thank you for the reminder to be more present.

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  3. I can stand beside you on this one because I am also guilty of this. It is amazing how easy it is to be WITH my family and still not be PRESENT. Prayers.

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  4. I am guilty too - I am making a commitment to change!!! Thank you Julia!!!!!

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  5. I am with you, Julie!! I want to change too... Bless you as you see yourself in His eyes and seek to come into the Light that banishes our darkness! He also knows all that is in your heart and will accomplish all that concerns you. He is the One who works in us both to will and to do His good pleasure. I love you and will be interceding for you as I do so for me...
    Will keep you posted as we look at our fall schedule and when we might head into your neck of the woods...!! Eager to see you and be with you and your 4 guys...should have my main guy with me when I come...I think!! Fall leaves along Skyline Drive is the desire of my heart!!

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  6. This is exactly what the Holy Spirit has been pressing on my heart as well. The other night I cuddled on the couch with my 2 little loves instead of folding clothes and cleaning the kitchen. I stayed up later to get everything done but my little ones went to bed with smiles. I am praying for both of us as we find the Godly balance between Mommy and the things we need to do.

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  7. Thanks for your honesty, Julia. I think this happens to all of us from time to time. Then, we hear the Holy Spirit calling, convicting and if we're listening and obedient we re-focus our efforts. I, too, am "here" for my kids, but haven't spent the time helping them be JOYful lately. I could make excuses, but I won't. I just need to do better with the help of the Holy Spirit. Much love, Mandy

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  8. Ouch! I SO needed to hear (read) this today, Julia. In the midst of co-chairing our church's capital campaign, on top of the other zillion things I'm committed to, I am equally guilty of stealing my girls' joy. Thank you for posting this. The Holy Spirit has been convicting me of this sin recently and I've been conveniently ignoring Him ... it's time to make some changes! Thank you for your obedience & honestly.

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  9. Wow. This was what I needed to hear today. I get so caught up in my work that I do sometimes neglect my husband - thank you for the reminder today!

    Brooke
    www.TheAnnessaFamily.blogspot.com

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  10. Amen!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I swear, you just wrote down every thought straight from my head.

    I too am a WAHM (I teach full-time for an online high school) and it is the HARDEST job on the planet!!! I struggle daily with this. When I am working I long to be spending time with my children, and when I am spending time with my children I can hear my computer calling my name. I don't have leisurely lunches any more - it is spent emailing co-workers. I have come to dread naptime because I NEED the kids to go down quickly and on time so I can get on the computer and get to work. It stinks.

    I don't have the answer either (obviously) and feel so very convicted to fix it. All I can do is to just keep trying to be "better" and try desperately to have good boundaries that bless my family.

    Thank you for sharing your heart on this! It is helpful to know that there are other moms that share this struggle.

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  11. Did you write this post or did I? It all sounds too familiar. There are so many of us moms in the same boat. Change is needed and we can do it!

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  12. I have been struggling with this myself lately. I am a schedule person, a box checker, and a person who likes to focus on one thing at a time. Therefore, I have a hard time going with the flow of my toddler's ever changing needs and playful whims. You post was just one more spiritual nudge for me. I need to work on this; thank you for sharing.

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  13. All I can say is I have been there, recently and often. I, too, am a very task-oriented person. Let's remind ourselves that His mercies are new every morning (and afternoon, evening, and in between!), then make small choices in the right direction. He'll be faithful to remind us.

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  14. Julia,
    I read your blog daily and I usually don't comment only in that I don't feel what I have to say is important with so many others posting such wonderful comments.
    Today however I want you to know that I am here. I do listen and I "get you."
    Please keep up the wonderful work you do in this world and in your amazing family. <3
    ~Stacia

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  15. Wow Julia...your words certainly struck a cord with me today. All too often I spend time jumping between facebook, gmail and my news sites, literally WASTING time, and then brush my son off when he wants to play a game, throw the ball or tell me the long drawn out version of a game he played at recess today. :( When I think of all the times I've stolen his joy, it makes me want to cry. I work too much at home, and then spend most of the "free time" I have on the computer instead of quality time with him. Makes me ashamed, as I am so incredibly blessed with such an incredible son. When you ask him what his stay at home dad did today, he'll say work on the computer. Work? No, Braves, news, politics. Thank you Julia for bringing to our attention what it is our Lord wants us to focus on in our lives. He gave me this beautiful son to raise...maybe I need to step away from the computer and it's lure and do exactly that!

