Every night before I go to bed I tuck in my sleeping angels, again. Every night they lay in, around or half way on their beds with eyes closed and surrounded in peace, if nothing else. It’s now when the fighting and whining have ceased that I lovingly look upon them and wonder “Am I doing this right?”, “Did I remember to brush their teeth?” or “What day is tomorrow?” and above all I wonder am I the only one who feels like an amateur four years and almost four kids into this?
I know I can’t be the only one struggling with this and I find that between a society that under appreciates the pure time and effort needed to raise good kids combined with the over glorification of motherhood makes dealing with the ups and downs that much harder. So I for one am going to step out on that ledge and scream, rant or rave about some of the things that I wish someone had been honest to me about!
TOP FIVE (Chronologically for now)
1. Not everyone loves being pregnant! It’s not always glamorous, it’s rarely comfortable and its ok, really its ok. Its alright if you’re not thrilled about being nauseous for 3-6 months. Its ok if you freak out the first time the baby moves inside of you because you feel like you should belong on an Aliens movie. Its ok if you secretly (or not so secretly) wish the baby would come early (so you can see your feet again or breath)/late (you know because the weight of being fully responsible for that little life is terrifying). Some people start to glow and are amazed and overjoyed by every aspect of childbirth, others dread every moment and it’s not fair to either group to claim one way is right and the other is wrong. Unfortunately there has been a great sugar-coating occurring through various media and social outlets that shames some into thinking that they are already bad parents and baby has not even arrived yet. Just because you hate being pregnant does not mean that you love baby any less, its like exercising; the results are worth it but the process is painful and drawn out.
2. Expect to be exhausted for the next year, or more. For some reason between the uncomfortable everything that is the third trimester and the sleeping habits of a newborn, sleep is often elusive no matter how fully it is desired. Some kids sleep through the night by 8 weeks, most don’t. If it’s not feeding schedules, its colds, congestion, teething etc…causing your little one to scream and that doesn’t mean you’re doing it wrong. There is no manual that comes with kids and different techniques work with different kids (note: i refuse to advocate one theory over another when it comes to infant sleep simply because I am not a professional, only a mom working through trial and error). If you can sleep when baby sleeps than do it, you’re not lazy if some household chore did not get done, and if you have more than one than its time to reach out to friends and family for help.
3. Ask for help! Seriously just asking for help can help you get through anything. It’s really hard to be a mom, it’s even harder to be a mom, wife, coworker, housekeeper, etc…and asking for help does not make you a failure or a weakling, it just makes you human. Let your husband know you need him, whether its to help out with the dishes or to just deal (quietly, without complaining or gloating) with baby so you can take a shower in peace. Set up a babysitting co-op with friends who have kids. You don’t need to make it formal and add up the hours or anything but if your willing to watch their kids in return for them watching yours it makes it nice to know that there are people who will watch your kids for free so you can have night out and it is fantastic! If your lucky enough to live near family, ask for some help or company. If you have that person who can just come and be with you without your feeling that the house needs to be clean or baby/little one dressed it can take away some of the loneliness that finds new stay at home moms.
4. Every age has its issues! Just because you got past feeding every 3 hours does not mean it gets easy, easier yes, but not easy. Every stage of development is wrought with trial and error and each kid that you have responds to each age differently. One can be a crier, one a whiner and one a temper tantrum thrower each at the same age or each at different ages, either way you have to roll with the punches and set up boundaries.
5. No one is perfect! Everyone experiences a breakdown, everyone has a kryptonite. Some people hide them well while others display them for the world to see, either way if you build real friendships with other moms than a dose of perspective will not be far off. It’s ok to ignore everything (during nap time) and just sit, sleep, cry, read or whatever it is you need to regain some amount of sanity. It’s ok to call your best friend in tears because you just stepped out of the shower to find your 9/12/24 month old standing up in the crib covered in poop. It’s ok to tell your husband you need a girls night out away from children, or to tell him that you need a date night out and that no matter how tight the budget is you NEED to have a babysitter come over so that you can have at least a couple of hours to be with the man you married that are not filled with crying, temper tantrums or blunt repetition. Your not alone and breaking down in front of someone does not mean that you are a bad parent, it means that (like every other mom) you have found your limit.
There is more, oh so much more that I have learned in just five short years but we can discuss those finds in another post!