Hamster Wheel Days

It’s 7:30 a.m. I’ve just tucked my fourteen-month-old, Sam, in for his first nap. Yeah, I know. That’s early for a nap. But we’ve been awake since 4:30. “It’s another hamster wheel day,” a voice tries to tell me, after a series of events like teething, traveling, and sickness that just won’t let us get back into our sleep routine. But then another voice replies, “Maybe not. You don’t have to live constantly struggling to catch up and never getting anywhere. You have choices.”

I have choices.

I’m not blogging this morning to complain. Well, maybe a little. But I’m making a big effort not to complain to my husband this week, or ever again…and I also have a need to express my feelings in order to work them out. I have expressed my feelings to God numerous times, and I am trying to make him my foremost confidant. But a blog audience is a nice audience to complain to, if you need to complain. I can talk about my struggles without being tempted to attack—like I am tempted to do with my husband—and I usually get some encouraging comments from my sweet readers. If nothing else, pounding the keys of the keyboard does something good for the anger inside me.

God is doing a work in me. He continues to do a work. Through this motherhood gig, he is pointing out sins that I wasn’t previously ready to confront.

Hello, selfishness.

I can keep blaming other people and circumstances for my frustration—there are always plenty of excuses. Or I can take responsibility for my actions and my attitude.

The fact is, I’m not (mainly) frustrated because Sam’s sleep is erratic, or my babysitter cancelled again, or my husband doesn’t help with meal cleanup. I’m mainly frustrated because I am selfish, and I have not planned for “interruptions” in my plans.

I am selfish, and I struggle to see motherhood (and wifehood) as my first duty and calling. I am selfish, and I have tried to neatly portion out blocks of time that are “mommy hours,” and blocks of time that are “me hours.” I am selfish, and I have not lived as Jesus Christ, giving my whole self—my body, my time, my attitude–as a living sacrifice. I am selfish, and I have wanted motherhood to happen on my own terms, not on God’s terms.

I have been deeply convicted that my failure to love and appreciate my husband and son in the midst of inconveniences or upsets in schedule are rooted in selfishness. So I am putting my eyes back on Christ—because I need his supernatural patience and love to get me through these “hamster wheel days.”

I have choices.

I can’t right now choose the time of day I want to study my Bible, or choose how long, or even totally choose what hours I want to sleep. (While I am doing what I can to sleep train, factors outside of my control like teething, sickness, and travel back and forth from Texas are legitimate struggles that cause regression and necessitate some babying.) But I still have choices.

I can choose to own this stage of early mornings and night wakings not as a tragedy, but as an opportunity to grow patience and self-sacrifice. Practically, I can also choose to nap with Sam on the really hard days, and realize that the world won’t end if I don’t post a blog or cook homemade food on those days.

I can choose to get my eyes off myself and focus on others who are going through struggles much worse than mine. I can look to mentors and good influences to lift me up. And I can celebrate all the good around me, like the fact that my friend just gave birth to a new baby.

Getting off the hamster wheel means simultaneously lifting up my eyes and lowering my expectations. I must do this—I will do this—so I can stop running on empty and be still sometimes…at flexible times, at whatever times Sam takes his naps. I don’t know what kind of a day you’d call that, but it sure beats the hamster wheel.

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6 thoughts on “Hamster Wheel Days

  1. Kate March 25, 2015 / 10:40 am

    Full swing of motherhood! Thanks for sharing and feel free to complain to us any time! Can’t believe he is 14 months already!!! Thanks for your real story and inspiration to honor God in being a mother!

    • lindseygendke March 25, 2015 / 10:43 am

      Hey, good to hear from you! I was just poking around on your blog, hoping for an update! Awaiting some good news soon! you feel free to complain as well, but I sincerely hope your twins will be great sleepers for you! My neighbor in Texas who has twins around Sam’s age are excellent sleepers; I think it was God’s gift to her for the added challenge she has.

      • Kate March 25, 2015 / 10:49 am

        I’m praying for the same! An update either today or tomorrow. I’ve been so bad, wanted to blog a lot more, but just didn’t happen. But, C section is schedule for next week – 1 week to go!

      • lindseygendke March 25, 2015 / 10:50 am

        Don’t worry about not blogging at all! Stuff like that goes to the back burner at times like this, as it should! God bless you in your last week. Those are emotional times!

  2. ccyager March 25, 2015 / 1:44 pm

    Hi, Lindsey!

    I wouldn’t call you “selfish.” I’d call you a student. We are all learning how to live life, to fulfill our purposes, and to give what we can. “Go with the flow” is really appropriate here. Your comment about lowering expectations is quite pertinent. When I feel overwhelmed by the world, or stuck in a rut, I think of the Buddhist core belief of impermanence, that this too shall pass. It helps me put things into perspective. Who will die if I don’t do this, that or the other thing? 99.99% of the time the answer is “no one.”

    You’ve taken on a challenging job: being a mom. It does mean thinking about others a lot, looking after them, making sure they are happy and healthy. But it doesn’t mean surrendering yourself completely to a life in which everyone else is important and you’re not. You ARE important. You need to take care of yourself so you can be the best you can be for your family.

    I watched my mother suppress her needs for years. She was terribly unhappy and resentful toward my father. She didn’t even realize it, but it came out in her manipulative behavior and in their frequent bickering. Even after all the kids had moved out, she still continued to follow her belief that being a “mom” was forever. This actually made me not want to have children. I love kids. But I don’t think I’d have been a good mother, not only because of my parent role models but also because my career would come first. I did not want to do that to another human being.

    Cinda

    • lindseygendke April 1, 2015 / 1:43 pm

      Cinda, thanks for the reminders that our present circumstances are temporary. It has helped me lately to be around moms with older kids; reminds me that Sam will pass into new stages quickly, and he is, even now! Thanks also for the helpful title of “student.” I sure feel like a student in the school of parenthood. Just bought some books on the toddler years, to that end! And it’s good that you could learn more about how you wanted to live your life by looking at your mother’s life. Sounds like you made a smart and thoughtful decision on the direction of your life; I wish all parents could say the same! I hope that is the case with the decisions I am making…

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