Thursday, September 24, 2009

Weighing Life

I don't even know what to call this post. I've had it all jumbled up in my mind all day. Driving me crazy. I'm on the edge of tears all day. Yet, look at those beautiful little feet and the arm holding those little feet is attached to a wonderful little girl, who has 2 more wonderful little sisters and a wonderful big brother. Blessings.

 Blessings of a faith I will never let go of. A husband God has, in His mercy given to me. We have a big home, money for food and never go hungry or cold. SO many blessings.
SO why am I ready to cry all the time? Why am I a "screaming Mama"? Why am I not happy right now? Why am I crying right now?
I said it today. (outloud too, to the kids) I hate homeschooling. (at least right now I do) I hate that my little ones don't get the attention I'd love to give them. I hate that I can't get up and dressed and ready for school by 9am. (it's more like 10 am before we even eat breakfast) I hate settling fights all day. I hate constantly telling the school kids to "stop bugging" eachother. (during school) I hate not having time to do the things I'd like to do. I could clean during the day, I hate having a messy house, I could do laundry, (that is so piled up and behind right now, I used to do laundry at night, but now Sweetie Pie eats constantly from about now until 1am) I could plan Baptism meals and have the time to buy groceries and prepare things ahead of time. (I think I'm just going to do cold croissant sandwiches, heck, I have no time to look up recipes for taco meat or Baptism cake recipes, it's going to have to be simple, when will I shop for all this stuff?)

 Heck, I think we could even eat supper at a reasonable time if I didn't homeschool. I would maybe be a "happy Mama" if I didn't homeschool. I could go to garage sales and any store with only 2 kids in tow. I could go to the library without it being a major ordeal just to get everyone to come when it is time to leave the library. I wouldn't have to worry about what to make for lunch, heck, the big kids would have school lunch every day, think of the variety they'd get!! I would have time to think. I know their teacher would have much more patience than I have.
I don't want my kids remembering mom being crabby all the time. I want them to think being a mother is wonderful and the true gift that it is. (it really is a gift and a blessing)
Am I having "baby blues"? I feel so helpless and hopeless. I maybe need more sleep? I know our reasons for homeschooling are wonderful and my reasons for NOT homeschooling are completely selfish. Really, they are all reasons for ME. Me, me, me.
There are so many perfect, happy, homeschooling mamas out there. How do you do it? How do you not always feel like you are "trying to catch up" with life? You perfect homeschooling mamas, you know who you are!

 When I think of the alternative, any alternative, I don't want anything else. I only want this. SO why is it SO hard? Why do I hate so many things?
This is such a negative post, and I'll probably delete it, but I just had to get my jumbled up feelings out there and on paper (or computer in this case) to sort through them, to pray about them. To remember my blessings.
To weigh life right now.


  1. Jaime,

    Thinking of you and praying a rosary for you tonight. Much love and hugs to you!

    May God Bless you and your beautiful family.

    Maria <----the lady who would LOVE to be a Catholic stay at home and homeschooling Mommy just like you!! I think you are such a wonderful wife and Mommy!! Hugs to you, dear friend!

  2. Oh Jamie, my heart is aching for you. I remember those days with five little ones and a newborn who constantly nurses and tears that never seem to end (mine and the kids!). You know it will all get better, and it is good and healthy for you to get it out, so I'm glad you wrote this post, and also glad that you didn't delete it, because if you had, I wouldn't be able to offer you any encouragement.

    Now about the homeschooling, I can't help because I never felt called to that. But I can't say that having kids in school that isn't my own home is easy, either. I think no matter what, raising happy, healthy, holy children is a challenge. That's what our knees are for. You know that God is the only answer to the troubles that stress you. Prayer will lead you to know whether or not you should continue to homeschool, and what chores can be overlooked. But most of all, know that you are a wonderful mother and all of the stress and worry will pass. The day will come when you will be encouraging other young mom's who struggle with baby blues, and so many little ones who need so much attention and love.

    God bless you dear sweet angel. I am praying for you!

  3. Jamie, I will keep you in prayer!

    I think most every honest homeschool mom can identify with you to some extent. I know I can. The fact that you can still see the blessings is a good sign -- you don't hate everything. You're likely having a bad day, or days. I have them. Days when I feel like the worst mommy. ever. The important thing is to remember that's not true.

