Saturday, August 29, 2009

Bring Back the Joy

Breezes whispered through the weeds which grew taller than my head, hiding me in the space between their height and the waves lapping the rocks on the shore of the lake. Whispering weeds and lapping waves were the only sound I heard for a glorious ten minutes, until my children's voices rose above the sounds of nature as they compared the distance that their rocks skipped along the water. And with that, I was brought back from my peaceful reverie to the reality of constant noise and worry that is my life.

It didn't take long for the jolt from that noise to bring about the ever present irritation that seems to underlie my emotions these days. I am wanting a long quiet break from my life. I need an escape, if only for a full 24 hours, to forget who I am and who I always wanted to be.

In my senior year of high school, just as I was preparing to leave home for college in the big city, I panicked about the life choice I had made and did some serious backpedaling. I wondered what had ever made me choose to go to college when all I ever wanted was to be a wife and mother. I confessed my fears to my sisters, who quickly set me straight. They reminded me that the guy I was dating at the time was not decent husband material (they were very right), and until I met the man of my dreams, I would need to support myself somehow. They also reminded me that they would be with me in my new hometown and would always watch out for me (which they still do). They convinced me that I would be fine and they were right.

Now, I look back on that conversation recalling my words in which I professed the vocation to which I felt called- "wife and mother". God did lead me to the man of my dreams, a wholesome and decent man and He blessed us with five wonderful children. For the past 18 years, I have been living my dream. But every now and then, it doesn't feel quite so dreamy. Every now and then, I am overcome with exhaustion and a burn out bordering on despair. I feel trapped and alone in my life. Guilt piles upon my shoulders when I read books and blogs from other mothers who profess great joy in their vocations. Why is it that I'm not feeling that joy?

As I'm lost in worry about my lack of joy, my oldest son walks in the door, home from his behind-the-wheel driving lesson. He tells me that the instructor was texting the entire time that he was driving. This comes on the heels of a gory you-tube video circulating on the internet about the dangers of texting and driving. I do my best to restrain myself from immediately calling the driving school and giving them a piece of my mind. I decide to call a friend and vent instead, but she's not home. Before I can make any other decisions, my other two teenage sons start yelling upstairs. The eternal referee (that's me) goes upstairs to check out the fracas. It seems there is some disagreement about a Facebook girlfriend. There are times I wish I was blind, and this was one of them, because when I looked at her picture on the computer screen, I saw a Pamela Sue Anderson wanna-be, you know, string bikini with gigantic fake breasts falling out of the top, and her comment to my son was "You're so hot!"

"This is your girlfriend?" I hear myself scream. I know it is not her real picture, for Pete's sake, she is only 13 years old, but I kick my son out of the chair and rail off a comment to her quick as can be. "Listen Girly, it's pictures like these that get girls in trouble! Does your mother know you have this picture on your page? If you want to know my son, you come on over for dinner, or better yet, come to Mass with us!" I quickly hit the send button before the boys could stop me. I've seen far too many pregnant 13 and 14 year old girls at work and I am not at all ready to enter the stage of grandmother just yet.

Then the decompression sets in. The voice of my conscience (or was it really the voice of evil) starts to whisper in my ear, "Serves you right! Remember the old slogan 'What goes around comes around,' you weren't exactly the poster girl for pristine teenagers yourself! You gave your parents plenty of heartache. You've been getting off far too easily with your happy, holy children. It's time you start to get a taste of real worry and pain."

So that's where my joy went. It was swallowed up by worry. Now I need something to swallow that worry. The only antidote is God. But, my household is so loud, so cramped and so often overwhelming that it can be hard to find God here. I had a little taste of Him this morning on the beach, but I need so much more than that!

Oh Lord, take me away, if only for a little while, to a quiet place alone with You. Let me pour out all of my worries at Your feet and leave them there. Refill me with Your peace and joy, there is no one on this earth that can give me that peace and joy for which I long but You. Help me find a quiet place for more than ten minutes that doesn't involve waking up in the middle of the night. Let me be Yours, all Yours with no distractions until I am able to carry on my duties of wife and mother with a joyful heart once again. Amen.


  1. Anne,
    I wish I could take you on retreat with me in a few weeks. I'll do the next best thing and take and keep you in prayer. God will answer that prayer~you know He will.
    Hang in there and sneak out to Adoration when you can.
    Oh- I would have done the same thing with Facebook girl!