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  16. Praise the Lord for the Holy Spirit pressing upon your heart Julia.So many blessing come from obedience to His promptings AND convictions. Thank you for being transparent :)

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  17. I love it when the Holy Spirit whispers correction into my ear... Humbling? yes. But He so gently guides in the right direction. It's so hard for all of us moms - working, staying at home. There don't seem to be enough hours in the day to do everything we wish we could fit in. Thanks for the reminder of our priority. God bless.

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  18. WOW!!!!! Look at you, baring your soul in rare, steely honesty. Priorities are often an issue I struggle with as well. We are women, it happens. God bless you, Julia. I love that I know can call you as one in my circle of friends.

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  19. Love your post. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and convictions with those who need reminders! Today was one of those days for me Felt overwhelmed with too many THINGS to do. Stole my Johnny's joy today - but not tomorrow! Praying for you and all the mom's who posted comments!

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  20. Ouch, that hit home. Thanks for telling your story. I need to work on that, too.

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  21. Julia,
    I sit here able to catch up on blogs because I am on the road with work and not having those "joy" moments. I miss them when gone, yet when I am home I find time for yet another load of laundry and dishes, but not for cuddles and book reading.
    Praying for all of us mothers to learn to be in the moment more!

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  22. I could have written this post and just changed the names - thanks for your honesty and may God bless all your efforts as you seek to serve Him.

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  23. It is now 1:11 AM here, and I'm still online. Making my first real attempt to get caught up with the outside world in months, now that I've gotten everything inside working at a somewhat normal pace. I'm SO glad that I stopped by your blog tonight. Not just because I miss reading what you have to say, and getting updated on your little man, but because of this post.

    THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Thank you SO much for writting this, for sharing. I fell this way all day, every day, for YEARS now. I said that when K came home it would stop. And I'm happy to say that it has gotten better, but I still have a LONG way to go. It's obvious that things will have to go if I'm going to ever acomplish this goal, and I'm still working on what can go. Sleep has always been one that has taken a back seat, but lately I haven't been doing as well with days of no sleep (perhaps a sign that I'm not in fact as young as I once was...). I am SO glad to know that I'm not the only one!!!!

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  24. Another commenter said "This struck a "cord" with her". Hmm, I think CORD is the word to focus on. Some days, we simply need to unplug the cord to the devices that keep us from doing the things that we really should be focusing on. I'm feeling him speak to ME about this.

    Julia, I am always refreshed by your honesty! I am going to Pray specifically for you...that He will show you when it's time to unplug and to know when your Momma's heart is needed. I love you! ~ Jo

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  25. Steven Curtis Chapmen wrote a beautiful song about this very thing. He had a long day, and still needed to work and was trying to put his girls to bed quickly, and they dressed up in their 'ball room' gowns instead of their PJs and wanted to go to a ball and dance with their Dad instead of bed. This song came out of his remorse that evening.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EfxL0S-7yVo

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  26. This post hit home. Love your honesty. We all get caught up in our own agenda, but we don't all realize it. Thank you for sharing.

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  27. Wonderful post Thank You. Stealing Joy from our kids. A little light went on when I read this. Excellent I need to stop that also. ;o)

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  28. Guilty as charged! Thanks for the reminder of my own sinful ways! Pretty hard to ignore when it is right in front of you on the screen and you are reading it!

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  29. I am there. Right now as I read your blog. I am there.

    I am also challenged now. Thank you.

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