It wasn’t until after I had my daughters that I finally understood that old saying,“Calgon, take me away.” But mommies sure as hell don’t get any vacation time. We don’t even get a sick day, whether we need it or not. I’ve had some rough weeks this summer. Long days, sleepless babies, and more than my fair share of toddler tantrums. It’s not even mid-August and I’m completely burnt out. I’ll admit that sometimes maintaining a positive perspective on motherhood can be challenging.
Every day I make a choice. Do I let the stresses of parenthood beat me down? Or do I search for the bright side in whatever situation my family throws at me? When you’ve gone through some of the things I’ve had to deal with in life – cancer and blindness included – then you’re all but forced to be an eternal optimist. If I wasn’t I probably would have given up on life a long time ago.
When my kids overwhelm me or when my husband aggravates the hell out of me; I try talking to myself. Sometimes it’s out loud. Sometimes it’s in my head. Refocusing my attention on what really matters in life has become my motherhood coping mechanism. It has saved my sanity on more than one occasion and helps me to remember, “this moment, no matter how bad, frustrating or exhausting, won’t last forever.”
Maintaining My Positive Motherhood Perspective:
When I can’t find my living room floor under a mountain of toys and I’m doubled over in pain from stepping on my fourth Lego; I remember what my house looked like before I had kids. Spotless. Glistening. Pristine. But it was lonely. So, so lonely. I’ll take the mess over that loneliness any day of the week.
On those days when my laundry resembles Mt. Everest and I feel like I’m never going to catch up; I take hold of one of my kid’s socks. I stop. I think. I remember what it felt like to hold them in my arms for the first time. How wonderfully amazing it was to hold that tiny pair of naked baby feet in the palm of my hand. Being their mother has overflown my heart with love as much as it has overflown my laundry basket.
If I’m disgusted with cooking dinner or on those days I feel like an underpaid chef at some cheesy diner; I look around my table. I’m grateful I have food to eat and the people I love most sitting in the chairs across from me. Sticky faces, messy floors, and all.
When my kids won’t cooperate and I’m ready to scream; I take a breath and remember these toddler moments won’t last forever. (THANK GOD!) I think back to the day I took that pregnancy test. I remember how I worried during each ultrasound and every high-risk doctor’s appointment. I wanted my daughters so desperately and I love them to the moon and back again. They are both worth every ounce of aggravation.
Then there are those days where my kids need extra attention, but I am absolutely swamped by my work responsibilities. They claw at me, whine, cry, and beg me to play with them. So what’s a mommy to do? I stop. I take a break. Even for just 5 minutes. I play that game and read that book. One day, they will want to spend more time with their cellphone than they will want to spend with me.
When I’ve watched Toy Story for the umpteenth time. When I’ve reached my breaking point with Doc McStuffins. When I begin to wonder why Paw Patrol’s Adventure Bay doesn’t just hire a dog catcher. When I feel like I can’t watch one more minute of cartoons… I don’t. Instead, I watch my kid’s faces. I focus my attention on their expressions, hoping my broken eyes will let me catch the raise of their cheeks or the dent in Aoife’s dimple as she smiles. And at that moment, I am mesmerized.
If Nuala wants to cook with me, but I know I can do it faster by myself; I let her help anyway. I hand her the rolling pin. We laugh in the clouds of flour from our pizza dough. Sure, it takes a little bit longer and there will certainly be more of a mess to clean up, but knowing we’re making memories together is worth the extra time. Maybe one day she will tell her children, my grandchildren, how she got to cook with her mommy.
No foreseeable date night in my future? When my husband and I find ourselves complaining about our lack of “alone” time, we remind one another that we had 10 years of child-free marital bliss. We never thought kids were in the cards for us. We never thought anyone would call us “mommy” and “daddy.” We’ll find a way to have our date night, even if that means we’re both sitting in our underwear watching the Walking Dead and eating cold pizza. Not like we’ve ever done that before or anything. LOL!
On days where my daughters want extra hugs, a seat on my lap, or to hold my hand in a store; I will absolutely indulge them. I know there will come a day when showing me affection in public will be considered “grossly uncool.” Excuse me while I soak up their willing displays of innocent childhood affection.
During those months where money gets tight or I can’t afford something I might need; I remember what it was like before I had kids. Sure, I had more money, but I was seriously lacking in the happiness department. I can live with my granny panties and old maternity bras, but I would never want to live without my daughters.
When my husband royally annoys me or leaves a colossal inconsiderate mess; I try to remember what a wonderful father he is. He reads to them, plays with them, and supports their interests. He’s far from perfect by any stretch of the imagination. Admittedly, neither am I. Maybe that’s why we make such a good team.
During these long summer weeks, when I have had no time for myself and feelings of being unappreciated filly my head; I force myself to snap out of it. It’s not my kid’s job to make me feel appreciated. They didn’t ask to be here. Their father and I brought them into this world. Their physical and emotional well being needs to be the priority. Everything else is secondary. That includes the housework, my job, and yes, even this blog.
If I’ve learned anything in my 36 years on this earth, it’s that life is all about perspective. Not the glass half-empty or half-full analogy, but realizing nothing in this world is permanent. So you better make damned well sure that you’re enjoying every ounce of it when it comes to what matters most to you. For me, that’s “Mostly Wonderful”, Nuala & Aoife. These 3 people, who I love most on this Earth keep me grounded, enabling me to maintain my positive motherhood perspective.
So if you’re reading this and parenthood has kicked you where it hurts; take a breath and regroup. Talk to yourself. Find your own lens and view being a mom through your eyes. I guarantee you will find a way to see the struggles are all worthwhile.