    I have a hard time because I'm a perfectionist. I let what I think is best get in the way of the good. I think I should have a perfectly clean house, no laundry piled in the basement, hot beautiful meals three times a day, engaging and fun lesson plans, and all with a smile on my face, and energy to give my husband when he gets home at night. I'm not super woman, though I like to think of myself that way sometimes, and I sometimes pretend to be. And then, when I don't live up to my own too high expectations of myself, I beat myself up. and cry.

    I have strings of yelling mommy days. I can relate to hating taking four kids anywhere. But I also remember the blessings. And I have good days, too. During the bad times, remember the good times. I'm sure you have plenty. Just look back at some of your older posts! And remember, there is no way to be a perfect mommy, but a million ways to be a good one. Persevere! One day at a time. Or one step at a time on some days. Beg for the grace! Let go of some things. (I ordered pre-made croissant sandwiches, deli salad, and a store cake for The Baby's baptism party! And I didn't even host it at my house!)

    There's a great book that I've recommended to many others -- it's been immensely helpful in my life and in the lives of others I know who've read it -- The Discernment of Spirits by Timothy Gallagher. It's about Saint Ignatius' rules of discernment and the alternations of consolation and desolation in our lives and how to be aware of them, understand them, and act on them (accepting that which is from God (i.e. blessings) and rejecting that which is from the Evil One (i.e. "my kids would be better off at school")).

    Be assured of my prayers for you and for your school!

    (BTW, as Fr. Gallagher would agree, grace builds on nature -- hormone fluctuations and sleep deprivation are sure to be huge factors in all this.)

  4. I am envious, in a way, that you are free enough to write a post like this. However, what you said in your response to Regan is true, too! All of us have 'these' days, some of us are just not as free to admit it (or write about it) for a variety of reasons. Believe me, if we talked on the phone long enough, you'd get a truer look into the Lahlum family dynamics. You don't want to know how many times I've said 'I hate my life' in the last couple months. But, you are right on that point as well. Deep down, I love homeschooling and being home with my kids. It's just frustration speaking during those moments...

    I always try to remember that it's not homeschooling that brings this on ... yes, it makes everything a little more complicated, but if son 1 were in school, I'd be dealing with the same issues - only at a time of day when I'm even more tired and 'shot'.

    During this pregnancy, I've been the yelling mom more often than not and the anger has been so close to the surface. I know why, and yet, I don't. I usually don't cry, even during pregnancy. But, these past few months I've cried more than I probably have in the last three+ years! I dislike being so emotional and am glad this pregnancy is closer to the end than the beginning.

    During Mass, the last few times I've attended, I've asked to be healed from the inside out. I'm not sure why, but it seems to have made a difference. On Wednesday, 'something' lifted. I will pray for the same for you, Jamie.

    Well, that's about as long a comment as I've ever written! Hope today is a better day - it is Friday.

  5. Jamie,

    You need more time to recover from your pregnancy. Remember -- it was not "normal?" You've been through a lot in the last 10 months.

    Try to focus on what you can do and do it. If you can read to the children, do it. If you can reserve books and movies at the library and pick them up (or have your husband pick them up) without taking all the kids in, do it. Look for non-fiction movies/programs that count as learning. Use the time while the kids are watching to tidy up with the baby in the front pack.
    Eat easy meals (cereal can be a meal!). And don't worry about Baptism parties!

    You expect more from yourself than others do. Just take deep breaths and try to be calm. I have found that every one feeds off my stress and when I am calm, even if I have to fake it, the children are more calm. Deep cleansing breaths.

    Homeschooling is not the problem right now -- it's showing all the symptoms. Teachers in school do not necessarily have more patience. Often they have far less (35 students instead of four). And they don't love, really love, your children.

    I find with the kids bickering that I have to be very direct in giving direction, even down to "you may not speak at all." Or "put your head down on the table until I say you can look up." I don't say it to be mean, but to help them control their feelings. They must know they cannot disobey. Even if all you do all day is direct traffic (you go to your room for 10 minutes -- you sit on a bench for 10 minutes) at least you can sit with the baby and stay calm and they will have learned to obey. Even if that's all they learn all day, that's o.k.

