As a single mom of five boys, you can probably guess that I was extremely overwhelmed when the kids were little. Actually, I don’t think that changed as they got older and into more activities. The overwhelm just got different! Even now that they are getting older, those who know me “in real life” as they say, might say I possibly, perhaps, once in a while tend to bite off more than I can chew. If I am being honest, more often than not, that is still the case, and I can get very overwhelmed.
Part of that need to do more comes from the trauma of a being a suddenly single, abandoned while pregnant with our fifth little boy mom of five boys. I might add that those boys were not raised to be couch potatoes either. They were involved in a sport every season, often more than one. They did Boy Scouts back when Boy Scouts was still BOY Scouts. They did band – although not always happily!
Those activity packed days meant I was always running from one activity to the next. I’d drop one kid on this side of town and need to pick another up on the other side of town at the same time. Fortunately, only 15 to 20 minutes separated one end of our small town from the next, but it still meant tight scheduling and incessant running. It meant leaving kids in fields before and after practice and hoping I was not holding up coaches. It meant feeling bad about asking other families for rides knowing I was not together enough to reciprocate.
Then there were times when I was so over booked I forgot things. Like the time the school called and asked if I was going to pick the boys up. I’d forgotten I’d asked for them not to be sent home on the bus that day for some long-forgotten reason. I got to the school to see three of my four boys sitting on a bench outside the principals office after every other child had been long gone. They didn’t even get up when I got there. They all just stared at me with the same angry/disbelieving how-could-you-forget-me-Mom looks on their faces. Ooops! lol
Then there were the best days. These were rare days when they were little and few activities were scheduled. These were days where they’d find snakes in the backyard they’d want me to pet or days when, one son in particular, would try so smuggle toads into the house in his tiny jean pockets. Even these days were not sit back and eat bonbons kind of days. There were meals to prep, classes to study for as I worked toward math certification, and always endless mountains of laundry made worse by the fear of having a smuggled frog go through my wash cycle!
For years, there was just too much for one mom to do, and I felt the incredible burden of needing to do it all. I probably could have cut back on some things, but that would have meant saying no to the kids. I am all for saying no to kids for many things and for financial and other reasons I had to say no to some parties they would have liked to attend, but when it came to their activities and letting them do what was good, I just could not bring myself to do it. I also could not turn my back on the classes I was hoping would get my math certification and provide a job, financial stability for our little family, and health benefits and retirement for me or Single Mom Smiling, the blog, coaching, and outreach I felt God was calling me to do.
Phew…I don’t know if I ever wrote it all out quite like that before. What I do know is that, even with my boys so much older now, I have a lot of that carry over into my life today. I don’t have the excuses and do take some much needed down time every day, but I still have periods where I add waaaaaay too much to my plate. This last week was one of those times. Fortunately, now that I am older, more mature, and certainly more faithful and receptive to lessons and Graces God gives me in my quest to Live, Not Ordinary, I handle the overwhelm better. I have more faith in God’s ability to work for good whatever outcome I give Him as long as I give Him my best.
For the past three weeks or so, I have been under a spiritual attack. Things have gone wrong with no good reason for them to have done so other than that evil intervened. Add to that my own natural tendency to think I can accomplish more than I can and things went downhill fast! Fortunately, thanks to God’s calling me to Live, Not Ordinary, I can see Grace working through it all and the final outcome, last night which was the culmination of it all, saw Blessings I could not have imagined or recognized if I were living like my old self. Where once I’d have seen failure, I now saw fulfillment, and I am so grateful for it all!
Tomorrow I will write about how I handle overwhelm and the Graces that come from submission rather than from running around like a chicken with my head cut off, but for now just let me assure anyone who has fallen into the trap that I too often do/did. You are more powerful than you think. You can get done more than you know. You can trust the Lord to make good from whatever your best efforts bring Him. Surprisingly, the world does not actually rest on your shoulders. Stop acting like it does and thank God for that fact.
Gratitude Journal – May 12, 2023
Thank You Lord for…
- Getting three hours of sleep! 🙂
- Knowing I can make a good day even on little sleep – I am not prisoner to my exhaustion or other experiences! 🙂
- Valuing the times I get more than three hours of sleep.
- Getting to RC on time to host my Catholic Single Moms session
- Research I did (really research I’ve LIVED) for those talks!
- Knowing God would be in control.
- Handing it over to Him.
- Having exactly the right person come to my talk tonight.
- A beautiful one-on-one conversation.
- Trusting the Holy Ghost to give me the words I would not know on my own.
- Father M for letting us use his facilities.
- A night alone…
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