I was chatting online today with a new mom. She’s lacking sleep, her baby was fussing in the wee hours…for hours. I remember myself feeling exhausted, discouraged, frustrated, thinking I just don’t have what it takes. Her words were, “Seriously good for moms who can handle dealing with their kid for 4+ hours while they randomly fuss the entire time. cause I can’t.”
It suddenly dawned on me – we Mom’s need to look at Mom-hood from a different perspective. That of a Manager, a Businesswoman, a Administrative Assistant, a Waitress, a Bank Executive. Get the idea? Anyone who has a job…and deals with people…which is everyone who has a job. Even if you work by yourself in the basement of the CIA, you still have a Boss to answer to. Stay with me here and see where I’m headed. I’m going to take the occurrences of business/work and apply them to the life of a Mom.
We are going to pretend, you (the mom) are an Advertising Executive for a major corporation. Now let’s say you have been dealing with a ‘unique’ client: you have had little to no sleep, what sleep you did get was only interrupted by said client demanding your immediate attention to his account with questions about random issues you have yet to find the answers to. You are now late for work, you haven’t had a chance to shower but there’s no time, so you leave as you are – still wearing the same clothes you’ve had on for the past two days even though you smell like the Chinese Takeout you had last night (you can’t remember the last time you ate a home-cooked meal). You arrive at your office which is a mess, you have files/models/prototypes discarded left and right as the client has rejected everything you have presented or proposed. You need to get that final presentation to your Boss for approval and you are just about to head to his office when the phone rings…your Client is in the building. As someone once said to me, “You’ve got one nerve left and everybody’s standing on it”. No truer words have been spoken about Motherhood.
It is such a lie we tell ourselves and worse, what others tell us, that Mom-hood is all wine and roses. I said to this new mom today, “In the more difficult times, it’s more like ‘whine‘ and ‘thorns’“. Picture this Proverbial Image: Our little darling dressed in the latest Chanel for Babes, and mom, looking like she just stepped out of Vogue magazine. We two beauties are gaily walking down Haute Couture lane in some fashionable city, sipping a latte while pushing our $5,000 stroller, in which sits Little Miss Darling, perfectly smiling, perfectly happy to be out and about, enjoying the beautiful day while drinking in the admiring, approving glances of passersby.
Rewind. That’s not what happens, because that’s not reality. We mom’s know the reality of being speckled with various bodily fluids,(not ours) and not being able to even get a shower. We know the reality of feeling like we are just one big piece of Velcro…with a crying baby attached. We know the reality of pacing the floor with a colic-y baby. We know the reality of feeding a baby…every hour because they are having a growth spurt. We know the reality of having to put the baby down and walk outside. And we know the reality of feeling like we have failed. Oh so badly. “This isn’t how it’s suppose to be? This isn’t what Martha says it’s like with her baby?” We somehow have come to believe we have to have it all together. We have gleaned this lie from society, our culture, and yes, even friends and family. Well meaning magazines and books tell you to put your baby on a schedule. Hmmmm…interesting…it brings to mind my brother-in-law when he saw a title page in the Baby Book that said, ‘Baby’s Schedule’. “What schedule??????” was his response. Well meaning friends and family give you advice; which in itself is good, but if that same advice doesn’t work for your baby we think, once again, “I must be doing something wrong!” And then we have the older mom’s who if they thought back they would themselves recall, what it was really like. It’s funny how when we age we forget. Or, when we have that second, third, or eighth baby, we forget what we went through to gain the knowledge we now possess. And knowledge is what it takes. And knowledge takes time.
Your baby is… brand, spanking new. You as a mom are…brand, spanking new. So approach it as such. Who walks into a new job and knows everything there is to know? No one. You have to train, you have to listen, you have to learn, you have to make a lot of mistakes. And something else? You have a trainer, an instructor, co-workers, staff. Who ever goes to work and never gets help from a co-worker? No one. Unless your a hermit, but technically that’s not a job, that’s a lifestyle. Hmmmm, I may be onto something here…
Motherhood is A Season of your Life. I look back on those days and soooooo wish I could return…to some of it. Not to puke down my blouse, or cleaning the poop off the back seat from changing my baby in the car and an explosion occurred. I want to return to the tea parties, the sandbox, and yes, even the Playdough. Now I think about those times and it brings a smile to my face. But not then. And that’s what I wish people/parents, would remember. When you are in it, it is not always rainbows and unicorns. I like that Facebook Meme that says, ‘Motherhood: a toss up between napping when the baby naps, or finally having some alone time.’
