Oh the days while pregnant with my first. I just had graduated with my college degree in Child Development & Family Life! I scoured through books on sleep training to breastfeeding to learning how to become an official baby whisperer and "baby wise". My husband kindly sat through 20 painful hours of Hypnobirthing classes and practiced all the positions during our "Labor Relaxation course." I had him come to my lactation class, even though he was the only male in the whole room. I even had us become "Red Cross CPR/First Aid Certified" just to be prepared :). I can't even remember a thing we learned of course but just how we were the only ones there voluntarily! With tours of the hospital and the changing table all set out, I thought I was so ready to become a mother.
Vivid in my mind were the expectations of what kind of mother I wanted to be. A mother who...
actually got ready each day and looked super cute
had patience and strived to live in the moment
had a beautifully decorated home and cooked healthy, delicious meals
took her kids to the library each week and continually taught them in fun ways
wouldn't let my kids watch TV the first two years
breastfed my babies at least 12 months :)
breastfed my babies at least 12 months :)
kept a consistent schedule and found time for personal fulfillment
had well-kept kids with clean clothes and combed hair.... the list goes on and on
So here's a glimpse of what life has really been like this week...As I look around the room I see milk spills on the table from days ago, oozing laundry piles, a gross casserole dish that took every second of my "personal time" during naps, old diapers that oh-so-need-to-be-taken-out, dishes so high in our tiny sink that you can't even begin to wash them, never being able to find a pair of the same socks, and rice remnants scattered across the floor because Brayden played with a bucket of rice while I was desperately trying to "get something done" and our vacuum broke right in the middle of cleaning it up. We've watched Tangled for the upteenth time and Baby Einstein music is often ringing through my head. If I manage to take a shower, I don't always have time to do much makeup and I am lucky to find something to wear that's both cute and clean. Sometimes I worry that my toddler is going to turn into a giant cracker or a bag of fruit snacks since we are often on the go. The print out of our assignment to talk in church this Sunday (which I haven't begun yet) somehow got permanently laminated to our kitchen table. Which in a way is nice because I know I won't lose it! We're back in diapers after a day of attempting potty training, and we were late to "library toddler time" but at least we made it! About to run into the library, I quickly changed both kids diapers since thankfully our car is currently full of "treasures" and luckily extra diapers and wipes were included. I gagged, being a pregnant mommy, and hurriedly stashed Brayden's mother-of-all diapers under the car wheel to throw away later. As soon as I got home, I realized I forgot about that full diaper and drove right across it....
You're either totally disgusted and horrified at reading this (and therefore feeling better about how great you're doing)... or you're thinking - "I'm not alone!"
As soon as Brayden started to walk and play well on his own, I had a stage of time when the house was actually pretty clean and I felt somewhat in control! But then, we had another, and the seemingly eternal baby stage - incredibly cute yet greatly demanding - presses forward.
I've learned that I'm far from that mother that I envisioned long ago, yet I've also discovered that family life holds life's most supreme joys. I'm just completely tickled that my little lady just started walking and just beaming that Brayden can now say his entire ABCs!! Even though I'm often wiping noses and putting on the continual procession of meals, there's precious moments that make. everything. so. worth. it. Strengthening our marriages and cherishing these beautiful children God has given us really is life's most astounding experience! I will never "have-it-all-together" but here are a few things I have found helpful:
1. Focus on your STRENGTHS. Anna Quindlen said, "The thing that is really hard, and really amazing, is giving up on being perfect and beginning the work of becoming yours
2. Trying to find ways to THRIVE, not just survive. Don't you often feel like you are in "survival mode" especially while rearing lots of little ones?! Motherhood is a tremendously important and selfless work, but we need to remember who that self is. What are some basic needs you have... emotionally, mentally, spiritually, physically, and socially? See where you are struggling right now, and maybe pick one or two things this week to help take care of YOU. This can give you added energy and strength!
3. Daily vow "I'll TRY AGAIN tomorrow." The beauty of life is we can keep trying again... we all lose our patience, we all have moments when we're not quick to forgive or be kind, we all face challenges. Gratefully, children are pretty resilient and we are continually growing and learning which is all part of the refining process of parenting! Good thing we get to go to sleep each night - even if we close our eyes with sorrow and regrets, we can wake up refreshed to try again.
4. PRACTICE CHERISHING the moment. Some moments are just exhausting and some moments frankly are boring at times. But, I believe in the POWER of REMINDING ourselves to get down on all fours, to look our precious children in the eyes, to drop what we are doing and completely give our whole selves to them, to find those teaching moments, to laugh so hard our bellies hurt, and to soak up all the love and complete joy we have for our precious children. We're definitely not going to "cherish" each day, BUT we can practice having more and more of those joyful moments.