The Even-Keeled Mother

Dearest Friends,

One of the other topics that I have sincerely thought and pondered during this move is that of the overwhelmed mother.  Not the mother who is experiencing chronic anger (which I have written about before ), but the mother who is just overwhelmed.  I have especially have noticed lately those mothers who are overwhelmed to leave their homes, those who find social experiences overwhelming, those mothers where you can tell that the smallest of problems are huge elephants grating on the rawest of nerves.

And I have seen this overwhelmed feeling feed into other areas for mothers:  in homeschooling this leads to a thought that there must be a better curriculum or better homeschooling philosophy out there so therefore we must look and change and incorporate something new,( or we are so overwhelmed we plan nothing and do nothing!);  in parenting there must be a better method and a better way so the children will behave better; in marriage there must be some kind of communication technique that will work wonders….and the list goes on.

My heart goes out to those feeling unsteady and raw.  I have felt that way sometimes as well.  It is easy, I think, to want to please everyone, to search for “answers” to things that have no great answers ….to want to do something different when it seems as if everything is going wrong but then to just feel beleaguered and overwhelmed by the whole process…I understand, and here are my thoughts:

Just be even-keeled.  It sounds so simple, and I know it isn’t.  Here are a few other ideas:

  • Don’t jump around.  Be consistent and give things time to actually work.  Give something a solid forty days, a solid semester even, before you try to change it…
  • Don’t  try to change everything at once.
  • Make your inner life a foundation for your new –found sense of being even –keeled. If you do not have enough inner work, it will always be easy to be swayed by what someone says, by what new wrinkle happens in the family….I do my inner work through my religion and religious practices, but there are many ways that people approach this.
  • Support your physical body: are you suffering from physical challenges that are making you feel overwhelmed? Adrenal exhaustion, thyroid issues, other hormonal challenges?   I love the book “Mother Nurture” to look at these types of issues:
  • Are you getting enough sleep?
  • What would help you the most? Could you lean on your community for support and help?
  • Are you trying to do everything just too perfectly and making yourself and your family miserable in the process?  What could you let go, what would help you relax?  I have seen so many families go “100 percent Waldorf” and just burn themselves out.  Do what works in Waldorf education and parenting for you; go slowly!
  • How can you change your own attitude?  It all begins with you.
  • Do make sure you are getting some support from WOMEN friends, not just your spouse. I think this is important; other homeschooling mothers understand what you are going through.  Other mothers who have children the same ages or a bit older understand what parenting challenges you are facing!
  • Do be sure you are leaving your house consistently each week.  This may seem paradoxical, but if you are overwhelmed by social experiences and decide never to leave the house, it actually becomes more difficult to enter social involvement again later on.  If leaving the house is too difficult, but your older children really need to do things, try to set up friends to help you by taking your children where they need to go or for play adventures.
  • Set boundaries and parameters that are not at one extreme or the other, but  that are in the middle and consistent.

One of the most valuable things we can show our children is that we are not perfect, but that we have a measure of self-control, a measure of dignity under stress and strain, and that we know how to set boundaries by saying “NO” to the people and events and requests that would drain us.  And, at the same time, that we have enough balance that we can interact with the world outside our home, and we have enough that we can give to  others.  It can be elusive to find all this; it can be challenging, and yet so worth it to try.

Many blessings as you find this balance in your life,

4 thoughts on “The Even-Keeled Mother

  1. Wow. This could’ve been written about me! My little one is up every hour and is extremely irritable during the day. My older one and my marriage are feeling the strain of my chronic sleep deprivation. Our house is a disaster… A disaster! feel like I must be doing everything wrong or missing something so I spend a lot of time searching for solutions instead of just doing as you said and picking something moderate and implementing it slowly. It all feels so important and immediate, you know? Our day is crazy! Thanks for the encouragement and advice!

  2. This is such a great article … it’s so hard sometimes to remember that what we’re doing is ‘okay’, it’s enough, or that sometimes the best thing is just to be still and let things wash round you. I have a tendency to be on the look out for the next answer, the magical missing component, when really I just need to trust that I’m doing okay … and accept that perfect is a dream, not a goal. I’ll definitely be sharing this article with a couple of friends!

  3. Another fabulous post. For me, addressing my physical health, which is about the only thing I can ‘control’ has been the key to finding greater balance and clarity. As those changes take hold, I am finding it easier to address everything else.

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