    Just give yourself a break right now. Nothing is so urgent as to lose your mind over!

  6. Jamie-

    While, like Anne, I have not felt the call to homeschool, I am feeling much the same way you are these days. Last week, Peter had 5 tests over the course of 2 days. Because he is in Catholic school, and not here at home, I had to struggle to find the energy to help hime study. By the second day, I was exhausted, as was he, and he failed the last test. Didn't exactly make me feel like the greatest Mom as it was in the subject that he struggles with the most.

    You and I both are getting used to our new normal with new babies. We are still recovering, and the tears are normal (I have had my own lately too!).

    I will pray for you just as I did through our pregnancies. What helped me most this week was being reminded of St. Padre Pio's motto, "Pray, hope and don't worry!" It will get better! {{{HUGS}}}

  7. Thank you for your honesty Jamie. I know how hard it is to open yourself for all of Blogville to read and share the realities of the real world with everyone.

    I cannot tell you how often I daily think of you. Or how often I wish for the struggles that mommy's of more than two children have. Days are rough in their own way, no matter how many children you have or how patient a personality you have. Rest assured, there have been many days that screaming mama emerges more often than happy mama around here too.

    Each day presents us with new struggles, new graces. Take a day at a time and worry not about next week.

    I wish I had some more helpful words or advice, but I don't. I wish that I could come and lend a hand, make a meal, let you take a nap. Know that my prayers and thoughts will be sent to you in abundance today. There are so many of us mom's who are out here supporting you in word and prayer. Never doubt that. We will do all we can from our own little worlds and computers to let you know we are all embracing and encouraging you today.

    Blessings and peace to you and your household! {{hugs}}

  8. You have the best commenters. This collection of advice is full of wisdom and love and experience.

    I am feeling a bit direct this morning and have a 2yo begging for attention. And trying to get the kids down for breakfast by 8 am! (we're 15 minutes late already)

    Honey, you need a longer babymoon. Take a few more weeks to focus on your self and the baby. You need to quit (or seriously reduce) the soda and slimfast and do whatever it takes to eat healthy and nutritious food for you and your baby's milk.

    Every day after lunch send the kids to their rooms for Quiet Time. Rules: You can read, sleep, think or pray. Your feet do not touch the floor. Then you unplug the phone, nurse the baby and sleep.

    Look up the Wildflowers and Marbles blog and see what Jenn does for a "Morning Basket". In the upper left she has a link, "Read about the Morning Basket here". She came up with this to cover survival mode. This could be "school" for your kids for the next month until you are feeling better.

    Take this time GUILT FREE!!! Just DO IT! Just eat well, sleep well, clean a little and love your kids lots. Read to them, watch educational dvds and relax. It's ok!

    Then revisit your homeschooling routine and re-read everyone's advice here. By sending the kids to school you would be trading one set of problems for another. Ask God if this is still His will for you and beg for His help.

    Love you, Jamie. Hang in there. I did pray for you last night and you have been on mind, especially since you mentioned you were living on coke and slimfast and dealing with a fussy baby.

    Right now you have to take care of yourself first!

  9. Looking at the calendar, James, I'd say you're right on schedule. Been there, done that, wish-I-could-pack up-and-come-visit that.

    Hormones are sometimes (but not always) our friends. We mothers are the heart of our family but also (should I say it?) the heartache. I hate when my children & husband have to tiptoe around my moods, and pray at those times (when I am humble enough to pray) to be more like St. Therese.

    If Therese could control those feminine emotions, why can't I? Cause, like, she's a SAINT?

    This is the path to our sanctity, Honey, and I'll join my vote to the other ladies saying that homeschooling is not the problem. Trust me; I KNOW. If your oldest, (for example), were away at school right now, there would be more tears, not fewer.

    Trust me; I know.

    Try to let go of the perfectionism. I know you, Jamie; you like things orderly and when they're not? You write heartfelt posts like this one and we all profit from it. God bless our beautiful Christian corner of the Internet. It does great good, doesn't it?

