I’m Not A Good Example Of How To Do It Well

A bit of honesty, without trying to sound like what I said I wanted to avoid. 

In a nut shell, I’ve been feeling pretty overwhelmed around here lately. It started a couple of months back when we started seriously trying to get Fulton on a bathroom schedule (that I don’t wish to elaborate on too much for fear of embarrassing him when he’s older). It was one aspect of his care that got put off for probably too long because 1. we don’t fully understand some secondary issues he’s got going on in that department 2. we had to order specialized equipment for him to use the bathroom and 3. I knew it would take tons of time that I wasn’t sure I had.

But we started and in the last few months have made minimal progress getting him on a schedule which means our efforts completely consume a large chunk of my day. And Fulton’s unhappy and I’m unhappy and everyone else still has needs that need met. Patience and optimism has worn thin, but there’s no turning back and I’m just trying everything to rearrange my day to make it work.

When introducing me, people often mention the fact that I care for two special needs children in addition to homeschooling, and how sometimes I write really meaningful stuff about the experience. But the last couple of months, and weeks in particular, have reminded me that caring for special needs children does not equal days filled with spiritual enlightenment and deep insight. It’s typically a lot of hard work coupled with frustration. I think I fail more days than not at gleaning the grace and sanctity that are mixed within the tedious caregiving and instead fight back and resist against the never-ending tasks.

From a spiritual standpoint, I’ve been given a gold mine of graces to pick away at day in and day out. But I struggle to give up my whole day for the needs of others, and then feel like the world’s worst mom, and Catholic, for not joyfully living out my little way. I also fear that my children, Fulton in particular, will grow up thinking I resent being a mother and caregiver. I conscientiously spend a chunk of each day apologizing for my anger, telling them I love them and hoping that in someway they understand how hard it is to do what I do, or that at least they will look back as adults and forgive me.

This is why I don’t want the title ‘Superwoman’, ‘Mom Who Does It All’ or ‘Inspiration’. Don’t look to me as the example of how to spiritually rock this special needs mom game. I’m proof that anyone can do it, but not proof about how to do it well.

Our search for a nurse or aide is currently on hold while Tony’s job situation is in flux. Since the process to procure assistance is long and time-consuming, it’s not something we want to start, then have to restart if the kids insurance provider changes or if our family needs to relocate. I’m trying to make the best of what I know is a temporary situation, and generally failing the longer the situation plays out. 

So that’s what in my heart and mind right now. I can look back through the archives and find similar posts of woe and know that things will improve, so I’m not despairing so much as tired. I hesitate to say ‘This is my Lent” and just try to really own it for the next week and half because, this is my everyday life and it will continue through the celebration of Easter and until only God knows when. 

God has blessed me with five great kids and I never forget that. And I try to remember to thank Him daily for allowing me the opportunity to stay home and raise them all, even when it’s exceptionally hard like right now. I just wonder why I wasn’t given Julie Andrews levels of joy, patience and perseverance as part of this vocation.

22 thoughts on “I’m Not A Good Example Of How To Do It Well

  1. Hi. Thanks for sharing. I have 4 little boys 6 and under. While I’m sure it’s not the same, I do feel the same feelings of incompetency at the end of every day. Exactly the same ad you described.

  2. Yes. Exactly.

    I am not comparing myself to you. Not at all. But I did identify with one thing you said, that you don’t want to be called Superwoman or anything like that.

    I have four kids, now aged 26 to 33. When the youngest was 7, my husband started to get sick with lots of different kinds of problems, none of them terminal and a lot of them psychiatric. Gradually he became unable to work and then drive and it was just an uphill battle with *everything.*

    People used to say to me, “I don’t know how you do it. You’re amazing.” I hated that, and it took me a long time to figure out why.

    Here’s what it is. DO NOT tell somebody how wonderful she is for doing everything that she does and then just go away feeling good that you have built her up, buttercup. Because that will break her heart. (Yes, I *am* a child of the 60s. How did you know?)

    There are at least two good ways to respond to her.

    1. Listen to her—really listen—and help her by providing a shoulder she can cry on. Oh, and don’t judge her. Seriously. If she says she wishes somebody in her family were dead, that doesn’t mean she would do anything about it. It does mean that she needs therapy, but where the heck is she going to get the time (or money) for that unless somebody helps her?

    2. Ask if you can come over and fold her laundry or wash her dishes or bring dinner or something concrete. Don’t say “Just call me if you need something.” She is so tired that she can’t think straight. Offer something concrete. If she says no, offer something else.

    Whatever you do, don’t just tell her how wonderful she is and think it’s all good. It is NOT.

    God bless you, Kelly. I’m praying for you today.

  3. I just started reading your blog recently. The last day has been rough around here, even though I try to be grateful and trust.

    We’d all be doing this like Julie Andrews if we had a writer, director, editor, background music, makeup artist, rehearsals, and unlimited takes!

    Thank you for a reminder I really needed this morning.

