Resentment

I’ve blogged a lot these past two days. Forgive me, I guess it helps me feel connected to the outside world when I spend all day at home with a 5.5 week old. Sure, there are papers to write, but I turned one in yesterday so I’m giving myself a bit of a break.

As I already wrote, Gregory and I made it to church for the first time this past weekend. As is customary when one is “churched”, one also goes to confession.

I’ve written so many times about what a healing balm confession is to my soul. I don’t know how I ever did without it. I start out so confused and aggravated by things I can’t even put a finger on, and I leave with peace, resolve and clear direction. Sometimes I wonder how much the church would make if they started charging money for confessions (an odd twist on the Catholic Church’s selling of indulgences in the 16th century, no?). Confession is the best therapy out there, hands down.

Anyways, I knew I had to go to confession, but I didn’t really have a “list” or any particular issues to hash out. Sometimes these are the best types of confessions, because the Spirit can lead to the heart of the matter without my own agenda interfering.

I started out, rambling about different things that have happened over the past 5 weeks. Jesse’s and my relationship, how it’s changed, how we’ve adapted or failed to adapt to Gregory…

All of a sudden, a common theme emerged, without my help. All of my problems and angst, little at the best times, catastrophic at the worst, boil down to resentment. It has been the driving force behind so many of my actions these past few weeks, it’s shameful.

Even more important, we (Fr. Joe and I) figured out that because I’m trying so hard to keep from feeling any resentment towards Gregory– a virtue– I’m bottling it and letting Jesse have it all the moment he does anything less than perfect.

It’s good, in one sense, that I have been able to channel the resentment. I can easily see how a mom could get aggravated enough to do the crazy kinds of things we see on the news. Seriously, a crying baby DOES THINGS TO YOUR SANITY. But I’ve always wanted Gregory to know on a very deep level that he isn’t a burden but a joy. I even want to resist the temptation to vent about his high maintenance personality because I don’t want to establish habits within my own thinking that could come out later. A passing comment here, a glance there…babies pick up that stuff. I want him to rest assured that although he is not the most well behaved baby in the world, I wouldn’t have it any other way. That’s him, that’s his personality. All or nothing. To resent him for acting like Gregory would be to resent his existence.

But it’s also not good that Jesse’s bearing the brunt of my resentment. Sure, he’s stronger than a newborn, but it’s not his fault that I wasn’t able to take a shower for 3 days (true story, personal hygiene is a commodity these days). It isn’t his fault that Gregory starts to cry the moment I’m on the phone with the insurance lady or the moment I get really hungry.

Fr. Joe had some very good advice for these next couple weeks. First, he said to stop analyzing everything and just let things roll off. While we could think we are doing ourself favors by poring over the details of an argument or hashing out our feelings about frustrating elements of parenthood, it’s only going to be a weapon used against us at this point. Two sleep deprived individuals, attempting to assess the pond that’s still tossing from the huge boulder thrown into the middle. Useless. Wait until things settle, he said, then figure it out.

Secondly, he told me to do what may seem like an obvious thing and take all of my resentment to God. It’s a cliche statement, taking one’s issues to God, but Fr. Joe tried to put words to explain it. Don’t feel guilt over the resentment, just pray. Be honest. Let God know exactly how it feels to be deprived of my shower and food, not to mention my old life.

“Let Him have it,” Fr. Joe said with a smile. “God’s strong enough to take it. Jesse isn’t.”

It got me thinking about how often we fail to acknowledge building anxiety and frustration that may be justified. Because we fail to recognize it for what it is, we don’t release it in the proper manner. Instead, we take it out on those around us, pointing out their faults as a way of distracting from our own pain.

Any thoughts?

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3 thoughts on “Resentment

  1. God bless you, Kelly. You are recognizing things about yourself early on in your parenting (and marriage) that often go unseen. It is necessary and healthy to examine these things out in the light rather than ignore them. I cannot give any advice, since I am such a poor example of how to examine and handle my failures (too many- and they just overwhelm me, I guess), but I do have a word of encouragement . . . G will know you love him and that you do your best. He will eventually see that Mommy and Daddy are not perfect, and the neither is he. Because he IS loved, however, his life will be resting on a foundation. Many children cannot say that. He will grow into a fine man in spite of your imperfections. He will become a loving man because of them.

  2. kel, you saw us with topher those first few months and recently i’ve started to talk about what it was like on my relationship with michael during that first year. i don’t want to compare topher with gregory, because i know that though there are similar attributes, they’re two very different boys. however, i do remember quite well not being able to shower regularly, the complete physical ache of hearing your son cry and yet to be driven crazy by it at the same time, and the overall weariness of having a “high maintenance” child (i don’t like the label either).

    on the plus side, every night when topher goes to bed, michael and i discuss how much we are so very proud of him. though he has always struggled with his passions, he is so very moldable. i love having a passionate child. sure we have to work very hard to point him in the right direction, but once he’s there, he’s passionately caring and kind and thoughtful and reverent…etc. though gregory might demand a little more time to work with than future children and their unique personalities (like us with jonathan, it seems), i doubt you’ll ever want it to change. nothing changes you like your first.

    thanks for sharing about you and jesse, too. good counsel from father joe.

  3. Amen Kel! I definitely fall into the over analyzing trap too. I feel you on that!

    I think it is so great that you are practicing how you think about Gregory now. I can’t help but feel he is really going to appreciate that someday, as well as that last bit about justified frustration. I can recall countless arguments I’ve witnessed and had that might have never arisen had an initial frustration simply been voiced and dealt with. Raising a child is wonderfully frustrating (she says with conviction and no experience)! Fr. Joe is right about taking those honest frustrations to God. He’s the only one meant to bear the weight of our loads and to be the cornerstone of our identities.

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