But so often, I just don’t.
So often, I’ve kept myself quiet.
Like when my oldest was a newborn and had colic. Those days were the worst. Seriously. I can admit it now that it’s been eighteen years, but I tell you that it was so ridiculously hard living feeling like I was underwater gasping for breath. I wasn’t the happy new mom in the picture, but rather was the mom laying on the floor in the bedroom with a three week old baby who wouldn’t stop crying and I was crying back to her sleep, sleep, sleep, please please please just sleep. Over and over and over begging this child that I carried for nine months to simply sleep.
I had no idea motherhood would have moments of me longing for nothing but sleep.
I was pushed to the brink.
All I needed during those days was sleep. A friend to come over and to take that crying baby from me for a moment and to look me in the eye and to tell me that I was a good mom despite the constantly screaming baby. Because you know, in those moments I really thought I was messing up. I started to think that I wasn’t doing things right despite reading every article possible in Parents, What to Expect, and more on parenting. I can’t imagine if I had internet back then – holy moly – I would have scoured the web.
I doubted my ability to mother.
Just like I sometimes do even now. Eighteen years later.
I’ll worry that I’m messing up, not making the right choices, that my children won’t love me, and I’ll measure myself with a bar much to short for everything that I’m doing. It’s not over colic things now. But other new worries. I don’t have them busy enough or that they’re too busy. I’m not spending enough time with them. I should be working on more math facts. I’m messing up their lives making hard choices. And on and on and on.
I know you do too.
I know that sometimes it’s hard to talk about those challenging times in motherhood. That there are moments when the front door is easier to keep shut than to open it up when you need help. I know that there are moments where the four year old tests you and pushes every single button possible – including ones that you didn’t think you had. I know that there are teens that won’t talk to you or think that you’re the worst and that it hurts so bad that tears form a pool on your pillow at night. I know that there are relationships that crumbled and you’re standing there thinking how did this become my life? I know that there are those of you with colicky babes that never imagined that you’d wear a path in your carpet from pacing so much.
I’ve dealt with it.
I wish I could simply say that if you do this magical mothering formula that will make those moments of doubt or struggle or fatigue or all of that get better quickly. You know, like the 14 Steps to Happy Kids with a Joyful Mom Program in just 3 Weeks of work kind of book. (If you find that and it works, will you tell me?)
But here’s what I do know. And here is what I will say.
[Tweet “Motherhood isn’t based on having everything perfect.”]
You don’t have to be perfect.
You don’t have to do pinterest projects for birthday parties to be a great mom. In fact, you don’t have to do birthday parties. You don’t have to have everything all together all the time. You don’t have to never get behind in laundry. You don’t have to have a perfect life that looks like it came straight from the 1950s. You don’t have to never have moments of doubt. You don’t have to have color coded charts and laminated goal sheets and a minivan with seats that fold in and kids that always wear the cutest clothes.
You can be you.
You can be you in your imperfect way and you can try and stumble and try again.
You don’t have to compare yourself to your neighbor who has beautifully manicured yards. You know what? Maybe she does because that’s her stress reliever and the only thing she has control of in her life. You don’t have to be like the mom you see at school who never seems stressed out at all in her car with the kids. Maybe her time out time is being in the car. Don’t become her. Be you.
Your kids will mess up. There will be times where you will stand outside their door and you will think what in the world were they thinking? There will be times where tears fall from your eyes faster than you can blink. There will be times when you’ll look at them and remember the hours spent rocking and walking them trying to get them to sleep and you’ll wonder what happened.
Your kids aren’t a reflection of your abilities as a mom.
I know that’s hard. I know. You’re thinking I have one shot at this motherhood thing. Well, yes, yes, you do. But you have one shot filled with many days filled with many variables. Don’t overlook the variables. And don’t overlook the time. And the many days. And that you have a new morning, a new shot, every single day.
Here’s what I know. Love your kids no matter what. Fight for your kids. Hold a standard high for them and still give them grace to fail and to try again. Let them fall so they know how to stand up. Don’t be afraid to do the hard things for them.
Do you know what else I want you to know? Don’t apologize for not having everything perfect. Don’t be afraid to open your door when you need help. Don’t hide in the corner and blush if your kid makes a mistake. Don’t measure yourself by the never ending stream of hypothetical perfection found in social media.
Just be you.
Be brave, bold, and more than that, laugh.
Yes. Laugh. Smile.
[Tweet “Don’t wait for everything to be perfect to enjoy today.”]
Live and love your kids.
That’s what I really wanted to say.
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Beautiful! I always find inspiration from your posts & feel like hey, I’m not alone!. Thank you! Needed this today dealing with my wild, busy 2.5 yr old boy.
You did it again! You deliver the exact words I need to hear at all the right times. I thank you for telling me all the things I need to hear and wished I could hear! You have been an amazing support and wish I had a friend close by like you!
As a mother of 3 boys I just now took a huge breath after my one-year old celebrated his birthday last week. He was colicky for 7 months and I could only wish for him to be one, and for myself to survive his first year. I used to say it felt like an elephant was standing on my chest. This past year has been a learning experience for me about perfection and fighting my type A personality against a colicky baby. Thanks for your wonderful message today.
You are very welcome, Brooke. Those colicky babies really do test us and push us to th brink of motherhood. I don’t know how one could ever prep for that experience, but when you’re through it, you truly can utter the words, “I made it.”
I had one of those screaming babies too… 8 years later I can look back and smile… no I’m not even gonna say laugh lol. I doubted everything about my ability to be a mother. That’s when I started to blog… and also when I realized I wasn’t the only one with a screamy kid. That it wasn’t something I was doing wrong. I appreciate women like you who are willing to stand up and speak their truth. It allows me to cut myself some slack, and for that I’m infinitely grateful. 🙂
Thank you, Jackie. Yes, somehow writing about it all and expressing that it’s a challenge brings freedom.
Lovely post! With three young children, life is often completely overwhelming. It is so reassuring and reaffirming to read these words and to remember to keep on being me.
Yes, keep on being you. Awesome.
Thank you for this post. I too am a mother of a colicky baby. It’s something that you read about but never really can understand it unless you’ve been through it. You can explain the days and the nights to your family and friends, but they simply chalk it up to the baby being “cranky”. Living that was lonely, But we made it. My son is 11 months now and the happiest little boy. He still doesn’t sleep through the night…and yet I cannot bring myself to let him “cry it out” because I listened to that cry for almost 6 long months. I did have the internet and all I read was “it lasts 3 months”, “there is nothing you can do”, “just give it time…”. Ahhhh, there needs to be more support and awareness because it’s not always the perfect, sleeping newborn. Sometimes, there’s a perfect, crying newborn. 🙂
To all the Mom’s out there going through it – hang on, just hang on.
Yes, yes, yes…hang on hang on. Hard words in the midst, but oh so true.