It's a family joke. We'd walk into the living room with the sun's rays streaming into it and see a familiar scene. Our mother would be sitting there - head slightly bowed, her chin trying to reach her chest, holding her scriptures in her hands on her lap. Her eyes would most definitely be closed. Sometimes she would wake up upon our arrival in the room. She would grin and tell us she was reading her scriptures. Even as an adult when I would call home and I'd ask what she was doing, if she responded that she was reading her scriptures I would say, "You mean, taking a nap?"
I get it now. Motherhood is exhausting. Exxxhauuuustiiiing...
I'm not even talking about the staying up at night with babies exhausting - you guys, it gets more exhausting than that. For real.
"What??!!" I know you are thinking that in your head, but it's true.
The emotional and and mental exhaustion is worse I think. Then, add that to the physical exhaustion of just doing the regular things like working, running a house hold, making dinner, laundry, running non-stop from sport practice, swimming, scouts, trying to have some kind of relationship with your husband and your friends, church responsibilities, or whatever.
Then, add to that, battling your daughter to brush her hair, or to do her homework, or for your kids to clean up their rooms, or to stop bothering each other, or to pick up their messes, or to remind your son for the five hundredth time to do something, or trying to understand why your son doesn't want to try his best, or figuring out what the heck a teacher is talking about, or trying to find that library book that is overdue, or trying to keep your kids from getting hit by a car in a parking lot, or signing the loads of papers that come home from school, or trying to keep your kids from looking like wild animals in the grocery store, or why you keep getting notes home that a child has lunch charges when they pack their lunch, or telling your child to put all the cushions back on the couch, or OH MY GOODNESS, WILL YOU PLEASE STOP PICKING ON YOUR BROTHER!!!!!!
Then my head explodes, and it's no wonder that by nine o'clock in the evening I am asleep on the couch. You guys nine in the evening is my new one o'clock in the morning! I'm supposed to be working at nine in the evening... I guess four kids is my magic number where I feel like I can't accomplish anything else but staying alive and keeping my family alive. Not always with their hair combed or brushed, but alive.
I hear it doesn't get any easier with teenagers either, just a different set of issues. Then, last week a "mature" lady in the store was sitting while her daughter shopped and started asking me about my kids, then she told me that a mother's job is the hardest job in the world and one that you can never retire from. (I was already pretty tired that day and that thought just made me more tired.) She said, you hurt when they hurt, you're happy when their happy, it's the hardest job, but the best job.
I remember my first assignment at my first internship for my college degree. I was given an assignment, a folder, and a desk. You guys, I sat at that desk, opened the folder, put my head in my hands and wanted to cry. It was so overwhelming! I had no idea where to start or what exactly to do. (It was planning a dinner cruise for the seniors in the community - I laugh now because I could rock that planning in no time!) I felt like my mind was blank and I couldn't even wrap it around how to even begin, I felt so under qualified.
Oh, hi. That's what motherhood feels like sometimes. Most of the time? 99% of the time? I feel like John and I are always trying to figure out a new way, a better way, a different way to approach one thousand different things. Try figuring out what makes your kids tick - oh, you think you have it figured out - then it changes or doesn't work anymore. Think of something that really annoys you about your husband... I've found that it gets to a point that you have these things about your kids that really annoy you. You have more than one kid? You have more things annoying you! Just like I can't change my husband and force him to be on time, I can't change that one (or more!) thing(s) about my child either! Oh, the emotional exhaustion!!! Oh the patience I have to try and muster!
I've started to pray to ask for a huge dose of patience and a huge dose of kindness. It's sad to admit but sometimes those things that annoy me make me become not very kind. When I act or speak unkind to my children it makes me feel like a horrible person - bring on more emotional exhaustion.
My kids will eventually pick up that when I get into that super nice, quiet voice, "Will you please go get your shoes and socks on?" that I'm about to lose my mind and I'm trying to keep it together, so they'll listen because I'm being nice, right? Wrong. I just realized this morning that I think when Mallary hears that voice she's thinking, "Oh, mom's getting ready to lose it, let's see if she can keep it together while I continue not listening to her for the next ten minutes!"
Sometimes, I think back to my child honeymoon. What's that you ask? The days where it was just Trevan and I and we'd spend our days shopping, or taking naps on the couch, or watching Ellen, or how he would get to play in the bathtub almost every night. It seems like such a different world, I wish I have really appreciated and enjoyed it more. I did, but compared to now, I can really look back and appreciate how wonderful it really was! Hindsight is always clearer I guess...
One evening a few weeks ago, I realized I had been on my feet all day, non stop, except to stop and nurse Everett. I was exhausted, but still had some errands I wanted to run. First stop was the library, to return a book I had had found in our yard sale box that had been in our house for eight months. It was supposed to be like an eight dollar fee. ($21 if I never returned the book) I'm standing at the book counter trying to wrangle all four of my children (though Jonah should count for three extra children in public), I couldn't find my library card (oh yeah, it was on my key chain, duh!), I had kids complaining that they wanted to hold their movie or their book, I felt pretty frazzled. I had cash in my hands ready to pay my fine, and the library clerk said, "Oh, don't worry about it, I took care of it for you." I looked at her, we shared this eye contact for a moment as if she was saying to me, "I've been there. You'll make it. Let me do something nice for you." I thanked her multiple times and I really wanted to cry.
Then, I headed to the grocery store. (I know, I was a glutton for punishment that day I guess...) Oh my goodness the kids were pretty crazy. Sometimes, while shopping with my kids there are moments that you feel that people are just staring at you, judging how you parent, etc, and oh well, but it adds to my impatience in the grocery store. So, I checkout and get to the van, the kids climb in and a lady came up to me who I had passed in the store a few times and asked if she could help me load the groceries and take the cart. I thanked her and told her not to worry about it, and she said, "Are you sure? I'd love to help. I've been there, I know how it is."
Sometimes people are sooo kind! I was so tired that evening but just having those experiences with those two kind women lightened my load. I don't know if it's the fact that they validated how I felt about being a mother that day, or what. But, it made me feel better!
You guys, I'm beat. If parenthood is a game, I'm losing 500 to 3 or some kind of odds like that. Mallary is totally kicking my rear. I think I fall asleep at night mostly out of defeat! Ha!
But, seriously. I used to tell people it was never too late to call my house. Well, things have changed. I have a new schedule. If you call after 8:30, I'm probably asleep on the couch, most likely with a sleeping Everett in my arms. Nursing him to sleep puts me out too. Last night, I believe John bought me the phone multiple times after I had already fallen asleep. I only remember one of the conversations. (He has a hard time telling people, that I'm asleep for some reason...) So, if you called me last night, you might want to call me again!
However, if you'd like, you can reach me at four AM. That's my new schedule. I fall asleep early, get up and work early (like 3 AM early), and I'm starting to like it. Call me crazy. It's quiet, I'm awake and alert, I like starting the day feeling like I already was productive! I think it makes me a happier mom in the mornings. However, I miss late night TV (I know there is Hulu, but ain't nobody got time for that!) and hanging out with my husband. So, we'll see how long it lasts. It's been a big deal for me to finally let go of the fact that I'm not in college anymore and I can't stay up late and watch TV! Though, this motherhood gig lately has kind of forced me to do so.
Being a mom is tough...
So, high five to you moms out there! I'm not going to tell you to 'count your blessings,' or say 'they are only little once' like those comments you usually get in the grocery store (though good, not helpful to a mom having a bad day). I'm going to say keep on keepin' on, I feel your pain. We can do it!