Despite having four kids and being a mom now for almost thirteen years, I have, for various reasons, purposely not made this a “mommy blog.” Nevertheless, a friend of mine asked me if I could write a post for moms who are needing a little hope as they struggle on this incredibly long, intense journey of motherhood. Moms who feel they don’t measure up. Moms who feel trapped at home till their kids get older and more manageable. Moms who feel they will always be stuck in this current stage.
So, in an effort to provide you young moms out there with a little hope, I’m writing this post.
Motherhood. I distinctly remember one day in my college accounting class, the professor asked us to each say where we saw ourselves in five to ten years. My answer: a mom. That was my dream. I am living my dream. But this job, this thing called motherhood, has been crazy hard. I am going to share a few things I’ve learned over the past thirteen years that I hope will help you on your journey through motherhood.
Breastfeed vs formula? YOU pick.
Schedule the baby’s feeding vs child-led feeding? YOU pick.
Co-sleep with the baby vs the baby sleeps in her own room? YOU pick.
Respond immediately to the baby when he cries vs let him cry it out? YOU pick.
Put the child in the nursery at church vs let the child be with you in the service? YOU pick.
Use a pacifier vs don’t use one? YOU pick.
See the pattern? YOU pick! YOU are the mom of YOUR child. Know yourself. Know your child. Know your situation. Then pick what is best for YOU. I don’t recall peer pressure being much of a thing for me growing up. However, this crazy parenting thing has felt like massive peer-pressure. It took me a couple children in to really start feeling confident in my parenting choices. There is a bit of a learning curve when we enter motherhood. Some of us probably struggle more than others with trying to do it all “right” and worrying about what everyone else says. I would strongly encourage you to listen to your intuition way more than you listen to peers. I’m not saying don’t consider what others have to say. But at the end of the day, YOU are the one that knows what is really best for your situation.
It’s a Stage
When I had my first child, I recall hearing that the baby stage was just a “stage.” Yeah, right! This screaming baby will never be anything but a screaming baby!!! At least that is how things felt with the first. But, by the time number four showed up, I understood. This was truly a stage. Screaming babies do become older non-screaming children. They do. I promise. I still struggle at times with my first child wondering if he will always do XYZ. He’s my first. He’s helping me learn the stages as we go along. But as I’ve seen so many stages come and go in the past, I do have hope that certain things in the present are once again truly just a stage. This is also where it is very helpful to have a mentor or a mom who has older kids than your own. You can learn from her what is “normal” and when you can expect this stage to pass.
Occasionally a stage doesn’t end as expected. Resources like Brain Balance can help evaluate your child and give you guidance.
I had a very artistic mom friend once assume I did a craft a day with my children (like she did with her children). HELP ME! I am not “crafty.” I actually have a very strong aversion to crafts and will start hyperventilating at the thought of a craft time led by me in my home. Ok, so it’s not quite that bad…but pretty close. No, I don’t do a craft a day with my children (maybe even not a craft a year).
However, I have always highly valued going to the library with my kids which means I have multiple times been in a very quiet library with a screaming child. While it is not a pleasant experience to have an unhappy child in a quiet, public setting, my desire to teach my kids to read and love books has driven me to the library on a weekly basis most of their lives. Meanwhile, my “craft a day” friend was so traumatized trying to follow in my footsteps and taking her two little ones to the library that she didn’t set foot in the library again for two years! My point? Know yourself and be you.
I will never be a “craft a day” mom. My friend will most likely never be a “go to the library every week” mom. I have another friend who highly emphasizes music with her kids. Another mom I know focuses on speaking only Spanish at home so her kids will know her first language. God has made each mom different with different passions and gifts. We are to pass those on to our children trusting that God is preparing the next generation as a whole to accomplish His will. You like doing crafts? Do crafts! You like going to the library? Go to the library! You like music? Teach the kids that. You want bilingual children? Diligently pursue that. Be you!
It Will NOT Always Be This Hard
Sunday morning for the church-going family. Are you already stressing at the mere thought? Well, it might depend. Several years ago I distinctly recall our beautiful family pulling into the church parking lot. My husband and I felt like we had just run a marathon and reached the finished line. Yet we knew that entering church would only provide more opportunities for stress. So, we did our little “go team” and exited the van for whatever church adventure with little ones awaited us. Sundays for the church-going family of little ones is STRESSFUL. Can I get an AMEN?!
Now? My four kids are all dressed and ready and waiting on us every single Sunday! Getting to church is nothing like it was just a few years ago. Life will NOT always be this hard. Kids get older. They will not always need you to buckle them in, wipe their runny noses, read them a book, play Candy-land, change their diaper, give them a bath, cut their food, fix their hair, put away their toys, and change their sheets. Speaking of sheets, when my four kids could finally change their own sheets (on bunk beds), I felt amazing relief. Whatever you are going through, most likely it will NOT always be this hard.
It Will ALWAYS Be Hard
So, I might sound like I am contradicting myself with my last point, but here goes: life will ALWAYS be hard.
Come again?! I thought you just said life will NOT always be this hard.
Well, I was talking about certain aspects of life. The changing sheets situation in my home has gotten way easier for me. But life in general as a mom is hard. Always. Certain times are definitely harder than others. But as a general truth, I can say with certainty, that life will always be hard as a mom.
Um…where is the hope in that?
If you sit isolated in your home never going out because you have two young children who are so hard to manage and you are waiting for the day when it will be easy, you will forever be waiting. Sure, certain stages are easier than others for certain activities, but you will most likely run into challenging situations always at every stage with every child. Knowing that life will always be hard will help you move out of your comfort zone today and go live.
Once our third child arrived, we accepted that we were forever in a new normal that included a lot of stress. We traveled as a family. We did local outings. We went on play-dates. We invited people over. I still have a hard time doing certain new activities. I wonder how the kids will do. But I can’t let my fear of the stress or potential problems stop me from living today. Accepting that life will always be hard might just help you move out of your comfort zone and make some incredible memories.
While I’m sure there is more I could share, I hope these few points will encourage you to keep on keeping on in your calling as a mom. I hope you will take it one day at a time. Or one hour. While you might not enjoy each moment, I hope you will be thankful in each moment. I hope you will know how much you need God and cry out to Him daily for wisdom, strength, and perseverance. I pray you read His Word (even just one verse). I pray you find a godly mentor.
I’m walking the path of motherhood by faith right now too. I am still heavily investing in the lives of my four kids. I don’t know how they will turn out. Though I have seen some fruit, I haven’t seen all the fruit yet of my years of labor. We must each press on in the work God has given us in this season of life trusting He will bring a harvest in due time.
I will end by highly recommending a book that has repeatedly encouraged me: Devotions, Advice & Renewal for when Motherhood Feels Too Hard by Kelly Crawford.
Though motherhood is crazy hard, there is hope. Always. You CAN do this! Here is one of my favorite pictures which captures the essence of motherhood with young ones. This was nine years ago. I’ve made it (plus have one more!). You can make it too! I promise!