Let me start off by saying just how much I love being a mom.
It truly is one of the biggest blessings in my life and I cannot believe how lucky and blessed I am to be pregnant again and only 4 months away from welcoming a son into this world. With that said... Motherhood has been a little rough lately!
It is straight up hard being a mom. It's exhausting, emotionally draining, frustrating, time consuming, different from anything I have ever done or experienced in my life, but it's also the most rewarding. I have had to work really hard lately to keep my head above the water. I have had to dig deep and learn about myself and what works for me when it comes to being a mom. I know that it's okay to struggle. It's okay to ask for help. It's okay to have weaknesses. It would be great to be able to always be comfortable and to be able to handle life all the time no matter what was thrown at you, but it doesn't happen that way. We are tested and tried and it is up to us to find the solution that works for us.
I am blessed with a wonderful daughter. She has transitioned into her "big girl bed" in the past month and after a month she still waits for someone to come in and get her before she gets out of her bed in the morning or after a nap. That's such a blessing! I was convinced that she would be the type of kid that I would find under the bed in the morning or who would constantly be getting out of bed and into our room during the middle of the night. Aniston talks wonderfully and is able to communicate with me and tell me exactly what she wants and when she wants it. For 2 years old that's kind of huge. I never have to wonder what the problem is. She makes it easy. She loves to have her hair done and will sit patiently while I braid or twist or experiment on her hair. The only big issue we have is that she always always always wants to be, what she refers to as, "naked baby". This means only in her diaper. She's not a fan of getting dressed these days. But let's be honest, if that's my biggest issue than I am doing just fine. But Ani is just so cute when she's dressed and ready for the day... even if she is the one who picks out her clothes. Notice the boots...
My problems with motherhood are with myself. I feel as though I am not enough daily. At the end of the day when I am so exhausted, Ani loves to wake up between 6:30am and 7:30 am, and am trying to decide if I should use my last bouts of energy to clean my house spotless or walk up the stairs to my room without falling over, I tend to choose to make it to the safety and comfort of my bed. Then when I wake up to a not so clean house I get so incredibly upset with myself. It's little things like this, and yes I know they are little, that have depressing me and getting me down. So I have taken a good look at my life and motherhood and have discovered some secrets to avoid drowning in motherhood.
Take Time For Yourself
This may seem obvious, but it's not the most easy thing to do. I use to try to take this time for myself when Aniston would take her nap, but it wasn't really working out for me, so now I take that time when she goes down for bed at night. Before she goes to bed she takes a bath and while she's splashing around I make note of what I would like to do once she is asleep. Most of the time this means just relaxing and watching a grownup show on TV and not something from the Disney channel, unless it's Girl Meets World. It's absolutely terrible but I can't seem to turn it off. But I also take this time to paint my nails or work on a craft. I try to not leave chores or homework for this time because that only causes more anxiety and stress. This is a time, just an hour or two, where I can do something for me and not feel guilty about it. There have also been times when I don't take this time just for myself but for my family to go out and do something enjoyable together. That can be relaxing and a change of pace. We like to go out and do things during this time that we don't usually do, and we always have a blast doing them! This also helps me to really appreciate my family and the joy that can be had spending time together.
Ask For Help
This is something that does not come easy to me. I absolutely HATE to ask for help. I don't like weakness, and even though I am full of them, I prefer not to show others thsoe weaknesses. We are blessed to live so close to my parents who love to spend time with Aniston and are willing to take her for a few hours or even overnight, if I just ask. There have been times when my mom has offered to take her and I still say no. I don't even have a reason to say no but I don't want her to think that I'm overwhelmed or exhausted. I want to seem invincible I guess. But really, what good does that do? Who does that benefit? When I get exhausted I tend to get mean. I don't want Aniston to remember me or to think of me as a mean person. I need to know my limits and to ask for help when I know that I need it. Doing this over the past few weeks has been extremely helpful and has saved my sanity. Another way I have learned to ask for help is asking my parents to borrow different toys that we can have at our house to change things up. Recently I asked for some of the blocks that my Dad had made for me when I was almost 3 for Christmas and now Aniston gets to play with them and she LOVES them! Those blocks have been so extremely helpful lately in distracting her when I have work to do or a house to clean. I also ask my sister daily for ideas on how to entertain or teach Aniston. She has some great ideas for me and it's a way that I can ask for help, but still feel like I have control of the situation, because I can take these helpful ideas and make them my own according to what I know would work for Ani.
