Last Updated on March 20, 2018

Last week, I felt it descending rapidly — fiercely.

Symptoms? Depressive. Exhausted. Sense of futility (I swear I just emptied this dishwasher. I am cleaning a house that is never actually clean. I am so tired of looking at laundry that maybe I should just let you run around in your underwear next week.) Resentful. (Hi. Please do not ask me to do anything for you). Irritable. (No! You may not have a drink! I mean yes. [Sigh.] Yes. You can have a drink.) Sick from the same cold for two weeks. And the feeling that my task list wasn’t facilitating my life; it was becoming my life.

All work and no play was making one crabby mom. I’d been working until 10:30 on most nights. That may sound very noble of me; if so, please see above paragraph. If I weren’t a stay-at-home/part-time-job mom (SAHM/WAHM), you’d accuse me of being a workaholic.

My husband, in gentle words both strange and familiar, pointed out, “You know, you can’t expect people to say no for you, or to not ask. If you can’t say no, having too much to do is your fault.”

True. But … okay. True. But, I explained to him between wide gestures and tears,I have a hard time rationalizing my own rest and enjoyment if me saying no means someone else is up a creek without a paddle.

Which brought me to the real question of why I was going down in flames. Yes, I was over-committed and workin’ my tail off for good, even great things. But why in the world was I doing that?

I needed to spend some serious time in prayer, allowing God to show me what was going on in my heart to the point that I was being self-destructive, and destructive to the very people I was working to serve — particularly my family. Sometimes I feel the tension that in my pursuit of doing all the best things in every category, I actually end up losing what’s important.

If you’ve seen or read any of the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy, you’ve seen the creature Gollum and how the Ring of Power destroys him slowly and ultimately, the ring he calls “my Precious,” caressing it with inordinate, adoring possessiveness.

I’m not unlike him in that I have desires that I quietly cherish in my heart, good things I want that grow as I nourish them — like loving and helping people and doing work for God’s kingdom — things that expand out of their place to depose my true King and Satisfier. The Bible calls those idols. (Yes, in my case, working for God sometimes replaces God.) Some of the faces of my “Precious” include Significance, Approval, Influence, and Productivity.

Of course, any idol demands sacrifices. So I at times sacrifice rest; my invaluable, fleeting time with my kids; the peace and joy of myself and my home; my time doing whatever God would rather have me doing; and even what my kids think success looks like (“Well, to start with, I need to be busy!”).

This weekend, God gently encouraged me to abandon an escalating heap of dishes and a basket of unfolded whites, un-vacuumed stairs, and unanswered emails for a round of all-family hide-and-seek, a nap, a little dance with my son to some music from the web, and some time with God making sure I was getting my thirst truly quenched — and from the right source. (I also logged some time in Gary Thomas’ book Pure Pleasure, written just for personal fun nazis like me.)

Interestingly enough, patience and joy came much easier to me this weekend. I also got to laugh loudly with my kids, especially because when big people play hide-and-seek, parts of them stick out. All in all, it wasn’t a bad way for a slightly crispy mom to spend a weekend.

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  1. Hey Janel…as a long time struggling "do it all" mom turned "fun mom" … by God's grace…this post resonated loudly! And, I sure hope it helps other moms realize that sometimes the very best child of God, wife and mom is a "be-er" not a "do-er" …and this is FAIR WARNING to all moms of younger ones – if you don't spend time "be-ing" with them when they are young, they won't want to "be" with you as they become teens. Think about that one! Yikes! Big Hug to you Janel!

  2. Great blog! Reminds me that laundry is always going to be there but the kids grow up so fast and I should enjoy my time with them! Also reminds me to pray for more patience and ask God to give me strength. Thank you for posting!

  3. I can SO relate. Thank you for speaking to me soul. It’s encouraging to know that I’m not the only one is this particular foxhole on this battlefield.

  4. Ashley Bruce says:

    Today was the first time I have looked at the mom life today website. I think God lead me here today to read this! Thanks for sharing. Its comforting to know that I'm not the only one who feels this way at times. I think one of the kids is now attacking the dog so that's the end of computer time 🙂

  5. Janel Breitenstein says:

    So glad people can find comfort from God in what continues to be such a tough lesson for me. Praying for you right now, and for me as I’m tempted to repeat my patterns yet again this week!