Some people seem like such good mothers. They seem to be playing with their kids constantly, doing Pinterest crafts with them, going all out for birthday parties, costumes, and more.
Then there is me. I struggle to feel “enough” as a parent. I’m an introvert. I like my space. And I have 4 kids. Those 3 things don’t really go together, do they? Quiet, space, and 4 kids?!
So when my patience wears thin, I feel less than enough. I know it’s not true. I’d say I somewhat raised my babies with “attachmentish” parenting styles, baby wearing and sleeping with all my children attached to my boob for 1 1/2 years… oh wait, a couple of them still sleep in my bed. And there’s a third on the floor next to my bed. I love my kids more than anything in the world and the majority of my life is focused on them: feeding them, building a business for them, driving them… holy moly… do I drive for them. 30,000 miles a year type driving for them.
Yet, even after a day with just one child (homeschooling) and being able to focus on my business, go for a quick painfully, amazing massage, and get my workout in…. a day whn I should have felt rejuvenated and ready for my tribe of 4… my evening with the kids was still exhausting. 40 minute drive, drop 1 kid off, 15 minute drive, pick another kid up, Costco trip, taking boys out to dinner, then sitting with 2 grumpos for the last hour of a 3 hour gymnastics practice, then back home at 8:30 pm to get all 4 kids to bed. Here’s where I get impatient. My motherly love and affection seems to disappear when the sun goes down. I’m not sure why. I think I’m just a happy, morning person, full of energy and creativity. When that sun goes down, get me in my nightly warm bath and I’m done being productive.
So when my husband is working 16 hours and it’s just the kiddos and me, I find myself getting short tempered as I rush to get 4 kids to bed after being gone all evening. I see the disastrous kitchen and wonder why I can’t keep up. I see the huge pile of laundry that needs folded and wonder why I even did all that laundry the day before. I am in awe that my oldest needs me to tuck him in and perfect his blankets even thought he has gone to bed 4,380 times in his life…. he should know how to straighten out the blankets… and I’m in disbelief that the other 3 can’t fall asleep without me lying next to EACH of them (how can one person sleep in the middle of 3. It isn’t physically possible. Don’t they realize this?!)
Don’t tell me. I already know. Take advantage of this time. Cuddle them as long as they want. Read the extra book. This time will go quick. I know all that. So when I’m feeling frustrated that I just want everyone to quickly go to sleep so I can clean the kitchen, fold the laundry, and get my bath…. I feel guilty. I feel bad that I’m annoyed while my youngest seems like he’s attempting to climb back into my belly as I lie there waiting for him to fall asleep (“Sweetie, mommy just needs a little space” I try to say calmly). I question why I get so annoyed at times when I should be constantly showing my love and gratefulness for these blessings. Because, man, they really are amazing. What is wrong with me? Why am I not enough? Last night I even announced to my kids at 9:00, “Mom is feeling grumpy! So I’m not cleaning the kitchen or doing the laundry, and I don’t want to be grumpy to you, so I’m just going to bed!”. And I did.
Times like these, I have to remind myself I am enough most of the time. Most of the time I’ve found little things I practice to allow that deep, deep love I feel for those kiddos to be shown. Some things I’ve incorporated into my life is giving a huge smile and hug every morning when they come downstairs (EVEN if they are up 10 minutes into what should be my hour of morning quiet time). I want them to see the excitement and joy I feel when they walk into a room. I have a goal of laughing with them daily. Whether that means talking in a silly voice to make them giggle, tickling the younger two, or making a joke with my oldest as we study Latin about a word that sounds inappropriate (“facio” means “I do”, and I’m pretty sure we don’t pronounce it correctly). I try to remember to make life fun, like huge jumps over the cracks as we hop into the grocery stores and deep discussions with my 10 year old during drives about every topic a 10 year old is able to come up with.
So I know I’m not a horrible mom. I just feel guilty that I crave so much space and quiet in my life. I also know I need continued practice and reminders to be the mom I want to be. It isn’t always natural to smile and be excited when I hear pitter patter at 5:10 am in the morning when I’m just closing my eyes to listen and pray. But instead of saying, “Why are you up so early, you are supposed to stay in bed!”, I force the smile and open my arms. Actually, when I force the smile, or the goofiness lying in bed at night, or the dance party I don’t feel like doing….it really does become enjoyable. And seeing the smiles on the kids faces always changes my “I just want alone time” mood. It doesn’t always come natural, but I guess I’ve learned ways to adapt.
I was reading my daily affirmations today… most of them are business oriented, leading a life led by God oriented, and financial oriented. I added one today.
I am an amazing mother that demonstrates love, kindness, and a God-directed life.
I know it is impossible to be the perfect parent and ever live up to our own expectations. I think what is important is, as parents, we give ourselves grace, we remind ourselves we are good parents (aka…daily affirmation above), and we constantly work to grow and improve like every other area of our lives.
And schedule weekend trips away from the kids to refresh our souls. (Okay, now I feel guilty again because I hear parents say all the time, I could never leave my kids for a weekend or business trip). I am not a bad mom. I am not a bad mom. I am a good mom.
That needs breaks.
And quiet time.