I am mom; hear me roar! I can work or stay home, or both! I can kick butt in the office, be available whenever needed, move up in my field and still coach my kids’ soccer team. I can stay home, teach my kids their ABC’s, take them on educational outings every day, volunteer for the preschool and the moms club and still keep an immaculate house and cook organic meals every night! I mean, I can’t actually do all these things and I know because I’ve tried. Maybe you’re doing all the things too, but I’m guessing that you are feeling overwhelmed and down right scattered.
My list of things I’d like to do as a mom include, but are not limited to:, keep a clean and organized house, volunteer at my kids’ school and at my church, maintain a vegetable garden, clip coupons, meal plan, cook from scratch every night, re-do my entire house to like Joanna Gaines’ farmhouse, work part time while my kids are in school and after they go to bed, build my resume and client list, exercise regularly, make time for myself to relax, read the 18 parenting books on my night stand, spend one on one time with each of my four children, drive each one to their different activities, help them with their homework, but not too much so they can learn to be independent and the list goes on and on.
Thing is, I can do all these, but if I’m honest with myself, I’m not doing any of them well.
There’s been more than a few nights when my kids are eating cereal for dinner because I’m preparing to teach a class to other people’s children. There’s been a lot of Saturdays that I’ve had to ignore my kids’ countless requests for attention because I was clipping coupons, planning a week’s worth of meals cooked from scratch, shopping for groceries for said healthy meals and prepping food all day. There’s been tons of evenings when I’ve snapped at my kids because they weren’t tying their shoes fast enough to get to one of their many after school activities. There have been late nights when I’ve stayed up way past my bedtime to meet a work deadline because the daytime hours were spent trying to get my house into a state of complete order and cleanliness.
This is not the mom I want to be anymore. The one who does everything, but does it all hurriedly and not very well. The kind of mom with a to-do list an arm long and never gets to cross all the items off. The kind of mom who feels completely overwhelmed with unrealistic and unattainable expectations put upon herself.
I know I can do all the things. But I just don’t want to anymore. So I’m not gonna.
I’m going to take my extremely long list of things I “should” be doing as a mom and I’m going to start crossing stuff off. Like a lot of stuff. I’m going to take that bar that I’ve set ridiculously high and I’m going to lower it…by a lot.
Because yes, I am a mom and moms are awesome and we can do all the things. But the best thing I can do right now is choose to do less.
Who’s with me?
I see you Yelly Mom. You gave your two year old a little bag of goldfish because you thought that would stop her from reaching out of the cart to knock stuff off the shelves and it did, but not for long. The calm only lasted until she spilled her goldfish, leaving you with a big crumbly mess and an inconsolable toddler who doesn’t want another bag of goldfish, she wanted that bag of goldfish.
Your five year old, who is exhausted from a long morning at kindergarten, has finally stopped asking you if you can buy him every damn toy he sees and has taken to running ahead, oh wait, now he’s lagging behind, aaaaaand now he’s running off again.
Your kids are miserable and whining and at the end of their rope and you know how they feel. And here comes the frustration out of your mouth-the yelling. In an attempt to control this MESS of a situation, in an attempt to end this shopping disaster as soon as possible, you start yelling at your kids.
There are people in this store who are judging you, some are giving you dirty looks and maybe, the bolder ones, unsolicited advice on how to properly parent your kids. I know what they see. They see you in this one moment, where you have lost your patience and are snapping at your kids.
They didn’t see you in all those moments before. So many moments-from the time you unstrapped your kids from their car seats, got them safely through the parking lot, and found a cart with two seats so they wouldn’t fight over who gets to sit in the cart. They didn’t see all the moments you gently pulled your two year old’s arm away from the packs of diapers that she desperately wants to throw on the floor or all the times you patiently and politely asked your son to stay with you.
