To the Overwhelmed Mothers, We are Not Aloneby Elizabeth MacDonald
A foreign word at this point. “Mama. Mama. Mama. MAMA!” A toddler is screaming 3 inches from my face, while I was trying to rock an infant down for a nap. A nap that will never happen now. Dinner should have been started about an hour ago, but the toddler has spilled an entire box of cereal throughout the kitchen and decided to “help” clean it up with a soapy, wet dish towel. You know, making it impossible to sweep it all easily. Bills need paid, the laundry pile is taking over an entire room, you are out of wine, your hair is in the same bun you created 2 days ago, the fridge is looking bare, and the baby could possibly be cutting a tooth. Oh crap, now there’s glitter being mixed into the cereal mess. Sh*t, you could really use a glass of wine. PARENTHOOD. My husband then walks in the front door and asks, “What’s for dinner?” You know, as he kicks his shoes and socks off aimlessly and proceeds to sit down on the couch.
To the Other Overwhelmed Moms,
Pour yourself a glass of wine. It’s only 11am? It’s ok, make it a mimosa. It’ll calm your anxiety and make you feel much more “SuperMom-ish.” Delicious? Ok, now I’m going to tell you how I stay sane. I truly think my kids are the coolest humans on the planet. Yep, that’s my secret. Even when life is crappy, and every single kid is screaming, and I need to pee, and the baby will.not.stop.nursing. Even then, I love them. My motto is “Just Love Them.” Everyone, in almost every situation, is seeking love. Most people, especially children, just can’t express that need in any other way than breaking down or acting out. So I just love them. I get down on their level, wait out the hard moment and repeat, “Mommy loves you” until they truly hear me. I decided to learn about every parenting style I could research. I really loved reading about peaceful parenting, attachment parenting, free range parenting, and others similar to these. I treat my children like the complete beings they are, and do not belittle them or scream at them or make them feel “less than.” I give them respect, and in turn, they are pretty freaking awesome children. Granted, I lose my patience and want to run away more often than I will admit. But, I apologize. No one is perfect, and I will never expect perfection from my children. When I have my (too often) moments of weakness and lose my ishhhhh…. I collect myself and (often crying) apologize to my little ones. I have never and will never spank or hit, but there are so many other ways to lose it on your children. The root of the issue is not the children, but the parent – ME. This happens in moments when my emotions have taken over and I can’t see anything but blurred lines of furry. But I am trying to get better. Apologizing is the first step. The next step is to realize what is happening before it happens. To sense my own emotional rollercoaster and breathe before it’s too late. Messes will happen. If you are Type A and OCD about your home (like me), you will stay up and clean more often than most other people. But that is OKAY! If that makes you a bit happier, then do it. I urge you to slow down and follow your children’s lead throughout the day. Take your To-Do List down to only a few things a day and just enjoy your environment. I have had to learn to let go of a lot, but it has made me a kinder, happier, more productive person. I have had to learn to say no. No, I will not volunteer to run the homeschool coop. No, we will not attend the library group every week – Hell, once a month is enough of that singing and reading out loud for me. No, I won’t load up my entire circus and attend a playdate, BUT, you are more than welcome to drive to my nut house and play here! (You know I’ll serve wine.) The other key is to have support. I have recently handed over grocery duty to my husband, and he can now put the oldest two children to bed at night. (GOOD LORD. That only took six years.) I ask him for help, when in the past I would have just done it all myself. I limit leaving the house to 3 days a week, for speech therapies, homeschool coop, and ballet/karate classes. I make sure to stop and grab anything else needed on those days as well. Mondays and Fridays are glorious. We make pancakes, do school work early, play outside, and just BE TOGETHER. Granted, I’m exhausted from typing for 3 hours in the morning and at least 3 hours in the evenings, but that’s the schedule that is working for us! Oh I also am hiring a Mother’s Helper for 4 hours one afternoon a week so that I can sit and get serious typing done… or you know, take a nap. If you can possibly splurge on a house cleaning service, that may save your sanity as well as make you feel like you are doing things right, because at least your house is clean for a day. Oh, also, AMAZON and online shopping is a godsend. I’m not kidding. I just order anything at any time (if needed, and within budget), often after a lot of wine at night, but that little shopping makes me feel accomplished. So swim on over to the shallower end with me, or hold my hand and I’ll help. We can hang out in our yoga pants with a bottle of wine, while our children make mud pies and play naked for all the world to see. I don’t care who judges us. Truth is, the grass is never greener, and we’ve got it all. Never forget that. All my love, Elizabeth (I'm not kidding, we are a circus)