Motherhood Lately

unnamed-2 (1)Motherhood lately is sitting on the floor cutting out things for home preschool while the baby tries to put pieces of laminated paper in his mouth and Liam begs me to be finished so we can actually do preschool.

It’s trying to be patient—and sometimes feeling like I’m doing it—and then losing my patience again and feeling so much guilt (and subsequent apologies).

It’s feeling like we’re finally able to go out and about and connect with other moms. It’s battling days of exhaustion and sickness (maybe as a result of our venturing out). 

It’s feeling total joy and delight and realizing I am so lucky to spend my days doing this. But it’s also wanting so badly to take a bath and read for thirty minutes alone or be able to actually finish doing something. 

It’s frustrating dealing with imperfect little beings who push and shove one another and selfishly want their way about everything (that sounds like me, too!).

I forgot how hard the crawling stage is. Liam was older when he learned to crawl, and since he never put stuff in his mouth, it wasn’t really a big deal. I was thrilled by how much happier mobility made him. Walt is happier too, but now he is much less happy to be in the high  chair or the playpen. That’s hard. Plus he always grabs something lightning fast to stuff in his mouth, and it’s just terrifying.

I think mostly, I’ve been so tired lately. We’ve had wonderful days, and overall we have a great time together. But I’ve been struggling with big fears and not enough sleep and guilt over the times I lose my patience or can’t keep up.

Writing that makes it sound like things are bad. And they’re really not! It’s just surprising how each day can be blissfully happy as we make coffee in the sunny kitchen shadows and giggle. Without warning it shifts to the shrieks of a disgruntled toddler over something that didn’t go his way.

And some days, I feel so very raw—like my nerve-endings are right on the edge of my skin and every scream or crash or fall just hurts.

We’ve been trying to go out more, which has been really good. We’ve fallen in love with library storytime, and we’re hoping to start doing Bible study at church one morning a week (though the chances of both my kids actually being okay in the nursery for an hour is just… no, it’s just impossible).

unnamed-1 (1).jpg We decided not to send Liam to the two day a week preschool program, which is definitely the right decision right now (though it felt agonizing). But this means I’m trying to be more intentional about creating social opportunities with adults and with other kids. He’s my son—totally happy to be at home and play all day every day. But we both reach a point when we need to get out in the world and step out of ourselves. Still this stepping out is exhausting for both of us, so I’m trying to be careful not to overdo it.

I still struggle with knowing what I can expect as far as free time goes. Most mornings now, instead of writing during Walter’s nap, Liam and I do preschool together. He loves it, and it is something we both look forward to. But I have to let go of my desire to write and trust that the time will come again. Quiet time doesn’t work with any consistency, and it seems that either Walt refuses to sleep or wakes up early or Liam struggles and calls for me more often than not. That’s exhausting because I count on that time to get about twenty minutes of sleep, sleep that feels very necessary since Walt is quite wakeful during the night.

I’ve been learning a lot about letting go and being okay with it, although it’s hard to be okay with the stuff that doesn’t get done or the laundry pile that just stays. We’ve all struggled with sickness off and on for a month, which is very new for us.

And right now, motherhood is also cuddling in bed and reading Narnia (“Narnee”) at night to a toddler who barely understands and yet looks forward to our reading time right after we say the Lord's Prayer. It’s googling whether my baby has a common cold or some serious illness (and I should be over this now that it’s the second time around!).

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Motherhood is afternoon tea time that a three-year-old looks forward to particularly for his cookie. It's the realization that we're slowing finding a routine, a groove. It’s the struggle to decide how much one child can fuss while I strive to finish just one task like vacuuming. It’s the decision to leave the laundry unfolded or the blessed relief that comes when my mom offers to make dinner or Jon brings it home.

It’s an odd season right now. There are tantrums and tears, and I still struggle not to see these as evidence of bad mothering or a bad home environment. I have to remind myself that frustration is part of normal, healthy child development, and I guess frustration is part of my own maturing as well.

Motherhood right now is reading tons of Scripture and  books on mothering to help me make sense of this, to fight for joy in the midst of fatigue. It’s becoming increasingly aware that I don’t have all the answers—that everyone’s story is different and there aren’t neat absolutes.

It’s trying to avoid resentment and reminding myself constantly that though Jonathan’s life is different than mine, my husband is entitled to be tired, to need a break. It’s reminding myself of all the work he does and trying not to compare and blame when I’m the one feeling defeated.

It’s letting other people help and not feeling guilty about time away from the boys. It’s the constant feeling that I should write down mantras to help me in this fight for daily joy and patience: “He works hard, too” or “Stay calm—you’ll regret getting angry” and tons of others that I can’t remember because I can never find my journal to write them down in time.

It’s that feeling that my good ideas are not being caught and trapped, that they’re just flitting off to some one else, someone who can appreciate them, who has her life together.

But motherhood right now is also realizing that our baby is closer to being a year old than he is to his birth. It’s feeling so much beauty and gratitude most days that my heart can’t take it, thinking we must be on the precipice of something going terribly wrong. It’s knowing with dead certainty that I will want these days back—that I’ll look back my whole life and cherish these days full of stories on the couch and feasts made in pretend kitchens and one boy begging me to play trains while another pulls up on the train table.

These things are so precious, and who am I to be worthy of experiencing these delights, the realizations of all my hopes and dreams (even if my nighttime dreams are short-lived due to the broken sleep)? 

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