I saw you in those moments Yelly Mom, hell, I’ve been you in those moments! I know that you regret yelling at your kids and I know that you are at the end of your rope today. This isn’t your best parenting moment and it is on display in a store full of judging eyes. Please know that I am not judging you, in fact I am praying for you. When I see you in the store, frazzled and stressed, know that I am praying-asking God to fill you with his peace and to give you his patience. I don’t know if it’s going to work and miraculously fix this moment for you or if you need to throw today out and start again fresh tomorrow. But please know that I see you in all your moments, and I’m praying for you.
I first noticed that my husband was doing things wrong when we had our first child. He could not swaddle at all. He would have to wake me up in the middle of the night to get me to do it for him. When he put diapers on, they were crooked. He didn’t stop halfway through the bottle to burp the baby. Oh, and you should have seen how he put the sheets on the crib! Totally wrinkly and not lined up at all. There’s more too, but I’ll spare you the details (and me the embarrassment of complaining about a husband that did so much!)
It. Drove. Me. Nuts. And I would tell my husband, “You’re doing it wrong” and “Here, let me do it.” I would stop him from helping me so I could do it myself-the proper way. Let me repeat that: I would stop my husband from helping me. Crazy, right?
Then one night, out of my mind with sleep deprivation I figured it out. Maybe I wouldn’t be so tired, if I just let Bill help with the baby. It was a huge light bulb moment for me. I suddenly didn’t care if the diaper was crooked, or he missed a snap on the pj’s or if the formula was a few degrees cooler than I imagined our son liked it. All that mattered in that moment was sleep.
So I started letting him help and it was A-Mazing! I suddenly didn’t care that the baby clothes weren’t folded very neatly, I was just happy they were folded and I didn’t have to do it! I didn’t care if the bottles went through the dishwasher instead of being hand-washed, I was just happy there were clean bottles when I needed them.
Not only did I accept his offer of help, I stopped telling him he was doing it wrong (even though I died a little inside every time he would use like 15 wipes to change a diaper).
I can’t tell you what an impact this lesson has had on my marriage. Instead of trying to control every aspect of my son’s life, our son’s life, I learned to trust my husband and began to let go of my ego and quest for perfectionism. We became a team, instead of me dictating to him the correct way to do things, like he was in my employ. And over time, especially now that my son is a tween, I learned that this ain’t just the mom and son show. My son needs his dad.
So, if your husband’s doing it wrong, let him! He’ll make mistakes and he won’t always do it your way (which we all know is the best way) but you’ll get a break. And more importantly, you’ll get to sit back and watch him put the diaper on crooked while he sings and coos to the baby and the singing and cooing turns into playing cars and bandaging knees and that turns into going for haircuts and talking about girls and over time you’ll see this has become a really awesome bond that your child will have with his dad, a bond that he doesn’t share with anyone else in the world.
Oh, but you might want to go out and get one of those swaddle blankets with the velcro that are really easy to put on because he just might never figure that one out.
As soon as I heard about this challenge, I knew I wanted to participate! The main reason I blog and write about parenting is to lift other mommies up! To let them know that it’s hard, but we are all feeling the struggle. Not one of us is perfect! Let’s celebrate our strengths and stop focusing on what we don’t do well or what we feel like we should be doing better.
Thanks you so much to Kayla O’Neill at Parenting Expert Mom for tagging me in this challenge.
I’m tagging Kaity Stuckert at Beeautiful Blessings, Catherine Murton at Kid & Kin, Rebecca Lyn Miller at Mommy Takes 5, and Madelyn Harrah at Happy Hippy Homemaker.
Show us what you’ve got ladies!
1. I KNOW THAT PERFECTION IS A MYTH: I used to think that being the perfect mom was attainable. Now I know it’s a myth. Once I got to know the moms in community, the ones that seemed perfect, the ones that seemed like they had it all together, I learned that they had the same struggles and insecurities that I did. It was like a weight lifted off my shoulders. I no longer felt the need to try to be a certain way and I stopped caring what other people thought of my abilities as a mom.
2. I’M LOUD AND CRAZY: My house is never quiet! We are a big, loud family! We sing and dance and sock-ice skate in the kitchen. We make up our own songs and belt the words out. We chase each other around the house and smack talk when we play UNO and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I hope my children remember our house as loud and fun!
