This is the year I found my limits. That I’m not actually invincible.
I have had many seasons with surplus. Extra to give away… extra strength, extra faith, extra time, extra money. And it actually feels so good to be the strong one and to give away what God has given you.
But this year I learned a different lesson. What it’s like when you’re not the strong one. And there is actually sweetness to be found there too.
I spent all of February and all of November super sick. That mind over matter thing only works for so long and then eventually your body just taps out and says, “Enough! I’m done here. Checking out.” It was all just too much. (You can read that post here: Oh, Hey, Here’s the Bottom.)
About that same time is when “Angry Mom” started to come out. Yeah, that was a red flag that I’m not doing great and need to make some major changes. Here’s what I learned in my Momma’s Anger Management class (from my last post):
How I react as parents is directly connected to how I am doing emotionally.
I am kidding myself if I think I can run on E and then still be awesome with my kids. Maybe this should have been more obvious to me? Taking this class was kind of like pulling a thread that starts unraveling a sweater. It’s not just that I need to try harder and have better self control. I needed to move some big rocks in my life if I don’t want to be an angry mom. So really, this was just the beginning. The tipping point that triggered more changes.
Apparently rest is required…
There is a mental shift that needed to happen and also some practical changes.
Mentally – I had to learn how to let go and let my people love me. Let go of achievement + accomplishment. Let people take care of me. Let other people take care of my kids. Let someone else carry the torch. Delegate the details of life (that I actually love to manage). Let go of control. Rest in the hands of my maker. Trust that he has me, he’s holding my people, the best I can do is give what I have and trust Him with all of the gaps. (There are gaps! and He’s still good).
Practically – I just have to sleep! There’s no way around it or other way to solve this… I HAVE TO SLEEP.
Read this stunning statistic:
Depression is often measured by scientists using something called the Hamilton Scale. It runs from 0 (where you are dancing in ecstasy) to 59 (where you are suicidal). Improving your sleep patterns gives you a movement on the Hamilton Scale of around 6 points. Chemical antidepressants give you an improvement, on average, of 1.8 points, according to research by professor Irving Kirsch of Harvard University. (Source here)
As a mom of 4 young kids, sleep seems like an almost impossible request. It feels selfish and demanding. There are lot’s of reasons I wasn’t sleeping enough:
-Baby – Emme at 6 months was still waking 1-2x per night (which isn’t actually horrible for her age at all)
-2 Year Old – Aurora was potty training + moving from a crib to a bed… That all equals random occasional house roaming in the middle of the night while she adjusted to the change.
-Sickness – We all caught that awful virus and it went through each kid 1 week at a time. That means 4 consecutive weeks of night time tending to sick kids.
-Netflix (No comment required. #honesttalk )
All of those combined means staying up too late and getting up lots of different times for lots of different kids.
After a particularly shaky and frazzled day I remember crying and saying, “I am so tired of feeling so bad for so long.” Josh said, “What do you need?” I said, “Honestly, I need to sleep. Not just a weekend. I need to sleep all night for probably 6 months to dig out of this hole.” And so amazingly he took over the night shift. Midnight to 6am every night. (To qualify, Josh was already helping on the hard nights, so it’s not like he isn’t tired too. Also, we are now hitting his slow work season, so wonderfully, if he has to get up a bunch of times, he has the flexibility to sleep in.)
So now I have been sleeping 6-7 hours solidly every night. It didn’t change everything immediately. But now, after about 2 months I feel like a whole new person. The angry sharks don’t visit as often, my nerves have calmed down, I have jokes to tell again, and I feel like I have the strength and energy to show up to be the person I want to be. (And I’m super grateful for Josh.)
Expert Insight with Josh Jones
There’s a sports analogy in everything, right? Well marriage is just like basketball.
I remember in high school basketball I often felt like I could defend the person I was guarding and come out on top. But I quickly figured out that even if I win my battle on defense, if my teammate is outmatched we could still lose.
Marriage is a lot like that. It’s a team sport. Even if I am holding my ground, if Jenna is not, we both still lose.
In basketball one of the most important things you can learn is “help defense”. That means if someone has a disadvantage you always help.
It’s not actually fair.
I had to let go of the ideal of what’s fair. What’s equal. Just manning my own post. My post can be covered and our family might still be sinking.
When we were first married we each had our own roles, our post. You have to keep your area covered. But when life hits, sometimes your partner is down. You just have to forget about fairness and how much you feel like you should have to give. You give everything you have to give. You leave everything you have on the court everyday.
When your partner is down it’s awful. If you are on level ground yourself, jump in and carry part of their load. Remember this – it is actually easier to carry a heavier load than to be yoked to someone that is drowning.