Saturday, August 11, 2012

A Very Weary Toddler Mama

I am one very weary toddler mama these days. And I seem to find myself struggling with an increasing level of discouragement coupled with a strange panicky/overwhelmed feeling.

Don't get me wrong, being a Mama is everything I ever wanted to do. I wouldn't trade it for the moon, but I did NOT sign up for this version of motherhood.

Toddler Quadruplets

Honestly, I just don't feel like I'm cutting it in the mama department.

                                              And I don't feel like I was even given a fair chance of succeeding.

There is an impression that is given off in blogs, on FaceBook, and on the ever addicting, always perfect Pinterest website. An impression of the perfect, pulled together wife and mother.

Good grief. How do those insane mamas manage to raise kids, run a house, keep a husband happy, work, AND come up with those adorable, time-consuming projects?

It just about drives me insane. Because I can't do all of that.

If I'm playing with my kids, the bathrooms aren't clean.

If I'm cleaning my bathrooms, my kids are eating processed food three times a day.

If I'm baking muffins and bagels for my family, my kids are entertaining themselves with VeggieTales.

Nothing and no one is ever clean (because inevitably, someone poops as soon as I start a project).

And then I have these amazing ideas and projects staring back at me when all I want to do it veg in the evenings once the kids are in bed (note that I said "in bed." Not "asleep.")

I should start a garden to save us money.

I really should learn to sew so that I can make adorable pillow case dresses for my girls.

I really, really, should learn how to cook elaborate, whole foods based meals that my family will love, and of course, use coupons to keep our grocery bill at $10 a week.

I really, really, really should start a learning curriculum with my children so that by the age of two they know the entire alphabet, can count to 20, make all of the animal noises, identify their shapes and colors, and read three letter words.

Yeah. Right.

So I'm overwhelmed with life and all I should be doing and being. And I find myself all too often quietly comparing myself to all of these successful mamas who manage to do everything and raise these spectacular, smart, well-rounded children filled with homemade memories.

Where the heck does that leave me? And my intense little group of toddlers?

I have had some people say to me how "impressed" they are with everything I do. And quite honestly, that bugs me to a certain extent.

People, I DO NOT have life all together over here. Not even close.

And then I turn the tables.

From the outside, my blog kinda does make me look halfway pulled together, doesn't it? Do you know why?

Because right before I take a picture of a plate of bagels or something like that, I spend 15 minutes making a huge pile on one of the table of every random object you can imagine. Then I take about ten photos making sure my pile is just out of the camera frame and delete anything that shows crumbs. You know, the crumbs from dinner two nights ago.

Right before a visitor or my in-laws come over, I panic and either tell Sean to go wipe down the bathroom or I do. Oh, and sweep the stairs. And fold the kids' pajamas that are still strewn all over the living room. And wipe down those pesky counters! I even try to change out of the gym shorts and t-shirts that have become my daily uniform and slap some makeup on my face.

When I feel like I just don't cut it, I try to remind myself that all of those clever mamas only let me see what they want me to see....just like I only let you see what I want you to see.

Don't believe a word (or picture) of it!

Yeah, those projects are awesome and certainly worth it! But I think my kids will still have memories even if I don't make them pillow case dresses, or cook eggs on a hot sidewalk with them. (seriously, who wants to be outside if it's really hot enough to cook an egg?!)

You know what is enough though? God. Thank goodness, He can pick up the sorry slack that I create as a Mama.

As I sit here and realize that toddlerhood is a whole other ballgame, I also realize that I just simply do not have what it takes to mother them. My patience does have a limit, as does my energy.. All I can do is choose to do the things that I feel benefit my family the most, and let the others slide.

And when I feel tiny, unproductive, clueless, and completely overrun by children (literally!), it would serve me well to remember that God knows what my children need even when I can't be there to physically meet that need myself.

I do the best I can, but God makes up the difference.

Honestly, I forget far too often just how big God is and allow the discouragement to creep in. But in the moments that I do remember that I don't have to be everything for my children, that does take quite a bit of pressure off.

