Every mother has “one of those days.” I make a significant effort to not talk about them. Positive thinking…super mom complex….denial… call it what you will but it rarely makes things better to dwell on the worst. But…..today is “one of those days” and I’d love to share with you things I’ve learned to “deal.”
Baby number 3 is a fuss bucket–she’s oh so cute and sweet but she fusses incessantly. As in, hubby and I haven’t slept for a year, the kids are so used to her crying they don’t even look her way anymore, my arms are constantly full of baby–but not just sweet snuggly baby able to be put in a front back….no… that would be ok… we’re talking wiggly, unsatisfiable, back arching beastly kinda baby. This is the kid that brought me to tears because I just wanted to fold the laundry without her screaming or without using one hand (the other being full of baby). And today she has been oh so difficult. The funny thing is, if I were to give you a list of how my day went, it wouldn’t seems so bad. Things like taking an entire nap time to make Paleo chocolate crepes that didn’t work so well instead of cleaning and doing laundry. Things like cutting my own hair because life has been too busy to make it to a salon. Things like trying to rock the baby to sleep while still dripping wet wrapped in a towel after attempting a shower only to have her refuse the milk and the nap…
It doesn’t seem that bad… but sometimes we as moms (and dads… and siblings….) get tired, get stressed, get burned out even if we are trying to stay positive.
In the past, this sort of day would have gotten me down for weeks. You see, the biggest pressure I experience is giving into the pressure and judgement of society. The age old stay at home mom question of “what did you do all day.” It has to look like I did something with my day or I go into panic mode. The kitchen is a mess, the laundry is behind, the beds are unmade, the kids watched TV (it’s a Birthday–no school), there is food and toys spread all over the floor and here I am taking deep breathes writing a blog post.
Since when is holding a baby “not enough?”
I’ll tell you when. When we stopped being a community. When we stopped being a village. When we stopped supporting each other. When women stopped making bread together while caring for their children. We each started living in our homes as single families and no one else knows what’s going on in your days. No one knows when you are struggling or when you are thriving. Your worth is based on what can be seen–not necessarily on what is important. I am a stay at home mom, not a stay at home maid, not a stay at home secretary, not a stay at home chef, not a stay at home nanny. I am a mom. So on days like this, if the laundry is 10 loads behind and the dishes are everywhere it is because I was holding a baby and telling her I love her even though she is screaming. It is because I tried a new recipe for my son’s birthday. It is because I tried to comb my toddler’s hair. It doesn’t mean I’m not working, it doesn’t mean I am lazy. It means I am working despite being stressed out emotionally. It means I’m still doing my job even though my own selfish desires are calling to me (like wanting to get dressed or pee). It’s because I understand how short this time is going to be. Soon the dishes will always be done and laundry will always be folded but there won’t be a baby in my arms. There will be a grown woman in her place. And I’m going to miss kissing her little head–even if she is crying while I do.
But knowing these things doesn’t always help–let’s be real. I’ve been through babyhood three times already–I know how hard it is and how easy it is to get burned out.
So here’s some tips I’ve come up with to help myself:
- -Mantras are amazing. They work. I say repetitive things to myself like “this will pass,” “I love my life/family/child,” “this is worth it,” “I can do this.” It doesn’t matter if you really believe it at the time. Pick something that works for you and repeat it over and over until you do believe it. Or at least until it distracts you enough to get through the difficult moment.
- -Smile in spite of your situation. Studies have been done to show smiling actually can boots your mood.
- -Instead of getting angry laugh at the situation–there have been many times when I’ve been close to tears and realized how silly my children were being and laughed. It was surprising to me how it made everything a little easier.
- -It’s also ok to cry. Crying is better than anger. If the baby won’t stop screaming, put her/him in a safe place and cry. It’s ok–it’s hard to keep up the good attitude all the time and kids are much more forgiving of tears than harsh words.
- -Stretch. Take a second to do your favorite yoga pose.
- -If the kids are in a good place for you to take a break, work out. And work out hard. I can still remember the first time I “worked out my frustration.” I was swimming laps and I was so frustrated with my kids. They’d been little beasts for days and I remember taking all my anger and frustration out on the water–one aggressive stroke after the other. I felt amazing afterwards!
- -Deep breathe. When we are upset, we tend to breath shallowly or even hyperventilate without even realizing it. Stop and even go as far as to practice your labor breathing. We did Hypnobirthing with our last child and it has made me a better parent to practice the meditations and deep breathing exercises.
- -Know that it is ok to let the baby cry, the kids watch tv, the toddler run around the house naked for a while if you need to get alone. Do your hair, get dressed nicely, do something to feel better about yourself–even if it’s five minutes.
- -Ask for help. In our society, there isn’t a lot of people around just waiting to be asked but if you have a friend or if your husband is home, just ask for help. You are super mom–you don’t have to prove that to anyone. But you do need a break now and then–even superwoman needs a glass of wine and a hot bath!
- -Leave the house (with your kids). I am really good at this when it is not perpetual winter–like right now. It is a lot harder to be angry and down when you are smiling at people as you walk down the street with rays of sunshine warming your soul. Just get your kids and leave. Leave in the middle of the tantrum, leave in the middle of the crying, get those kids and get some sun and some exercise.
- -Be forgiving of yourself. It’s ok to struggle. You are the caretaker of people–of souls. This is not an easy job. Learn, forgive and move on more enlightened when you make a mistake.
- -Be happy. Find things everyday to rejoice about. It helps it really does. Even if it’s one simple thing. Dwell on it. Be thankful for it.
- -Always know that you as a mother are loved. You are love–you made more love for the world. Love yourself and love them. It’s all going to be ok.