Wow... it's been a while. Someday, someday I will call myself a blogger and I will blog about really deliciously important things that will cause wonder and amazement. And I will do it with a regularity you have never seen.
That day is not today.
Just another post about my dreadfully dull life.
So, it's a wee 6am over here in my part of the world. I'd like to say I'm not tired and I'm doing something very productive, but those two phrases don't sit well with me as of late. No, I've just been tossing and turning, thinking about several incidents lately.
What kind of incidents, you ask?
The kinds that consume my life lately, the kinds that have to do with my four children.
Lately, it seems, I have been getting undue recognition, as if having four children makes a person great. I will be the first to tell you, the scale of amazingness does not directly correlate with how many children you have. AT ALL. In fact, I know a lot of amazing people with no children. Nope, the fact that I have more kids than the average sane person only means one thing: I'm crazy and have learned how to function with little-to-no-sleep. Ask someone with insomnia- nothing amazing about that.
So, I started thinking, WHY? Why does the sweet mom of 1 or 2 constantly tell me
"I start to complain, but then I remember you, and- wow, I realize I have nothing to complain about!"
STOP RIGHT THERE. Please, complain.
Are you kidding? I complained when I had one kid. That was the hardest thing I had EVER done! As I look back on my sleepless nights with one babe in tow, I recall being just as stressed and overwhelmed as I am now. It's really not about how MANY kids you have, it's about how hard you try to be a good mom. Because we are all trying, SO HARD, and beating ourselves up when we aren't able to check off every single task on our never-ending lists.....
*do the laundry
*bathe the baby
*clean the house
*nap the baby
*burp the baby
*oh, you're baby has acid reflux? dress baby a good 2 more times
*haul your entire home out of the house for milk
*keep your cupboards stocked
*MAKE your own baby food
*don't you dare give your baby a bottle, you don't need time to yourself- SELFISH
*show your baby Baby Einstein, but only 5 minutes- what, are you trying to fry their brain?!
*Sleep while your baby sleeps- if you're a lazy slob, get to work
*clean the baseboards
*make Halloween costumes- ya, it's more expensive that way, but that's what "real moms" do
*You're eating that? Organic only- what, do you want to kill your child?
*grow your own garden while you're at it
*more laundry, it's not going to do itself
*take pictures of your baby everyday.. oh and make a cute sign that says everything about them- they need to know what they liked at 2 months!
*sweep and mop 10 times a day- you don't want your baby crawling through that mess!
*you have dishes in your sink.....
*Do you live in your car, good grief charlie brown
*read to your child
*talk to your child
*umm, they are 6 months old and don't know the alphabet?? Where are your flashcards?
*really, what's with the pregnancy weight- mom's these days should be a size 0-- get it together
*oh, but don't take your child to the gym daycare, what are you thinking?!?!
You get the idea. When I had my first child my head was literally SPINNING--- HOW ON EARTH DOES ONE PERSON COMPLETE IT ALL?!????
Being a mom is hard work!
Then you throw in the constant opinions and the judgements of others- yikes!!
Well, I'm not here to judge or to tell you how to be a mom, I'm here to tell you to pat yourself on the back. Whether you are pregnant with your first child, or your youngest of 10 is 35- you go girl!! Being a mom is hard at every stage!
Do you want to know a secret? I never got that whole list done! And, just about the time I thought I was getting a handle on it, out popped #2!
Throw my list in a cup, swirl it around and toss it out, because
My life was flipped upside down again. Maybe I'm just a slow learner, but I felt like I was starting all over again. And, this time it took me longer to get it all down (and, by all down I mean maybe getting to 1/3 of my list each day)
But, I did, things came together, the stress subsided and I felt like I could leave my house in one piece. Most of the time.
As you already know, the calming of the storm brought with it another load and our life was flipped again, this time adding 2 more children.
And, here I am. A mother of 4. No more amazing than when I was a mother of 1, but every bit as stressed and overwhelmed.
Trust me, just because my kids have bow ties and hair bows on, does not a stellar mother make me. I struggle, I try, I fail, I yearn for my comfy bed sometimes.
But, what I think makes a good mom are these 2 things:
1. I get up the next day determined to do better
2. I am grateful for all that I have and love my family to pieces
Now, this list is MUCH shorter. Much more attainable. And leaves NO room for judgement. It's personal, as I feel mothering is. There are going to be bad days, where nothing seems to work out, but there are going to be wonderful days, too!
One thing I like to do when I'm having a bad day is go back and read my diary. (ya, I'm a 12-year-old girl at heart with a diary) It's comforting to remember that I've made it through bad days before and that there have been many good days since.
Here is one such entry:
It starts out with an awful stick person drawing of a woman with her hands up and hair going in every direction (I am not an artist by any stretch of the imagination!).
This is me!
Overwhelmed, discouraged, exhausted, defeated.
I would assume every mother feels this way sometimes. These are the days my defeated spirit yearns for only 2 children again. My two kind, mellow, obedient boys.
As I rock my sweet, tired baby to sleep- unsure if this will be the nap that lasts- I search over the last few days. How did we get here?
