This summer I read a book by Sarah Mae and Sally Clarkson called Desperate: Hope for the Mom Who Needs to Breathe. Sarah Mae is a young mother who gives an honest account of her daily frustrations, exhaustion, and questions about this thing called "Motherhood". Many books, blogs, and expert advice can leave a momma wondering what's wrong with her, but this book is different. It's honest and it makes you feel "normal". One of my favorite parts of the book is shared in the beginning of the introduction. It reads:
"Anxiety struck me immediately. It was too early to be up but "too early" didn't matter to my sweet little boy who was ready for the day the minute the sun shone through his bedroom window. My daughter Caroline needed milk and a new diaper, and all three of my little ones were, of course, hungry. After forcing myself to sit up, I stared at the wall, then fell back down into my bed. I pulled my knees to my chest and the blanket over my head as tears came down and these words tumbled out to my God: "I can't be a mother today, Lord, I'm just too tired."
... and then she went back to sleep and left her children to fend for themselves. Ha! Not really.
But Can I get an Amen!? I was sold on this book after reading this line. This reminds me of just a few nights ago. I was up at 2:30 AM all by my lonesome. While I have gotten used to waking up for the 2:30 feeding, I always fear that Molli will want to stay up to party after having a few swigs of her bottle... and on this night she did just that. I remember saying in my head (and possibly out loud... I really don't know what's coming out of my mouth these days) "Molli Grace, I will give you $5 if you go to sleep baby girl." And then I chuckled and realized I'm losing it. I know all you mommas out there have had these moments. Those moments of "what the heck Lord?" and "Really?". And for all you new mommas out there that don't know this yet... These thoughts are completely normal and you're not alone.
Here's another recent happening in the Matthews' household that might just make you feel pretty good about your child rearing skills compared to what goes on here some days. It was a normal morning that started with my toddler waking up. I was already up with Molli because honestly I am just always awake with her, and it was time to let my two rambunctious dogs outside in the backyard. My morning was going smoothly... so smoothly I might have thought a few times "I've got this! I can care for a 2 week old and a 2 year old. Some women have a bazillion kids. I can do two." Just about that time I hear my dogs going completely bazurko. I quickly ran to the back door with my 2 week old nugget in my arms, in efforts to calm my pups before the neighbors called animal control. My toddler, in normal fashion, followed my every step to the back door. I took a few steps onto my back patio to find the cutest, sweetest, fluffiest little puppy I have ever seen. This little guy had just about the sweetest personality too. He put Bambi to shame. I quickly shooed my dogs and my two year old in the house, and then walked further outside to figure out how this little thing crawled into our backyard. I had no luck figuring out how this cutie got into our backyard, but I figured I would go back in the house to grab some water and food for the little guy (It was the end of August by the way, which means it was HOT!). I walked to my back door to find my little girl and my two dogs looking out the back window watching all the action going on. I went to go open the door... AND IT WAS LOCKED! No, my door wasn't stuck and just in need of a little WD-40... It was LOCKED! I had a 2 week old sleeping in my arms and a 2 year old on the other side of that locked door. Also on the other side of that locked door was my phone and any form of communication with the outside world. I quickly ran to my back gate, in which I quickly remembered Tim and I just bought a lock for. This lock has a code to unlock it... a code in which I could not remember for the life of me. So now I was locked out of my house, locked in my backyard, holding my 2 week old, can't get to my 2 year old, in the summer heat. oy vey!
I now had 2 options: jump the fence (I just had a C-section 2 weeks ago) or break a back window (and completely freak my 2 year old out). Well those options flippin stunk! In effort to keep my 2 year old calm, I went with the latter. But can a momma jump a fence while holding a newborn in their arms while not ripping their C-section incision open? Ummm I'm going to go with a big fat NO! Sorry Molli Grace, I'm going to have to desert you for a bit. Here, have a seat on this outdoor patio furniture while mommy hurdles over this 8 foot wall of wood. And y'all, I did! And don't tell my doctor because I'm pretty sure I broke his golden rule of "no strenuous physical activity for 6 to 8 weeks".
Once over the fence, my panic increased ten fold because now I am locked away from my newborn and my toddler. Every window and door of my house was locked. My next options were to either scream until someone heard me or find a phone. To make a long story short (this story is still long), I used a neighbor's phone and my sister brought over a spare key. My toddler was enjoying her morning episodes of Bubble Guppies, and my 2 week old was sleeping soundly on the back patio (The Martha Stewart Patio collection cushions are apparently super comfy and soft). So if you think you are struggling... I dare you to beat that! Ha!
So now that I have proven to you that I have it together and you should listen to my advice (sarcasm), here are some things I recommend for you mommas out there, particularly those that are tired (oh yea, that's all of you), and those that have no time for themselves (oh, all of you again?), and those of you who love your precious babies but have "those" days
1. Get some help and words of wisdom from a friend/mentor. Particularly from a friend/mentor that has been there and done that. And one that will tell you the truth while staying positive and cheering you on.
3 Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. 4 Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, 5 to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.
