Jamie Martin: Advice from an introvert -- Even good moms need to take breaks from their kids (really)
"Mommy, sometimes do you not want to be with me? Because sometimes I feel like you don’t want me with you."
The little voice rose up beside me on the brown leather sofa, at the end of a looooonnnng day that still wasn’t over. I looked down into the wide eyes of my son Jonathan, feeling like I’d been punched in the stomach. All my failures rushed over me — all the things I wished I could be but wasn’t. All the energy and patience I wanted but didn’t have. With childlike wisdom and bluntness, he saw the truth and spoke it.
And it was the truth: I didn’t want him with me.
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What kind of mother admits that? The desperate, introverted kind, whose husband left several days ago on a work trip. The kind who’s settled countless sibling squabbles, made countless meals, read countless books, and counted down countless hours until bedtime’s arrival. The kind who’s just been completely called out by a 9-year-old as she’s nearing that glorious home stretch.
Can you get a hold on the freedom found here, fellow introverted mom?
I knew all about an introvert’s strengths and weaknesses, and knew the theoretical reasons why I felt exhausted and drained, but none of that mattered. My little boy felt unwanted, and it crushed me.
I blundered for a few minutes, reminded him about the difference between introverts and extroverts, prayed with him, then watched as he scampered upstairs — looking for all intents and purposes like he hadn’t been scarred for life. I thought I might be, though. While the kids drifted off to a full night’s sleep, I tossed and turned for hours, wrestling my inner demons and my own nature, which once again seemed inadequate.
Not enough: this fearful refrain tormented me that night. I had given the kids my best during the challenging day prior to Jonathan’s bedtime declaration. Yet he still felt it was lacking. When the stress of real life comes our way, it won’t be perfection we offer our kids, but it’s our best all the same. What more can we do?
My friend Lisa Grace Byrne, an inspiring writer, teacher, and mama-encourager, describes it like this: In certain seasons of our mothering life, it’s as though we walk through a flat, grassy field. The terrain is smooth and comfortable; the scenery lovely. We cover a lot of ground that way, making measurable progress one step at a time.
But then we reach the edge of the meadow and find a steep rock wall towering in front of us. Turning around and going back isn’t an option, and the only way to continue moving forward is to climb — one slow, shaky grip and foothold after another. It’s still progress, of course, but it looks nothing like the open countryside. The best we can offer our families in the meadows of life differs wildly from the best we bring when we’re scaling walls — when daddy gets deployed, when the doctor delivers a scary diagnosis, or when we’ve once again reached the end of our reserves.
I finally understood this on a deeper level with a life coach’s help, when I mentioned to her that my mind rang with "not enough" loudly and on repeat. She sent me on a hunt for a Scripture I could use to combat this lie. I landed on Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 12:7–9: "I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from becoming proud. Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, ‘My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.’ So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me" (NLT).
I had read this Scripture dozens of times, but now a new meaning jumped out. If God’s power works best in weakness, it’s better to have weaknesses! Better to be "not enough," because then he can work without me getting in the way. Suddenly I saw this verse as an equation that literally adds up to enough for those in my home:
God’s grace + My weakness = ENOUGH.
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It’s my new life mantra; the one I repeat to myself when, again, my best isn’t the best. When I’m drained, overwhelmed, and "don’t want them with me."
Can you get a hold on the freedom found here, fellow introverted mom? It means that even your biggest failures and shortcomings can be used by God, transformed via his miraculous alchemy into gold that enriches your family. It means you are free.
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