Dad needs his lunch made, the kids need rides to school, the doctor, and dentist. The neighbors had a baby and the church would like you to bring them dinner tonight. The school would like you to volunteer for the PTA, class field trips and parties. The local community needs your help with supporting a candidate for the upcoming election. The house looks like hurricane Katrina hit it, no one can find their shoes or socks when they need them, and everyone is complaining that there isn’t any food in the house. The word “Mom” no longer feels like a term of endearment and you may have been known to hide in remote places when hearing your children yell it out loud. Chocolate is no longer an occasional splurge, but now an essential food group from which you find the will to move on each day. You wish you could fit into the cute clothes you once wore when you felt like a normal human being, in fact you have all those clothes still lingering in a box somewhere or maybe even in your closet in the hopes that you will wear them again someday. Instead, they are only a reminder of falling short of your goals. You feel like you are juggling a million plates all at once only to have them keep crashing down. If you’re super lucky, you have a husband who comes home, sees the house a mess, and asks why you can’t organize your time more wisely.
Do you sometimes feel like this picture?
I say YOU but all of these I have experienced myself as a mother. (Well, with the exception of my husband asking about my use of time, but I’m sure he’s had that thought at least once in our 13 years of marriage but wasn’t brave enough to say it! 🙂 ) I’ll warn you, I am going to bare my soul and be brutally honest in this post, but I do it in the hopes that my experience will help someone else.
I’ve always wanted to be a mother since I was old enough to play with dolls. It was never something I felt I had to do, but something I dreamed of doing. I had several miscarriages, so, when I had my first baby, I felt like I was on top of the world! Nothing could have prepared me for the love I would feel for this human being. I was also not prepared for what motherhood would truly be like. I went on to have another 3 miscarriages, so I was so happy to finally hold our second child in my arms. My third child came soon after and life suddenly became a lot different. It was hard caring for 3 children when I only had 2 arms. I felt like I was a juggler in a circus 24/7. I dreaded ever going into public with my 3 active kids and going to church was an EVENT! I remember one Sunday coming home and being so frustrated with them and my whole life in general, that I raised my arms to heaven and yelled, “Why does this have to be so hard??!”
It took 3 years before I was ready to attempt a 4th child and I told my husband we were DONE after that! That was a TOUGH pregnancy. I ended up having a C-section because he was breech. Recovering from a C-section AND 4 children was MIND BOGGLING. I was exhausted, depressed and spiraling into what felt like a black hole (most likely post-partum depression)I remember feeling like I had been ‘tricked’ into motherhood. Here I had dreamed of it my whole life! I was struggling so deeply that I remember, at one very low point, thinking my children deserved a mother better than what they had. I still remember what my doctor said to me at my 6 week check up. I was trying to hold back the tears when I shared with him how I had been feeling. He said, “You’ve just had a major surgery, you are caring for a baby around the clock, getting no sleep, and still having to maintain your home, and take care of 3 other children and a husband. Tell your family to CUT YOU SOME SLACK!!” It felt good to have someone acknowledge all I was trying to do and also reminded me that this too would pass. AND IT DID. Motherhood, never stops calling. Once the choice has been made to bring a child into this world, it will continue to call, for the rest of your life. It is HARD, it is EXHAUSTING, it will make the bravest of souls drop to their knees and plead to God for help. It is because of how demanding it is, that it is also the most REWARDING job in the world!
The world would have us think that motherhood is demeaning, that we could be doing better things with our time. As time goes on, less and less people are choosing to have children. The media likes to portray whole families as obsolete, motherhood as a crisis, and parenting as a punishment for those who are stupid enough to accept the responsibility. Because of this, when asked what our occupations are we have a tendency to want to say,
“Oh, I’m just a stay-at-home-mom.”
…while secretly wishing we could reply with something different like, “I’m a lawyer, or a full time nurse.” (not sayin’ mom’s can’t be both, just coming from my own perspective because I’m not both!)
OR…we have a tendency to feel the need to excel at motherhood in order to ‘look’ like we ‘totally got this!’ We watch hilarious you tube videos and scroll our facebook pages only to see the ‘best’ of everyone. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve dropped my kids off at school only to see so many other mom’s already showered, dressed, with their make up on, and wonder why I can’t get my act together. Why do we constantly feel the need to compare ourselves? Last year, I had my gallbladder removed and it took a major toll on my health. Weight started piling on, and it has been a major trial in my life. Last weekend I saw a picture someone had taken of me and I just wanted to find a quiet place and cry (and actually did). It was so hard to see what I looked like now compared to several years ago. Thanks to my caring sisters, I was able to quickly jump back out of that dark hole of negative thoughts and move on. I can’t stop thinking about it lately, though, because I KNOW I’m not the only mother who goes through things like this! If I am, I’m making a grand fool out of myself writing this post, and that’s ok.
