A few years back, while laying on our tan recliner bundled in with blankets, I felt an overwhelming feeling that crippled me to tears. My lower back writhed in pain, my neck and shoulder were seized from whiplash, and my brain felt so confused.
Nate and I were on our way home from a date night when we were hit by a drunk driver that totaled our F250 truck. Both of us felt shaken up that night, but the real effects for me would kick in over the next few days, weeks, and months. My injuries went undiagnosed for 2 1/2 months, when finally my massage therapist and I pieced together all of my symptoms to realize that my extreme back and neck pain were only part of the problem. I had suffered a head trauma that had been passed off as a minor concussion. I couldn’t sleep at nights, couldn’t stay awake during the days, I would drive downtown and couldn’t remember how I had arrived there or where I was going. My short term memory was very scattered and the head aches that would accompany any fast movement, complex thinking, bright lights, or overstimulation would send me back to the ole tan recliner.
I would get up in the morning to watch my kids get breakfast, make their lunches and head off the bus without my help. They would come home and I would still be resting on the chair. They would do laundry, make dinner, work on homework, and tackle most of the household chores all on their own. I was suffering physically, mentally, and emotionally, but their was one feeling that overshadowed them all. GUILT!
Time and lots of physical, occupational, and memory therapy have healed my injuries. In speaking with friends, on phone calls with loved ones, and chatting at school/church events, I have heard guilt come up so often that I have come to the conclusion that guilt is the tool that Satan uses against Moms! He tries to make us feel guilty for not having the cleanest home, not cooking the best meals, not spending enough one-on-one time with each child. He manipulates us to think that everyone else around us has it all put together and leaves us with this “how can I keep up” mentality. We never make the best cookies for the school bake sale, our children’s hair perhaps was combed this morning, but it looks like the “do” was from last Tuesday. On our way to the gym we get a call as we hit the parking lot telling us that “little Jimmy” just threw up in class. Our kids aren’t the best at sports, can’t carry a tune, haven’t been elected to the student of the month club, and require braces! It can all be so exhausting and heavy!
Through some of the most stressful and chaotic times in my life I have found that I need to give myself a “pass” and not lower but EXCHANGE MY EXPECTATIONS for the things that matter most. Quick healthy Costco or Trader Joes meals help fill in my menu for the week. I often take a 30 minute nap in the afternoon before the kids get home so I can be energetic and focused for them. Working out at the gym helps me to feel good, both physically and mentally, but if time is too tight, I will exchange it for parking in the furthest parking spot in the lot and grocery shopping at a faster pace. We fold laundry as a family so I can catch up on their lives, teach them good habits, and also be efficient with my time. My girls wear more ponytails than curled hair and I’m grateful that Nate usually wears sweaters to church to keep warm, so I only need to iron the collar!
Life can be challenging. We can be more critical of ourselves than anyone else. As we allow the weight of guilt to dissipate and gratitude to seep into our imperfections, we can see God’s love all around us. He does not expect perfection. He wants progress! He wants us to showcase our talents, shower others with service, and raise children that know that its ok to not be perfect. The plan of happiness is to create peace and joy in our lives. God’s intent for you is not to be what everybody else thinks you should be. Release yourself of the shackles and free yourself to live, love, and laugh!
**Featured Image- photo cred. @weedstowishes