I sat down in my hotel room, breathing deeply. Another day was complete. All the children were finally asleep and I was comfortable in my pajamas and ready to have some time to myself. Our family was at a conference full of meetings, activities and seminars. That particular evening I managed to successfully bring four small children through the crowded, stressful cafeteria (only lost two of them for about 10 minutes!), led them to the room, helped them dress and get ready for bed, and tucked them in. My husband Josh had meetings during and after dinner, so I was responsible for the exhausted and cranky kiddos myself.
Just as I was about to lay down and read a good book, my phone buzzed. It was a text message from Josh informing me that he had another meeting during a meal time the next day. I put the phone down and sighed deeply before I could bring myself to reply. Since arriving at this conference we had not a single dinner together, and a few other meals had been taken, too. I was starting to get tired and frustrated. And I was a little too familiar with where my heart wanted to go.
"I want to redeem this, Taylor. Let me.", a still small voice whispered in the deepest chambers of my weary heart.
I resisted. I have a right to whine! I have a right to complain! No one understands me at this moment! Lord, it's just not fair!
"Let me redeem it, dear one."
As I thought through it and resisted laying down my angry, selfish, beaten down will to the One who knows me best, I heard Him speak.
Josh knows it's hard for me. He doesn't take my work lightly. He sees the sacrifices I make so that he can freely do his job. If it were his choice, he would spend every meal with us. If I give him the cold shoulder, or curse him under my breath, or cut him down with words and pile on guilt, what good would that do? None. It would only set him in chains while he is trying so hard to do his job—to be used by God to change the world.
My children are precious, sensitive, and can hear and sense my emotions and feelings. If they can see an angry mama because she has to be with them, what message will that send them? Could it be that they will feel unwanted, a burden, unvalued and unloved? Maybe even that they are the source of all Mama's stress?
What about others watching? Will it make them fearful of having children? Or having more children? Or agreeing with their husband to take on a leadership position?
After letting God speak, I picked my phone up and replied "ok." I knew it was okay not to be thrilled about the idea, but not to choose a bad attitude.
I want to share some ideas to help you if you find yourself in a similar situation. Maybe your husband travels a lot, or works late hours. Or you are at your end and can't seem to find the strength.
1. Remember God has called your family to something great. Everyone has a role to play and the roles change over time. Ask Him to reveal His truth in the situation, His perspective.
2. Respond positively. Even if you don't agree or wish things were different, speak kindly to your husband about it. It doesn't mean that he shouldn't know your feelings, but share them in a kind way. Talk through it together. For example, after talking with Josh about these things, he tried to schedule meetings that could be done with the family over meals with other families when possible. I also learned through our conversation that he doesn't like to be away from us during these conferences. It helped me see that he isn't off having all the fun and leaving me with the difficult challenges. We are both working hard.
3. Recruit help! I'm very thankful for the help from women without children and moms whose children were grown. This made a difference! Don't feel bad about asking for help. Many women are happy to serve you.
4. Reflect on your needs: This one is critical. If you need some time alone, talk about it with your husband. Maybe a Sunday afternoon you can steal away to a cafe to have some time alone while he watches the kids. Maybe you need a girls' night out, or a date night. Hire a sitter or ask a friend to trade off watching children. Do whatever it takes to refresh your soul! A worn out mama is of no help to a house full or people who need her.
[If you genuinely feel like there is a problem or an issue with your husband being gone too frequently, please talk with him about it. Many mothers suffer silently because they know their husband is doing "good works" in ministry. One should never put ministry before his or her family.]
During our conversation Josh said something to me I want to pass on:
"You know that your job can have a greater impact than mine, right? I'm meeting with people who are interested in ideas. But there are four little children watching you and that you get to raise. You carry the weight, especially at conferences...it matters and has eternal perspective."