Mom-ing is hard.
This may not entirely fit in perfectly with the last Dear Moms post, but it’s definitely a continuation.
This is not a “pity me” post. It’s simply an “I can resonate with you – you are not in this alone” post.
I just wanted to confirm to you all that being a mom, well, it’s the hardest job there is.
I know I would have scoffed at that sentence before I had kids. Even during my first pregnancy. But wow. It’s literally 24/7. Even when they aren’t home, you’re washing their clothes, cooking their meals, or worrying about them. Do you know what I mean? It takes a toll on your brain. I think that’s probably why I can’t seem to remember which day is what, or why I walked into the dining room in the first place. Why am I here? What am I forgetting? So many times! I know other moms feel the same. I’ve listened to them about it. It’s not just me. And it’s not just you.
The last post was about moms with newborns. This is for moms who are moving past that stage, and are trying to figure out how to have some normalcy in life. Each stage is hard. Just different kinds of hard. Having three kids in about three years – I was exposed to all of the earlier stages at once. I can honestly say that I can’t remember so much of the last 5 years. I was either so tired, frazzled, or busy with the little ones that my brain just decided that it couldn’t keep with inputting memories. It was too busy trying to stay awake, or to focus on any one thing (instead of trying to think of everything all the time – which happens more often than not).
From having a literal line up at the change table (why would two of them decide to poop at the same time?), to nightmares (“Mommy is so tired, can you please try to stop thinking about bad things?” <— Do I sound/feel selfish much? Yes. I will reiterate that last Mom post. Motherhood shows you how selfish you really are, and bring out lots of other less-than-lovely things about yourself, that you may not have realized.). We’ve got spills happening at least 3 times a day, sometimes more. The patience it takes to not explode when someone spills the fifth cup of whatever (or somehow manages to slop their entire bowl of stew on the floor before taking a single bite), is immense. So much patience required.
There are so many things that try our patience, that help us grow, to become better parents along the way. And the best part? Our kids love us. No matter how many times we might lose our patience a little bit too quickly, they forgive and forget. They don’t understand how hard it is, but they do have little innocent hearts, that love quickly, and immensely. They know we will not stop loving them if they somehow manage to spill every drink in one day. They somehow have this great mechanism for forgetting that we were mad at them. Especially if we humble ourselves enough to ask their forgiveness for exploding a little bit too much. Those little hearts are so precious.
We’ve been tasked with the care of those little hearts. To guide them and to guard them. It is oh-so humbling to remember that every day. That we’ve been blessed with these littles, not burdened with them. Sometimes that is a hard thing to bring back to the forefront. I know that sounds horrible. But it’s truth. They feel like a burden at times. Mostly when they’re all screaming at crying and you want to go hide somewhere and cry too. If you haven’t had kids yet – don’t let that scare you. Every day is not like that, every moment is different. You can go from screaming and crying to having a special kitchen dance party, or seeing your littlest ones sharing ever so nicely. There are so many beautiful moments that happen. When you see your oldest trying to help your youngest, or explaining to his brother why doing something was wrong (their logic is hilarious sometimes, listen closely to what they say).
Kids are actually hilarious. They have the funniest senses of humour, and say the darndest things. Quite literally, they are the best form of comedy. And lame, though my jokes are, they think I’m funny too. They also think that I’m a pretty special person. Even though it may seem like they don’t hear you or see you (I think this happens a lot to stay-at-home-moms who are always with their kids), as soon as you are out of their sight for an hour, they are more than excited to see you when you get home. They need a break from us sometimes, even as we need one from them.
I laugh more being a mom then in anything else I’ve ever done. Yes. It’s hard. I will never ever tell anyone that parenting is easy. It’s heart-wrenching sometimes. I actually don’t like it when people say it’s “rewarding”. I didn’t have kids to be rewarded. But there are moments that you wouldn’t change for the world. Little spots in a day that you want to etch in stone. Write those down. Remember them somehow. Then on the hard days, you can look back and remember that these are kids. They aren’t just little crazies that are out to get you all the time. They are little hearts, trying to figure out the huge, crazy world we live in, and how they fit in it. Hopefully they are learning by watching you.
You are not in this alone, Mama. We’re all in this together, regardless of the different ways we approach things. We’ve all got a few things in common – We love our kids, and want to do right by them. We are human, and make mistakes. We don’t know what we’re doing. I will take every prayer, listen to advice (not necessarily use said advice), and love to talk to moms about what they’re doing with their kids – what works, and what they need help with. Bounce ideas off of one another. It helps so much.