50 comments:

  1. rebecca, i struggle with not feeling like i'm enough, but i so thankful i have a husband who encourages me and tells me i'm enough. it is a balancing act and each day we have to choose what is most important. i love you!!

    nikki

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    1. It totally is a balancing act! And we will never reach the perfect balance. That's awesome that your husband encourages you like that! Mine encourages me as well! I should probably listen a bit more to him (and he would agree!). :)

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  2. No! You're not perfect. Neither are any of us mommies. We are all imperfect messes, and that's just how God uses us. If we were all perfect, well, we'd have no room for God. I learned a lot with our first round of foster children. In all honesty I'm frightened to take the next placement. But, I know that's what I am called to do, just like you're called to be a quad mommy. Hang in there lots of people love you, and are lifting your family up in prayer. Keep the faith, and carry on. And if you ever just need someone to listen to you, my ear is always available my friend.

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    1. Fostering kids is hard work, I'm sure! If you are called to do it though, then God will help you through it. :)

      Thanks for the sweet comment! :)

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  3. Right there with you!!! It is incredibly hard to admit it, though. Projecting a "perfect" image seems to be so normal...it's hard to forget other mamas are going through the same thing. We should have a playdate. :)

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    1. Absolutely, we should have a playdate! You can come over here and I purposely won't clean my house. It will be great! :)

      In all seriousness though, letting go of that "perfect" mentality is hard, isn't it?

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  4. Oh my friend... One day I gave up and took pictures of our "real life" and posted them. Enough counter space to open a can of spaghetti sauce, a pile of clean laundry ready to fold taller than my 4 year old, Legos and video game controllers spread all over the living room, the pile of disappearing towels I found in the boys room... All the stuff that never gets done because by the time I have time to do it I am so tired I feel like I can't move. It is temporary and your kids will graduate the same whether they learn their alphabet at 2 or 5... Hang in there and know that you are not alone! Beth

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    1. Haha! I like that you did that! I should take photo of the way our house really looks one of these days and post them. I wonder if it will scare anyone off...hehe!

      And you are right, they will learn their alphabet one way or the other!

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  5. Believe me Ms Rebecca, we the army of imperfect mamas far outnumber the army of perfect mamas. And don't ever forget that "the race is not to the swift".

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    1. So true! Slow and steady wins the race! Consistency, patience, and lots of love and prayer!

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  6. This is something that so many mommies can relate to! I have a mantra that I repeat in those stressful moments. I just say over and over again, "I'm doing the very best that I can. I'm doing the VERY best I can." And I am. My kiddos didn't get a perfect mommy... they got me. And I'm pretty together most days. But not every day. And that's the very best that I can. Hang in there, mama! :-)

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    1. Two sets of twins is probably crazier than one set of quads!

      That's a good attitude to have in front of children also. I know I definitely don't want to pass on a perfectionist mindset to my kids!

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  7. I have felt this way especially here recently. My in-laws were here for a while and they seem to act as if one of the babies cry, I'm not doing my job. I also feel like my husband is constantly comparing me to his mother. I also sometimes catch myself comparing me to my own mother. I guess we all just need to learn how to give ourselves a break sometime.

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    1. Oh my, that sounds like a really rough situation. But there was a reason that our kids were entrusted to each of us. I'm sure you are doing fantastically!

      And I have asked my hubby flat out not to ever compare me to his mom or my mom. I love both women dearly, but I want to be my person. I find that often times my husband and myself aren't aware that we are doing the comparing until after the words are said. Since we talked about it though, we have both been better about not doing that comparing within our families.

      Now if I can just stop comparing myself to people on the internet!

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  8. *HUUUUG* We dont have any kids and I bet our apartment looks worse than your worse room. :)

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    1. Haha! Maybe, but it's pretty bad over here right now. I haven't been sleeping much lately (I can't get my brain to turn off) so I'm afraid I'm just kind of letting the house ride itself out today. I did load the dishes in the sink though...

