I’m writing this after having not the most joyful of evenings… granted, our day was great overall! It’s amazing how one moment of a raised voice when mom is feeling exasperated has the ability to put a dark cloud over the day. I hate raising my voice to my kids. I really do. I try, try, try not to do it at all. At the end of the day, I am human. Maybe you’re reading this because you didn’t have a perfect day either. Sigh. It’s OK. Take a deep breath. Tomorrow is a new day.
I don’t know much about baseball, but I do know that when a batter needs relief that there is something called a pinch hitter. See, like a lot of families, we have two parents – the other parent is my pinch hitter. The problem in our life right now is that Daddy isn’t home much (understatement), and so mama is on duty ALL THE TIME. (Insert massive props to single parents. You all are my freaking HEROS.) And sometime after the almost three-year-old skipped his nap and between trying to make dinner & do dishes and the baby wanting to nurse (again) and the toddler wanting to be held (because – no nap) – mama said, “I need a new hitter!” Except I didn’t say that, because nobody would hear me and nobody would care. So, I told the toddler to quit whining and go to his room. It wasn’t fair. It wasn’t right. He was communicating with his behavior that he was tired & wanted mom to comfort him. Unfortunately for him, I was out of patience with the day. I am sure I’m not the only parent that experiences this. After that it was pretty much a cluster between dinner and bedtime. Both my boys were asleep in their beds by 8:00pm, so there is that. That same adorable toddler is going to be giving me an early wake-up call tomorrow. Daddy is in Dallas, so you guessed it – no pinch hitter tomorrow either. With this situation that we are in right now – it is really easy for me to feel sad, tired, or just plain worn out. This is why I’m writing this for myself & for anyone else that needs to feel a bit more JOY in their life as a mother today.
- Take time to enjoy your babies. This is the biggest one. It doesn’t matter how much time you have. Quality over quantity here – hands down. Make it count. Tickles. Giggles. Books. Cuddles. Snacks. Crafts. Whatever your thing is that makes you feel connected and at peace with your babies. Do that. With Maximus, he still cuddles, and I love it. Our favorite thing is curling up with a book together. With the baby – Arius – the best thing right now is hearing him laugh. Anything to hear that baby squeal makes my heart go completely aflutter.
- Remind yourself that this was your choice. I’m not just talking about the choice to have children in the first place, but I’m talking about the choices that we make as parents as far as what kind of life we are building for our kiddos. It is totally unfair to be frustrated with them for things that they absolutely cannot control at all. Take for instance my evening tonight. It’s not Max’s fault that I am tired or overwhelmed or that Daddy is on a work trip. Us, the parents, have made all the choices. Us, the parents, need to work on ourselves and with each other – as a team. Try, try, try to remember that your kids are not reason that things are or are not the way they are. They aren’t throwing that tantrum to ruin your life. They are probably throwing it because they are two and a half and they skipped their nap, or whatever. Be the adult. It sucks.
- Take a time out. When I really need a break, I let Max watch a show on the iPad. I don’t like screen time. I do my best to limit this. I recognize that he doesn’t need screen time at his age. But sometimes I also need him to relax and do something that makes very little noise and provokes very little movement. Sometimes this is the only way to get a break when you’re the only parent “on duty”.
- Watch them sleep. Nothing makes me feel warmer or fuzzier than peeking at their sweet faces when they are deep in dreamland. They always look so angelic, even after the worst of days. Look how peaceful they are. Touch their baby soft cheeks and stroke their wispy hair. Remind yourself that you are their whole world. Let that sink in. You are the sun, the moon, the stars to this little person. Give them something to lean on. Dig deep. Let that truth fuel your motivation to be better, work harder, and take that bravery with you into the next day. You’ve got this!
- Call or text a friend. Have someone that you can tell the truth to. Someone that won’t judge you or tell you that you’re worthless for letting them watch Frosty the Snowman on repeat while eating fruit snacks. If you don’t have any friends like this, try being real with a fellow mom. If she responds with disdain, move on. If she is genuine and sympathetic, she’s a keeper.
- Stop letting the clock or the calendar steal your joy. Somedays, you need to just scratch the plans and go with the flow. Sometimes, babies get sick or have shots or just need extra love. Whenever possible, make adjustments accordingly. Baby cluster feeding in the evening? Can’t get anything done? Welcome to the club. Grab a snack & a drink and sit on the couch. Get cozy. Give up on the to-do list. Just let it go, as the song goes.
- Play. Maximus wants to play all the time now. It’s a bit exhausting. A lot of times, I have to do something other than play dinosaurs or build towers or do puzzles, unfortunately. However, sometimes, I say yes. Say yes to the 7th reading of that same book. Say yes to playing in their room and making a giant mess. Say yes to them. I promise, you’ll be happier for it.