Enjoy those kiddos this holiday season, see the wonder in their eyes as you put up trees, as you pass beautiful light displays on the road. Remember that they are the most amazing gift. Those sweet children, who aren’t always all that sweet. Remember the moments spent.
Sorry if this was hard to follow at all – my brain is a bit scattered. (Probably an understatement.) I hope you were able to glean some encouragement from this. Merry First Week of December!
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.
This is post is going to be a bit different than many of my posts. I’m going to delve into the topic of Motherhood.
Just a disclaimer that I’m going to be honest and blunt. If you don’t enjoy bluntness, go back a few posts, and check out the Blueberry Lemon Pie, or Ginger Ice Cream instead (you’ll love both – I promise).
A few days ago, a friend of mine posted this article on Facebook. I read it, because it had an honest feel about it. Tears threaten to spill when I read articles on new motherhood. Mostly because I can remember it like it’s still happening. I thought I’d expound on this article, and [hopefully] spread some encouragement at the same time.
If you are anything like me (and I think most of us are pretty similar, whether we like to admit it or not), then parenting had passed through your minds quite a few times before you actually found out you were pregnant. For me, it started probably around 5. I knew I wanted to have babies someday. It continued to grow into a real desire in high school. A year after I graduated, I married my high school sweetheart. Months later, we found out we were having a baby. We had been trying, but it still feels like a surprise when you find out that it has actually happened. A baby has been conceived. There’s a living person inside of you. Wow. It’s breathtakingly amazing, and completely horrifying at the same time.
From those first thoughts as a 5 year old, and on into pregnancy, I had opinions and ideals about babies, and parenting. I had voiced some of them out loud. Others I kept hidden. Most of them were wrong.
I went back and forth with, “How can I possibly bear, and then raise a child?”, to “I can do this! I’ve been waiting for years to do this. I had 4 younger brothers, I know what I’m doing. I’ve got it in the bag.”
We are all insanely naive. Like it or not.
None of us have any idea what we’re doing. Whether we’ve had years of babysitting experience, nieces and nephews to take care of, or taught elementary school. Nothing prepares you for having a baby.
I’m not writing this to scare anyone away from having children. I’ve had three so far. If it wasn’t worth it, I would have stopped at 1, believe me. I’m writing this to hopefully open your eyes to what is to come.
I will glow when I’m pregnant. I will feel great.
These were ideas I had prior to getting pregnant. (Obviously. If you knew me when I was pregnant with any of my babies, you’ll know this was not true in any way.) As soon as I got pregnant, I became nauseous. I felt fat. I worried that any little thing I did might hurt the precious cargo inside of me. (Remember, this was baby #1. Things changed a bit after that first one. Oh, how that first one teaches you things about yourself!)
But, through the nausea, and the crazy emotional roller-coaster I was putting my poor, new hubby through, I thought that once the baby was here, I’d have it all together.
I’d have it all together. Right. Like I’ve ever had anything all together. EVER. Just because you’re becoming a mother does not mean you will suddenly be great at everything to do with motherhood. Please trust me on that. I thought I’d breastfeed for at least six months, and that it would be easy. I thought that I’d be able to get enough sleep, so as to not feel like an actual real life zombie. Those mom’s who couldn’t get enough sleep mustn’t be doing it right. And nursing, it’s natural, right? It must be so easy! There were no thoughts of, “What if my baby doesn’t poop for 9 days?” or “How will I find time to do anything at all?”. I figured it would take a few days to get used to, and then we’d be good to go.
I’d love my baby so much that it wouldn’t matter.
I’d love him so much ALL THE TIME, that I could deal with things that might not go right.
I had gotten all of the advice. Other moms had filled me in with advice like, “Nap when the baby naps”, and “Enjoy every minute, it goes by so fast”. They left out the hard parts. It is so easy to do that. You don’t want new moms to know about all of the hard work that being a new mom is. The hard parts that they might have shared, I kind of shrugged off. That doesn’t apply to me, I’m so special. Right.
Baby came into the world a day early. Starting there, I should have seen how naive I was about it all. I had planned to work that day. Even after my water broke, I figured it would take forever, so WHY NOT go in for a four hour shift? (It’s a good thing I didn’t, the baby would have been born on the floor of the grocery store.) My hubby, however, convinced me that we should go into the hospital. Delivery was actually okay. It sucked, but I wasn’t scarred for life. Delivering the placenta though. It’s the grossest, most horrible thing ever. For some reason I hadn’t realized that I’d have to push again, after the baby was already here. I’ve spoken to other moms who have said the same thing. They weren’t really expecting that.
Then we tried to nurse.
