There is a secret about parenting that is rarely shared. Often this truth leaves us feeling guilty, alone, and maybe even at times ashamed.
As a typical millennial, I am trying to do and have it all. I am working super hard to be the ultimate mom while having a fulfilling career, keep a happy relationship with my husband, and keeping our house looking like a magazine (that one is more at the Pinterest stage than a reality). On social media, I can make myself look pretty put together.
But the truth?
Parenting is hard work. Often it is not fun. Some days (though I love them) my kids drive me crazy. Some days, I have given all I can give and I have nothing left.
There is this weird ideology floating around right now that we should all feel completely fulfilled. That might be as a mom, in your career, with your house…whatever your current situation might look like.
The reality? Even though you waited nine excited months for this baby to be born, the long, sleepless nights are still really hard. Even though you really love your kid, you can feel in over your head dealing with their latest meltdown. I have worked with a lot of parents over the years and have told them (along with myself), it is OK to not love every moment. When you are feeling frustrated and exhausted and someone tells you that you will miss this stage, it is OK to think they are crazy. Not every moment of our lives is a Hallmark card. Sometimes we are just holding on. Sometimes you will think, “how did I get here and what did I sign up to!?”
I was listening to a podcast the other day about routines and the pod-caster was talking about the realities of sometimes going into “survival mode.” (See https://www.aslobcomesclean.com/2015/10/073-survival-mode-what-it-looks-like/ ) She was talking about it from the perspective of keeping one’s house in order and pointed out that while survival mode is a reality, it is not meant to be forever. I think that this can apply to all areas of our lives. There are those days we are just holding it together and it is going to be cereal for supper. But when it starts to become long term maybe it is time to rethink our reality.
As a working mom, my life gets busy very quickly and it is so easy to fall into that survival mode. I started to think about what I could change in my life to prevent myself from being perpetually in survival mode. For me, commuting (to a job I loved) was a big stress on our family. I was away longer days and honestly pretty exhausted by the end of the week. That was something I felt I had to let go of for the health of myself and my family. Now that I am not commuting, I am looking at other ways to improve the way we function as a family and how I take care of myself.
My weekends are often filled with cleaning, errands, and trying to do fun things as a family. But it is so easy for me to create that long to do list of all the “should do’s.” I always have another cleaning task; I can always spend more time with my kids, and cook a better meal. However, I am learning to listen to my limits and be realistic. Monday afternoon I reached my limit and instead of pushing through like I typically would, I took a break. My husband finished work for the day and I took a nap.
When the girls woke me up an hour later, I was actually happy to see them.
Instead of feeling guilty about my nap, I used it to my advantage. I had the energy to do homework with my oldest daughter, to say yes when both my girls requested an extra-long cuddle, to clean the kitchen and pack lunches while my husband was out for the evening.
The truth is parenting is hard. It is tiring. The days can be long. You won’t always love every moment. You have limits.
But these sweet faces and moments are what we hold onto and keep us going.