Peace begins with me. Peace begins with me. Peace. Begins. With. Me.
I’ve probably said this over a hundred times today. It was one of those days where everything started to get to me. I could feel the stress of trying to move out of my parent’s house on one income just sitting on my shoulder. I woke up with sciatic pain, my eyes felt heavy from the lack of sleep, and my head felt like it was being squeezed by one giant hand. The house felt cluttered because everyone is home for summer break and both of the girls were in a highly needy mood. No quiet morning coffee, no shower alone, no peeing alone.
Not all days are like this, but many days are. Motherhood is hard and grueling and full of difficult lessons.
But, you know what else motherhood is? It is beautiful and inspiring and becoming. It is full of more love that I could possibly put into words and has taught me so much more than I could have possibly hoped to learn in such a short amount of time.
Things Motherhood Has Taught Me
You can handle more than you will ever know
I didn’t realize how strong I was until my kids were born. Loxley was colicky straight out of the womb. Her first four months of life Earthbound left me exhausted, frustrated, emotional, and feeling hopeless. I remember the days I would cry in the dark at 2 am out of frustration because she wouldn’t sleep and had been whaling for eight hours straight. I remember feeling guilty for wanting to fast forward through those first four months instead of wanting to soak it all in. Being a mother has taken literal blood, sweat, and tears. I have reached points of exhaustion I didn’t know were possible. Every day I give my all to people a third my size who spend most of their time screaming at me. I have put dreams and plans on hold, all for a heart that is full.
There are many things we put up with and handle throughout the day, without a second thought. Every once in a while take a moment to look back at everything you’ve accomplished, worked for, or survived and acknowledge how incredible you are.
The grass isn’t always greener
“Why can’t my kids _____ like other people’s kids.” There have many so many times when I have thought this out of frustration or desperation. I’ve thought it at a restaurant when the baby with the family next to us was sitting quietly while mine was throwing food on the floor and trying to play with the bread knife. I’ve thought it at home when I hear people talk about nap-time and I realize Finley hasn’t taken a nap in almost a year.
I feel that, not only as moms but as people, in general, we tend to think the grass is always greener on the other side. And maybe at times, it is, but most of the time it really isn’t. I can’t tell you how many times people have told me how jealous they are that I didn’t gain weight with both of my pregnancies. But when I say the reason for my lack of weight gain was six months of severe morning sickness, the jealousy fades a bit. Life is about balance. While the grass may look greener from where you are standing, everyone has a brown patch or two hiding somewhere.
Tell your story
I’ve always had a love for stories. I became an avid reader at a young age and I’ve been writing for as far back as I can remember. Much of my life has been spent reading and listening to other people’s stories and a lot of what makes me who I am today are the lessons I’ve taken away from those stories. When I became a mom I found a new appreciation for sharing my own story. Growing up, my mom made sure she was always completely honest and open with us when it came to experiences in her life. That honesty has helped me avoid situations that could have been unpleasant and gave me someone I knew I could talk to without judgment. I want to be that person for someone, just like so many people have been that person for me. Tell your story authentically. I believe it is our duty to learn from those around us and those before us and to pass on our own stories as well.
With the hustle and bustle of everyday life, I think we often forget to breathe and forget how important breathing really is. During labor, you practice breathing techniques to help you through the pain. If you’ve ever done yoga, you know that breath is an integral part of the practice. Whenever Finley starts to tantrum we tell her to take deep, slow breaths and count to ten. Life can be overwhelming. Teaching my daughters to stop and breathe before reacting to a situation has reminded me that I too can step back, take a breath, and control how I react to what I am experiencing.
Have a magical, do-nothing day
I am someone who loves to constantly be doing something. I am a true Gemini in all aspects, but especially in the sense that I am fickle, curious, and I hold a ton of nervous energy. My mind is always switching onto to new ideas or looking for new experiences. I have a bad habit of filling my plate until I’m overworked and eventually burn out, leaving me in a funk for days.
Since having kids, I have had to learn to not only manage my time better but to take a break every once in a while. Kids don’t work around your schedule My burnouts were manifesting anxiety and causing me to snap at everyone around me. I would get frustrated because I felt like I was busy all day but had to-do lists that weren’t getting done. Sitting down with my daughter and watching cartoons left me fidgety. I would push through days when my health wasn’t at its best because I had things that needed to get done.
Experiencing the magic of a do-nothing day has helped me avoid burning out. My days are more productive and less “busy,” because my mind is able to focus. I still get fidgety, but I take that as a sign to take a break and not to grind through it.
Run it out
We try to go to the park 3-4 times a week to let the girls “run out their energy.” Before I got pregnant I used to love running on the trails. It was a good way for me to expel my nervous energy and I liked the time it gave me to be alone. Since the birth of my kids, I haven’t done much running. I do yoga to stay active, but it was filling the need my body was craving. I found myself feeling anxious and claustrophobic. Like my girls, I need to run out my energy. Since a run isn’t always an option, I try to do small, high energy exercises, like jumping jacks or burpees at some point during the day.