  2. I will be praying for you-and for that gave her a very important message!

  3. Mom, thank you for writing this! I will keep you in my prayers! Please keep me on yours!:)

    God Bless You and keep you safe while still living your dream!;)

  4. Peace and quiet, sounds heavenly. Our world is too noisy. I imagine it can be quite overwhelming at times with 5 children. The girl on facebook: good for you, maybe it will make her think. I think everyone feels sad sometimes.If it helps to know, I am not one of the bloggers who claims great joy all the time, I am not sure I would even want this. Joy is greater when it surprises us.

  5. Personally, I would definitely call the driving instructor or his/her boss about the texting thing. Putting themselves in danger is bad enough but others too, including the student who is taking their cues from the instructor on what is and isn't good drving habits is all together another issue. That is certainly not the example they should be setting.

    The facebook were right on the mark. I'm sure her mother or father doesn't know how she is presenting herself and would (I hope) freak out if they found out. NOt good for her and certainly not the type of sexual temptation you'd want hanging around your son.

    You aren't alone in feeling trapped and alone in the middle of your life...even when it seems to be generally over flowing with blessing. It happens to everyone whether or not they admit it. I think it's courageous of you to admit that this happens to you sometimes because a lot of Christian women feel as though they are horrible people and terrible Christians for having these very human emotions. They are too afraid of being judged so tend to stay quiet about these things for the most part. I think it's time for we Christians to get real and honest about the things that are going on inside us...teh we can better understand each other, help each other and know that we aren't really alone...not the only ones...that have ever gone through them.

    Don't let the devil whisper all that garbage in your ear about how you were when you were young and how that makes you a hypocrit for responding to things like the face book girl the way you did. He does that so you will be less likely to step in when/if it happens again so he can have a free hand in leading your kids off the straight and narrow. Satan can be such a jerk.

  6. I think everyone needs time out from any profession from time to time. The wonderful part is that God is there with us even if we are too distracted to notice it -- and it is possible to feel Him in the busyness of life, as Brother Lawrence found out. (I am sure you are familiar with that book.)

  7. Anne,
    You are doing a great job being a mother and wife, I feel the same way most times. I use to get up at 5am to do my prayers because it is the only time I have quiet before the kids get up. I have been up way before then and all I can do lately is sit with my coffee and think. I have not opened my Liturgy of Hours in years before Church. You are a blessing to us moms sweetheart and think how many mom's have their sons making such beautiful comments on their blogs *willingly*. You are blessed!

  8. Oh Lord, take me away, if only for a little while, to a quiet place alone with You.

    I feel like I've been backpeddling my whole life.
    Great post,

  9. Your post is so real, so open, so honest.

    I'm not sure how old your kids are, but I think they're old enough to watch out for each other while you take some time for yourself. Regularly. Time to read, or pray, or lie on the grass and feel it tickle your cheek while you look for animals in the clouds. Can you talk to them - and to your husband - and ask them to give you some uninterrupted and PEACEFUL time once a week? Pick a day and a time, and make that block of time sacred. As in... "Don't interrupt me for 1 hour every Tuesday evening from 7:00 - 8:00 unless your pants are on fire."

    What do you think, Anne? Is that worth a try?

  10. Hi Anne -

    Yes - you need a retreat. Maybe there is a monastery near where you live? They all have retreat houses - usually very quiet, where you can take long walks. Or find a quiet room in your home - shut the door - sit in quiet for one hour. My confessor says we should do this every day. Not easy - but worth a try. Or just tell the family "I am going away for the weekend - go to Colorado"!

    I don't know how my grandma survived-she had 11 kids!

    ** Yes - I am familiar with Donna-MArie. I have visited her blog before. She is a Lay Missionary of Charity. If YOU want to know more about this wonderful vocation, this is the MUST GET book.

    Life with Mother Teresa by Fr. Sebastian Vazhakala, M.C.

    God bless!

  11. Wow Anne - you are getting pushed on all sides. Sounds like it's time to surrender. I like how involved you are in your kids lives. I will say a special prayer for you today. Peace.

  12. Thanks to all of you for your lovely and encouraging comments! I needed these today! Time to step away from the computer and get busy planning a retreat as you have all so lovingly suggested!

  13. We all reach the point where you are. Taking time for yourself, doing nice things for yourself are important on a regular basis. Little things, like lighting a candle, taking a bath, listening to music alone in your room. Be good to you! You cannot give what you do not have. You need time to just BE. God bless and Hugs!

  14. Anne, this was the perfect -- and I do mean PERFECT -- thing for me to read right now. Earlier today, at Mass, I had one of those totally overwhelmed mom-moments, and I started crying during Communion. You know, that whole "I have too many plates in the air and I have no idea how I'll deal with all of them" feeling.

    Such a relief to know that I'm not the only one.

    Let's pray for each other, shall we?