How to find Joy in motherhood when it is Crazy
It's 4am and the newborn is ready to nurse. You roll over and put the pacifier back in his mouth hoping that he will fall asleep since he has been eating every other hour all night, and between the sore nipples, exhaustion, and body still healing from birth--you silently beg him to give you a little break.
You try and wake yourself up just enough to be able to focus on nursing--quite honestly still feeling pretty delusional. Then it happens. You hear the 2 year old on the monitor crying too.
"Babe...babe. Can you go comfort Selah? She is crying."
No response. Just a snore.
"Babe! Honey, please wake up! Selah is crying, and I'm nursing the newborn."
Let's be honest, your exhaustion has hit pretty strong and now you are crying too, begging your husband to go get the toddler. He stumbles out of bed, and returns with a two year old now kicking you as she falls asleep while you finish nursing.
Finally the newborn is back to sleep, and you try and get a little rest before the alarm goes off to start your day (but let's keep it real, it isn't easy to get any sleep while waking up to every sound the newborn makes, and with a tossing and turning toddler next to you)
The sun comes up before you are ready, and you quickly try to get coffee in your system before you pass out...but quite honestly--you feel like you were hit by a truck. No hangover in college felt this rough.
So how do you find joy in motherhood when it is crazy, hard, newborns are crying, toddlers are throwing fits, and your emotions and hormones are all over the place--and you are pretty sure you can't juggle one more thing?
I am by no means a professional, but with 4 kids under 4, I can assure you that I have had my fair share of crazy days. I have heard from so many people, "I just don't know how you do it." And to be honest (which I always try to be!) there are days I'm not sure how I made it through as well, but these are a few tips that have seemed to help!
1. Live 15 minutes at a time. You've all heard how fast time goes right? The days are long and the years are short. Every person with grown kids will tell you to treasure every minute--which gets a little repetitive...but let me tell you from someone with so many littles...its insane how fast it goes. I swear that my oldest was just a newborn, and I can't believe that I've had 3 since then, and all are growing up too fast.
I'm not going to tell you to neglect all of your other duties as a mom and just soak in their childhood (because let's keep it real--that is unrealistic) but I will tell you that living in the moment is the best advice I've ever been given. Take little snap shots in your head throughout the day of the sweet moments. Enjoy the newborn smell, and even when you are so exhausted with feedings in the middle of the night...somehow you will be a little sad when those moments are over.
2. Don't let one wrong thing ruin your entire day. When your toddler mixes pumpkin extract with garlic salt, cinnamon, parmesan cheese, and who knows what else while you are trying to write a blog (like mine just did :P)..it isn't worth crying about how you can't make pumpkin shakes anymore...instead think about how it is only $3 to replace, but going crazy can ruin the entire day. I promise it is a little bit funny these things that they do, and you will laugh about it later. She just wants to be like you, and doesn't quite know how to yet.
3. Drinking really doesn't make it all better. I know that a lot of you will want to smack me for this, and there are SOOOO many memes out there right now about how coffee and wine are the key to motherhood...and I agree about coffee, but let's be really honest ok? Wine doesn't cure anything, in fact...I'm pretty sure that it will make you more tired the next day if you really do drink that whole bottle of wine and are hungover the next day. It will make it easier to lose patience, get frustrated, and need another bottle of wine that night. Let's keep it to only a glass from time to time--ok?
4. GO TO SLEEP. I know that once all of the kids are in bed, it is soooo tempting to stay up too late with your spouse trying to capture a few minutes (that turn into hours) watching tv, catching up, or trying to have adult conversation. Yes--it is SUPER important to connect with your spouse, but let's keep it real, one more episode on netflix isn't actually connecting you to your spouse anyway. Go to sleep so you aren't so stinking exhausted.
5 MOST IMPORTANT: 1. Don't compare your life to the facebook pictures of another family. Behind every sweet picture of a newborn is a mom who has struggled with sleep deprivation, healing from delivery, and the crazy hormones that go with it. I think it is safe to say that pretty much every mom has cried right along with their newborn those first few weeks, and struggles to get a shower, feed herself, and to be super honest--her house is probably a disaster too.
You might see sweet pictures of her toddler and thing, "but my toddler throws fits! Hers looks so sweet. " Trust me...hers throws fits too. Toddlers are just trying to figure out the rules for life, understand boundaries, and they are still babies emotionally. Every kid will throw fits, and sometimes what you will do for disciple will help the situation, and other times it won't. We are all just trying our best to raise little awesome people--but none of us know what we are doing either :P I promise you though that behind every sweet toddler picture is a tiny person who probably threw themselves down on the grown because they wanted orange juice in their cereal.
This beautiful picture of our family might make it look like we have it all together, but let's keep it real...it took me editing 3 pictures together to make this beautiful one, and there were approximately 234262934234 that looked much more like the one at the top of life being crazy. And as a photographer, I can tell you that every family session with babies and toddlers is like that :P
Blessings my friends, if you ever need to talk about the wild craziness that is motherhood--feel free to reach out. I'm sure I would enjoy a conversation with an adult too!