My lovely friend Michelle at They Call Me Mummy, wrote a wonderful post today that pretty much every mother who ever lived can relate to. Since she has dubbed me her “parenting guru” (a rare show of poor judgment on her part), I started responding on her blog but it became epic (as my unsolicited advice usually does) and then I realized this is something I want to tell every mom I know…so I’m obnoxiously hijacking her post and putting my response here.
Michelle please don’t hate me. I know you were just venting….and there’s nothing more annoying than advice when you are venting. This is a pep talk for me more than anyone else.
Here are my thoughts.
1.) Everyone feel the same way you do sometimes.
2.) Every job sucks in some way.
3.) It is what it is. You don't have to love it all the time to be good at it.
4.) THIS IS JUST A PHASE.
5.) People will treat the way you teach them to. As you so eloquently pointed out yourself. Especially kids.
1.) I feel the way you do this morning and most mornings lately, because I never get to sleep a full night, I feel like I am up all night and every morning Ella is all over me, cheerfully mauling me, (she's obsessed with my boobs even though she doesn't nurse…) before my eyes are even open. She won't let me read my scriptures or plan my day because she wants my iPhone, or the notebook I am using or the book I am reading. Whatever it is I have, she wants.(Basically because she just wants my attention). It brings out the immaturity in me. In a major way. I have said, more than once today, “No! Mine!” (To which she has responded in kind-but with more shrieking. It’s a banner day for setting good examples about sharing…and that was just before 7am.)
2.) 'Nuff said. OK here’s a bit more. Don't romanticize any other job. Unless you are a chocolate tester, your job sucks at some time in some way. Every time I think I have it hard, I imagine what it would be like to miss my kid doing something at school I wanted to be at because I had to be sitting at my desk doing something stupid and menial. (Every job has stupid and menial tasks… just like motherhood does).
3.)This whole smiling mommy who embraces every moment thing is a total farce and a lie. There's not a single mom who does that. Motherhood is life, Life is designed to be a hard. It's supposed to be a test. Tests and trials are by their nature not easy or fun. Ergo if motherhood is your life, motherhood is not always easy or fun. When people stop buying into the rubbishing lie that we are doing it wrong if we aren’t happy and fulfilled 100% of the time, I think we will all feel a lot more sane. I firmly believe that the hardest part about hard times is the sense/expectation/belief that they shouldn’t be this way or they shouldn’t feel this way. That is NONSENSE. There is nothing wrong with things being hard, or messy or irritating or overwhelming. That’s how we grow. That’s how it is supposed to be. Life is supposed to be hard. I saw a quote this week that I’ve seen many times before but it’s always a good reminder, “suffering is mandatory, misery is optional”. I think the misery part comes in when we convince ourselves that things are not as they should be. This, (to quote Dwight Shrute), is FALSE.
4.) My oldest child was born yesterday. I was putting him in a moses basket on the couch as we walked through the door home from the hospital, yesterday. I remember the feeling of his cold little nose under my lips, I remember his perfect little bowed lips pursed in sleep, I remember huffing the intoxicating smell of his tiny, downy soft newborn head. Because it was yesterday. And in 3 years he will be leaving my house. 3 years is a very, very short amount of time. The days are long but the years are short and the thing that makes having a laat lammetjie (little late lamb..i.e..tag along 7 years later) baby the bitter-sweetest is knowing just how breathtakingly fast it is over. Toddlerhood, Pre-school-hood..and so on and so forth. I have NO memory of potty training my older kids. I’m sure it sucked rocks at the time but now I don’t remember it. That doesn’t make the irritation of the moment any less irritating, (truuuuust me) but it does make it less overwhelming and depressing. THIS IS NOT YOUR LIFE FOR HENCEFORTH AND FOREVER. It is a STAGE. It’s one of the less pleasant stages of the cycle. It will soon be over. Too soon. Just dig deep and try to enjoy the parts you can, and remind yourself that the parts that you don’t, will SOON BE OVER. (And you will be sad…of course. That’s the nature of this beast.) But that still doesn’t mean that you have to enjoy every moment. If you did, you would be psychotic, because every moment is NOT ENJOYABLE. Nor is it designed to be that way.
One more thing: I miss/romanticize my past life…(Pre-Ella) I was THIN! I was ORGANIZED! The house was CLEAN! I was a fun mom!! Those things may all be true (but probably less so than in my glowing memories). But I didn’t have Ella. So there ya go. Now I’m fat, I live in squalor and I am incredibly disorganized. But I have Ella. These are facts. I would not trade her for thin-ness or organization but it doesn’t mean I don’t miss them or hope to have them again sometime. I will have those things back. I will. And I will LOVE IT. And I will miss Ella being a baby. I will miss being needed and adored and even mauled. I know this because my older kids don’t need or adore or maul me nearly as much as they used to anymore (some of them not at all) and while I appreciate that in many ways, it makes me verklempt too.
5.) There is a certain amount of self-sacrifice associated with motherhood that is appropriate and good, and then there’s the part that is destructive. To everyone involved. It’s not imposed by our kids or our spouses, it’s imposed by ourselves. The sooner we figure out what we are imposing on ourselves we can either accept and feel empowered about the fact that we choose to do what we are do to ourselves ourselves, or we can change. Do you really have to do all the things you are doing? Could your kids and husband be helping more? Could you be letting some things go? (The answer to both those last two questions is probably YES.) –Click on that link, when you are done here. Really, do it.
A title of a book I saw years ago has become a mantra ever since (pretty sure I never read the whole book). It was QUIT TRYING TO FINISH THE LAUNDRY. The laundry will NEVER BE FINISHED. The author pointed out that unless we line up the whole family naked in front of the washing machine, there will always be unwashed laundry in the making. Same with house cleaning, same with feeding. It is a constant work in progress. If we are constantly working with the goal to having it “ALL DONE-ta-dah!”…we will be perpetually frustrated. Do enough. Enough looks different to different people. Figure out what it is for you and stop trying to do more. It doesn’t make you a better mom or wife or person to do more than enough. To the contrary. (That’s a lie too, by the way.) Use the extra time to do the things you want to do. Your family will appreciate a happier mom far more than they will appreciate a clean fridge. You know this.
Figure out the things that are an occupational hazard-being interrupted on the loo is, in my experience, one of them-it will pass-in about 18 years. Then figure out the things that you can really let go. Having a perfectly clean house is a dream I don’t even dream anymore. Because I would rather have time to exercise, and write or just lie on the couch and watch TV. Manage your expectations and set your bar lower. My lofty goal is to “tidy/clean one area of the house every day”. Seriously. I feel totally accomplished when I can check that off on my little “what did I get done today” app. There are certain things critical for health and welfare (like dishes) that must be done every day. Doesn’t mean you need to be the one doing them.
Final suggestion: Join the Momedy Sketch Take Back Control Community Challenge. We just started month 2. It is helping people. Mostly to manage their expectations and to celebrate the small victories. I feel more satisfied about my days now than I have for a long time…although there are many days where I achieve way less than I did on days when I felt like a total loser and fell into bed with a heavy, angry, resentful heart. If you want in, message me or email me: kirsty DOT sayer AT gmail DOT com and I will happily hook you up.