An interesting change took place in our house in the months leading up to Micah joining our family. My kids had suddenly aged out of the baby and toddler phase. I had an almost 5 year old and an almost 3 year old – Instead of having babies, I had kids.
Here is what happens when you age out of the baby and toddler phase – you start to do things alone again. I peed alone for the first time in years. I even did crafts at my kitchen table while the kids played in their room – alone. I cooked meals alone while the girls played games or did art projects. I left them with sitters without having to worry about bottles or feeding times. My husband and I could actually say to them, “Dad and Mom need a little alone time to catch up, so you girls need to play outside for 30 minutes please.” AND THEY DID!
Then came our precious Micah, and we were right back to square one, baby phase. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE BABY PHASE. The snuggles, the feedings, the 10 outfit changes a day, the baby wearing, the way they smell like sweet lavender after bath time. I love all of it.
But what is true still, is that our entire reality, capacity, and family dynamic changed. And the last 8 months have been a season of adjustment for me. I am relearning life with a baby and all of the new & different that a sweet baby ushers into our lives.
A few months ago, I had a conversation with a dear friend who is in the trenches raising a baby and a two year old. After hearing her list all the ways she feels like a failure, I gently told her, “If someone else talked about you the way you talk about yourself, I would punch them.” Us mommas, we are really hard on ourselves. Most moms I know fall asleep replaying every moment from the day that they wish they could have a do-over on. And I think I know one of the reasons why! It’s all of the people, magazines, friends, and experts trying to ‘should all over us’.
This is what we mommas hear on an almost daily basis: We should cook only organic, free-range, antibiotic-free, paleo meals for our families. We should make sure our kids never watch TV because their brains will turn to mush. We should speak to our children with only positive language and never raise our voices, lest we want to raise emotionally damaged human beings. We should use expensive oils instead of poisonous medicine, because that’s what the good moms do. We should do it all, all the time, while looking sexy and staying skinny.
Dear mommas, I don’t know about you, but I’m three kids in, and I simply can’t live up to those ‘shoulds’. Frankly, I don’t want to. Because, when I read God’s word and his heart towards us mommas I find grace upon grace.
Isaiah 40:11 “He will feed His flock like a shepherd. He will carry the lambs in his arms, holding them close to his heart. He will gently lead the mother sheep with their young.”
Psalm 94:19 “When doubts filled my mind, your comfort gave me renewed hope and cheer.”
Isaiah 66:13, “As one who his mother comforts, so I will comfort you.”
2 Corinthians 12:9, “My grace is all you need, my power works best in weakness.”
So here are my New Year’s Resolutions for moms of little ones (Or really for all moms because its the hardest job we will ever love):
Rest More. Seriously, moms don’t sleep. I have a three year old who STILL doesn’t sleep through the night and an 8 month old who has a bottle at 3 am. My sweet husband has to bribe with chocolate and wine to get me stay up past 7:30 pm most nights. I was just exchanging texts with a tired momma of twins who hasn’t slept more than 4 hours straight in almost 9 months. So let’s take some friggin naps. Let’s put our kids in front of a 2-hour Disney movie and give them sugary sweets to keep them entertained and fall asleep right next to them for an hour or two. And let’s do it a few times a week.
Relax Often. I’ve been Momming for almost 6 years now. And by God’s grace, I think of my kids way more often than I think of myself. I feed them healthy meals. I snuggle them when they are sick or tired. I plan play dates and shuttle them to school and back. I brush hair and wipe butts 30 times a day. And I love all of it. But I’m tired and I’m constantly on the run. And you are too. So let’s order take out a little more often. Let’s ask the grandparents to take the kids for an afternoon so we can watch HGTV and paint our nails. Let’s set aside a bit of money each month to buy a book or new pair of jeans for ourselves. And FOR THE LOVE, let’s go to Target all by ourselves and look at all the things with heart eyes and big feels. A sweet grandma once told me, “rushing is for amateurs.” I believe her. Let’s slow down, even if it means our kiddos can’t be in 12 activities a week. They will make it – even thrive, I promise.
Ask for help when I need it. A friend told me that the frequent pattern in her house growing up was that her mom would do it all until she couldn’t anymore and then the whole family would pay for it for weeks, even months, while her tired mama recovered. Sounds familiar. I do it too. But I don’t have to. Humility teaches me that I can own my weaknesses enough to ask for help. So this year, I am going to pursue humility in motherhood. I am starting small. I asked a co-worker to pick the kids up from school last week so I could rest at home with Micah, who had been sick. Most of us have people in our lives that are for us; they want to help ease the load. But they aren’t magic, so they can’t read our minds when we have had enough. Let’s ask our awesome hubbies to bring home dinner on hard days. Let’s ask neighbors to carpool. Let’s ask our friends from church to swap babysitting nights. It really is supposed to take a village. So let’s act like it.
Refuse to feel guilty constantly. When I hear all of the ‘shoulds’ from the world around me, it is really easy to feel like I’m not mom-enough. But I am. By God’s grace, I am a good mom. And you are too. I don’t have one friend that is a bad mom. Some of us work, some of us stay at home. Some of us love all the granola mom things, and some of us love fast food (Me! Me! Me!) Some of us have hot heads and some of us use sarcasm to discipline our three-nagers (Me again!). But all of us love our little ones like WHOA, and would do anything for them. So I am going to try to say nice things about myself this year, so that if someone else talked about me the way that I talk about myself, I would actually want to be friends with them.
Oh and this weekend, I am taking 24 hours off. My bestie and I are running away to a hotel. Even though we will look like we are on a romantic getaway, we aren’t. We are just two tired mamas whose hubbies go all in for our crazy plans. So we are going to eat dinner without feeding anyone else at the table, and bring ice cream up to our hotel room, watch some cable, and SLEEP THROUGH THE NIGHT. Because we can’t do it all, all the time. And we refuse to feel bad about that.