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  9. I admire you Rebecca for raising quads! I don't have children of my own yet but have looked after my niece enough to know that raising one baby is tough - and you have four! I don't think anyone expects you to be perfect, as long as your babies are happy and healthy I think that's all that matters :)

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    1. So true! My goals need to be: teach my kids to love the Lord, feed them meals, change their diapers, and love them unconditionally. The rest is icing on the cake!

      And I think *any* mama, no matter how many kids she has will go through periods of being overwhelmed. It's so awesome to have a support network in times like that. I consider all of you part of that network for me! Thank you so much for commenting! :)

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  10. You are one of the most "perfect" moms I have read about on the internet. I admire your attitude and your outlook on life. I can't do it all with one child; I can't imagine trying to "do it all" with 4 children the same age. I am certainly not against projects or hobbies, but only things that you enjoy and relax you.

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    1. Aw, you are so sweet to say that, but I am the furthest thing from a perfect mom. I do the best I can, but I won't ever get near to the level of "perfection" that I want.

      Isn't God awesome for filling in the gaps? Whew! I guess there is hope for my kids after all!

      And I'm with you on the hobbies and projects. I try to find hobbies that I enjoy and that benefit my family a bit too. Then it's a win-win. But sometimes, I just sit on the couch and do nothing. And that's okay too. :)

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  11. Becca, I read this latest post and cried. How awesome of you to be so candid an honest! I just finished arguing with Connor about cutting his finger nails and putting his shoes in his closet, while trying to give Amelia a bath, then put her pajamas on while trying to deter her from eating the lotion! Amelia screamed all dinner long because I wouldn't put The Pajanimals on while she was eating. Meanwhile Connor came home after a football carwash and baseball practice with a sunburn after I explained to him just about 900 times that I was sending him with sunscreen, and since I was at work all day and he was with friends that it was HIS responsibility to apply and re-apply the spray on sunscreen, (he admitted to me that he didn't even put it on once)! Man it feels so good to get that out!! By the time I put the two of them to bed I had lost all patience and also sanity. I sat down to read this, and I was able to breath and put everything into perspective. Rebecca I can't even imagine what having four toddlers is like, having an eight year old going on eighteen and a twenty month old feels daunting enough. I feel just like you're feeling; like I'm in the middle of hurricane, but everyone else calls it a day, and I don't feel like I'm going to far out on a limb here by saying that I'm sure most other moms feel the same. God definitely has our backs, and takes care of the things (one way or another) we just can't get to. Each new stage our children go through bring new challenges, but these stages also bring great triumphs. Motherhood is one big rollercoaster of emotions, but knowing that there are other mothers that have been through it before, or are going through it with us, is what makes us stronger and more confident. I love you and am so glad that I'm able to read about your adventures in parenting, I'm happy to share this connection with you! By the way you are a fabulous and articulate writer!

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    1. Hey there, Cousin! How fun to get a comment from you!

      I was reading on FB about your struggles with Connor. You are leagues ahead of me in dealing with a kid his age. But I have to say, you are spot on in nipping some of his disrespectful behavior in the bud. He will be so much better in the long run because you love him enough to deal with it now. Keep you head up, Mama! You are doing great!

      And I love your sentence, "I'm in the middle of a hurricane, but everyone else calls it a day." That sums up how I"m feeling exactly! Sometimes just knowing you aren't alone is encouraging too.

      Remember how we used to go Christmas shopping together when we were all *grown-up* at the age of 13? Now we are going through the mothering stages together. Even though we aren't in the same city anymore, know that we send much love from our part of the country, and I'm praying that your road with Connor (and eventually Amelia) gets a little easier! :)

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  12. Reality check:
    Are you good with God? Any unresolved issues?
    Are you good with Sean? Any unresolved issues?
    Are you good with the kids?...
    Then you're good to go - the rest is small stuff.

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    1. Thanks for the reminder! That is definitely the important stuff!

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  13. I struggle all the time. Not enough as a wife, a mother, an employee. You are such a wonderful person and I love your honestly.

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    1. We are all in the struggle together! Just know that you aren't alone and that God really can make up the difference when we fall short. :)

      Thanks for the comment, Brianne!

