Sunday, January 18, 2015

6 Things About Motherhood I Wish I Knew Back Then & Wish I Could Stop Re-Learning.

I've been mulling over mommyhood for months now. Well, I mull over it all the time (don't get me started on my Mother's Day issues), but even more so in the last little bit.
Let me 'splain. No, let me sum up:
I have several mommy friends and have heard of several other women who are struggling with depression and hard times as a mom. It makes me sad. It makes the wheels in my noggin start spinning, and I've got a list I've been compiling in the ole journal.
I love lists. Are you like oddly obsessed with lists like I am? If a post title begins with a number, I'll read it. I just have to. It's not the law, but it might as well be.
This is stuff I've learned the hard way. Stuff I'm still trying to learn, and stuff I constantly am relearning. People, I kind of suck as a parent. Anyone who knows me well probably has their own list of pet peeves for things I do wrong ("she's overprotective, she's a pushover, she lets her kids have too much screen time, and. . . ") and probably want to hand me a parenting book or at least smack me on the back of the head with it.
Maybe I deserve it. I've had pa-lenty of mommy meltdowns even here on thee ole blog, but I honestly can say that I freaking love my job here in this house. Love it. Sometimes I seriously screw it up, and I definitely complain too much, but I do truly love it. It's the only thing I've got going for me, okay?
This is crap I've learned from better, smarter women than me. Stuff I'm still trying to learn. Let's do this.
6 Things About Motherhood I Wish I Knew Back Then & Wish I Could Stop Re-Learning.
1. This May Not Be Your Season.
I'll never forget a bloggy buddy I had about five years ago who confided in me that she absolutely hated being a mom. She was miserable, she felt she'd made the wrong choice, and every day at home with her little teeny boys was drudgery and she was really struggling.
You know what my momma taught me?
This may not be your season.
I know people who adore babies and could not look more natural caring for a newborn. I have an aunt who loves and protects my toddlers and when they move out of toddler-hood, she jokes that I can have them back and stick a fork in her, she's done.
I, personally, look back at pictures of my life when I had children all under the age of six, and feel conflicting emotions:
1. That totally sucked
2. Oh my heck I totally miss my sweet little babies
But honestly, mostly it's "that totally sucked".  Guess what? I'm not really a toddler mom. I was trying to do my best, I thought they were super cute, and I thought it was really hard. And I'm a ton A TON happier now with the ages of my kids. Things are so much easier. I love my kids' ages right now. Love.
I'm just saying if you're struggling, do you your best right now, and I have it on good authority from wiser moms than me that you may totally rock your mom jeans with a different age group. Take heart.
2. Stop Feeling Guilty.
Hehehehe. Heh. You need to know right now that my whole life is motivated by guilt. I cleaned the entire house today. I feel guilty I didn't do _____.  I didn't clean much today. I feel guilty because I should've cleaned more. Too much time in the garage. Guilty. Too much time doing nothing. Guilty. Too little time with kids. Too much time with kids. Whatever I do, I somehow feel guilty.
I'm a mom, therefore, I feel guilty.
This is more for me than it is for you. Gosh I'm selfish. But I'm only one person. I am doing my best. Guilt isn't really helping me. It's just nagging and annoying and I'm sick of it. Let's be sick of it together.
3. Kids Are Just Little Adults.
I joke that the only thing I excel at is mediocrity. It's true. One gift I've been given from God, however, is that I love kids. I love my kids. I love your kids. Doggone it, I And I see all kids as little adults.
This doesn't mean I think kids should or are capable of making adult decisions. And it definitely doesn't mean I don't get annoyed with some kids sometimes. But I get annoyed with adults, too. In short, I get annoyed with people. Kids are people. They are small-sized adults. Just like adults, they are worthy of my respect, my attention, and my time.
Have you ever noticed how quick society is to judge children? How easily we criticize a child's shortcomings? I'm an adult, and I have a lot of issues. So if I have a lot of issues, why wouldn't a kid, who has far less life experience than me, have issues?
Start seeing kids as little adults. Give them the respect you'd give a stranger at the grocery store.
4. Sometimes You Need To Do The Opposite.
At the risk of sounding like a huge whiner, I'm gonna tell a whiny story.
The Jeffro was out of town a ton, I had 4 kids six and under, I couldn't go to the bathroom without interruption, getting even a gallon of milk at the store was major chaos, and in short, I was falling apart caring for the five of us by myself for days on end.
Guess what I did to try and compensate? I was trying to take "me" time. Me time is important. It is. That's not what #4 is about. But I went about it the wrong way. I wanted to be left alone as long and as much as I could. I tuned out my children. I snapped at them. I would try to be on a different floor of the house as them, I did everything I could to avoid doing anything involving my kids.
I needed to do the opposite. I needed to stop running away.
I felt a strong impression that I was making things worse. I thought by tuning out my kids and mentally running away that I was going to finally get my break. I was so, so wrong. The healing thing that gave me my second wind was tuning back into my children. Sitting with them. Being with them. Interacting.
5. Play On Your Strengths.
My mother and sister absolutely excel at teaching their children. My sister's kids are so motivated and confident in their learning-- they can read at a young age, they're little whippersnappers.
I have a friend who is amazing at planning and preparing meaningful family time: vacations filled with learning activities, trips that teach history, stay-cations at museums and parks. . .she rocks my world.
I have a friend who is so consistent and orderly, that everything seems to just fall right into place for her. She's on top of like, everything. She's got her shiz together.
These are not my forte. But I'm good at other stuff. I got some skills.
Play on your strengths. Own it.
My mom finds cooking to be a mundane and unfortunately necessary chore. Mom: #2. Also, lotsa people agree with you. No shame!
I had a friend who once expressed shame for not being crafty. Teehee.
Do you think I'll be judged in heaven for not being able to use my sewing machine?
6.  Priorities.
I've recently decided that nothing, no way, no how can interfere with family dinner. I don't care how worthwhile the activity is, if you want me to be gone during my dinner hour it's not going to happen.
I've already talked too much, so let me be brief. You be boxers:
My family is my top priority. For the most part, I put them at the top of the list. But only I can look at myself and see that I spent hours (plural) total over the course of a day, on my phone. This is my true, current problem I'm having. I go to bed at night saying, "Where did the day go??" feeling frustrated that I didn't do this or this, but I could have been found reading an hour's worth of celebrity gossip with my phone glued to my hand in the afternoon.
Only I can decide how to use my time. No more excuses for me. 
This sums up today's list. Stay strong, moms. Thanks for listening.


