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Tuesday, March 11, 2014

the ups and downs of motherhood

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times..." 
You remember that from high school English right? 
Sometimes that's how it is with parenting. 
Here's the thing about being a mother. 
It's up and it's down. 
All the time. 

Lately I've been feeling like we have these GREAT moments, like topping the rest types of moments, where everybody is smiling and laughing that belly laugh. Where everything seems to just work. It's all good.

And then like 5 seconds later it's not. 
It's not good or even close to it. 
Somebody spilled something or took off running in an opposite direction. Or said something mean that you had to scold in the middle of the fun. Or something just plain was awful. 

Or, like in the picture above of my daughter, we're running around SO incredibly happy... until she threw up and was crying and scared, wanting to be "ALL DONE!" and fun was over.

There are these awesome moments where you feel like you are the best mom in the world. Like you've got this parenthood thing, you totally know what you are doing, and the littles are loving it! 

Where you remembered everything that morning. You got yourself and the kids out the door in one piece, nobody was screaming, everybody was singing on the way to school. Then you get there seeing all the other 4-year-olds dressed in their adorable pajamas... and your son is wearing his tractor shirt, jeans and work boots... and you feel like you suck in this moment for not remembering to check the preschool calendar. And then 5 seconds later your son is showing off his tractor shirt to his friends like "hey, this is me, it's all good, I don't care." And you smile, realizing, it's OK. 

And then 5 minutes later you realize you forgot something else. And you're back to square one of feeling crappy again. 

I feel often like I plan these things and try really hard to be that fun mom taking my kids out to do things, and then bam, in the middle of the greatest laid plan things just suck. They are ruined. Messed up. Not how I planned. Frustrating. 


In those negative moments, it feels like it's happening for the 100th time and for hours. When really it's probably minutes long and only the 10th time that day. 

That's life with kids, isn't it? It's supposed to be up and down, messy, chaotic, busier than we can handle sometimes. It's how things go. We are supposed to expect things that we don't count on happening, because that's how kids roll. 

It's feeling like an awesome mom for taking your kids to the Children's Museum for a birthday party, seeing them smile and happy, enjoying the independent exploring... taking pictures, texting dad that it's so much fun and wish he were here. Only for 5 minutes later to have one child poop in the corner and another run off in another direction, despite you yelling to stay with you because it's not safe to run away from Mommy in a crowded space... and feeling defeated, like you aren't sure what to do and this isn't fun doing this alone and wondering why the hell you thought you could do this anyway, take two kids out in public. 

And then 10 minutes later after finding said runaway train child and changing the poop monster, all is calm and happy again and we're dancing to the beat of drums they are banging on and all are laughing like we haven't done since forever. 

It's ups and it's downs. Highs and lows. Big and little moments mixing together to create some amazing collage of a happy (albeit CRAZY) childhood for your kids. 


This weekend I took my kids to swim lessons. It was crazy getting there, my son screaming he didn't want to go (when I know he wanted to because he loved it last time). My daughter hiding from me (her newest almost 2-year-old trick!) and me screeching, "I'm leaving! You better come out right now young lady because I AM leaving!" 

And then getting out of the car to race into swim so we aren't late - which we're going to be in 1 minute if we don't get our butts inside, changed, and into the pool. And my son is screaming, like real tears throwing a tantrum that he wants to push his sister in her stroller from the car to the pool. I'm saying no, you can't this time, you can later, but right now we have to rush and Mom can do it faster. And he's screaming... I'm so embarrassed and feeling like I'm defeated, like this is game over, we're turning around to leave, no swimming this week. 

Then a man walks by me, an older gentleman, and I think he's judging me in this moment because he has a look on his face that I can't really place and I'm desperately seeking for some support here so I guess any face would appear like it's not helpful. And instead of rolling his eyes or walking by, he holds the door open for me and says, "I've got four of them. I've been here before. Many times. This is what they do." And he smiled, let us walk by, as I thanked him, and he left, probably on his way to enjoy a quiet house of retirement with no kids in it. 

It's true, this is what they do. They are kids. It's their job to be slightly difficult sometimes, because that is how they learn to manage their way in this world as little independent beings. It's how we teach them right from wrong. It's how they express creativity. It's normal. I think what we moms need in these moments are more people saying to us, "Been there, done that, SO normal. You're on the right track!" 

In that moment, I realized, with a kid screaming and another kid trying to get herself out of the stroller, that it's OK. The other looks we oftentimes receive are from people who don't get it, from people who haven't had kids. So why do we care about those judgmental, unexperienced looks? We shouldn't. They don't know what they are talking about, so we should ignore it. It doesn't mean anything.

I'm going to rely on these supportive looks and doors being held open to me, and nice comments about "I know just what you are going through. It's going to be OK and you'll get through this stage, I promise. I was a mom to young kids once, too." I'm going to eat up every word like it's Gospel because it feels like it is in this crazy parenting stage I'm in. I need all the supportive gestures I can get some days. Because some days really aren't great.

Fast forward to getting in the pool (after screaming the entire way into the changing room, so many people staring at us, me offering any type of incentive I could offer to just get undressed and in the pool, and once we're at the pool my son saying he now has to pee when 5 seconds ago he said he did not have to try... 10 crazy minutes later we're in the pool and he's grinning ear to ear, his arms draped around me asking me to hold him up, "don't let me fall, Mommy, get me," and me tearing up with exasperation or sigh of relief or frustration or happiness, I'm not sure, maybe all of the above. 

And I'm forgetting those tough moments not 15 minutes ago. Because THIS is what it's about. This is what matters. This is where it counts. So what if I snapped earlier and he cried and kicked and was difficult. So what if I was feeling like I was losing it earlier. It's OK. It doesn't feel OK in those awful moments, I know that. It feels really bad, doesn't it?

But it's OK. It really is. 
You always seem to bounce back as a mom. 
You seem to figure it out, step by step, moment by moment.
You can feel like you cannot possibly do this, this big mothering thing. And then you just do it somehow.
And you can have an awful, out of control morning, only to have a great, super fun and exciting afternoon, and snuggles at bed time with the cherry on top of sweet "I love you, Mommy." 

That's the thing about being a mom. It always gets better.
And then, sure, not gonna lie, it gets bad again.
But most of the time it's so awesome that you seem to forget about those bad moments. 

  "Lately, I've been I've been losing sleep dreaming about the things that we could be. Lately I've been praying hard, said no more counting dollars, we'll be counting stars. Yeah, we'll be counting stars." -One Republic 

Here's to hoping you count stars all the time with your babies. Stars are little things that shine so bright and make your world incredible, happy, filled with content. 

Focus on the great, moms. It's a wonderful thing to be a mom. 
It's a hard job, that's true. But surviving those tough moments makes the wonderful ones that much sweeter. This I know for sure.

It's all OK, moms. 
A happily exhausted mother 

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