I have been a mom of four for exactly 12 weeks. People constantly ask me, “How are you DOING with four kids ages three and under?” and my genuine answer is, “Well, everyone’s still alive, so we’re doing pretty awesome.”
If you can read between the lines on that one, that doesn’t mean it’s been easy. In fact, this is easily the hardest thing I’ve ever done. And while I’ve been doing a pretty good job treading water, two weeks ago, I hit a breaking point. (Let’s just say it involved discovering a slip ‘n slide in our hallway created by naked toddlers and their bodily fluids). I lost it. Instead of calmly dealing with the situation, I exploded, chasing the giggling-yet-defiant toddlers around the house and wrestling them angrily into the tub before pausing to recognize that this really was NOT that big of a deal. I was immediately so angry with myself for how I’d handled that situation (as well as countless other situations since the twins had been born).
I texted my husband, “I quit.” And I meant it. For the first time, I genuinely felt as though this “mom thing” and I weren’t a good fit. I’m just bad at it. I actually almost sat down and wrote a post entitled, “Why I Suck at Being a Mom” (and it was going to be epic). Instead, I went to my bedroom, closed the door, and ugly cried into a pillow for a long time.
Let me clarify. I LOVE my children. Some days, I even dream of having more of them. That being said, I must have lost the “How to Raise Tiny Humans” instruction manual I’m sure they gave me before we left the hospital with my firstborn. (Oh, they don’t distribute those? Hm. Someone should get on that). I don’t have a CLUE what I’m doing, and more often than not, I feel like I am living in one epic #momfail.
But in the last several days, the hormonal dust has cleared a bit, and although the last two months have been anything but easy, I am starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel (although for all I know it *could* be an oncoming train). Even more importantly, I’m beginning to realize, all these moments where I feel like I’m failing have already shaped me into a much better form of myself.
And here’s how:
I’m Learning to Receive (and even ask for) Help
Asking for & receiving help has always been hard for me. It’s always felt like a sign of failure. However, before the twins were born, my husband told me I was not allowed to say “no” to any offers for help. I’ve been obedient, and the results have been beautiful. A friend offered her teenage daughter as a mothers helper a few days a week. Friends spontaneously call me on their way to or from the grocery store to see if I need something. A sweet woman from my church has even been doing my laundry once a week. Through receiving help, I’ve learned SO much. Most notably: letting go of the idea that “I need to do everything myself” has given me space to breathe in my life. It’s eliminated some of the stress so I can be more present with my family. And it’s allowed others to experience the blessing that comes from helping others.
I’m Lowering My Expectations of Myself (And Those Around Me)
Our society sets us up for a LOT of expectations – both of ourselves and others. As mothers, we are frequently expected to do it all: Keep a clean house, cook nutritious meals, bring in some form of income for the family, stay fit and shower daily, AND keep tiny humans alive. I tried for awhile, and I’ve failed. Yes there are days when I am showered and the house is clean and the kids are happy and watered and fed… but those days are few and far between. More often than not, I can’t do it all. THAT’S OKAY. What qualifies as a clean house NOW would’ve been a disaster in my pre-children days. Some days (a lot of days) I completely forget to turn on the crockpot and we end up with frozen pizza instead. I don’t really care anymore. I’ve changed my expectations of myself. And beyond that, I’ve changed my expectations of others. It’s interesting how I find myself MORE encouraged by walking into someone else’s messy house than inspired by the neat and tidy homes of my friends.
I’ve Re-Aligned My Schedule & Priorities
I used to thrive on busy-ness. My calendar was packed with activity, and I LOVED it: Dinners with friends, lunch meetings, classes, Bible studies, service projects… However, I’ve learned that being overly busy makes me a grumpy mom, and I don’t like that lady. Adding two children to my life has made it much more difficult to get out. Some of the times I’ve tried to leave the house have been near comical, but ended in tears. Finally, I just stopped trying to go places all the time. While I hated it at first, I’m NOW discovering I thrive on an empty calendar. I LOVE seeing absolutely NOTHING scheduled on a day, and I enjoy when my little family can just be tucked away to enjoy one another. This also means that when I DO have things on my schedule, they’ve been specifically, carefully chosen. They are intentional, and I am more present when I attend. In doing so, I’m giving whatever I do the BEST of me.
I would like to look back on this crazy chaotic yet wonderful season of life and realize that it made me a better person overall because I was SO imperfect in the moment. What seem to be #momfails in the moment are proving to be life lessons of a greater magnitude.
After all, failure humbles us. But when we are humble, we are truly the most beautiful version of ourselves.