Domestic Church: Red Flags of Discontentment

I was in the carpool line at my boys’ preschool to pick up my oldest two. Without fail, my three-year-old gets 150% excited every time I arrive. “MAMA!!! I’m so glad to see you!!” he squealed with a tiny, tight hug as I buckled him and his big brother hurriedly, knowing the line was waiting on us. A teacher was helping me load them both and she laughed, “Isn’t it great to be such a rock star all the time?” I chuckled, playfully gesturing at my van full of three little boys and said, “Sometimes I wish I weren’t so popular!” More laughing from both of us, then the fellas and I were on our way.

It was a joke. It totally was. The teacher knew I was kidding, too. Still, I felt a slight sting on the drive home because the facts are that A) I was kidding about my kids being a burden B) in front of my kids, who, though they be little, are sharp and perceptive.

Honestly, I’ve noticed comments like this becoming a touch more frequent lately and I wonder at their effect not just on our family, but within myself as a mother.

Andrew and I have been married for just over six years and we’re four kids deep into wedded bliss. They’re work. They fight and they whine like pros. They have needs at inconvenient times and they wear me out; but they’re not the sum of my exhaustion or burdens to bemoan. Each little one is a huge gift – a unique soul God intentionally gave specifically for us to entrust back to Him and to love as members of our particular family. The crosses of parenthood are painful aspects of a much greater blessing; but in the emotional strain of my vocation, I think I’ve convinced myself that my lot gives me the right to complain, even if the complaint is veiled as a joke.

Taking a good look at general parenthood, it’s hard. But we know that. Whether parents have one or 10, raising kids is a harrowing task that consumes body and soul.

The position itself demands respect, but then so does the child overhearing my comments. There’s a fine line between making a playful jab at the trials of motherhood and belittling the children who seek shelter in our relationship. Sarcastic remarks are often red flags to discontentment; in such instances, it’s more fruitful to identify struggles and seek to overcome them rather than cultivate bitterness within ourselves. I certainly don’t want to consider my children as burdens, no more than they want to be regarded as such.

Was it a big deal? That two-second exchange with the teacher? No – probably not; but what I’d like to change is how I speak of my children in and out of their company. Even if this one slipped past them, they’ll reach a point when they’ll infer what they will from my sarcasm; which, though lighthearted, may cause true pain. And even when my kids aren’t around, I want my speech to be charitable without a hint of irony, so I can cultivate love and respect for them within myself and maybe, by a good example, in others as well.

Katie Sciba is the author of She lives in Shreveport with her husband, Andrew, and three sons, Liam,Thomas & Peter.

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