I love when in all my motherly wisdom I decide we MUST go to the store at 4:45.
As I walk through the parking lot with all four of my monkeys in tow, I always begin regretting it - but turning around before we even venture into the store would prove to be more disastrous so I continue on.
Yesterday was one such day when, because I was able to buy a 16 pound turkey for 3 bucks (score!) I needed to cook a Thanksgiving dinner in June and hence go to the store at 4:45 (yes, I tend to procrastinate) and buy cranberry sauce and stuffing (yes, Stovetop folks - let's remember, I am the one cooking here.)
I'm not domestic people. Not. One. Bit. But since I found the easiest turkey recipe ever on line I was feeling confident that I could in fact make (or open the box) three things with it.
So there I was. My kids are entering that, "I'm 5, I no longer need to ride in a cart being squished like sardines simply to make your life easier" phase. Which then means, that most of the time, I can't convince my 3 year old to ride either - because I'm certain she is convinced she is 5 as well. So, one normal cart with Will along for the ride...Luke and Emma holding on to the cart on either side, and Lily deciding she must change positions every few seconds just to shake it up. Normally, it wouldn't be such a big deal at our regular 8:30 in the morning shopping time...but when everyone and their 2nd cousin twice removed is at the store getting stuff for dinner, it's a big deal.
We were two carts (at least) wide trying to cram through already small aisles. Awesome.
Ya, so I was overwhelmed a tad. A little snippy with my dear sweet children, I admit. And no, shockingly, I wasn't being all too joyful.
And then it happened. As it always does when you don't want it to. I ran into a long time friend. Who has one precious little girl and is pregnant with her second. She was dolled up. I was still in my work out clothes from the morning. Her hubby was with her as they strolled down the aisles. My hubby was at work (PRAISE THE LIVING GOD!!!!!!) as my kids fought over who should be the pretend grown up and push the cart all by themselves. Fabulous.
My friend giggled at me and said, "Oh, look at your joyful jungle."
In my mind I thought, "jungle it may be, joyful - ha! not right now!" But I smiled because really, it must have looked quite funny as I had to walk with my butt sticking out so my child in front of me would not be slammed into the cart.
She could tell I was overwhelmed - maybe not the extent as to which I was overwhelmed, but she could tell.
There was no hiding it, so I embraced it and yep, now she is quite aware if you have four kids in 3 years, you too could be in your workout clothes from 8 in the morning at 5 at night with no make up walking around the store with your butt sticking out. It's the cool thing friends.
Anyway, it made me think of a conversation I had with a friend recently about motherhood...oh, motherhood. Anyway, she has two little boys who are quite certainly the full and total definition of what a boy is. Her boys are 15 months apart and she is busy. Her boys are definitely not placid and serene - instead they are full of energy and everything must be conquered and climbed. And sometimes, shockingly, she is overwhelmed.
But there are those moms. You know the moms. The ones who, when you talk to them about motherhood, they claim that every moment is wonderful and like angels singing in the background. They are always dressed wonderfully, never have some unknown substance on them and their kids must be on some sort of drug because they are so quiet and calm. You know, those moms? The ones who say their babies sleep through the night at 2 weeks old and are potty trained by the time they are 6 months old. Ya, those moms. They are my favorite.
Anyway, my friend asked me after a very long frustrating day with her boys, "Do you think that perhaps those moms' lives are perfect? I mean, do you think maybe their lives are as wonderful as they say they are?"
They are lying.
I can sit here behind my computer if I choose, and make you all believe that I am mother of the year and that my life is simply a jungle because of my children, and definitely not because of how I fit into the grand scheme of things. I can lead you to believe, though it would be an all out downright lie, that my children are always well behaved, my house is always clean and that we constantly live in a house where we sing joyful noises unto the Lord all the time. I could. But I won't.
I won't for a couple reasons. Here we go:
1. Moms need to know that being a mom is hard. Really, it is. And it is okay to admit that you think it's hard too. I think often times we try to make it sound like it is easy, because if it's easy then maybe we are somehow more successful or more worthy or whatever. But let's embrace the fact that being a mom - being a good mom takes work.
2. Work isn't always fun. Before I had kids (when I knew everything about parenting) I thought it would be so much fun to be a mommy. When we were struggling with infertility and my mom friends would complain about their mornings or their kids, I would get so angry. How could they complain, be frustrated with, not want to spend every waking moment with their kids? I just didn't get it. Now I do.
I remember when my twins were 9 months old we switched pediatricians and our new pediatrician had twins as well that were the same age. And I sat in his office and said, "I feel so guilty." He said, "Why would you feel guilty? You are doing such a great job." And I responded, "I wanted my babies so bad, and now, I just want a break so bad. I'm so tired. I shouldn't feel this way." And he, in all of his pediatrician glory, said, "Melissa, you are doing great. I want a break too. I think this is how we are supposed to feel - but no one admits it. It's nice to hear that someone feels the way I do."
3. I think parenting is the closest we get to understanding the love God has for us, his children. And I know, I don't know about you, but I know that God gets frustrated with me. I'm sure that God probably would love to bang his figurative forehead against the wall due to my slow learning and stubbornness. I know that I hurt him sometimes with my actions, disappoint him often with my sin, make him proud sometimes with my (very few) growth spurts - and yet, God endures with me, because He is God. And if God can get frustrated with me - then I think it's reasonable to say that we too will get frustrated with our kids. I love my children with my whole being, but sometimes folks, I need to lock myself away from them to get sanity.
4. It takes a village. I used to think that meant just to raise a child. But now, more than ever, I strongly believe that it also means it takes a village to support one another. Sometimes we need a friend, a support system, who can encourage us when we need encouragement. A friend who can reassure us that just because our baby is six months old, or a year or whatever and not sleeping through the night we are not a failure. We need those people in our lives to gently remind us that our value and worth do not rest in if our children are potty trained at 12 months or 36 months. And if we aren't honest, how can we be encouraged the way that we desperately need to?
My friend who saw me last night in the store was aware that it was crazy for me. But she encouraged me - and reminded me that even though it was crazy, I am blessed.
We are blessed to be mommies - it's work to be mommies - let's be honest mommies and encourage each other.
Oh, and yes, my turkey dinner was ahhhmazing! Quite proud of myself actually :)