Mommy Who Is Scared Of Chore Enforcement

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First of all, I understand.

You are not alone.

Let me relay my story.  I hope you take comfort.

My daughter Jazmine is 8 years old. If you are new to this blog, for the first 7 years of Jazmine’s life, we lived with my mother-in-law.  Life was very different then.  I had a lot of “help”; most of which was an easy fix to a current situation. During this past 11 months of living under our own roof, I’ve had to grow A LOT! Jazmine had to grow a lot. It could not and did not happen all at once. Discipline is an area where I’ve had stunted growth. I am not talking about behavioral discipline. I am talking about enforcing chores and household responsibilities.

Jazmine has chores, meaning I’ve assigned them and she knows what things she is responsible for doing.  She also knows how to complete each task to Mommy’s specifications. However, I have not done a consistent job of enforcing those responsibilities. She knows she is to vacuum after dinner but, often enough, because I dismayed at having to address her non-verbal unpleasantness at being told to complete the chore, I would not say a word but let it go.  Other times, it’s not that I didn’t feel like enforcing but that a greater need arose. Namely, Baby Grace needed and eye kept on her while I finish something in another part of the house. Jazmine can not yet vacuum and watch a toddler so, I nixed the vacuum for babysitting.

My husband and I just got back from having some time away.  Now that we are back home, and our weekly routine gears up again tomorrow, I have had time to reflect. I can not be that worn out anymore. I can not stay up late after our girls are in bed to clean, fold, and wash. My husband does not need to stay up after working to straighten up.

The Bible is clear. It says, “Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up” (Deuteronomy 11:19).  Although that verse is referring to the Israelites teaching their children to carefully obey God’s commands, you will notice that the children are with their parents. The children are with them in the house, on the road, at bedtime, and in the morning. I’ve not had Jazmine by my side while doing most of the things needed to run a household. I’ve let her entertain herself while I completed my chores. I’ve done her and myself a disservice.

I was afraid to enforce before because of what it would cost me. Time.

It’s like teaching her to tie her shoes all over again.  When she was 5, I had to add an extra 5-10 minutes to the get-out-of-the-house routine to allow her time to work at tying her shoes. It was worth it but oh so labor intensive. Until today, I’ve shied away from enforcing chores because I did not want that labor intensive work day-in and day-out for the next few weeks (months) on end while raising a toddler whom, I swear to beans, has hit the terrible twos at 14 months of age!

But the Bible says, “Correct your son, and he will give you rest; Yes, he will give delight to your soul” (Proverbs 29:17) I can take comfort in that, as much hard work that will go into this next stretch of mothering, delight is awaiting me on the other end.

So, fellow scared Mommies, let us journey on together shall we?

Disclaimer:  My decision not to act was selfish and unloving. My desire for perfection (regarding cleanliness) in my home effectively killed much-needed instruction from me to my child. I am armed with laminated and posted chore charts (one of which is pictured above) and a determination to make household responsibilities just as important as school. I will enforce the chores she knows how to do.  Whatever task I am about to do in our home that is new to her, my Jazmine will be by my side.  I will be teaching and she will be observing and learning. We will be conversing. I will not expect perfection when she first attempts task nor when it’s her 50th attempt. I will, however, expect improvement. 

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Scripture Works Together

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I was scared tonight. I started back teaching Zumba two months ago. I co-teach once a week.  I teach one half hour and the lead instructor teaches the other half hour.  I have led two full one-hour classes. As happy as I am to be able to teach again, and get paid, I am always nervous. I was such a Zumba snob before.  I would criticize instructors in a heartbeat. I’ve walked out of classes if I didn’t like their style of teaching, mannerisms, song choice, etc. Now that I am the teacher, I had to acknowledge how afraid I was of reaping what I had sown.

It does not feel good to have people walk out of a class you are teaching. I know people leave class for reasons other than they don’t like the class. Folk leave because they only planned to do 30 minutes.  Some maybe trying out a class and are not committed to one format. Knowing this does not make it easier to see people leaving while you are doing your best to teach.

Praise God, I pushed through but I was reminded of several verses as I did.  Matthew 12:36Galatians 6:7James 1:19, Ephesians 4:29.  All of these verses work together.