3. I APOLOGIZE: I make a lot of mistakes. I holler at my kids. I forget to wash their karate suit. I get them to school late. But I always apologize. I know I’m not a perfect mom and I want my kids to know that too. I want them to learn that sometimes we mess up: we forget things, we’re mean, we hurt people’s feelings. I want them to be gentle with themselves when they make a mistake and to see the importance of apologizing when you do.
4. I VALUE KINDNESS OVER INTELLIGENCE: Now that my kids are in school, it’s obvious that some have an easier time with schoolwork. While we celebrate all achievements in our home, I am more impressed when my children act kind and generous and loving to one another than when they bring home an A.
5. I GIVE MY CHILDREN ONE ON ONE TIME: With four siblings, I’m sure my kids sometimes feel a little lost in the shuffle, so we go on dates to the arcade or to play mini golf. It’s sometimes hard to fit into our busy schedule but it’s worth it to reconnect with each child and to show them how much I love them!
6. I PUT MY HUSBAND FIRST: Hard as it may be with 4 little kids, I try to make my husband and our marriage a priority. Someday these kids will be grown and gone and it will just be me and hubby left. I don’t want him and our relationship to get lost in the chaos. I also want to teach my children what a good relationship showing them.
7. I MAKE THEM DO CHORES: My school age kids have daily chores and Saturday chores. When the kids sweep and wipe the table, it’s not as clean as when I do it (not even close-sometimes it even looks worse!) I’m not trying to teach them how to be expert cleaners, I’m trying to teach them that this is what we do in a family – we take care of our things and we help each other out.
8. I DON’T LET THEM QUIT: When my kids want to join sport or play and instrument I don’t let them quit. If they sign up a season of soccer and decide they don’t like it after two practices, we still go to soccer until the end of the season. I hope this is teaching them to be faithful to their obligations and to be thoughtful about what activities they sign up for.
9. I TAKE CARE OF MYSELF: Over the years I’ve learned that I need to take care of myself to be a good mom-that sometimes the best thing for the whole family is for mom to leave on Saturday morning and not come back until dinnertime. For most families I know, the mom sets the tone for the house. Taking time for myself and coming back refreshed sets a nicer tone than staying in the house and feeling resentful.
10. I TELL MY CHILDREN THAT I LOVE THEM: It may seem small, but it’s important and I do it all day long accompanied with lots of hugs for as long as they let me!
Now it’s time for you to toot your horn! How are you rocking motherhood?
Normally when I hear, “You look tired,” I feel like that’s code for someone telling me “You look old,” or “Yoga pants again?” This Friday I hope to take it as a compliment. This time I want to hear it as, “That was some expert level parenting this week!”
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To my Pediatrician:
First of all, let me say thank you for taking such good care of my four babies and also for putting up with all my questions. You think by now, I’d be a little more laid back, but I still call your office as frantically and as frequently as a first time mom.
Having said that, let me say this: I can’t answer your questions any more. To your question, “When did the symptoms start?” My answer is, “I have no idea.” Please consider this my answer to all the other questions you are about to ask me about my child’s health.
What color is her snot? No clue.
Has he been having headaches? Iunno
Has she been coughing at night? Maybe?
How high was his fever? Ummmm……
Did she injure her toe at school? Blank stare
All I know is that they are sick now.
I wish I knew all the answers to the pediatrician’s questions: when each cough started, how long the fevers lasted, which one was coughing last night. The truth is, I just can’t remember.
Over the past three months we have had three strep infections, three kids on nebulizer treatments, one case of pneumonia, one UTI, four teeth pulled, one sinus infection, two rashes, three taped toes, plus a myriad of fevers, coughs, runny noses, headaches, tummy aches, bruises, and scraped knees.
I have poured countless tiny plastic cups of medicine, taken dozens of temperatures, run humidifiers, sprayed saline up little noses, made tea, gave spoonfuls of honey, diffused essential oils, aired out the house, boiled toothbrushes, rested, iced, and elevated, applied at least a box or two of bandaids, and paid a small fortune in copays.
