I had a dear friend e-mail me the other day with some questions. Questions about nursing, about babies, about finding time for herself, about you know, just being a mom in general. And I was surprised that she asked. Because this isn't the first time someone has e-mailed me with these sorts of things, and because well, she asked me.
I feel so humbled whenever someone e-mails me with questions. Questions like:
How do you do it??
How to you keep it together as a mom, when I can't seem to stay on top of it?
What are your secrets to staying sane as a stay at home mom?
These ladies that e-mail me, they are women that I look up to. That I have admired for years and years. That have changed my life for the better and influenced me in a thousand positive ways...and now they want advice from me?? I can't even explain how that makes me feel. So confused, and a little intimidated. And unsure that I have anything of value to tell them.
But when I get over my feelings of inadequacy, I feel so incredibly honored that they would think to ask me for help or wise words.So I do my best to help them feel hopeful. And try to find the best way to tell them that they can find happiness in motherhood, even in the everyday trials.
And so, if you are in their same boat, I have some things to tell you.
First off, I am not a perfect mom. Hello! Far, far, far from it. I have moments where I react too harshly, and forget that my kids are just kids. Moments where I want to pull my hair out in clumps and scream my frustrations into pillows. Moments where I hide out in the kitchen and eat Oreos until I can step back into the reality of motherhood. And you know what?
It's normal. It's normal!
I am human. I am trying. And I am learning how to be a mom, one day at a time.
It took me so long to realize this. Actually, I am still realizing it. Every day, I have to realize it again and again.
For so long after I had my first baby, I expected things to go back to being how they were, you know, in my pre-baby life. I expected the laundry to stay folded and neatly tucked into drawers. I expected the beds to be made by eight every morning, and delicious home-cooked dinner to be on the table at five (sharp!), when my husband walked in from work. I expected to be make-upped and blow-dried and stylishly-clothed every day, and thought my house would be neat and tidy at all times. You know, because it was, pre-baby.
And then, Boston was born. And my life changed.
It felt like the minute my heart unraveled and wrapped around his tiny fingers, my visions of a picture-perfect life unraveled too. The second that we stepped in the door from the hospital, things changed immediately. Piles of dirty diapers multiplied and replenished all over our tiny apartment. Burp clothes hung over every chair, every couch arm. Dirty dishes started piling in the sink. The laundry began forming in piles around the house: dirty, clean, and possibly wear again? I couldn't go to the grocery store for longer than ten minutes, worried that my baby was screaming at home, or I tried to rush through my list to keep him calm in his carseat. I wasn't getting any sleep. I was tense, I was tired, and I was taking it out on my poor husband, most of the time, which put a huge strain on our relationship.
I felt like my life was spinning out of control, and I remember one day thinking to myself,
"I can't live like this! I am a giant stress ball!!"
So, I decided to change my perspective, and change my expectations.
It wasn't easy, and it didn't change everything immediately. But I decided to spend more time focusing on just enjoying my baby--even through the messy house and tired 4 a.m. feedings-- rather than trying to fix everything all the time and in turn, stressing myself out.
And you know what? It worked. It was amazing. I felt like I could breathe again! Like I could be me again.
I now have two little ones. At this moment, there are dishes in the sink. There is laundry that needs to be switched over and folded, my husband's dress shirts that need ironing. There are toys scattered in random clumps throughout the house, sorted very methodically by my two-year-old: superhero stuff in one pile, crayons and puzzle pieces in this one, books and trains in the next.
I could use a shower, and both of my boys could probably use a hair cut. My wardrobe isn't the most fashionable, but I have clothes that fit me and keep me warm, and for that I am grateful. Dinner isn't always gourmet, but I try to make meals that my family will enjoy, and we are blessed to have enough food to keep our kids happy and full.
I don't always get to sleep soundly at night, but I get to snuggle and feed my baby as I sit up in bed. I get to sleep next to an incredible man who works hard and loves me-- even through all of my crazy, neurotic moments. I get to sing songs every night to a toddler in Batman jammies, who cups my face in his chubby hands and says,
"I yub you, momma. Seep good!" as he plants a big, slobbery kiss on my lips. And you know what? It's wonderful, this life of mine.
So if you are struggling with your role as a new mom, let me tell you again:
I understand! I have been there!! I am still there!!!
And even though it is hard and tiring and sometimes, seems like it will never end, it will. And we will be so sad about it. And we will wish it all back in a heart beat.