Motherhood is an unpredictable beast. Just when you think you’ve figured it all out and can hit cruise control, there’s an explosion that can rock your world.
Last week, after getting home from my conference, I did my best to keep a brave face on during re-entry. Although my twin toddlers were giddy from the moment they ran into my arms, our older kids had mixed emotions.
My husband had done a great job while I was away. Almost too great. He had taken a few days off and really nailed the stay-at-home-dad role. Although he kept the house tidy, he wasn’t running a business from home, or doing many of the extra tasks I would have had on my plate.
There were dance parties, and take-out, little treats and surprise visitors, (like Grandma).
The thing is, I was really excited to be home, but the big kids acted like I was a burden. Although I was trying to get back into a routine, to them I was mean mommy coming to stop their fun.
Holden, my sweet boy, peppered every response he gave me with attitude. It didn’t matter how many times I called him on it, he would apologize and then do it again. By the end of the week my voice was shaky as my mommy shield was thinning and his lack of excitement surrounding my arrival home started to really sting.
I pulled myself together, and as a united front with my husband, we had a heart to heart with Holden that seemed to hit home and change his attitude.
The next day, just as I was feeling my groove, the waves started crashing.
Why do I always think to myself, “I’ve got this parenting thing down!”
You know when you have that kid that you can give credit for each of your grey hairs to? That kid that is a challenge at home, but you figure as long as the school doesn’t see a problem, then maybe everything is okay?
Ya, well, that’s our daughter, and now some things are creeping into other areas in her life. Couple that with the regular migraines she has been experiencing and I would say we’ve got a wobbly plate on our hands.
I allowed myself to have a pity party for a few minutes…
“I am the worst mom… I shouldn’t have travelled… why didn’t I deal with this sooner?… where did I go wrong?…”
Then I pulled it together and reminded myself of a few things that I have learned along the way about motherhood.
Motherhood isn’t the perfect, sterile experience I had once pictured as a kid.
Motherhood is dirty, painful, relationship altering, imperfect, messy, confusing and raw. Although motherhood has its really lovely moments, it’s the ugly love that holds the real beauty. I have let go of the picturesque images I had of this journey and have begun embracing the ugly experiences that create that deeper bond with my family.
The mom next door is going through something just as rough, if not worse.
You run into a friend at the grocery store, with your hair unbrushed, your face with yesterday’s makeup still on and your toddler is emptying your cart while you are trying to chat.
You stare at your friend in awe. She looks completely put together, as you reach down to pick up the boxed dinners your kid keeps chucking on the ground. Her six week old is blissfully sleeping wrapped against her chest. What is her secret?
Her secret is that her two older kids are at school and she has finally showered, and gotten out of the house after a wicked case of stomach flu just ripped through her family. She’s bathing in the blissful sweet spot between each inevitable parenting crisis, and she knows that something is probably lurking around the corner waiting to pounce on her tomorrow. Let her enjoy her bliss… because no mother is immune.
It’s okay to alter your parenting methods, your weekly routine and your work/life balance.
Every few weeks it can suddenly seem like whatever was working for you before is not anymore. If this is the case, reassess and make some changes. It is such a simple concept, but it took me a long time to realize that making changes to when I fit my workout in, what kind of routine works for my kids and my work/life balance doesn’t mean I have failed. It just means that a new phase has started and everything needs to shift around to accommodate each family member.
After my pity party and then taking a weekend to remind myself that I am a great mom who just has some problems to solve, I have begun to shift our world around, and take control.
When I can hear myself taking lots of deep breaths as I get everyone ready to head out the door in the morning, I remind myself that I am in the driver’s seat. I will make changes. This is all part of motherhood and we all have these days.