Frustration is something most mothers face. Whether its holding your newborn that just won't sleep, carrying a screaming toddler out of the grocery store, your five your old that has an attitude of a 16 year old, or the constant go-go-go lifestyle of running your teenage kids to and from school, errands, exercise, grocery shopping, cleaning, etc. Whatever the season is, it isn't uncommon for us as mothers to say to ourselves, "When will this be over? Can I just skip ahead? I'd like to leave this stage a little early?"
It's normal to wish away the painful parts of parenting. Despite the annoyingly correct advice from those around us, "Enjoy the time that you have... it goes so fast." Have they forgotten? Do they just not remember what it was like to have littles running around? I mean, there are plenty of joyful parenting moments but there are also moments filled with ONLY stress and strife. How am I supposed to enjoy all of this?
This is the danger, my friends. We are making 3 terrible mistakes.... 1) We compare ourselves to the seemingly perfect lives of others, 2) We try to "fix" every natural stage that our children go through, 3) We expect our transitions from one stage to the next to happen in a straight line when in fact, it's quite messy. I mean, potty training.... am I right?
This isn't just a trap for first time moms. It is something we second, third, and even fourth and fifth-timers fall into at times. I mean, we all walk into parenting knowing that sleepless nights and feeding troubles are coming. But even still, when it happens, there seems to be an element of shock and frustration.
How do we deal with the painful parts of parenting? Feeding, sleep regressions, potty-training, disrespectful attitudes, bad grades, friendship drama, ALL the activities. The answer is both hard and simple. It's all about muddling through the mess with the right perspective, not finding quick-fix solutions. As much as we don't like it, some things just take time to get better.
It doesn't take long as a parent to know that each new stage comes with both good and bad components. I mean, as soon as you breath a sigh of relief that your child is out of their "Terrible Twos" then in comes the "threenagers." Why do we even bother to separate these irritable stages that can be found in parenthood?
Please, hear me on this. I'm not saying parenting is horrid. There are also amazing, heart-exploding, over the top experiences with each stage. For example, we have enough rooms in our house for our kids to have their own but they CHOSE to share. Not even that, they have bunkbeds, yet every single night in the middle of the night, my two year old climbs up to the top bunk to sleep next to her 5 year old sister. Talk about heart-melting.
But why is it so hard for us to get okay with the place we are in on our journey of Motherhood? There are probably a lot of reasons, whether its the shattering of our ideals of what we thought parenting would be like, or because we have instant access to fix almost anything (google) and the fact that we can't do that wit parenting drives us crazy. Learning to be content with each and every stage is NOT easy.
So what can we do?
1) Get educated. Learning about typical baby and childhood development is super helpful. Sometimes just knowing that you're not alone and what your experiencing is totally normal is enough to get us through.
2) Prioritize self-care. Make sure you are taking care of yourself. I know this is hard and seems impossible, but it is necessary.
3) Plan date nights with each kid individually. I've always found that the ones who are most difficult to love at any given moment, need it the most. A special date night always helps me to fall in love with them all over again, which we all need sometimes.
4) Community. Surround yourselves with other parents who get it. Experienced confidants who can give you perspective and encouragement. I'll never forget a conversation I had with a dear friend who is a mother to five kids herself. I was in a season where I was feeling burnt out in EVERY area of my life. My job, my marriage, my kids, EVERYTHING. I was left feeling apathetic towards it all. And when I confessed to her this statement, "I just don't enjoy being a stay-at-home mom every waking moment of every day" I felt like a horrible person. But her response was unjudgmental and gracious and affirming. She said something to the effect of, "It's okay to not enjoy every moment of being a mom." Instantly, my life turned around. I was literally paralyzed by guilt and couldn't function because I backed myself into a self-writhing corner. Don't do this, moms. Find your community and chat with them as often as you can.
5.) Be patient and wait. The most annoying tip of all. But it's true. I just taught my children a song about being patient to the tune of "The Farmer and the Dell." It goes like this, "Be patient while you wait. Be patient while you wait. Don't lose your temper or complain, be patient while you wait." They sing it to themselves when they have to remind themselves to be patient with someone or something and I find myself saying it in my head on occasion as well. I guess patience is never easy, no matter what age we are.
Remember these things, my friends. Everything has seasons and parenting is no different. It is filled with seasons of intense struggle and seasons of equally intense celebration. Seasons we have the energy to sprint and seasons we find ourselves muddling through. No matter what season, let it ride, keep perspective because perspective brings contentment.
When you look back at this time of your life in 5 years... what do you want to remember about these moments? Let me help you capture ther life that you are experiencing at this moment. It is my goal that my photos will be a catalyst for tomorrow's hopes. To schedule a session with me, please contact me here.