The ups, downs, and in-between moments that make up the beautiful everyday memories
I never understood the phrase, “it’s the hardest job you’ll ever love” in regards to being a parent, specifically a mother. The title of “Mom” is the most beautiful title I’ve ever had, but it’s not giggles and amazing core memories all the time, and that is the most painful part of it all. The arguments, the yelling, the hurtful words, the tears, the lashing out, it all comes with the territory. No one can truly prepare you for how much it will literally hurt your heart and make you cry yourself to sleep wishing you could have done better by your kids. You promise yourself tomorrow will be better, but then you get 4 hours of broken sleep and your child wakes up earlier than usual and for whatever reason, they seem to be out for blood and before you know it, you’re yelling again, saying “NO!” more times than you can count before 8am, and wondering why this whole motherhood thing seems so magical for everyone else except you.
This is your reminder that people don’t post the messy like they do the beautiful. This is your reminder to not take that one perfect family photo they posted and turn it into their 24/7 reality. This is your reminder that kids are hard. Big feelings are hard. Being a parent is hard. And that is OKAY. This is a mindset that takes time to accept and it’s not going to be a magical cure for those super hard days, but hopefully this blog post will remind you to stop and take a breath and prevent even just one yelling match. This is what I’ve been working on when it comes to being a mom. Learning patience is easier said than done, but here are some things that have worked for me so maybe they will work for you too.
- Listen to your kids, truly listen. I once read that if you don’t give them the time of day now when they are telling you seemingly little and meaningless things, they won’t come to you when they are older with the really big things because to them, it’s all been big things. This has been my reminder to stop and take in what my 4 year old communicates to me and how I can best cater to her need in that moment. One thing that works more often than not, I ask her if she needs a hug or if she can give me a hug. That physical connection a lot of times will calm her down and help her reset her big feelings so she’s able to tackle them with a clear head.
- Take care of yourself first whenever possible. Please don’t write me off here. I know everyone likes to yell from the rooftops KIDS COME FIRST. PERIOD. And while yes they should more often than not, you can’t pour from an empty cup. As soon as you get out of bed, if your child doesn’t need you in that moment, make your bed and brush your teeth. These two things will make your brain feel accomplished and even though they are small tasks, will set you up for success with the day because you won’t be thinking about how you still have to do it. You already have enough on your to-do list.
- Play. I don’t know if this is as hard for you as it is for me, but playing now that I’m in my 30’s feels awkward. I used to have the best imagination as a kid and LOVED playing pretend will all of my toys. Nowadays? It’s almost like that part of my brain has taken a vacation and has no intention of coming back. I guess that’s what happens when you grow up, but I don’t think it has to be this way all the time. When you’re super tired, the ask of playing by your toddler can sometimes feel like the last think you want to do but trust me, those 15 minutes you give them will make a difference in their lives. I still remember my mom playing with my barbies and toys with me. It was a core memory and my favorite memory of my childhood. Because of this, I try and channel toddler Erin when my own toddler asks me to play with her. I know my imagination is still in there somewhere, I just have to work a little harder to get it to make an appearance.
These 3 tips all go together and by doing one you’ll allow another to happen. For example, taking care of yourself by filling your cup will give you the patience and right mindset needed to take on the day in a more positive way, allowing you to fully listen to your child, to best fulfill their needs, and bring you both back to a calm space. This will then lead to hopefully some good moments, like play. The thing to remmeber here is that this whole Mom thing is a work in progress and a lot of times I just feel like I’m faking it until I actually make it, but the more honest and open I am about my experiences, the more responses I get from other Mom’s and I realize that the majority of us are in the same boat.
It’s not a magical fix all formula, but it is a starting point to hopefully more positive moments and less fights. More giggles, less tears. More amazing core memories. You got this momma! No really, you do. And when you feel like you don’t, pack those kids up into the car and go through the McDonald’s drive-thru and enjoy every single one of those fries and every sip of that milkshake. Hey, we can’t be perfect all the time. Give yourself a break! You’re amazing and your child loves you more than you know. You’re doing just fine.