Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The reality of motherhood and the balancing act

I always tell new mommies to give themselves grace, and time.  I promise them that they will feel human, sane, stable, and healthy by 6 weeks.  Nursing will be easier by then, and they'll start feeling as if they have the mommy thing under control.  By 3 months, they'll feel like mommy pros, but they'll still be struggling to keep up with the housework because those tiny babies need to be held a lot.

By the time the baby is 6 months old, the house work and other responsibilities will be under control again. They'll have their family's personal juggling act figured out and will have regained their confidence.  Which is good.  Because this is when baby becomes mobile and starts adding to the physical messes in the house (beyond laundry, diapers, and bottles).  This also takes you to a new level of parenting, as you have to monitor baby's whereabouts and always be on the watch for safety hazards.  That cute basket of magazines on the floor, or that candle and waterfall on the coffee table, suddenly become baby toys.  Then you have to decide whether to put them away or train baby not to touch them.  In my house, we opted to put them away.

At this point, being a mommy changes from sitting and holding baby, working while baby naps to the "get up and move" stage.  Not just for baby, but for Mommy, too.  At this point, you have to get up and redirect the baby often, clean up his messes often, work while he naps and in the moments he's playing safely and happily -- while watching him closely, of course. 

Motherhood is constantly evolving.  Just when you figure out one age and stage, the child moves on.  Just when you've figured out one child, the next one is different.  Just when everything is becoming routine, you're pregnant again.  Just when you think you have it under control, life throws you a loop that drives you right back to your knees, in prayer. It could be job changes, moves, health problems -- anything you weren't expecting or planning for.

For me, at this moment, baby B is 3 months old.  We've got HIM pretty much figured out.  He's a cheerful little guy, rarely fussy.  He doesn't require constant holding, but he does need lots of "checking in".  In other words, he might be content in his bouncy chair or swing for awhile, but he'll need to be cuddled or fed or diapered again in 10-20 minutes.  Sometimes he'll drift off to sleep on his own, but other times he needs to be snuggled to sleep. (Like right now, as I'm writing this, while bouncing him in my arm and typing one handed.)

His 2 year old sister V is a more needy and emotional child. She needs lots of mommy time and is easily frustrated.  We're working to teach her not to scream/cry when she's upset.  We're trying to teach her to calm down when things don't go her way.  We're also praying she gets through this phase quickly.  It's not a fun stage.

If I waste the peaceful moments when they're both happy by doing something for me (like checking facebook) I'll probably miss my chance to fold laundry.  I try to do my online things when one of them is needing lap time, though I don't always succeed at limiting it as I should.  Since I only get short segments of time to work, I often have projects sitting out, waiting to be finished.  At the moment, that means a dining room table stacked with folded laundry ... it's been there all weekend long, slowly growing. I also have hair cutting tools sitting in the living room (where I used it on Steve a week ago) waiting for me to trim the kids' hair.  I should have the laundry routine figured out and rolling smoothly in 3 more months, at least.  I hope.

Motherhood is hard.  It doesn't matter how happy you are to have that new blessing.  It doesn't matter how long you've waited for that child.  It doesn't matter if it's your first child or your tenth; it's hard to adjust to a new baby in your home and life.  We have to give ourselves (and other new moms) grace.  But we shouldn't just give up, either.  We have to find the balance in prioritizing our baby's needs with our other responsibilities and relationships.  Sometimes I am better at this than other times.  I admit it's easier at times to just focus on the baby and let everything else slide. But it's only fun for a short time, before frustration builds and I have to take time to find balance and order again.  It's a continual process, a daily struggle, but it's worth it.

"Far and away the best prize that life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing."
      ~~Theodore Roosevelt~~

"For unflagging interest and enjoyment, a household of children -- if things go reasonably well -- certainly makes all other forms of success and achievement lose their importance by comparison."
  ~~Theodore Roosevelt~~

“Biblical motherhood means sacrifice, selfless love, and faithful dedication. It means we’re there with our families -- body, mind, and spirit.”
      ~~ Passionate Housewives Desperate For God, pg. 21~~

Still learning and growing,
April E.

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