Pediatrician, my head is spinning with sickness details, medication measurements, and absence notes for school. I’m honestly not sure how I even got to your office today and I’m not 100% on which kid I actually have with me today. So I’m very sorry that I can’t give you any more details about this particular kid and how long their mucus may or may not have been green.
All I know is that they are sick now.
I think it’s safe to assume it’s been a long time since the snot has turned green, their breathing has taken a turn for the worse, and the fever has either been high enough or lasted long enough to prickle my mom senses and get us in here. Just do the best you can and thank you. Thank you for bearing with me and all the other sickness weary moms. Hopefully this is the last time I’ll see you until spring! Until then, I’ll return to my cool mist humidifier fogged den of illness.
A Worn Out Mom
There I was, sitting on a thinly carpeted concrete floor while my daughter was in karate class. Like an explosion, all the kids rushed out the door and lined up at the water fountain. When it was my daughter’s turn, a bigger kid started counting to 3, the universal sign for “hurry up, I’m thirsty!” My daughter stopped drinking, turned on her heel, looked this big kid square in the eye and said, “You’re not the boss of me,” and walked back to class, looking a little taller than she had a moment before.
I jumped up and yelled, “In your face!” Then I dropped my microphone right on his bare feet! Well, I didn’t actually do that, but I totally wanted to! Not because the kid was mean, because he absolutely wasn’t, he was just thirsty. I was just so proud of my 7 year old for standing up for herself, especially to an older boy.
It made my day watching her sweet little face with her half grown in front teeth tell him “you’re not the boss of me” even though I think he really is. He’s two belts ahead of her and I’m pretty sure that means he’s allowed to (maybe even supposed to) tell the younger kids to keep the line moving. I’ll have to check with the instructor about that. But still. I was super proud.
Raising little girls is tougher than I thought it was going to be. I want to teach my girls to be kind to others, to follow the golden rule, but I also don’t want them to be doormats. And this particular daughter, she is the one who is the most accommodating. She’s the one who gives up the good spot in the car. The one who shares her new toy before she’s even played with it. The one who lets her friends pick the game at recess. She’s the peacemaker.
Don’t get me wrong. These are all great qualities and ones that her father and I encourage, but as we encourage her I wonder if she’ll define herself this way, as the peacemaker. I worry she’ll base her self worth on the approval of others.
But then this happens! A big “to heck with you bigger, stronger kid, I’ll drink as long as I want, thankyouverymuch!” In that moment I realized she can be a peacemaker and a totally confident little girl! Being kind doesn’t negate being self-assured. She can be both.
Sitting there on that cold floor, I forgot my aching back and barely noticed that my feet were starting to fall asleep. I was too happy, too proud to notice those aches and pains as I watched my adorable, tough, sweet, self confident little girl tighten her white belt, flip her long hair, and stride back into karate to kick some big kid butt.
When I heard about Pokemon Go about a year ago, I dreaded it’s release, but now that it’s here, I love it-even though I don’t play and my kids don’t either. Here’s why:
My ten year old bestest boy loves Pokemon and has for the past 5 years. And when I say love, I’m putting it lightly. He has over 500 cards, most of the games, novels about the characters, he watches the shows and movies, and has almost all of the pokedexes (which, for you pokenovices, are encyclopedias of Pokemon-listing all the characters and details about them). Before you think I spoiled him with all this stuff, please know that it took 5 years to accumulate this crap, I mean special, important, pokestuff, and a lot of it was in the form of gifts from our large and generous extended family.
In a Minecraft world, being a pokefan hasn’t been too easy for my sonny boy. Pokemon is not popular in my son’s school. Very few of the kids play the video games or watch the shows. A couple have some cards, but they aren’t invested like my son is. Add to that that my boy is a little on the quirky side. But if you are a true Pokemon fan, you probably already guessed that. So, he has learned not talk about Pokemon at school; he doesn’t wear his favorite Pokemon shirt because “nobody else likes Pokemon, Mom,” and he holds his own with his knowledge of Minecraft, which more of the kids like.
