I remember a few years ago when I was having a really hard time with the day to day of life. I had two little ones and was pregnant. I felt very lonely, I was overwhelmed, and I suffered from tremendous guilt that I wasn’t doing enough or being a good enough wife, mother, or homemaker.
It was winter, but spring was just around corner and softball would be starting up for my husband again soon. The baby was due at the end of February. I asked my husband if he would not play softball that spring because I would have a 19 month old, a three year-old, and a newborn, and even one night away, let alone two, was more than I felt I could handle. My husband didn’t understand and was upset that I would ask him to give up softball.
As you can imagine, we had quite the disagreement.
I shared with my sister-in-law my feelings of being overwhelmed and guilty. She encouraged me to express to my husband that I felt like I was drowning and he was asking me to swim harder, when what I needed was him to pull me out of the water.
I shared my feelings with my husband, and he expressed to me that he needed an outlet. He worked all day and then had to come home and relieve me, and he just needed a break. In some ways, he was drowning as well.
Those days with little ones and out-of-control hormones were dark water days.
I felt very alone, and very, very tired.
I want you to know how I felt because I want you to know that if you are experiencing a season where life feels under water and you are gasping for breath, that you are not alone. I really do understand. You feel crazy, emotional, tired, overwhelmed, and you’re not sure if you can ask for help. You don’t want to be a burden. But you’re not okay.
I remember those days.
You are not crazy.
Facebook statuses and blog posts where everyone’s children are happy and cute and “hahahaha” are just the pretty side of the painting. The art is beautiful, but creating it is messy, and time-consuming, and painstaking. Everyone’s children yell. Everyone’s children have conflict. Everyone’s children spill milk, pee in their bed, and ask a million questions when your head is about to explode. And sometimes, you do explode.
Cut yourself some slack.
You are normal. You are kind of a mess (but not all mess). You are not alone.
Let me say it again: you are normal.
You will come out of this season.
My baby is eight, and I’m now on dry land. I can breathe.
Hang in there. The shore is just a few more waves away.
Love this! My kids are now 11 and 14, and I am feeling like I am finally able to tread water. I felt very alone and overwhelmed when they were little and I isolated myself. Looking back, I should have reached out more and asked for help. Now I am trying to reestablish friendships and build relationships. My heart especially goes out to moms of little ones!
Anne Capozzi says
It’s funny but as I was reading this, I’m thinking to myself she needed to reach out to the church family and friends and family members to let them know she needed help. It’s easy for me to say that now, 50 years later, and lots of life under my belt but I’ve learned some things along the way and as Lynn also commented we need to let others know we’re so overwhelmed. This mask that we all wear as if we’ve got everything under control is the devil’s doing and we don’t give others the opportunity to be a blessing to us. I would like to write a book about all the things I’ve learned but it probably wouldn’t sell very well because unfortunately most of us need to live it to learn it. Loved your article. Thanks for sharing!!
This is a lovely post for fairly normal people – Ha – I’ve never been that — I’ve been a drowning kid (abusive home), drowning wife (difficult marriage) and a drowning mother (special needs son 24/7 adrenaline) — there will be NO dry land for me in this life BUT I am learning to tread water better and better and cut myself some slack in the middle of the struggle w/God. God was not always a part of my life – I have life before God and life after God. It isn’t easier BUT it is waaaaay better.
Mary c says
Such an honest & revealing post, thank you Sarah.
LYNNE pleased you are feeling you can thread water & reestablishing friendship.
Terri thanks for your sharing wonderful you have God in your life with all the challenges you have
and your continuing to tread water encourages me greatly.
I have adult children, one married with children& living in Australia & one who lives closes by.
Through prayer and wonderfully faith filled people like to go to tread water and trust God.