“Your nipples aren’t shaped right. Hasn’t anyone told you that before?” asks my nurse.
No. In fact, they had not. What does that even mean?!
It means that nursing sucks. Especially with a tongue-tied newborn.
We tried every position, got his tongue-tie clipped, pumped until I was raw. After a few days the breastfeeding expert decided that, yes, maybe we should try a shield (WHY DIDN’T YOU GIVE IT TO ME THE FIRST DAY?!). For those who don’t know (because seriously, who knows these things until one absolutely has to?), a shield is a rubber cover for your nipple. To make it ‘right’, if you’re not shaped correctly.
I also wasn’t informed that my baby might want to feed every time, for an hour at a time. And will need to be fed (at minimum!) every four hours. That basically means you feel like you are always feeding your baby. I felt like a cow, and smelled like sour milk.
Enough about me. Let’s talk about you.
You will love that babe with all your heart when you see them. Even though they might be covered with blood when they’re first placed on your chest. Even though your first thought may be, “Ewww, gross!”. You will love them.
And it will be hard.
There are a few mothers I’ve spoken to who are just naturals. Everything is easy. But they also question things. They don’t know all the right answers either.
It is hard.
There are no two ways to look at it.
You will feed your babe, lay them down, and try your best to do as many of the things that might be normal for you, before having to feed your babe again. You won’t get half of it done. Baby will wake up earlier than hoped. You will feel discouraged. It’s okay.
It’s okay, because you have just brought a beautiful new life into the world. You will not enjoy every minute of it. People advise you to, and when you don’t you will feel like you must be doing something wrong.
It’s okay. You aren’t. Not everything about being a parent is enjoyable. It’s just not.
You will feel tired. I found that I was the most tired after the babe was around 6-8 weeks old. All of those crazy days and not-very-rest-filled-nights caught up to me around then. I’d find myself nodding off whenever I sat down to nurse.
You will hurt. My body hurt so much more the first time. The shock of birth, I guess. It took so many weeks to stop bleeding. (Another thing you might not think of right before you’re having a baby – stock up on pads!) Some people don’t bleed very long. I wanted so badly to go back to running, and couldn’t. Discouraged. Again.
Give yourself time to heal. Give yourself time to get used to a completely different lifestyle. You will never be a childless woman ever again. You will always have this child to love, to worry about.
Don’t expect a great many thing to get done for the first few months. Yes, I said MONTHS. Those extra things that you thought you might get done on maternity leave, they won’t happen right away. You might get chance to do them eventually. Truly.
You might wish you could be back at work. Contributing to society. Contributing to the finances of the family. Talking to grown adults. Then you’ll feel bad about wishing that. But it’s okay. It’s normal. This is a huge change! (Not to mention your hormones are definitely making you crazy at this point.)
You are doing an amazing thing right where you are. You have borne, and birthed a child. You are helping the same child, nurturing him, already shaping him into who he’ll grow up to be. You are contributing to society by giving them a new member. (And a dang cute one at that!)
You are doing a great job.
The best job, in fact.
New moms out there, I’d like to say it gets easier. In some ways, it might seem like it for a season. I think it stays the same. Each stage with a child is hard. Different hard, but all difficult.
You will learn how to do a zillion things, all while carrying a baby. Eventually you won’t have to do that anymore. But then you’ll have to learn how to do anything with a toddler running around, getting into everything. All of the stages present difficulty. It is the greatest learning process ever.
And you will learn more about yourself than you ever could, doing anything else. Becoming a mother is humbling. You may have heard this advice pre-baby and not quite understood it. You do now. You learn how much you care about how you look. You learn how selfish you are. You learn how little you really know about raising a baby, or heck, life for that matter. You learn how little patience you have.
All of these things you’ll learn. They’ll make you feel discouraged. Everybody else must be doing better than me. They’re not as selfish, they don’t have as little patience, they don’t care about how they or their houses look (though they both always look fantastic!). We all have these self-doubting thoughts. They’re not true.
You’ll get better. You’ll learn to have a little bit more patience. You’ll learn more about how to raise a baby. You are enough for your babe. You will continue being enough.
And you are becoming a better person, a better Mom, in this whole process.
I really hope you enjoyed this, and will share it with any new moms in your lives.
Part two will follow in a week or two (or three?).
Thanks for enduring – it was a long one. 🙂
*Briar as a newborn (only hours old)
*Myself and Briar on the first day. (Notice I look happy. This was baby number three. As much as each babe is a new challenge, and still hard, I found each to also be a little bit easier, knowing what I’m about to come up against.)