Thursday, October 23, 2014

When Mommy Needs a Timeout

There was a baby crying. There was a loud toddler singing. There were adult day recaps on both sides of the table. Dishes clanging. Background music coming from the small speaker on the counter. So. Much. Noise.

I could feel the muscles in my back tensing. I could feel my head getting foggy. My breathing was getting quick. Small imperceptible tears were forming in the corners of my eyes. There was too much, and I was getting overstimulated.

I wanted to scream. I wanted to hide and find quiet. Instead I snapped at my husband who was very likely just trying to help by entertaining the toddler or trying to show interest in whatever it was I had done that day.

We've all had these moments, the ones where we lash out at the first available customer instead of handling the chaos of life's daily grind with any sort of grace or poise. My moments like that tend to come between the hours of 4-6 (I've heard that's often called the "witching hour" by other parents...). Dinner, the hubby getting home, tiny people at the start of tired time when they're also hungry: all of these factors are the perfect storm to send me into a tailspin.

So there I was, standing at the island in the middle of my kitchen feeling like exactly that - an island in the chaos of the waves, just trying to hold my emotional shoreline together when the I just couldn't take the erosion on my own anymore. And I snapped at my poor husband who hadn't done anything except just be.

Didn't I learn anything from that sand and rocks lesson that Jesus gave? Clearly not...
(Image from
While I have no doubt that God is always present in my home, it was in the moments that followed that I realized I had been ignoring that presence (again). My husband put down whatever was in his hands, walked across the chaos... er... kitchen... calmly, took me by the shoulders, and looked me in the eyes.

"Dee," he started quietly, "go upstairs, take five minutes. Don't argue with me. Go upstairs, take five minutes." He paused to let me process what he had said, then made sure he still had my eyes and said "OK?". 

I nodded. I put down whatever it was I had in my hands. I left the room without a word, marched up the stairs, and flopped face down on the bed. 

I could hear the chaos continuing in the background, only this time instead of my own stressed-out voice I heard the energetic voice of a dad trying to settle the chaos down before the mom came back downstairs. I may have cried a little bit, I don't remember... but mostly, I talked to God.

I told God I was sorry for not paying attention to His presence in my kitchen. I told God I was sorry for ignoring His hands that were trying to give me the resources I needed to get through the rest of the evening and then opened my heart to accepting those resources. Then I thanked Him for giving me a man who clearly knew that it was time for Mommy to take a timeout when I was too stubborn to realize it myself.

I took down my husband's "I Love You Because..." boards where we leave each other notes (totally stole that from Pinterest, by the way), wrote a note thanking him for being an example of God's love and grace, left it on his pillow, took a deep breath, put on the armor God had just given me, and opened the door to return to the storm.

My sunshine-filled storm... October 2014
(Image taken by RLPhoto)
That was a little over a week ago, and since then I have been working to become more in tune with when Mommy needs a time out. I have always been susceptible to overstimulation (it is one of the reasons that I was grateful to have my own room as 1 of 4 children growing up) and what's worse is that I know it about myself, I know the triggers - and I often ignore them. I always try to push through it myself, to handle the chaos without God or anyone else around me and inevitably I feel physically and emotionally worse on the other side of it.

It is in the times that I ask for help either from God directly or from the people and support He has placed in my life that I feel the best when the storm calms. Those are the times that I am able to be the best mom, wife, and whatever else I have been called to be.

I need to be brave and strong enough to recognize when I need to take a timeout and to take it. I need to be humble enough to ask God or others for that help when the time comes. And I need to never stop praying, never stop asking God for His resources, and always asking for clarity of mind so that I really KNOW when the time is coming for a timeout.

I encourage my fellow moms out there to do this too. Know when you need a timeout and don't be afraid or ashamed or too proud to take it. Runners know that you won't go far if you don't remember to breathe. Video game consoles, computers, and cell phones all need that occasional reset in order to work properly.

This one is here to see if Steve is reading. Applicable, but also an inside joke.
(Image from "The IT Crowd", found on
Take the timeout. It's OK. I'm allowed. You're allowed.

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