Careless words are rash, quickly spoken words, phrases, or comments that are spoken without thought to what you are saying. Once those words escape, you are responsible for them.  You have sown those words into your life. You will reap those words because you failed to be quick to listen but instead was quick to speak and slow to listen.  You spoke corruption instead of edification.

I saw this in my own life, bright and vivid in color.  At least two people left my class tonight.  Again, I know there are more than one reason why people leave but unless you know why before hand, a dwindling class is not good. Starting out with 10 participants and ending up with close to 30 is great.  The inverse, not so much.

Now that conviction has taken place, my everything changes.  The way I speak, how much I speak, when I speak, all of it changes.  It will change the people who chose to be around me.  Folks gather when tearing something/someone down and would rather exclude those to build up unless they themselves are in need of edification and encouragement. It will be me who gives alternative reasons why people may be behaving a certain way. It will be me sticking up for people I don’t even know when others start to tear them down. It will be me being the Suzy Sunshine trying to deter conversation from casting judgment on someones actions so that my companions don’t end up speaking carelessly.

Everyone takes a trip on that slippery slope of careless words spoken in the present that leads to future strife. Now that I am aware of it, not only am I responsible to keep from taking that ride, out of love, I am also obligated to help others stay as far away from that slope as possible.

Alas, when I thought my circle of companions had grown small enough, I can feel it getting even smaller. (deep sigh) All for Christ and Christ alone.

How To Let Go And Let God

PreparingBabyLayetteLet Go and Let God is a song and a cliché within the church. Not that that saying has no truth, but it is often used so haphazardly that the full weight of the words is missed.

I long for more children. An itch has been scratched since having Baby Grace but it still feels that my family is not yet complete. I long for the boy my husband can father in the home; a boy from my womb. While we have been trying, I have not yet felt the desperation I had while waiting for Baby Grace to come. As Baby Grace continues to grow and out grow, I have not parted with a thing.  I have been, once again, hoarding but calling it wisdom.  Better to store and wait for another child than to give away and have to repurchase right? No.  Saving is wisdom.  Hoarding is folly.  Hoarding/Storing takes on the mindset that if we give it away, we could never again regain it. God provided the first time and He can and will provide again. Let go and let God.

During today’s sermon, God impressed upon me that I was hoarding his blessings.  He had to remind me that He provided for Baby Grace and He will provide for the next baby, whenever that happens.  I had to release my coveted Puj Baby Tub, stretchy car seat canopy, sneak-a-peak car seat cover, and nursing cover. My bargain bought breast pump, Close & Secure Portable Infant Sleeper, and my numerous baby wearing gear, all I released.  I released EVERYTHING over and over and over again until it was complete and real and not just lip service.

God provided before.  He will provide again. Why? Because He told me to let go. I didn’t decide to just let go and hope he’ll catch me because I desire for new. No. He told me to let go so I am. I know He will provide yet again because He did for Jazmine and Baby Grace.  I KNOW He will do it for whenever the next baby comes.  By the time you read this, I will have already made a call to see if a new mom needs anything I have and I will have sent a text asking another mom to come view my wares and to take whatever she needs. Whatever is left will be posted on my MOPS group Facebook page.  Whatever is left after that will be consigned at the next local Tot Swap for $1-$3.  I look forward to being a conduit for God’s blessings.

God Never Promised To Do Anything Our Way

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It is true that God breaks EVERY chain. He is powerful enough to do the impossible.  I know that from experience.  God’s word says it, I believed His word and trusted that He would do what He said He would do, and He did it.

His methods and timing? So, so, soooo far off from my own but then again, He never promised to do anything our way.

I have been operating in a state of heartbrokenness for 2.5 years. In all that time of suffering in one particular, yet far-reaching, area of life, He also healed other areas, improved situations, changed my thinking, and grew me astronomically. God is always at work, even if something hurts.

A few days ago, while I was doing some mundane daily task, God spoke.  I was hesitant to attribute that new dawning that occurred to Him because although the words were new, the idea wasn’t. Now, after a few days of walking in that new dawning, I can say that it was from God. God said I am always on display.