    Love you much,


    PS. It's Friday! Did you know it's PJ's & popcorn day?! (I'm just about to phone the governor and let him know.)

  10. PPS. Oh, and in re-reading my last comment, I realized that though St. Therese had feminine hormones to contend with, she didn't have postpartum hormones to battle! Still, I'll bet she understands. :)

  11. OK, I kind of blogged without thinking about comments (for once) and was not looking for anything, just looking to get those feelings out there, out of my head.

    thank you so very much, I really mean it and am sure those prayers are what is holding me up today.

    When my husband came home, we talked and cried together and decided to take a couple or few more weeks off if needed. He even suggested he'd switch to nights and homeschool the kids!!

    I don't like being crabby or moody, I don't like my kiddos to tiptoe around my moods, I'm sure my oldest has been, poor thing. He shouldn't have to.

    I'm going to take these next couple weeks to have fun with the kiddos and do fun things...(hopefully)

    I really think one of the things that comes with homeschooling is guilt, big time guilt. Mommy guilt multiplied.

    I will not like going later into summer next year, but if it saves us now, we have to do it!

    I haven't been living on Diet Coke and Slim Fast though, so those worried out there, I actually was planning on posting on Slim Fast, it's nasty!!! Couldn't even drink a whole drink....Diet Coke, I have 2 a day and really try to drink lots of water....I still could do better, I know, Barbara gave up coffee, I could give up Diet Coke!

    Thank you all so very much for mostly your prayers and understanding, I'm feeling guilty right now for posting such a personal post and making people feel sorry for me, my life is really good, really, really good. I know it, I'm just not feeling it, maybe it takes something like this to make us (me) to stop and think and realize the moment to moment blessings instead of the moment to moment messings.

  12. Jamie,
    I have been having this feeling the last few weeks and my baby is 7 months old. Some of it can be blamed on hormones... but I think the biggest blame can be put on Satan. He knows right where to get us mothers! If he can break us and make us "hate" the vocation and tasks God has given us he feels he has won. Especially at a time when we should be the most happiest... when we have a new baby! I get in these moods very often actually, and what I have learned (from an understanding friend who because she is a mom gets attacked the same way)is to pray your St. Michael prayer as often as you need to and after praying your prayer give each of the kids a big hug! I wish I could be there to give you a hug... I understand way to well.

    Give me a call if you need to talk.

  13. OH MAN...I am going to sew myself shut and not let this little kicker come out of sounds too hard!!!! oh just kidding. You know me.

    This is why blogging is so great. Look at all the great ideas and support for you. I am lucky my kiddos go to a Catholic grade school and I have been and met their teachers and have been in their really is a good place to learn. I cannot teach the math my oldest is doing right now. I think you make a great homeschool mama. Like the others need more time to just relax. 10yrs from now the next mo. off will not really matter so relax and have fun. Smile and drink a Coke. I love Diet Coke too so no support from me about quitting!

    Take Care and I am thinking of you as always.

  14. I homeschooled for 10 years...7 children. I finally put all of the kids into school this year. We just moved across the country and I put them all in school for the first time.They love it and we have met some wonderful and kind people. I really wish I had done it sooner. I like the fact that I had my kids around when they were younger but as they grew older, the responsibility to get their work done was very stressful. I do not think you need to homeschool to be a good catholic mom. You can still be heavily involved in the church and carry on special traditions at home. I think I am a much more patient, interested, loving mom now that I am not under so much stress to teach all of them to the high standards that I had for them. Good luck.

  15. Oh, Jamie...big hugs to you! I don't have much time to comment now, but I just have to say one very important thing: There is no such thing as a "perfect" homeschooling mama out there! I think some must just be really good at pretending. ;)

    You are a wonderful, loving mother, and, as all your other sweet commenters have already said, you have been through a LOT recently and are entitled to more time to adjust! I love your honesty and your ability to express yourself...sometimes, I think, it helps just to get the emotions out. I've often felt much of what you've written here but just try to pray through it and eventually, it does get better! Peace be with you, are doing a great job!