My two-year-old cries in the other room- pleading a release from her cell. Yes, I've entombed her in her sister's crib- a last resort plea for her to finally take a nap. My heart aches as her three-year-old brother lays silently next door- obediently trying to nap through the agony that has become our nap-time routine.
Her room has become a barren wasteland. Void of anything that might tempt her away from the REM cycle she so clearly needs.
Searching back further in the day, my mind stops on an image of J as I stroke her dark golden curls to examine her eyes. Red. Dark spots scatter the skin beneath her eyes. Collectively over the last week, I am sure she has not slept more than 20 hours.
My husband and I have patiently delivered her back to her bed time after time this week. With no avail.
"The caregivers are urged to be consistent. To have a routine and stick to it." The notes from the therapist flash through my mind as I ponder the red circles forming under my daughter's eyes.
The only one consistent right now is J- consistent and stubbornly refusing to sleep!
The lack of sleep brings with it other difficulties. At the mere mention of the N-O word, a full-blown tantrum explodes.
And that is just J. The immunizations pumped into N's poor, small body earlier this week have left her feverish and distraught. Her heart is set on being a fixed attachment to my body. "Must be in mom's arms- AT ALL TIMES!"
Although, I normally love every second holding my precious baby- I have been left with no free arms and an ever-growing list of to-do's. And, while I could possibly "single-handedly" win a gold medal for a one-armed mother marathon of activities- some things require 2 arms, 2 hands, and 10 fingers.
I should be grateful- this extreme lust for mom has left my weight-loss going stronger than ever. What can I say- eating with one hand while my 6 month old paws at my food does not leave much room for consumption. Hoo-Rah!
Sometimes, I'm not sure if it's my heart or my stomach aching. Aching to be restored and filled.
As a mother, I feel it necessary to teach my children to be independent, happy people- a task I give my all to. But, when you've reached then end of your rope- where do you turn from there? Plummeting into the unknown is not an option withe 4 fully dependent children and one very busy business.
Success- a tragic victory- the two-year-old has finally cried herself to sleep in her cage. For a moment the beast is tamed, off in a dream-like slumber.
It's been a long day. Late to church. Tantrums all morning. In those moments I wonder why we are even going.
As I corral my four babies into the relief society room for Spanish Branch, the thought crosses my mind again. Why? Baby crying, children fighting. Surely there are better ways to "fill my cup."
First song done. 2/3 children fold arms and close eyes for prayer. I'll take it. Lovely lady sees me struggling and takes the restless baby from my arms- freeing my hands to care for the rambunctious, tired, and hungry toddlers surrounding me.
I can do this.
2 more prayers. Bread and water- the kids favorite part. Then, the volcano that has consumed our sweet baby erupts. Moltenous tears erode and cascade down her cheeks while thunderous cries explode.
Distribute toys amongst toddlers and hope for the best as I grab the baby and exit. I escape to a dark, quiet room- rocking rhythmically for what seems like hours. What chaos are the others causing? Has anyone left the church- fleeing my gremlins? Am I now responsible for the salvation of another poor lost soul?
Bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, I give up on putting the baby to sleep and slip back into sacrament. The speaker must have made a funny comment, because everyone chuckles, and I use the noise as a shield while I stumble back to my seat.
To my surprise a kind woman has assumed my position between the gremlins. In fact, they're not gremlins at all- but sweet, quiet children.
My racing heart slows a bit.
I make my way through the last few minutes of sacrament- handing out food and toys respectively to keep the peace.
As I turn to the closing song, nothing looks familiar at first. I, of course, do not speak Spanish and have no clue what the words say. I faithfully drag my children in each Sunday in strict support of my husband's latest calling to the Branch Presidency. This way, we at least get to see him for a little while on Sundays.
It comes as a surprise when the piano chirps along, that this is in fact a song I know very well.
"Count your blessings, name them one by one
Count your blessings see what God has done."
Knot in throat. Just what I needed to hear. I have been consumed so much in the trials of late, that I have not stopped to offer up gratitude for the blessings- other than the zombie-like trance that have become my prayers.
My husband- HUGE blessing.
Each of my four children- AMAZING blessings
Ok, it goes on and on listing how wonderful my life is. Because, in the end, it really is wonderful. And, while I'm not the world's greatest mom, I'm a good mom, who tries hard to give my children the best that I can. Whether there is one or one million of them.
And, so are you!
Had a bad day? Complain away! Don't feel that your trials are any less than someone else's- they're yours! And you are amazing for fighting through them! And, just like that awful day I wrote about, one day you will look back and see how far you've come. The hard stuff only makes us stronger and prepares us for what's ahead. While sleepless babies is no longer an issue in our home (consistency did work, after all), we've got a whole new set of difficulties we are working on. That's the thing about mothering, it never ends.
So, don't let the numbers get you down. Don't let the judgements and opinions of others make you feel inferior. You are the only you and the exact you that YOUr children need!
In case you're actually not here to read my long and never-ending opinions on life, here are some pictures! :) Happy Saturday!
Have a lovely weekend and I will see you back here when the chaos parts again for me! ;)