When you are a leader, you are always on display but at a young age, I learned from others that all leaders need a place to let their hair down. A place where no one is paying exact attention to every single thing you say and do. In my adulthood, God taught me that if letting your hair down means doing an about-face from who you are, that is pretending you are something you are not in front of most people and being who you really are in front of others. Even with that knowledge, I still looked for places where I did not have to be “on” all the time. I could say something severely crass (which I am inclined to do) and not be held accountable for it later by someone who never thought I would say such a thing. I loved those safe havens and often looked for more safe havens but I soon learned why you don’t have many safe havens.  That goes back to what God said about letting your hair down. So, I grew from that place to wanting to be in an environment that, although my speech and behavior rarely differed, I wasn’t under super watchful eyes.  No one was jotting notes about my parenting, clothes, conversation, etiquette…you get the idea.

The 2.5 years of brokenness I was in stemmed from my safe place being broken. The severe hurt I experienced resulted from realizing, understanding, and knowing for a fact that what at one point was my safe harbor, had turned into an operation theater.

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An operation theater was commonly used the in 1900’s

Instead of being, feeling, and knowing I was safe, I was dissected as sport and laid bare for all to see, judge, and comment on.  It was an extremely emotionally draining, difficult time. I made changes to keep from being in that theater. Hard changes.  Changes I never ever thought I’d have to make.   All the while, however, asking and seeking the Lord for Him to change things. His perfect timing was 2.5 years later which was 2 years past my time frame (lol).

I can now return to those former safe places and feel a semblance of safety again.  Not because the people have changed but because God has changed me. I was not ready to accept that God’s calling on my life meant that I would always be on display. I am ready now. He led me in baby steps although that last (at least for now) step felt like a giant leap. Now that I accept His calling on my life, I can go back. I can sit knowing I am in the theater but not fearing it. I can live out loud knowing that my mannerisms and etiquette are being watched but not looking for it to be watched nor shy away from the watchful eyes.

I am healed!

Homeschool Jealousies

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In the culture of homeschooling, there is no “right” way to do it.  It is all based on what is needed, wanted, and works for your family.  As  long as you meet the requirements of education set forth by your state, you can get there as creatively as you please. That is a beautiful part of homeschooling.

On of the subsets within the culture is not pretty, biblically or otherwise. Homeschool jealousies. Homeschool jealousies can arise in almost any aspect of homeschooling. curriculum used, activities attended, activities completed, co-op group choices, child development, etc. etc. I have found myself wrapped up in homeschool jealousies at one time or another. It’s not pretty, it’s not fun, and it wars on your family.  God prepared me for this most recent bout.

Kelly is a very dear friend of mine and I’ve had the privilege of watching her children grow up. When her eldest was in elementary school, she had a very best friend.  They were in the same class and all the same activities.  Kelly stayed home so the very best friend was often over after school.  One day while I was there after a school day ended, the girls were doing their homework.  Kelly told me that the very best friend was very behind in her education.  I sat down to work with the her to try to assess where the disconnect was and offer encouragement. The very best friend was SEVERELY behind. Not because she wasn’t capable or didn’t want to learn.  She was behind because she needed more help in getting the lessons. I recognized it in how she tried to get the right answer just so she could be seen as keeping up even though she had no understanding. Kelly talked to the mother of the very best friend about this and the mother said she and Kelly’s daughter were the same and her child could keep up just fine without any additional support.  This did not address the issue and years later, it is not better.

My Jazmine has a very best friend. They are the same in many ways and participate in many of the same activities.  However, in this case, my Jazmine, though not behind, is on par (if not slightly advanced) in her second grade education. My Jazmine’s very best friend however, is advanced. Most recently, and this is often a occurance in homeschooling, her very best friend moved up in grade level. At my first hearing this from my Jazmine, I was taken aback. My initial Mommy reaction (thought in my head not said out of my mouth) was, ‘how is she moved up? You both are the same? She can’t out learn you!’ Immediately, in my mind, I was trying to decipher ways my Jazmine could keep up. After all, she’s not incapable.  Perhaps she could be challenged more? Perhaps she could benefit from an increased workload? Perhaps I could move her curriculum up a grade level too? Perhaps we could add more educational activities/opportunities to allow her to further flourish? Perhaps…perhaps I could get a dag-on grip!

