Saturday, May 13, 2017

To All The Mothers

Every mom experiences motherhood differently. We all have our own traits where we excel, and also things we can improve upon. No mother is perfect! And while we spend our days eyeballs deep in child-rearing (and for a lot of us, career-building too), it certainly is nice to have time away from our kids to do some self-reflection and rediscovering ourselves.

I prayed so hard for my precious babies, and it took years for us to be blessed with them. They are both miracles we started to feel we would never get. Ava nearly died in childbirth. I heard her heart rate fading on the monitor as the umbilical cord had prolapsed. My husband helped push me into the operating room until everyone else ran in for my emergency c-section. When I awoke, my sweet little Ava was placed in my arms, completely unharmed. The doctor was even shocked that there were zero complications. I feel so incredibly grateful to have both of my babies here today.

But, there are days where I think back to the time before my babies. When I could just jump in the car and listen to what I wanted and not have to watch the clock for an approaching nap time or pull over for an urgent diaper change. This time of early motherhood means you are switching to a more selfless version of yourself, and that transition could almost be described as "culture shock". You become someone that puts everyone else in the family before yourself. Willingly! And some days, you may find yourself running on empty. And then the negativity creeps in..."I just wish I could..." or "I remember the days when I used to...".

There are so many women out there who are begging God to bless them into motherhood. And sometimes it feels wrong to complain about how heavy your load feels as a mom, when there are others out there who would give anything to be in your place.

But I promise you, that is still a valid struggle, no matter how long you waited for your baby.

Motherhood is not meant to be easy. God has tasked us the responsibility of shaping a tiny human into a responsible adult who contributes to society. That's a lot of pressure! Some days you'll be on top of your game and feel like you could upload your whole day to Pinterest. Other days, maybe you feel like locking yourself in the bathroom to cry and wonder how your mental state got to where it is today.

Motherhood can break you. Little arms always reaching up for you (love those hugs but sometimes mama just needs 10 minutes to get ready, little one!). Little mouths that always seem to be hungry (but not always for what you serve them!). Little feet that always seem to be running off (but I love that pitter patter of bare toddler feet!). Little voices that are always shrieking or crying or yelling (but they need you to teach them about inside voices!). Some days it just seems like too much.

Motherhood can make you! What an honor to create and raise tiny humans! Our greatest accomplishments in life are often described as "my children", and I'm definitely seeing that now.

It is so wonderful to feel needed by a child, but it can definitely feel overwhelming. 

And it DOES NOT MAKE YOU A BAD MOM for wishing for a break. Maybe you don't struggle, but the mama next to you does.

For wanting someone to understand how hard you're trying, but also how much you are struggling. Motherhood doesn't come easily or naturally to us all. And we've got to do better at picking each other up when we are having a hard time. NOT tearing down or being judgmental.

Loving your child DOES NOT MEAN that you don't ever get to complain about the hard parts of being a mom. You would have to be a liar to say you love every part of this role!

Motherhood is a job that is 24/7. You never stop thinking about your children. When you are home with them. When they are at school, or daycare, or at the sitter's. There are no sick days, no days off, no holidays. Some may argue that it is not a "job" - I say it is just not a "chore". I love my job! But there are days when I'm ready for a vacation or I'd like to just not be "on call" for once. Just to have a little time to myself here and there. To have a chance to miss my kids! Being a SAHM with a deployed husband means that there are ZERO breaks from my kids right now. 

ZERO. 

By the time my husband comes home, it will literally have been 365 days of being with my kids 24/7 (I have gotten a few breaks here and there). I'm starting to feel a little crazy!!

It's been challenging to feel like I don't have any other purpose other than to be a mom lately. I feel like I've lost a little bit of myself (I'm being super vulnerable here!). I love being a SAHM, but this relentless routine is beating me down. I had several hours to myself recently, and I felt myself feeling anxious and sad without my kids. I bawled when I came home. And I felt better being back with my kids. In a way, I feel like I've lost a little bit of who I am, at the core, during these challenging months without my husband. On one hand, I've learned more about my inner strength. But I also don't feel like I know who I am without my kids by my side anymore. I'm still a person in addition to being a mom! My identity isn't entirely wrapped up in motherhood, although it has been very consuming lately.

I'm not made of endless patience to deal with the hitting and screaming. I don't have endless energy to chase kids who now run in opposite directions. I don't know how to fix or help or prevent crazy toddler behavior all the time. I'm just doing the best that I can, one day at a time, and I'll complain if I want to. I love my babies, but I don't always love every moment with them. That doesn't make me a bad mom!

We all have a story. We all have convictions that make us the mothers we are today. And no amount of mom-shaming or judging is going to change us.

We all want to feel understood, like someone else out there has felt the same way or has been in our shoes. 

Don't let anyone make you feel like you are an inadequate mom because you complain. Or talk about how motherhood is a job and you just need a freaking break. Don't let anyone manipulate you and increase self-doubt about yourself as a mom or make you feel ashamed for trying to challenge them. There is no one way to parent. Take some time and chat with fellow mamas. Be a little vulnerable with her. Share your struggles and I'll bet she'll share hers. We are not all that different! We want what is best for our kids. And acting like you have it all together all the time is not fooling anyone! I feel like my personal relationships with my mom friends have grown immensely lately because I've chosen to share my weaknesses and admit my struggles instead of trying to cover them up or sugar-coat them. I'm learning that I'm not alone, at all, and that a smile and a simple "keep your chin up" can really go a long way.