I remember explaining to a friend of mine who was also a mom that I struggled so much with going to Playgroup. Option 1: If I stayed at home I never got a chance to visit with other moms (an adult conversation once in awhile is nice) and have my baby play, because goodness knows you have to ‘socialize’ the little dears. (insert ‘eyeroll’ please). Option 2: If I took my darling little one with me and she missed her nap, I’d pay for it later; later that day, later that night, and possibly into the next day. Option 3: If I had a friend in, and she brought her 17 little munchkins, the chaos drove me crazy, and it was not a visit, it was a Endurance Test! My friends response? “Well you just have to decide.” That was quite an answer. Absolutely no help at all, but quite an answer. Who gives that kind of answer? Someone who has forgotten what it’s like. That’s where having someone come in and sit for you, trading sit times with friends, or Respite Care can be very beneficial. I needed a break.
Mom’s have to ask for help. And even if you are married, or in a relationship with a significant other…sometimes you still actually need to ask. Especially if the significant other is male. I’m not male-bashing here, it’s a fact. Sometimes things are not so obvious to someone else. It is no different than when I walk into my husbands garage and he says, “Can you hand me that tool please”? What tool? Which one of the 45 screwdrivers do you need? Where in the 8′ x 10′ tool box would it be located? You see, we all need instructions, specific instructions. “Honey, I need some sleep, can you take care of any and every need/want/desire/fit of the baby for an hour? I’m putting in earplugs.” “Honey, can you please wash, dry and fold that load of laundry?” Notice I did not say, “Can you do the laundry?” or ‘Can you watch the baby”? Because trust me, ‘watch’ is exactly what they will do if you say ‘watch’ and give you a play-by-play of every action of the baby. “Honey, the baby is crying, the baby pooped, the baby puked, where are the ______ (you fill in the blank)…’ Specific instructions. Where, when, why, how. So I repeat: If you don’t have family help, ask friends, trade services with friends, look to pay for services, or Respite Care.
I do know there are moms who ‘go-it-alone’ because they have no choice. But those moms have had to learn to ‘let go’ of other things. All mom’s need to learn to ‘let go’ of other things. And that’s where most of us get stuck. “But I want to continue doing what I’ve always done”, says every mother on the face of the earth, until she falls into a heap of exhaustion and despair. Telling herself the lie she can do it all. She can’t. You can’t. I remember when we brought Bethany home and after a few days of adjustment, because we thought it would only take a few days to adjust (insert second ‘eye roll’ please), we sat down to play a game of crib which we did quite often. The game did not get finished. I don’t really think it got started. We tried to watch a favourite television show…didn’t happen. The phone rang, thought I’d have a nice conversation with a friend…didn’t happen. And all this time I’m frustrated, thinking I’ll never be able to do what I know as ‘normal’ again! No, not ‘never’ just not at this moment, (well except the phone thing, because no mom gets to talk on the phone in peace until her children move out). Some things need to be set aside…for now…because…
You can’t have a together baby, a together house, together meals, a together marriage, a together job, and be together yourself. Something has to give. Give up the house thing. Give up the elaborate meals. Yes, we need food and clean clothes, so dress simple and eat simple. Give up the Martha Stewart house, the Bon Appetit dinners, and all the Pinterest projects. For now. There will be those days when you can make a nice meal (which can include a microwave), clean the house (or at least a pathway in the house), make a Christmas stocking (not one for each member of your family, your neighbor’s family, the dog’s family), but not everyday, maybe not even every month, but it’s only for a Season.
As ‘seasoned’ moms we know that, ‘This too shall pass’. No, not like Gandalf, “You shall not pass!” It does pass, the sleepless nights, the dirty clothes, the cold food, the crying baby, it all passes. And what occurs in between? A new person has grown into a giving, caring, compassionate, gentle, strong, intelligent, humble, honourable, brilliant, wise, human being, fit to contribute to, serve and guide the world. Mom, you raised a person. You combatted everything that was thrown at you; and you, and your babe, came out the other side. Job well done Mom. The Best Executive Job Ever.
‘Just A Little Something’ I wanted to pass on.