I could have smacked myself.  I IMMEDIATELY remembered the mother of the very best friend. I sounded just_like_her! NO FREAKING WAY! Children can remain friends regardless of educational prowess. Activities may change but, especially in homeschooling families, as long as parents make the effort for the child to be with their friends, that friendship can flourish! My Jazmine’s very best friend will remain her very best friend because all parents involved are committed to that happening!  All parents involved in this situation are actual adults, not children pretending to be adults.

So to my Jazmine’s very best friend, fly baby fly! achieve! We support you!

To my Jazmine, your Mommy is not going to move hell and high water to keep up with ANYBODY! You move and grow at your own pace and your father and I will be here to support you always!  Fly and soar sweetheart!  We remain proud of you!

The Quickie Queen

Physical intimacy is an important aspect of marriage. (Hmm.  That sentence wasn’t powerful enough.  Let me try again.)  Physical intimacy is vital to a healthy marriage. (There I think that was better.)

When my husband and I were to be married, we had pre-marital counseling.  During those 6 sessions, our Pastor said in most marriages, husbands are the sexual aggressors, but in some marriages, the wives are.  I was stunned to hear that.

I knew me.  I knew I was not getting married to be celibate by ANY means.  Being the good Christian girl that I was, my husband was going to get ALL of this woman as soon as we said I do. I was prepared for all the sexual struggles (he wants it all the time) I’d heard married women talk about and just knew it wasn’t going to be in my  marriage.  I was ready to be ready at ALL times.

It is not always lack of desire that prevents physical intimacy in an otherwise healthy marriage.  Life and its burdens can get in the way. Anxieties, deadlines, and sheer exhaustion can prevent the best efforts. Both husband and wife can try MANY workarounds, strategies, and time set aside to circumvent the negative repercussions of a lack of physical intimacy. Sometimes they work.  Sometimes they don’t.  It all depends on finding out what works for that couple. Trial and error is GREAT when it works but depressing when it fails.

Prayer to protect physical intimacy is important.  Ask God about it. Tell him what you desire and share that with your husband.  Watch God work it out.  He created sex to be with you and your husband. He will make it happen.

There is something to be mindful about when you do pray about physical intimacy.  Do not sabotage your effective prayers with your presets.  The Bible says ask and you shall receive, but be warned not to sabotage the receiving process. God will work in that important area of your marriage.  Start by having him work with you. My story is that while I asked, I remain the same. I responded the same way to my husband when he made an efforts.  That is self sabotage. His gentle touches, impromptu hugs, requests to have me sit near him for a bit (even while I was in the middle of making dinner) are all signs that he desires me. It may take ALL day for the bedroom to take place but he gives clues ALL day that it is on his mind too.

I have sabotaged myself. I was never one for the build-up to the end; not for common everyday practice.  That mess was cool when the only children we had lived with their mothers but now that we have two cock-blocking terrorists (yes, they are blessings and we love them but they do NOTHING to enhance the bedroom), I am in hit-it-and-quit-it mode, ALL the time. No chill. I have become the Quickie Queen.

My work around was to be “ready” at a moments notice. What should have been a temporary fix had become my preset to the point where all I looked for is “right now”.  My preset became to brush off all forms of telling physical contact because it wouldn’t produce immediate results.  Why? Because we could build up all day and one phone call (church, children, or job related) would change the evening.  All the build up for blue clit (female version of blue balls). The emotional build up would be there, the physical touches would be there, the anticipation high and then, nothing. Like a romance novel that ends with nothing but a goodbye wave.

To protect myself from the let down, I would say things like, “Don’t start anything you can’t finish,” and similar phrases to convey that I was not satisfied but desired to be. Talk about poor word choice.  That did nothing to build up my husband. That did nothing to bolster our bedroom. I sabotaged my desires.

While praying for God to move, I still spoke and responded the same way. While in the process of receiving my request, which was evidenced by his touches, words, and nearness, I sabotaged the receiving process by being unresponsive/negatively responding to what was offered. My fear of the possibility of something interfering with our bedroom became a brick wall that prevented me from receiving anything.

