“She never sleeps. It seems like she wants to eat every hour,” can give way to: “Her room is always such a mess,” and “How many times does she need to be reminded to turn off lights?” Then, of course, there are so many things to worry about now: germs, colic, discipline issues, balanced diets, an unsafe world, and college tuition just to name a few.
We all agree that snuggling a newborn, hearing a baby's giggles, and a child's “I love you's” are priceless treasures, but face it, we are human. The grunt work of parenting and the worries of the world get to us sometimes. I began to realize early on, however, that if I did not actively work at enjoying the good, the bad would cloud family life for me. So, I have developed a habit of coming up with antidotes--positive thoughts to counteract the poison of pessimism.
Here are some examples to give you the idea of what I am talking about.
Bad: My sick child did not make it to the bathroom in time...again.
Antidote: I've got indoor plumbing and many people around the world do not. It is easier to to clean up with a bucket of hot water when you do not have dirt floors. Well, maybe not, but I'll take my own flooring anyway. If all else fails, consider you are performing one of the chief corporal acts of mercy--to visit the sick.
Bad: Your baby keeps you up all night.
Antidote: And who says there's never any time for prayer?
Bad: The words, “He hit me,” and “No fair!” are grating on your nerves.
Antidote: You do not have small pox or leprosy. No, wait, we can do better than that. Let's go to the purgatory thing. Surely you are earning an early release from purgatory if you bear up patiently.
Bad: Keeping a clean home is no longer possible.
Antidote: You have a home.
Bad: Your children are driving you nuts.
Antidote: Many childless couples would love to trade places with you.
Bad: Your child does not listen and obey you.
Antidote: Neither did God's first children.
Bad: Your child was born with some imperfection.
Antidote: He's perfect for what God has planned for him.
Bad: I am not prepared for this job.
Antidote: God doesn't call the equipped, He equips those He calls. Pray for the equipment then trust.
Bad: I have failed. My children have not turned out very well.
Antidote: St. Augustine did not turn out very well--at first. His mother, St. Monica prayed and prayed and prayed. She never quit. St. Augustine converted and became a doctor of the Church. Remember, it ain't over 'til it's over.
I think you get the idea now. You may suspect me of being the Pollyanna type that sugar coats everything. I'm not. I can fall apart and fret with the best of them. But then I collect my thoughts and emotions, pray, and try to put it all in perspective.
I truly love being a mother even though I definitely do not always find it easy. If I do not come up with antidotes for my negative thinking, I will blow this whole thing called motherhood. Then, in a blink of an eye, it will all be over and I really will have something to be negative about--missing all the blessings and joy that having children had to offer.
Copyright 2012 Patti Maguire Armstrong
About the Author
Patti Maguire Armstrong is the mother of 10, and has a B.A. in social work and M.A. in public administration. Her newest book is Holy Hacks: Everyday Ways to Live Your Faith & Get to Heaven. Others include Big Hearted: Inspiring Stories from Everyday Families and the Amazing Grace Series. Follow her at @PattiArmstrong and read her blog at PattiMaguireArmstrong.com.