Heidi@TheMerryMagpieVintage said...

Thank you for this. I just read another blog that I really like and the author put up a quote for today about mothers and how when they look back, they'll realize that their favorite time was when their kids were little, making lots of work for them. And I read that and thought, ARE YOU KIDDING ME? Because having little kids that make lots and lots of work for me is NOT MY SEASON. I hate toddlers in general. I don't even like my own kids as toddlers. I want to send them away to Toddler Boarding School until they are 4 years old. So the thought that when they are little, messing everything up, is the best motherhood gets? That is disheartening, to say the least. I much prefer your thoughts that maybe there are times in motherhood that are just not your season, AND THAT'S OKAY.

Rach said...


Brittney said...

Wow I needed this! Favorite line: "You should know that my entire life is motivated by guilt." That sums me up in one sentence! Thanks for the perspective, encouragement, and words of wisdom, all wrapped up in Mandi humor- it doesn't get better than that! :)

Janelle said...

You are such a great mom, I wish I could be like you. In some ways it is good that you have insecurities because that makes you somehow more human. But just know that you are an amazing mom and all kids are jealous they are not in your family. I do love these thoughts- I will try to ignore my insecuritiea and play to my strengths. Thanks for the thoughts.

Juli G said...

We are all great moms. Know why? Because we worry about being great, which in turn, means we keep trying. Every. Stinking. Day.

I was not a newborn or a toddler mom. For many reasons, but they just weren't.... me. I LOVE the ages they are now. Seeing them become young men, independent from me, good and bad, better and worse.

Puberty, however, I can do without.

RachelK said...

I love your blog. Seriously. I'm not even a mom and you've spoken to me. I feel guilty about everything. I apologize for everything multiple times. I drive people crazy apologizing too much. I need to remember that I am not perfect (GASP!) and that my best is good enough. Thanks for the reminder. P.S. I read your posts and I think you must be an awesome mom. The end.

Veronica said...

Oh, how I needed this today! Especially #4. Thank you so much for sharing!

Carla said...

Love this.

Sara said...

Hey Mandi, I'm sure that this was an unintentional mistake, but the quotation attributed to Neil Anderson is actually something that he quoted from Rachel Jankovic. See this article for the original.