Count Your Blessings
When I have piles of dishes to do or mounds of toys to clean up, instead of grumbling about how I didn't dirty half of the dishes or that I didn't even play with these toys, I have taken to the mindset of how grateful I should be that Aniston has so many toys to play with and that we have had dinners and lunches and food to feed us and dirty the dishes. When I am grumbling about how uncomfortable I may be, due to pregnancy, or how hot it is, I have learned to think of how I am providing a comfortable and safe environment for my unborn baby or how lucky we are to have a wonderful fan and a freezer full of otter pops to keep us cool. It's a blessing alone to be able to have the honor and blessing to be a mother, that even though it's difficult and so trying, to have created a little being as awesome as Aniston and to be able to be carrying a second little one is such a blessing in itself. I'm not saying that I never get upset or that I don't ever lose my temper, because I do, but thinking about these few things help me to relax and calm down for a moment.
Marry Someone Awesome
Having an equal partner is HUGE! This morning around 6:45, Aniston was up and yelling, "Mom, Momma, Mommy," over and over and over again. This is usually our cue to get up and get her out of her bed. I just couldn't get my ever growing pregnant body out of bed, and quickly, by some miracle, fell back asleep. I woke up around 8am to discover that Spencer, who had been up late, had gotten up with Aniston taken her downstairs, got her breakfast and had put a show on for her. Having someone who shares the responsibility of parenting is HUGE. I'm going to be honest here, I didn't really consider these things before so much, I guess I just got lucky in having a partner who is willing to help and knows when I'm about to lose my mind. Communication in parenting is also super important. You cannot just assume that your partner knows what you are feeling, so just tell them. You don't have to do it rudely, like I probably do way to often, but just let them know that you need their help or share with them your concerns or breaking points.
Put the Technology Down
This is also a difficult one for me. With only 3 1/2 weeks left of grad school (can a get a hallelujah?) and the easiness that the internet can offer, it's hard sometimes to put down the computer or iPhone or iPad and just focus on what is happening here and now. Does it matter how many people like my post on instagram? No, not at all. I post most of my pictures to either express appreciation, to share something exciting, or to remember moments, mostly dealing with Aniston, for myself. My self worth does not depend on whether or not the rest of the world likes what happened during my day. As long as I am satisfied and happy and my family is too, that's all that matters. Why should I care about status updates on Facebook? Why do I care what everyone else is doing in their lives? It's a little annoying how much I care sometimes, but I have learned that I don't need that in my life. I have learned that it's more important to have awesome experiences than to share them with everyone every single second of every single day. I am lucky enough to live in a time where I can record TV shows if I want to watch them so that I don't have to take time to watch them while I could be at the park with Aniston or playing in her imaginary land with her ponies. I try to save technology for times where she is either sleeping or eating or when we are in the car... Spencer driving of course.
Remember to Be Happy
Although things may seem out of your control and crazy sometimes, just let go and have fun. There's no point in wasting precious moments with your family because you are stressed. Take joy in the learning of your child and in the special moments that they can give you every day. Right now Aniston tells anyone who asks, "How are you?" "I'm 2!" We get a kick out of it because she can't figure out the difference between how are you and how old are you. She picks up on so much and even just sitting and listening to her play with her toys when she doesn't know I'm there is magical. Her imagination is incredible and so fresh and pure it rejuvenates me. It's such a blessing to have the opportunity to be able to have these moments and to feel true and complete love. Why on earth would I want to waste that with worry about grownup things? There's always time enough to worry about those things, I would rather just relax and play and bask in the moment with my daughter and the kicks and movements of my unborn little man.
Keep a Thankful Journal
It may seem childish, but I have found that if I do this right before bed, that I go to bed happier than I have in the past. I usually just write down 3 things that day that I have thankful for. Some days are harder than others to come up with only 3 things, but other days I just can't stop writing. Sometimes it's just my bed I'm thankful for or for the fact that I had a glass of chocolate milk and made my heartburn disappear. I think that most days I am just so thankful that I could make Aniston smile. That means the world to me to be able to make her happy. Just remembering the little things have really helped me to keep a positive attitude and reflect on my day and what I can do the next day to make it even better.
I don't think I have ever prayed as much as I have since I have been a mom. I don't just pray for Aniston's safety or her well being, but I pray for myself and patience and knowledge and love. I pray for my husband and the ability to communicate clearly and effectively with him. I pray for those who are not blessed with the same opportunities and blessings that motherhood bring me and I pray for thanks. Even when I don't feel grateful, when I pray and give thanks I am immediately filled with thankfulness and overwhelming joy and happiness.
I'm hoping that drowning in motherhood is actually more common than just a struggle to me. It's hard and tough, but it's doable. And it's meant to be enjoyed and fun. I often think that this quote sums up motherhood to it's completeness!
I know that it will be worth it. Everything else I have going on in my life is nothing compared to being a mother. Nothing else is as important and nothing else will be as rewarding. I am grateful to be a mom and to be challenged in this way. The reward is definitely worth the struggle. There's no doubt in my mind.