Once that realization came crashing down on me, I am now eager to respond to all promise offerings my husband gives me. Why? Because the phone calls weren’t his fault.  I wasn’t the only one disappointed. However, instead of working through that shared emotion together, I shut me and my blue clit off. Shutting off inhibits receiving of any kind.

If you want to receive from the Lord, don’t shut off and don’t sabotage.

Happy Humping!

Nothing To Write

Remember me saying before that I would not write something just to write something? Remember me saying that I would only write as the Lord leads? Welp, I got nothing. I’ve tried to come up with some thought that lead to something productive.  I’ve tried to remember blog post ideas that I neglected to write down. Nothing.

So, I am writing to say, I have nothing to say.  Why? So I remain faithful in having something published every Monday.  I noticed just now that I missed last week (s0 s0rry). So, even if I have nothing to say, I will write that I have nothing to say.

‘Till next week 🙂

“I Want Hot Breakfast Mommy.”

I put the brakes on what type of Mom I was not going to be long ago.  One of those types was the fresh-breakfast-making type. I have a friend of mine who makes her children’s’ breakfast even now.  She has two high schoolers. She has been frying up bacon, sizzling sausage, scrambling eggs, and flipping pancakes for many a school day. Couldn’t be me.  That is what I said to myself.

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I have brought many brands of cereal, pop tarts, toasters strudel, cereal bars and the like to make the morning meal as easy and portable as possible.  As a preference, I don’t do mornings. It was a sad day for me when Jazmine was a baby and I could not longer offer her the breast as her pre-breakfast meal while I remained in the bed. I now had to get up and gather breakfast up! Baby Grace still takes her morning tata-meal and goes back to sleep for at least an hour before requiring that I get up and gather her breakfast.

My Jazmine is not a big breakfast eater. I usually have to force her to eat something.  She will eat a donut or pop tarts without hesitation though, but we can’t have that every morning.  (Her father’s preference, not mine…regarding the pop tarts).  However, recently, my husband has taken to making bacon in the morning. I bought orange juice to help my husband get over a cold. Since then, my Jazmine will get up, toast some cinnamon raisin bread, eat it with bacon, and drink orange juice. I asked what gives?

“I like hot breakfast Mommy,” she says. Truth be told, she has been saying it for years but this is the first time I heard it for what she was saying without trying to shortcut my way out of it.  I used to make pancakes in bulk and freeze them so she could have them every morning.  That worked for a time but one day she abruptly quit that. I asked why.  She said she prefers fresh pancakes.  I asked why.  She said because there is no love in frozen ones. I would make her bacon on occasion in the microwave.  She prefers pan-fried. I bought chocolate cereal. She stopped eating it after a while.

This is deeper then just breakfast.  My Jazmine likes to be pampered and catered to. It seems that one of her love languages is Acts of Service.  My primary love language is the same. I thought it would be easy to express this love language to her since we speak the same language.  I was wrong.  Her acts of service are different from mine.  I think that is because at her age, how many acts of service can she really receive as love? I can’t vacuum for her.  I can’t do her school work.  I can’t put her toys away.  I can do all of those things but those chores are her training for adulthood.  I can’t show her love in those things on a regular consistent basis and still expect to raise and adult who can take care of herself.

What I can do is make her hot breakfast every morning.

HE Catches Me Before I Fall

One sentence spoken from my daughter Jazmine.  One wishful thought that I can’t fathom how to accomplish. Either of these can send me down an unprofitable thought rabbit-hole.

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I recall a Gospel song There Is No Failure where one of the lines in the song is, catches you before you fall.  It is so very true.

I have often heard God’s voice speak to me as I am peering down the bad thought rabbit-hole.  I hear truth to my ears but because it wasn’t what I wanted and wasn’t a way to get what I desired, I often dismissed it with an excuse. I can clearly see now that was what I was doing.  Only after receiving truth was I able to detect the lie(s) I was choosing instead.

This really happened.