  16. Thank you for your post. I am new to blogging and stumbled upon yours today through the Catholic Homeschooling Blog Directory. I read all of the comments and they were very encouraging! Yesterday I actually ran up to my room, threw the door shut and got into bed under the covers and cried like someone had died! Only for about a minute or two. I got up and went back downstairs realizing I was just tired and that I need to stay focused and keep the kids on track with school every morning before they get distracted and don't want to do there school work because that's when most of the trouble really starts ("I don't want to do school! I hate school!). Other mother's who work out of the home can be gone for 7-8+ hours a day and still manage their home. I can get up and "go" to work as a homeschooling mom, work at only doing school with the kids for 4 hours and leave the housework util "after work" just like the work out of home mother's do, right?? It's just to get the kid's to bed on time and myself so I can get up and get them up and doing their school work. The day really does go best then! I'm sorry I have gone on so long! Again thank you for your post! It does really help to get those feelings "out there" and out of your head. I know I have a good life also and don't always feel it. But I have been lacking much prayer. I'm not using all the graces that are freely waiting for me. I don't want my children to remember a crabby mommy! But, I can feel the graces coming in right now as I'm reading and writing today and finding encouragement. This too shall pass. I try to remind myself I am "Too Blessed to Be Stressed".
    I hope you are feeling better.

  17. I think it is time to back off for awhile! The world will not end if you don't homeschool for one month. Give yourself a chance to get some sleep and figure out a flow to your day. Give yourself a chance to enjoy your children and your baby. Read books, watch educational videos, encourage them to explore a topic on their own. Ditch the formal book work until you feel like you can keep your head above water!

    I wish I would have listened to this advice in the past. We have 7 children, all roughly 2 years apart, so I know exactly how you feel!

    My prayers are with you!
    God Bless.

  18. At the risk of making everyone hate me...I just want to say that I am never ever ever grumpier or more stressed out than when I drink coke or diet coke. I know I know, no one wants to hear this. But I would hate to see that you are one stressed out mom, hating homeschooling etc etc, because, you know, diet coke.
    And you know, if you are nursing a baby, that diet coke could be affecting her too. Okay. just something to think about. I gave up drinking sodas along time ago and I am careful about chocolate because I know for an absolute fact (about myself) that they completely alter my moods-making me moody, depressed, yell more often, testy, prone to sadness etc etc etc. In fact-I had a really really bad morning this morning...I am tired, I am dragging, I was yelling and I was testy. It took me awhile to remember that I drank a coke yesterday (again I don't do this very often). I don't know. I am just saying....mcm

  19. All those perfect homeschool families? They don't exist. Everyone has something they wish they could do differently. When I start to feel so very overwhelmed it's the time to take a break. It could be a few days, a week, or more. Get some rest, get in a rhythm. Do NO school for a short time then add SOME. We had a seriously ill child last year and our school was turned topsy turvey - like almost nothing from Sept. - Jan. but they had all improved come test time (except the sick one - but she held steady). My point is, take it easy. A newborn is a blessing and a challenge. We've all had bad days, but it sounds like yours is worse than a bad day. You need a break, trust in the Lord, it will all work out. Praying for you

  20. Thank you for being so real and honest. I think all of us homeschooling mommas have had days like this. At least I have. I will remember you in my prayers and just want you to know that you are not alone or wrong to have these feelings. It's natural, so VERY natural.

    May God bless you and keep you!

    P.S. I found your blog through Margaret in Minn and I love it! :)

  21. Jamie, you are blessed with loving readers who have wonderful advice!

    What a blessing that is!

    Suffering is not a bad thing and as Catholics we know that it has value or Christ wouldn't have suffered for us. That doesn't mean we want or like suffering!!! Sharing in the cross is meant to be difficult.

    If your kids were in school, you'd likely have a different set of doubts, worries and upset. Right?

    What saint didn't doubt or question their path to sanctity? If God has led you to it, He will lead you threw it.

    I agree with those who have said to take this as a nudge to love your children and take a break. More important than a clean house and some arbitrary school schedule is the love. The beauty of homeschooling is that you can take that break.

    What would I do if my kids were in school? Paint my house to keep uo with the Joneses? Organize and get things done? Not tasks that are "bad" in and of themselves but at the cost of time together with my children?