Bev @ Walking Well With God says
I can relate to some parts of your story and yes, sometimes I have to think with an eternal perspective…..that the plans to give me hope and a future may be in the lifetime to come. I am praying for you to keep holding onto God’s hand. Through all the trials I’ve been through, I don’t know where I’d be had I not had God at my side. I can’t imagine doing this, sometimes impossible, life without Him. It won’t be easy, but my trials have built in me a reliance and dependence on God and THAT relationship has been the blessings through all the storms. Praying this for you. You are loved and His beloved daughter and He honors what you are doing to follow and praise Him. You are not alone nor forgotten.
Blessings and ((hugs)),
God Bless you!! I pray God sends someone special to lighten your burden!!
Beth Williams says
Praying for you. May God send special people your way to help you with life. Praying you feel God’s loving arms around you always. He will help you tread that water. He can lighten the load for you!
Michele Morin says
Today was our first day of the homeschool year, and I have just one student.
The last time I had only one student, I had a preschooler, a toddler and a baby somewhere in the wings. Every time I took a breath, there was an interruption, so I think I tried not to breathe. I remember those days in just the way you described them today. There never seemed to be enough oxygen in the room for everyone, and I so appreciate the way you honestly described your conversation with your husband, and the encouragement you offer to women who are riding the waves of early motherhood. The waves don’t stop when the kids grow older, but they do eventually learn to “swim” along beside us.
Bev @ Walking Well With God says
Yes, the sleep deprived infant/preschool years are so challenging and draining. Then comes the pre-adolescent hormones and drama. Then comes teen-aged angst and rebellion. Then comes adult children with adult -sized problems. We keep thinking there will a time when we will be able to cruise on “easy”, but sometimes easy doesn’t necessarily come. That’s why we need to grab the good moments when they are offered. When all the children are napping at the same time and you can lay your head on a pillow or just sit in silence. When your active gradeschoolers are tucked in bed and you know where they are and they are safe. When your teenager gets home before curfew and actually kisses you on the cheek. When your adult child texts to just ask how you are doing. When fleeting peace abides in your soul for 5 minutes, an hour, a day, or a week….give praise. Lose the comparison game…it’s a no win situation. As Sarah Mae said, no matter what season you are in….you are never alone. Grab hold of His righteous right hand and He will not let the waters wash over you. Great reminder this am!
I so needed this! With a chronic illness I am still in that stage although my baby is 5. And no matter what a husband should be there for his wife and children! He’s responsible for them as much as we are. And I think more men could compromise a bit help out. Mom should also be able to get a break sometimes. In my case I don’t know who to ask for help because someone who doesn’t get chronic illness and tries to tell you how to do this and that and isn’t understanding actually makes it worse than not helping at all. Many blessings and prayers for each one! God is awesome and gives peacein the storm!
Prayers for Texas today with flooding and saving lives would be appreciated today and throughout the week.
Thank you for the morning message today. It is the one post I look forward to everyday.
Anna Rendell says
Thank you, Diana. We’re grateful to have you here. Please look for a post on Wednesday about our prayers for Texas.
Larry Maupin says
Thank you for this post and for all the wonderful replies. I wasn’t a mom but I was the busy dad working 6 long days a week. I regret now that I let my wife rule the checkbook and make all the major child rearing decisions. She was good at it and I was happy to let her do it. I wish now I was a better partner for her and dad for our 3 kids. But they all turned out well. We now have 7 grandkids and are married for 47 years. God’s grace covered our mistakes and His Holy Spirit guided us through our days. We are blessed.
Rebecca L Jones says
Good for you, Larry. You could be a good example to men to cut their wives some slack, even a few hours now and then or let them catch a nap. God bless, grace covers mistakes but it’s great if we can not keep making the same ones.