My mom and sister have been a huge blessing to me during this time. They have been my biggest cheerleaders and given me practical advice. They have also given me the "suck it up" and "pull up your big girl panties" speech just when I needed it. They have prayed for me, watched my babes for me, and even just sat with me so I could remember what it's like to have an adult conversation. And if you know a momma out their that is needing a little encouragement or just a warm body to talk to, go help her out! You will bless her in so many ways just by showing up.
2. Find ways to get help caring for your family and the home. A few days before I had Paysli, Tim was asked by a friend what my "push present" was going to be. Tim quickly told his friend that technically I wouldn't be "pushing" since I was having a C-section... not cool Tim. Not cool at all. Tim later surprised me by having someone come clean the house while I was in the hospital. We now have someone come clean the house every 6 to 8 weeks and oh lawd how great it is! I would give up a lot of "extras" (the occasional Starbucks, random spending at Target, etc.) to have extra help keeping our house somewhat straightened up. I get back a little piece of my sanity each time our house is cleaned. Don't get me wrong, the clean house thing lasts a total of 2.3 seconds, but I savor every single bit of those seconds!
I have had a few nights where Tim or my mom will just tend to the kiddos while I "catch up". And what I mean by "catch up" is get the laundry from the washer into the dryer before the clothes start smelling like mildew. Once again if you know a momma, more than likely she could use just a few minutes of you entertaining the kiddos so she can get caught up.
3. Run to Jesus! Because we are filthy, messed up, sinful creatures who need us some Jesus. Surround yourself with Him. I am currently reading Jesus Calling by Sarah Young daily (or trying to) and following up in His Word. I am constantly blaring my Anthony Evans, Hillsong United, Bethany Dillon, Kari Jobe, and Shane & Shane... because honestly who can lose it on their toddler when they choose to wet their britches vs using the potty when Kari Jobe is playing in the background? If you can't get to a church service, I suggest finding a podcast or YouTubing sermons from your favorite pastor or your local church (I am loving Andy Stanley currently).
I can't tell you how many times I think about this scripture. Such a weight is lifted when I remind myself I can come to Him when I am exhausted and have nothing left:
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest."
4. Get out of the house. And if you can get out of the house for a few minutes a week while someone watches your babes, even better. On Mondays I feel great and then by Thursday or Friday the walls are caving in. The theme songs of Bubble Guppies, Dora, Sesame Street, and now Paw Patrol (new show on Nickelodeon) are playing on repeat in my head all day long. I am living in poo and spit up, and I just need to get out! I know that I am a better momma, wife, and friend after getting out for a few hours here or there. I remember thinking it was hard to get out because honestly I didn't have the money to get out and just do anything I wanted (especially since we had someone coming to clean our house now). I then started training for 5k races and later a half marathon because running is FREE! And I was multitasking; exercising to lose the baby weight while being reminded what outside looked like and regaining my sanity.
5. Laugh at yourself. When you put your kid's shoes on the wrong feet... laugh. When you burn the toast, which was the only gourmet meal you had time to cook for the day... laugh. When your kiddos completely lose it in that public place that you braved and ventured out to ... laugh. And know that those women staring at you when your trying to scrape your toddler up off the ground, are staring at you because they've been there. They are not judging you nor rating your behavior management skills. They are simply thinking "girl, it will get easier!"
6. No formulas. Some of the best advice I received was about this particular topic. A mom of 3 told me to put away all the baby books and blogs. While I think its great to get some foundational information on how to care for our babies, I think one can go way too far in trying to live up to some of the unrealistic advice and formulas out there. For example, I fell for the "Potty Train Your 18 Month Old in 2 Days" formula. And folks, it was a complete disaster. I was frustrated with Paysli. She was frustrated with me (and probably wondering why mommy is making me walk around the house with her booty hanging out). I went to bed frustrated with myself and my sweet Paysli. If the experts say I should be able to do it, then why isn't it working? What is wrong with Paysli? What is wrong with me? Those few days of trying to live up to a plan or formula were not healthy for me nor Paysli. A mom of 2 elementary aged kiddos I spoke to during that time of frustration reminded me that "kids don't show up to Kindergarten in pull ups." I needed to chill out and do ultimately what was best for my family vs what I read by an "expert". And does anyone else read some of these "expert" tips and advice and think, "have they ever lived with a toddler before?", "Do they know what it's like to be exhausted and have a few babies living under one roof?", "Who are these people and what planet do they come from?". But in all seriousness, don't try to live up to unrealistic expectations and formulas. We all learn quickly after our babies are born that many things come naturally when it comes to learning how to care for and raise our kiddos.
7. Brush your teeth. Yes, I said it. Brush your teeth... maybe even shower. Because if you stink your mood probably reeks too. Every momma needs those moments of feeling good about themselves. So put those skinny jeans on and get it girl!
What is your advice and words of encouragement to young moms out there? Have any tricks up your sleeve you'd love to share. Well share in the "Comments" because we mommas will more than likely have a day we are willing to try any trick/advice given to us.