So. How do we break through this superficial “SUPER-MOM” image that the rest of the world thinks we should be and just be the moms we are truly MEANT to be? By reminding ourselves daily who we TRULY ARE on the inside and how important our calling as a mother is.
I am a CHILD of GOD! Tell yourself this when you are tempted to demean or think negatively of yourself. It DOES NOT MATTER whether we are skinny, overweight, short or tall. It doesn’t matter where we live, how much money we make, what car we drive or where we buy our clothes. We are still all his children, and as such, are loved beyond description! Be confident in who you really are and tell the rest of the critical world to take a hike!
Be confident in your calling. Motherhood is not a ‘job.’ It is a CALLING. It is the MOST IMPORTANT thing you will ever do in this life. Think of the impact you can make in your single home! That impact will be passed on for generations! It’s like an eternal chain letter filled with love, heartache, lessons, and joy. The simple everyday things you do with a child add up to eventually be another capable giving human being to bless the world. The opposite is also true. Imagine the negative impact if society as a whole decided motherhood was not important and abandoned the caring for and nurturing of children! The hand that rocks the cradle literally rocks the world! SO, ROCK IT MOM!
Take care of yourself! You cannot get water from an empty well. Remember the annoying tutorial you get every time you board a plane. You must put on YOUR OWN oxygen mask before you try to help someone else with theirs. Go for a walk in the morning to start your day. Take your vitamins and drink lots of water. Eat as healthy as possible without becoming obsessed with your weight. Find someone to watch the kids so you can have some time alone. EVERYONE needs that! Be kind to yourself. You wouldn’t want someone to bully your child. Treat yourself the same way and don’t be your worst bully.
Practice saying no to people when they ask for more of your time than you feel you should be giving. Whenever you say “yes” to one thing, you will have to say “no” to something else. Instead of trying to juggle a million different things and feel like you are failing miserably at everything, prayerfully decide what is most important and recognize that you are only one person and can’t do EVERYTHING for EVERYBODY. How do you know what is most important? That is for you to find out yourself. This is how I like to do it myself: My relationship with God comes first, so I start my day with prayer and scripture study. That in itself, helps the rest of my day to fall into balance. Then I try to make sure I take time for myself (exercising, eating a healthy breakfast, etc) and then my family, and THEN the rest of my obligations. If something falls through, I would rather it fall through with the less important things. It is an EVERY DAY battle to keep things in balance!
Pray for help before you start your day. I will never forget as a child seeing my mother on her knees in prayer. In my eyes, in that moment, she was the BEST she could be. Find time to be quiet. In the fast-paced world we live in, we are constantly bombarded with texts, tweets, online distractions, children whining in our ears, and just…NOISE…loud, emotional noise. Put your phone in time-out if needed, and find time each day to just feel peace and be quiet. It’s hard to find any peace or answers in life if you can’t even hear yourself think!
Surround yourself with goodness. Find positive friends who love you for YOU! Read uplifting books, and only watch uplifting media. Seek out the best in life and you will soon find that life really is the BEST! We recently sold the smart tv we had anchored to our bedroom wall. We still have one other tv in our family room but not laying in bed every night watching pointless shows has made a major impact on me. I now look forward to my stack of books on my nightstand, and find more peace. I like to find uplifting quotes and hang them on the fridge, for me and my family. We are definitely not even close to being perfect but we are getting better as a family one step at a time.
Cancel out the bad days. Moms have LOTS of bad days, and we like to feel guilty about them when our children are all tucked in and look like little angels after a long day. Instead of going down Guilt Trip Road, just say, “Sheesh! That was a bad day! Glad I get to start over again tomorrow!” Then cross it off your calendar, cancel it out in your mind, and move on!
Speaking of bad days, I recently watched an inspiring clip online that made me realize, once again, we are performing a work, as mothers, that is far more important than we give ourselves credit for. I know I am always sharing videos, but hopefully you will humor me one more time and take the time to watch this short clip. You REALLY NEVER KNOW how much good you are really doing!