When you feel unlovable

by Lesley on November 7, 2013 · 32 comments

in marriage,motherhood

On Saturday night we went to a friends’ wedding, and then, because we’re parents of young children, we left early for time alone. Just the two of us.

We walked hand-in-hand down Midtown’s streets, each holding a chocolatey drink from Ginger Elizabeth. His with caffeine, mine without. We stopped when we reached the steps of a big beautiful church, where the homeless congregate near the doors for warmth and no one shoos them away.

I was looking for a quiet corner to pour out my heart, knowing full well he’d be content sitting at the bar tables inside the chocolate store.

The bulk of my confession spilled out earlier that morning as I lay in bed nursing a fussy baby. I told him that all the noise in our house is just so very hard on my ears. The crying. The whining. The way Anna repeats herself sometimes twenty to thirty times even when I’ve given her an adequate and clear response the first time. 

I told him that on bad days their noise makes me feel like I crazy person. And on VERY bad days, their noise just makes me angry.

He said, “I know. I see it on your face and I hear it in your voice.”

“But Lesley,” he continued. “You are not an angry person.”

And he, my husband of eight years, is right. I’m not an angry person. But when I’m pushed to my max–and I have been several times in the last six months–anger spills out of my mouth and crushes tiny spirits. In my attempts to control, control, control all I do is break, break, break.

I hate that I let myself get angry, and I hate that I have the ability to hurt.

But in addition to the anger, or perhaps because of the anger, I also feel something unfamiliar.

Shame.

How could he love me after witnessing such yelling and screaming?

How could he still think I’m a good mom after listening to me tell our baby that I’m tired of him?

How could he still want to walk these quiet streets, and hold my always cold hands, and make me scrambled eggs for breakfast the next morning when I’m so undeserving?

My hot chocolate is almost done when I acknowledge that for the first time in my life I feel unlovable. “I don’t even know why you’d want to be with me,” I say.

He gives me an incredulous laugh and wraps me in his arms, reminding me how strong we are together.

And he says it again…the words I need to hear so badly:

“You are not an angry person, so when you act angry I know you’re not getting something you need. What do you need right now?”

At first I am tempted to list all the things that would seemingly make life easier: a maid, a babysitter, a personal chef and a masseuse, for starters. But really, while some extra help would certainly alleviate any mom’s stress level, it does not address the heart of the matter. His question has.

The only thing that will fix me, and the only thing that will fix how I react to my children, is found in graceful words spoken on a quiet city street:

I am loved in spite of my imperfections…

…and my moments of sin do not define who I am.

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26 comments
hharpergrohs
hharpergrohs

Lovely Leslie...I enjoy these so much.  I met your husband today, though I felt like I knew him already because of your words.  Thanks for saying what so many of us think.  ALL the time. 

Bronwyn Lea
Bronwyn Lea

"Husbands, love your wives as Christ loves the church."

beautifully incarnated by Jonathan, beautifully written by you :-)

jamiehanauer
jamiehanauer

This is so great, Lesley. I really appreciate your honesty, and I promise you -- I know exactly how you feel!!! I'm so glad that you have a place to write about these hard times, and that you have such a wonderful and loving husband. Be kind to yourself... this mama gig is tough!

san_in_ca
san_in_ca

I can only imagine how hard parenting can be on tough days. As far as I can tell, you're doing a terrific job at it... and don't we all get angry sometimes? ;)

wendywew19
wendywew19

Your honesty is so significant. Resisting the urge to excuse the ugliness of your reaction makes this story so much more valuable. I am a long way past the days of sleepless, fussy babies and the constancy of toddlers, but still life keeps throwing up situations that test me and drag me to the edge of myself. My impatience, anger and critical words are still so close to the surface. God still needs to keep reminding me I am not in control. But the point at which I totally connected with your story was the amazing insight of your husband- his love understood that it was when you were at your worst and most 'unloveable' that his love was needed even more. The thought of that embrace and your acceptance of his love is a moment I wish I had had more often in my own life. I need to also try to give that gift to others more often!

subjamn
subjamn

I'm having the same time of day and ran across your post.  Thank you for speaking so eloquently and making me feel like less of a failure.

marisaloper
marisaloper

beautifully written...been there sister!

Julie Peterson
Julie Peterson

Lesley, this is so touching and honest.  I admire you for sharing your heart.  Love how God uses Jonathan to encourage you.  Give yourself lots of grace as parenting is challenging for even the most patient. 

Jenni Dugan
Jenni Dugan

Definitely made me tear up, as I feel the exact same way lately. Babies make us crazy don't they? :) You are such an amazing writer Lesley.

Chelsea Leber
Chelsea Leber

I am tearing up at my desk right now. So sweet. I've always looked up to you and admired the relationship you and Jonathan have. Your relationship has been through so much over the last several years and proves that together you two can survive anything. love you guys!

laurenamaro
laurenamaro

Make me cry, why don't you? So good to read. 

tim_fall
tim_fall

You and Jonathan are beautiful together, Lesley. You two are also beautiful parents and God has blessed Anna and Owen richly by giving you to them. Thanks for this reminder of God's goodness and grace.

reliasen
reliasen

This was lovely, Lesley. Thank you for sharing such a vulnerable and beautiful moment. 

amylvogt
amylvogt

This is writing for the soul, sister. Rich and honest. Our sin does NOT define us. Praise Jesus. I love you.

kllymsby
kllymsby

This made me tear up, sweet friend. Thanks for sharing. So grateful for the way Jonathan loves you.

LesleyM
LesleyM moderator

@hharpergrohs Awwwww, I'm so glad you got to meet each other! And thanks for reading and affirming my words (and feelings!)

LesleyM
LesleyM moderator

@san_in_ca Thank you! I'm trying. Somedays are certainly better than others!

LesleyM
LesleyM moderator

@wendywew19 Isn't it funny how no matter our season in life, we still have to resist the urge to show our worst selves? I'm grateful for grace, that's for sure. Thanks for stopping by. Appreciate your comment.

LesleyM
LesleyM moderator

@subjamn You are definitely not a failure! But I can certainly understand the feeling. :)

LesleyM
LesleyM moderator

@Julie Peterson Hey Julie! Thanks for reading. It's super hard to confess the ugly stuff so I appreciate the encouragement. I did not want to push "publish" on this one. 

LesleyM
LesleyM moderator

@Jenni Dugan Babies have a special way of making grown women crazy. For sure. Thanks for reading, Jenni! You are always so encouraging. 

LesleyM
LesleyM moderator

@tim_fall You are a great cheerleader, Tim. Thank you for rooting for us, and the gentle ways you've encouraged us as we learn to parent. 

LesleyM
LesleyM moderator

@amylvogt Love you too, Ames. And I love getting to hear your wise advice by phone. You're one of those mamas I call when I'm desperate. Thank you. :)

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