I woke up exhausted which isn’t unusual for me. I got up in the middle of the night with one of our kids- who can even remember which one it was this time. Everyday I want so badly to wake up before everyone else so I can drink my coffee, read my bible, and have me time. I have no idea when the last time that happened. Most of the time, one of two things happen- either I had a long night so I hit snooze too many times, and do not have any time for “me time” or someone decides to wake up earlier than normal and they need me right NOW. Exhausted is the name of the game.
It was Monday. A Monday after a long weekend full of busy and rush. Not only had I woke up exhausted, I already felt defeated. I knew that the day was going to be a tough one before it started and my attitude already reflected that. Today was day 1 in potty training boot camp. I was going to do my best to get my sweet but stubborn boy potty trained. Two weeks prior he started hating poopy diapers (I mean, who doesn’t??) and taking them off as soon as he pooped, without warning or telling anyone. I would find him naked with poop wherever he was. He had wiped poop on the couch, his shirt, the floor. I was DONE. So operation potty train was in full swing.
By 10:00, he had already peed in the floor twice, the dog had puked on my new rug, and the baby had barely stopped crying. I found myself running from one child to the next. Someone was either crying, peeing, puking, whining, hungry, discontent with life. I realized I hadn’t had a real adult conversation in days. Sure, I had seen another adult but I hadn’t had any quality time with one. I wish I could clearly communicate how difficult life seemed. I cried all day. I felt alone. It all seemed hopeless. I was unhappy and it continued all.day.long.
I kept thinking about how badly I would love to read a book, drink coffee, have nice things that no one was wiping poop on. I just want to feel normal. I want to be able to go to the bathroom without fear of what is happening while I am in there. I want regular adult interaction. I want sleep. I don’t want to hear whining any more. No fighting. No messes. I just want to run away to a a quiet beach. I want to feel like I have purpose and meaning- like I matter. 3 & 5 year olds don’t give you much praise- and often times they give the complete opposite!
By the afternoon I found myself taking a breather and trying to sort through all the things in my brain. I was so unhappy. I kept asking myself what I was doing. Why in the world did I have 5 kids? At this point I felt like this was a crazy question to be asking. I mean I have 5 kids. I am now talking to myself outloud. “Ok, life is full of choices. People make choices all the time. If you go to college and get a degree and start working and realize that you spent all this time on a degree for a job you don’t actually like, you can switch careers. Or if you are in a job that doesn’t fit or you don’t enjoy, you can get another one. What about motherhood? What happens when you find yourself so discontent and unhappy in Motherhood? This isn’t a job you just change and find a new one. What happens when you feel trapped by motherhood?” I didn’t immediately have an answer. I know that people do run away from their lives- but even in the thick, I knew that I wasn’t going to really run away. I love my kids with all I have and I want to be a mom- but it is hard.
I text a friend and then ended up calling my husband, which I try not to do. I was in a place I didn’t feel like I could get out of on my own but knew I desperately needed to get out. I was a mess. My sweet husband had reminded me that it won’t always be like this. I felt like Allyson in the movie Mom’s Night Out. She’s a hot mess most days and her life seems to constantly be in a state of chaos. At one point her friend assures her “it will get better! in 3-5 years” I am sure my face resembled her look of disappointment when my husband tried to encourage me by saying it is not forever. In that moment, that was not a statement full of hope for me.
By bedtime my heart was still heavy. I went to sleep feeling like I had to figure things out. I wanted more than anything for my feelings to shift into a more positive light. The next few days I thought through all my feelings and searched for answers. I am not sure if there is such a thing as THE answer, but I wanted to remember what I had done in the past and possibly find new ways to combat the difficult seasons of motherhood. Here is what I came up with!
1.) Embrace the difficult. Don’t dress it up. Don’t try to make it pretty. Motherhood is hard at times. There are challenges and difficult stages. A few weeks ago our pastor said “life is meant to be enjoyed even when it has to be endured.” I love this and have held onto those words daily. I have found that when I allow the moments to just be- difficult, hard, challenging, exhausting, then I can accept them that way, rather than trying to wrestle with them and make them into something prettier.
2.) Find a pick me up person. Find a person or an entire flock of people, who you can call or text when you are in the pit. When you find yourself wanting to run away or quit, have those people on speed dial. If you don’t have that person, let me know- I am serious! We all need someone who can love us and encourage us right where we are- even if we are being irrational. We need someone who we know will love us when that moment is over and we are back to loving life again.
3.) Seek truth. The truth is always there, even in the lies. When life is throwing us lots of challenges and we find ourselves teetering on the edge of sanity, the lies often seem a lot louder than the truth. It is in these moments we have to intentionally seek truth. Remind yourself that there is another side and you will get there. You aren’t going to stay stuck in the yuck!
4.) Switch perspective. Hold tight to the power you have in changing perspective. I have learned that my perspective is a powerful tool. A lot of times, especially in the hard times, I naturally sees the worst of the worst. But that is just not the truth! There is always another way to look at things and learning to see a better perspective helps me get through those hard moments.
5.) Change scenery. If things seem to be falling apart, sometimes changing scenery can benefit you and your kids. Go outside, hop in the car and take a drive, change activities. Just do something different. A lot of times fresh air and and a new scene will help everyone change gears.
6.) Take a break. This isn’t easy for me to figure out all the time. But I have learned that to be a healthy mom, I have to take a break. There have been times we have a recurring babysitter each week to allow me out of the house alone. We just made the choice to add that to the budget. Other times, I have made sure that if the kids nap, I either take a nap too or I chill on the couch in silence. We have all done this one- hide in the closet or bathroom for a few minutes. Taking a break will look different for each of us. Maybe you need coffee with a friend or a date with your husband. Evaluate your needs and do what you have to so that they are getting met AND then, don’t feel guilty about it!
7.) Pray. I can’t tell you how much peace I feel when I stop and pray during the chaos. It doesn’t make the chaos go away but it does bring me peace!
8.) Rationalize your expectations. So I often have some crazy expectations of what I should be as a mom, how my kids should be, what our day looks like…… I have found that a lot of times, when I find myself completely unraveled, I have some expectations that have completely been shot. Giving my expectations a reboot really helps.
9.) Give yourself some grace! Seriously, this one is big! My rule is to always ask myself “if my friend called me and told me what is going on, what would I say to her? Would I extend her grace, love, and encouragement?” And if the answer is yes (it always is) then I know I have to give myself that same thing! Motherhood is hard enough, we don’t need to beat ourselves up!
10.) Remember you are not alone! When I am in those moments that feel impossible, I typically feel very alone. There usually isn’t another adult around and I am surrounded by children. I feel like I am probably the only mom struggling. Guess what? You are not alone Momma! Everyone struggles. Whatever you are feeling, lots of other moms are feeling it too. Sometimes it is really hard to admit it because it almost feels like we are saying we don’t love our jobs as moms, but seriously, no one loves their job all the time! Being a mom is so hard and the best thing we can do is support and love each other in this journey! Lets be honest with each other so no one ever feels alone!
Momma, in this life that is full of never-ending demands, we all find ourselves in moments where nothing seems to help. Grace, just grace. It is hard, it isn’t always fun, but it is always worth it. God has trusted us with these babies and His grace is enough to cover all the difficult, demanding, lonely, places.