I was driving home with my girls in the car.  I had already been noodling how I was going to sign Jazmine up for all of these camps this summer and how I needed to keep my ear to the ground for when registration opened up so we wouldn’t miss out. At that point in the car, I wasn’t currently thinking about that but it was still on mental radar.  Jazmine says, “Mom, I want to do ballet, Karate, and soccer.  I already told you I wanted to do ballet.” And that she did. She has mentioned ballet on and off since she was three.  The first emotion I felt was guilt.  Why hadn’t I put her in a class yet? I couldn’t remember.  Because I was already working under my own pressure regarding camps, hearing my child restate a desire she had and adding that she wanted to try new things, I felt like a failure.  Summer isn’t here and I already felt like a slouch. I was trying to figure out how I would juggle getting her to karate, finding a ballet and soccer camp, and making sure Baby Grace had some semblance of a schedule during all of this.  Before I succumbed and really tried to piece this all together, I heard the Lord say, “Many adults try things for the first time in their adulthood.” And BOOM! Instant pressure relief.

I didn’t even try to preface God’s words with any ‘I will try Jaz’, ‘let me talk to Daddy and we will see what we can do’, or ‘it all depends on what we find’. NOTHING!  I said exactly what I heard.  Jazmine responded with, “Well I just want to try things in my childhood.” Masterful response but I was already free from any guilt threatening to overtake me.  Just a few weeks ago, I would have dismissed what God said with an excuse and try to make a way myself.

Praise God!

 

Did I Mention I Hate Being A Pastor’s Wife?

Of course, the title of this post is rhetorical.  I’ve answered it SEVERAL times in this blog. Just search the archives and you will see. 

 

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Let me clarify so assumptions are not made.

I love my husband who is a Pastor.  I love being his wife. I HATE being a Pastor’s wife.  How is that different? Let me explain.

I would remain married to my husband if he weren’t a Pastor. I don’t hate my husband. I’m not leaving my husband because he is a Pastor.  I love my husband. I enjoy being a wife.  I hate being a wife of a Pastor.

If you still don’t get it, that’s fine but please no comments on what you think I am feeling if you don’t understand my opening statement.

Our Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays are for preparing a sermon.  Not that my husband only starts on it on Thursdays but that is the day it usually becomes more solidified. When are birthday parties, adult outings, and other social gatherings usually held? Fridays and Saturdays.  How many times do I show up looking like a single Mom with two children to events where there are whole families (moms and dads)?  Much more often than not.  Case in point. I rejoined a local MOPS group. They were having a fun pool event that I knew my Jazmine would love.  I was excited to see how Baby Grace would do in the pool.  I took my girls and went.  I wasn’t expecting to see so many dads. I assumed MOPS (mothers of preschoolers) and thought it would be a large playdate instead of a family outing. My mistake.  The pool event was titled a family outing but it my mind, I envisioned women and children.  With the exception of one other mom, I was the only one there unaccompanied by my husband.  The other mom’s husband stayed home with the infant while she came with the toddler.

I felt horrible.  I wanted to shout, I HAVE A HUSBAND WHO LOVES ME AND IS A GREAT FATHER TO OUR CHILDREN! I equally wanted to tell anyone who said hi to me that my husband is writing a sermon so he couldn’t come.  I felt the need to quantify why I was alone.

Being a Pastor’s wife is so lonely. There are few you can share your feelings with.  Even in a group of Pastor’s wives, you can be told to put your big-girl panties on and suck it up.  Well guess what?  I suck it up all the time!  Can’t I vent? Am I not allowed to be upset? Angry? Hurt? Can I not desire to have an entire weekend to myself? Can’t I desire to have our family hang out late on a Saturday night with friends and go to late service on Sunday? Why is it only a Pastor’s wife that can’t want anything?  Why is it a Pastor’s wife that is supposed to suck-it up and (this is the part that is never said but ALWAYS implied) like it?

I love my husband but I hate this role. There aren’t enough Pastor’s wives appreciations on the planet to make this job worth the sacrifice! I’m not dealing with all of the facets of being a Pastor’s wife in this post. This post is specifically about showing up unaccompanied by my husband to family events. Oh but trust, there are many more gripes that I am sure will come out in posts to come.

If you are a Pastor’s wife, you are not alone in feeling alone.  You are not alone in hating the role.  You are not alone in wanting more. You are not alone. I give you permission to feel, to desire, and to want. Talk about it. Not sweep it under a rug.  That is how resentment grows and resentment never grows into anything pleasant.