  4. Thank you for your honesty. Today is the solemnity of the Annunciation and I was just meditating on how big God asks our “Yes” to be. These aren’t little things God asks of us, but rather life changing, earth shattering things like accepting and caring for a whole human life that will change the course of history in the world. You say yes every day. Even when you say no and have to apologize, you end up saying yes. I’m not trying to canonize you or minimize your frustrations. Just giving you a spiritual hug. I’ll adk Mary to pray for you today (and every day).

    By the way, I mentioned it on Facebook, but you may have not seen it. My Edel ticket has been purchased, my hotel booked, and our flights are finally arranged. It’s official: you and me are gonna hang out in July.

  5. I think the Julie Andrews cheerfulness is a trap, and, frankly, would be creepy. We’re presented with the idea of always happy, upbeat perfection in a mom, which in the eyes of many is imposed exponentially on moms of big families and especially moms of special needs kids who are in reality just doing their best to embrace the vocation. You are mother to your kids, and in the end, the losing of the temper, or patience, or whatever, counts less than the fact that you do apologize and tell them you love them. Better to let them see you struggle and try to improve, and acknowledge your failings, than to put on some veneer of perfection. That’s my two cents, for what it,ought be worth, and hope it made sense! ( I’m not great at writing comments.)

  6. I read a lot of Catholic mom blogs these days but I rarely admit to it and I don’ t ever leave comments, never ever. Okay, once I did but then felt weird about it. But I just wanted to say thanks for sharing this emotions and this day with us. It is so tough not to feel inadequate and I so appreciate you opening up your world – the good, the bad, and the ugly – with others. Sometime amidst the beautiful Instagram feed and the spiritual goodness that comes with all this internet love, it is nice to know we aren’t alone in our struggles.

  7. Wow, I think you hit the nail on the head! I’ve been asking myself the “why can’t I seem to do this joyfully” question a lot lately. Prayers for you, Mama, and please pray for me, too!

  8. We moms daily feel like we are failing. And we never are. We just have to keep fighting the good fight and give it all to our Lord. Bless you and you are NOT a failure. Ever.

  9. Kelly, I wish we could sit together and drink wine and talk about this – your crap, my crap, our crap. Hugs and prayers sent your way, friend.

  10. I so wish I could give you a night off! Since I can’t, I’ll offer up a Rosary for you today as well as the hip pain that has been aching since I can’t remember!

    God Bless!

  11. I so know what it’s like to live in a temporary state of flux…not knowing what is going on,…if we will have to relocate or change insurance. It is so, so, so hard. I hope things get a bit easier for you soon!

  12. I’m 16 weeks pregnant with#5, oldest age 6, and the sickness is not abating. So I’m feeling this right now, although I know It can’t last forever, the timeline I gave myself has backfired and I’m so tired and cranky. All this to say, I hear ya. It’s hard, and it’s harder when you feel like it has to look easy.

  13. Your honesty is refreshing. Your life is hard but even in the hardness of it all, you are still thankful. Thankfulness is the key to contentment even in (especially in!) the midst of struggle. God bless you, Kelly!

  14. I really appreciate the raw honesty here, Kelly. I have a son with special needs too, though a very different flavor, and it is so comforting to hear other mom’s putting words to how I feel. Especially this: “hoping that in someway they understand how hard it is to do what I do, or that at least they will look back as adults and forgive me.”

    Oh sweet Jesus, yes.

    Mercy and grace to you today, and may you give yourself as much of both as you give your kids.

  15. I hear you on all of it… especially the no-end-in-sight part. Thank you for being real in a world where it’s a lot easier to be fake. I’ll pray you receive what you need for today.

  16. I can’t imagine all your struggles, but yet at the same time I can relate to much of what you say in your post. I appreciate your honesty and you sharing your heart. As the saying goes, “Be kinder than necessary, for everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle.” (Author Unknown) I think all of us mothers have ongoing battles with ourselves more than anything. I know I do all.the.time! May God bless you abundantly for all that you do and sacrifice each moment of your day!

  17. Kelly, your words are so honest and so beautiful. Even in their personal complexity, you manage to say what a lot of moms/wives/spouses/parents are thinking. We need that kind of honesty out in the open, you know? I can’t imagine all that you are going through, but wish so much for you to know how I can relate in small ways, and will take the time to keep you in prayer. God bless you and may your guardian angels find ways to show you His love in little ways today.

  18. Kelly,

    Thank you for your honesty today and for reaching out. I think moms tend to keep our trials to ourselves, when we really do need a community of support every day. I pray that every night you will be able to honestly tell yourself ” I am enough; my children received from me all God intended today.” I feel your difficulty, too, in accepting that our seemingly inadequate efforts are actually sufficient in God’s plan.

    I am the special-needs person in my family. I’ve had a chronic illness since my 6th child was newborn. I empathize with your constant struggle to care for your children in a joyful way. It feels like an unreachable summit to achieve a feeling of joy through all my daily struggles. I, too, pray my children are able to forgive me someday for the many shortcomings I’ve had as an ill mother.

    God bless you in your situation. And, bless your beautiful family. May you have peace and joy.

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