    People always remind me of how quickly time passes. They are right and you can't get it back. Thank you for the reminder to make our days about loving relationships even when they bicker. Later, when they are gone I'll have plenty of time to paint and organize and I'll wish I hadn't...I'll miss them, and this time.

    God bless you, dear one.

  22. i am going to sit on my comment for a minute and email you instead. i am just so glad that you vented a bit. it does feel better. and i am overwhelmed by all of the wonderful, loving support you received.
    thinking of you.
    praying for you.
    from someone who knows.
    and i don't even have a lovely baby to snuggle....

  23. Jaime,

    How are you doing? I pray you are feeling better now! I just wanted to say hi and let you know I am thinking of you!

    Praying the rosary for you and offering up my sufferings from the endometriosis/infertility for you! You and all the ladies here are so blessed to be Mommies!

    Praying for all Catholic Mommies and families.

    Much love and hugs to you!

  24. As I was reading through the comments, after my first, I remembered that you 'added' a kindergartner this year! So, not only do you have a new baby, but you've added to your teaching, too. Adding another student is always an adjustment; and then your 3yo is trying to adjust to baby and not having her 'playmate' (ie. Mary Hannah) entertain her while you work with the oldest two.

    Anyway, I was just sitting and thinking about all these changes in your life ... because that's what's coming my way. I added K this year for Zeke & we'll have a new baby come November. Who really knows how the 3yo will handle all the change??

    Guess I'm thinking ahead to what's most important. If I need to pare down the schedule, what can we cut for a few weeks (or the rest of the semester!). It's good for me to go through this thought process before the 'time' actually hits.

    One thing I remembered after posting was that I usually ask my oldest two to make lunch a couple times a week. Unless there are leftovers, sandwiches are the standby! Your oldest two could help by making lunch - consider it 'life skills class.'

    Looking forward to visiting sooner, rather than later!!

  25. yeah, can I just say that I feel like I could have a big old group hug with your commenters????

    I agree with everything they said.

    And since we are not long in the tooth friends or anything, at least not yet, I will just echo one specific thought.

    Your babymoon cannot possibly be over yet. While we have never welcomed a baby while homeschooling (and yet fervently hope to one day), I have always seen that as the beauty of homeschooling.... baby is here, so lets just all take a break and get to know her! Remember, your family dynamics have changed dramatically, and you are still healing.

    Sit back, and breath and enjoy your baby. Let the kids enjoy the baby too! You want this to be a peaceful time, so make it one. Peace usually comes when we expect less of ourselves and others.

    Bless you and your beautiful family!

  26. I didn't get the privilege of reading all the lovely comments, but just know that I am praying for you in these post-partum days, "this too shall pass". With much love and understanding, Meredith

  27. Jamie, My heart goes out to you right now, and I will pray for you. I pray that these loving comments by these amazing women have given you comfort and peace. I pray that you will not be so hard on yourself—You just had a baby! Life will be different than it was last year or the year before ... Please allow for an adjustment period for you and your entire family. It's OK if you can't get everything in. Do the essentials and work other things in, when the time is right. Some weeks may be better than others. That's OK! ALL of us moms have had bad days/weeks/months. We probably know some version of the screaming/crabby mama, too. (I don't like it when she's around.) But we are human and broken and need the Lord for strength and grace. Pray. Breathe. Rest in His love for you. Read. Snuggle with your precious children. Take baby steps. God bless you for how much you love your family and embrace your vocation. He will see you through!

  28. Thank you SO much for this post...I feel exactly this way. But without a newborn and I only have 2 boys. Waah. Oh let the graces fall... :)

  29. Jamie, I am so glad you posted this so I didn't have to. You took the words right out of my mouth. I read all your readers excellent comments and refreshed my mind process to only think positively.

    So, is it time to go back to the Bounce Depot with the kids? Tom got laid off AGAIN. We're taking the kids to see the Toy Story 3D this week during the day. Wanna come along? I know it can get kind of expensive to do these things, but we both really need a break - and I think the kids kinda do too! Call me when you're not too overwhelmed and we'll plan something.. anything.

    Oh yes, do you want me to host a co-op gathering? I can if the group still wants to get together this school year. Otherwise I'll forsure see you Thurs at Book Club.

    Miss you and praying for you!


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