Thank you for sharing the true description of life! The past three months, going through a few trials at one time, not related to motherhood at the moment, I have experienced the exact same feelings. Drowning. As a pastor’s wife and homeschooling mom, things are hard enough without the added burden of extra trials. The combination of it all has been more than I can bare, but thankfully, not more than God can. I have just kept holding on to the promise that He will give me everything I need (and that I have everything I need) to do everything He has asked me to do. However, the other stuff, I need to let go of because He hasn’t ask me to carry some of the things I have been carrying – mostly fears, worries, and inadequacy, etc. He is true to His word – when I have needed to take a gulp of air, He has provided it and He has sustained me between breathes. Even in the deepest waters, He is found there. He created them after all. I know the current trials are far from over, and there are more around the corner, but I am so thankful this morning, He is already there. I will probably need to read this comment again in the morning, when I forget all of this and start to sink again 🙂 Blessings on you all. Thank you for the reminder of the rest that awaits.
And yes, please many prayers for those in Texas, who are literally under the water. Their trials are far from over. Praying for each one today.
I’ve noticed that no matter what season I’m in, it’s so important to my psyche for those who’ve already come through that season to remind me that — you will get through this. It’s one of the most comforting things, isn’t it? My children are mostly grown–just my youngest still in high school now, but the teen season was about as much of a whirlwind as the preschool season was for me. I feel like I’m just getting my feet under me again. Not all dry ground yet, but at least my feet can feel the ground beneath them. So thankful for a God who carries us when we’re too tired to swim.
K Ann Guinn says
Thanks for such an honest and encouraging post, and for so many wonderful, truthful comments already added here. Yes, it does get easier (mostly physically) as our children grow, but there are always new challenges. I agree with those who stated that the older years are also challenging in a different way, but at least there can be more time to stop and breathe. My husband and I decided that the best way to describe them is “complicated”, compared to the tiresome, yet simple days of childhood. Having two “adults” living under our roof brings a whole new set of decisions and emotions, yet God is always there to give us wisdom and strength.
And then there are the times of sicknesses or injury, job (outside the home) issues and challenges, times when our husbands go through a hard time, leadership responsibilities and challenges, or when there’s simply too much to do. At 51 years of age, why does it still surprise me when I discover that I still need to learn, face fears and grow?
I’m learning that life never stops, but I must learn to! Prioritizing self-care is not selfish, but a necessity. Always be willing to ask for and accept help, first from God, and then from family and others. Offer the same blessing to others when you have the chance.
We are ever human, but thankfully, God is always faithful!
Rhonda Doucette says
As a middle-aged woman with grandchildren, I’m afraid young women think I’ve forgotten how those “dark water days” feel. I wish they knew that just thinking about them can bring back waves of remembrance. I know there are women my age who don’t feel the same way or unintentionally say discouraging things (I’ve been one a time or two), but I’m really just a little farther down the river than those young moms and want them to know the waters really do calm down. I can’t go back and “do it” with them, but I want to offer my empathy with and confidence in them. You’re right, Sarah Mae, they are not alone. They are normal. They will reach the shore (or smoother waters). May more older women see their struggle and cheer them on.
Rebecca L Jones says
I’ve been “mom” in a family daycare environment. Keeping children from babies to 8 or so. The days were long and I was starved for adult conversation. Truthfully, it was like they never went home until the weekend. I can relate, now writing a blog and helping with two children from the family, I realize the impact love and teaching Jesus to those children had. These two are resistant, there are so many children growing up in families with addiction, neglect and abuse. It is much harder to get through to some of them, I always encourage people to foster or adopt if you can, just be prepared that some children are going to be a challenge. Train them early to look to Jesus. They will be teenagers soon enough. Please read, share or print out the Children’s Moon as a reminder to pray for the children of the world. Jesus loves them. alsoadaughtersgiftoflove.blogspot.com the-childrens-moon. If this link doesn’t work try my FB page.
Beth Williams says
Thank you for your encouraging words. This post isn’t just about child rearing. It is about the various seasons of life we find ourselves. I was in a ‘bad” season a while back. I felt like I was drowning-so much anxiousness, & worry. The tiredness didn’t help the situation it exacerbated it. With God & lots of prayer I got through it to the other side. Now I feel capable of mentoring to others dealing with older parents & dementia.