As I sit here and write, I can hear my toddler screaming on the other side of his bedroom door. He threw his lunch on the floor and stole his sister’s candy. He is two, and as it seems, is engaging this stage that is every bit as terrible as the well-known phrase implies. It is noon and this day is not shaping up the way I thought at all.
Each morning starts off the same. After a few feeble attempts of early rising, I finally manage to turn the alarm off and sit up in bed. Then, the internal struggle begins. Do I feed my soul or cleanse my body?
This morning, my ritual quandary is interrupted by the panicked voice of my 6-year-old who doesn’t want to buy his lunch for fear that what is available will not suit his sensitive palate. Despite my husband’s reassurance that pizza is indeed on the menu, the fact that pizza was served yesterday makes him fear that today’s entre’ will NOT be pizza. In response to his crocodile tears, I pull a grilled cheese sandwich out of the fridge. I had prepared it the night before in my attempt to circumvent a foreseeable lunch crisis for his younger siblings later today. We would be out for the morning and returning just in time for lunch and I wanted to make lunch as hiccup-free and seamless as possible. I sigh. “Even when I think I’m prepared, I’m not.”
THE MOM LIFE
We drop my eldest off to school on time with a kid-approved lunch and signed homework. A small win for sure.
We return to the house and I unload the two remaining children. My mind moves to feeding them, clothing them, and warming up yesterday’s coffee. “A shower would be nice,” I think to myself. I enter the kitchen only to be welcomed by the buffet of dirty dishes that [fill] the sink and lines the counter. “I should take care of those.” I pour cold cereal for the kids and microwave my day-old brew. When breakfast is done, I usher the kids into the living room where they plop down on the couch to watch t.v. “Probably not my finest mom move,” I muse. I rush to the bathroom to jump into the shower but not before my gaze locks in on the grime that has taken up permanent residence in every nook. “I really ought to do something about this,” I think as I turn on the water. After a quick rinse, I dress, take a quick peek at the kids, and then rush back into the bathroom with my cleaning supplies. As I clean, my mind moves to all the people counting on me for this or that. I write a mental list of what needs to be taken care of today. “I need to wrap that gift. I should deliver thank you cards today. I need to email that recipe. Gotta make sure Dom practices piano. We really should put that trampoline together for Charlee!” The list grows and grows.
Thirty minutes later, the bathroom looks a little better but it’s not complete. “I’ll have to finish later.”
I rush to dress the kids, find socks and shoes. “Brush teeth? No time. I’ll just brush their teeth really well before bed tonight.” Finally, we climb back in the car. No one has shoes on and no one is in the mood to comply with my request to put them on. So I toss the shoes and socks and water bottles into the passenger seat and hit the button for the garage to open.
ALONE, NOT ALONE, VERY ALONE
I drop the kids off in childcare. I get their snacks mixed up and find myself apologizing for something silly. As I walk away, I breathe deeply. “Freedom!” I slide into my seat at MOPS. We talk. We laugh. We admit how hard this motherhood thing is. And for a moment I think: “I’m not alone anymore”. Then, I pick up my children. The baby flips out over candy and we struggle to make it to the car in one piece. At home, I still have one grilled cheese sandwich that I split between the two kids. The toddler continues his flipping out performance by throwing his plate to the ground. As I stoop to pick up the mess, I am met with the poor condition of our floors (read: They are dirty).
As I rise, the overflowing mound of dishes clears its throat to remind me of its existence. “I need to get to those,” I say yet again. Lunch is thrown away, most of it uneaten (of course) and naptime begins which is where I began this journal of events. Thankfully the tears have stopped now and, although no one seems to be sleeping, there is peace. I sit and I write and survey my surroundings. Puzzle pieces are strewn across the floor. Curtains are in desperate need of hemming. Books are half-read. Bathrooms only partially cleaned. And lunch? I haven’t eaten lunch. Just then the app on my phone goes off reminding me to drink water. I ignore it. “I should really clean this room.”
BEING A MOM IS HARD
Being a mom is hard. For every win, [there are] several failures staring back at me. With each passing year, I think it will get easier. In some ways, it does get easier but never as quickly and beautifully as I imagine.
To be completely honest, most days I am treading water. I’m peeking through the weeds. It’s not easy. I have to parse through all the needs and demands of each day to find moments and places that really deserve my time. It’s a motherhood paradox. We can keep the home clean but the kids must walk on eggshells for fear of making a mess. The kids are happy but the house is a disaster. We take time for ourselves but the house suffers and the kids aren’t happy. It’s a struggle that doesn’t seem to have an answer. The scenario may vary a little but we are all in the weeds. We are all trying to drive clutch without a manual and the start-stop of motherhood can be difficult to navigate.
Precious Momma. Can I encourage you with two important truths?
IT’S OKAY TO LET GO
Let go of the perfection. My bathroom is half-clean and the kids watched “Dora the Explorer” for an hour. The other night, my husband and I stayed up late sorting and folding laundry and the next night our entire family tackled the daunting process of putting the clothes away. And today? The hamper is already overflowing with clothing needing to be washed. Raising kids and keeping a home liveable is work! Laundry piles will happen. Books will take longer than anticipated to read. And clean showers? Those things may very well become a luxury. We just can’t make it ALL happen. So momma….let it go. Determine the things that really matter and let the rest go.
YOU ARE NOT ALONE
I know I said that already. You are not alone in your struggle. There are others facing very similar challenges. But you are also not alone. He is with you cheering you on, comforting you, strengthening you. When your toddler knocks the trash over for the millionth time or your kid walks into church without shoes or your child graffities your tablecloth, God is with you. The tears. The anger. The sadness. He knows it all. And He wants to exchange all that frustration with peace and joy. He wants to arm you with the eternal perspective that every day counts. Even the ones that seem to end in piles of laundry and uneaten grilled cheese sandwiches.
HE IS THERE
Precious momma in the thick of the weeds, you are not alone. I’m there. I’ll be here for quite a while actually. Mothers everywhere, whether they don a business suit or yoga pants, they are treading water as well. We want to get it right and just can’t do it. Give yourself grace and let go of this perfect Pinterest world you’ve envisioned.
If only we would admit that we can’t get it all done.
- That we can’t always be on time.
- That we can’t keep up with the dishes and laundry.
- That we do lose our cool.
- That we do forget to eat lunch
- That we leave bathrooms half cleaned and forgotten birthday gifts in the trunk of our car.
You might be surprised by the [number] of women who would join you in a chorus of “me too!” if you did. And let’s remember always that we are not alone. He is there. In our most frustrating moments like potty training a reluctant (read: stubborn) toddler, He is so there. He’s also there to celebrate the hard-earned triumphs like when a character lesson finally connects with your child. Or your child finally decides that writing letters might be fun. Just a hypothetical of course.
He is there.
Dear precious mom in the weeds, you are not alone. I’m there with you. Together, let’s release those things we can’t control and allow God to surround us with his love and wisdom to embrace the things that really matter.
Now off to do the dishes… but not before I snuggle my kids.