It’s not all doom and gloom though friends, luckily most of my nieces and nephews are also superpokefans! My boy pulls out his pokeshirt when he knows he’s going to see them, pokecard binder in one hand and Nintento DS in the other! We all go to the beach together for a week in the summer and the kids find a space to hang out, trade cards, play games, but mostly talk about Pokemon. We call it the pokeden. It’s super cute and honestly, a nice break for the parents who are sick and tired of hearing about it. Then all us adults can sit around and talk about stuff we are interested in-like who was Mom’s favorite!
Anywho-I was so apprehensive when Pokemon Go came out, I didn’t even tell Will. I don’t really have a problem with Pokemon per se, but I do know that when sonny boy spends “too much” time doing pokethings, he has a hard time switching his mind over to the task at hand. He gets lost in his own pokeworld and on the way up to brush his teeth, he forgets why he was going upstairs.
But of course I couldn’t hide it. And sure enough he started hearing about it from friends, family, Pokemon websites, and even on the news. I made sure to point out all the “Wow, Pokemon Go is so dangerous people are getting robbed and hit by cars” stories to dissuade him.
But then something really cool happened. I found out that the people playing the game aren’t necessarily the pokepeople. They are just people who want to play this game, which is actually pretty fun-even if you’re not a fan.
Then something even cooler happened, I was helping out at Sunday school and a teen helper asked the class if any of them had Pokemon Go. Sonny boy said no, but that he liked Pokemon. The teen said he just downloaded the game and found his first Pokemon, a little orange dragon. (I was thinking, “do you mean Charmander,” all rolling my eyes at his lack of pokeknowledge and then immediately thinking, “ugh, why do I know so much about pokemon?”)
But my son politely and enthusiastically said, “That’s probably a Charmander!” The two talked and the teen found my son again the next week to talk to him about the 76 more pokemon he found.
So now, I love Pokemon Go! Because people who aren’t true fans are playing it, getting interested in Pokemon, talking about it socially, asking my son questions, and appreciating his encyclopedic knowledge.
I know this won’t always be the case for him, that what the mainstream is talking about is something he’s interested in. Most kids in the school don’t have a special love for geodes, a crazy amount of knowledge about sharks and Greek mythology and prefer doing science experiments over playing soccer. And I’m ok with that. I love my quirky little boy. All these things he’s interested in are what makes him who he is and I wouldn’t change any little bit of him.
But I do have to admit that I am excited for school to start this year! So just once, my son can be truly involved and engaged in what the majority of the other kids are interested in!
I’m hoping the poketalk eclipses the Minecraft chatter. I’m hoping my boy dons his pokeshirt and lets his quirky flag fly and shows those Pokemon Go players what a true pokefan looks like.
The suit, friends, was made by Swim Solutions. Swim Solutions? Seriously? This is where I am in my life right now? I need a “solution” to my swimming “problem?”It’s like my husband is going to holler, “Hey, the kids and I are going swimming; come join us,” and my response will now have to be, “Oh, that sounds terrible. What a predicament. Oh wait, I think I have a solution,” as I pull on my bathing suit.
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I feel like I’m walking down a hallway and arrows are whizzing by my head. Striking my friends, their children.
When I turn around I can’t see anything. I don’t know where the arrows are coming from. We continue walking but when I turn around again, I can see that we haven’t gone any farther. When I try to run, I can’t. I’m just walking.
I hear an arrow buzz past my ear. I try to duck, to cover my head, to cover my children but I can’t. I can only walk.
There are so many people walking down the hallway with us and as I turn my head to the left and right, I see the arrows piercing, a person falls, a child falls.
I don’t know what we are walking towards. Safety I guess, but it doesn’t seem that we are getting any closer. Step after step and I can’t see anything new. I can’t see the end of the hallway. Just people. Just people walking. And falling.
I’m terrified and heartbroken. I feel helpless. I’m relieved that an arrow hasn’t struck me or my family. And I feel guilty for feeling that. My neck tingles in anticipatory dread.
I keep walking.
photo credit: Manuela Kohl, pexels.com