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  14. But how do you find the time to put God first and let Him handle everything? There just doesn't seem to be enough time to spend time with Him too, and I only have twins.

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    1. I wish I knew, but I obviously don't do it well on my end (probably why I'm stressed out and overwhelmed)! I think it's a day by day, minute by minute kind of thing. We won't get it right all of the time, but the more we do it, the more of a habit it will become. I don't think there is any magic trick to it. Just a commitment to keep hard after God, trying again when we fall short, and learning to let Him carry us through.

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  15. Some of the best advice my husband offers to me in my times of being worn down and discouraged because I don't feel like I am doing "enough" is..."Don't "should" on yourself." I have to remind myself constantly, but good advice all the same.

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    1. Haha! I love that! I bet my husband will love it too!

      Sounds like your husband is a good man! :)

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  16. Thank you for this! It was just what I needed to read today. I just finished making my "to do list" of things I want to accomplish while my trio are napping today. Looking at the long list of things I have failed to accomplish left me feeling overwhelmed and defeated. This was shortly after I was thinking "I need to do more fun 'crafty' things with my kiddos" & "I really need to get better at meal planning." It's hard to remember we just can't do it all- & that is perfectly okay. I need to do a better job relying on God, trusting his plan, and remembering he has everything under control.

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    1. I bet your kids still love you just as much whether the to-do list is several pages long, or non-existent. :)

      Relying on God is definitely something that has to be worked at. It doesn't just happen. I have to constantly remind myself that I'm not responsible for making the world turn round. God does that...so He can probably handle my family too.

      Also, I think we should all add "take a nap" to our to-do lists a little more often. :)

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  17. Your post was wonderful and candid...and I can relate. It is impossible to keep all the balls in the air and have perfection at home when you have four toddlers and you are doing it on your own. People often approach us and assume that I have a whole group of people helping me at home. It would be wonderful if I had a magic wand and could produce one person to help me for each of our four toddlers... I am sure you would like that too. Intead, they are learning about sharing and waiting very early because there is one of me and four of them.

    : 0 ) Theresa (Capri + 3)

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    1. And you know what? Learning those very important skills early on can only benefit them. :)

      It's so nice to know that I"m not alone in motherhood. Thank you so much for your comment!

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  18. Don't forget to enjoy each age and stage of your kids lives. There are no do overs.

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  19. I think I've been following your blog since before the quads were born thanks to Sarah... and while it may not SEEM impressive to you, you're doing a great job. One thing my coach taught me is that we put our "good" face out to the world. And so does everyone else. So we judge our worst (which only we see) to everyone else's best. And we'll always be disappointed.

    I nannied for a family when I was 16 - 3 year old, 2 year old twins and one on the way. That mother taught me so much about grace! It's okay if the kids have the same PB&J for lunch every day, they're happy and fed and mostly clean. It's okay if everyone gets dressed out of laundry baskets because the laundry is a floor away from the bedrooms.

    Those kids are now 16, 14, 14 and 12 and I have loved watching them grow up. Things will get "better" as the kids can do more to help around the house but it's not a contest by far. If so, Martha Stewart wins the gold, except for the jail time thing, and we can all stop fighting for second place.

    p.s. I gave my (very grateful) postman a cold water bottle last week thanks to your blog. You ARE making a difference.

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    1. The mother you nannied for sounds awesome! She obviously a lot of this figured out! I love her perspective on PB&J and laundry. I definitely need to work on being more okay with that type of stuff. I'm still at the point in my life where I have to intentionally think in that direction.

      Thank you so much for following along with us over the last couple of years. I'm honored that you have stuck with us this far! And your comment about giving the postman a water bottle totally made my day! Sometimes I wonder if anything I write actually even makes sense. You definitely blessed me with your comment. Thank you SO much for leaving it!

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  20. Rebecca...your wonderful and right-on post reminded me of a quote by Oswald Chambers I keep taped to the cabinet beside our kitchen sink to remind myself that I don't ever have to try to be more than God's called me to be! I hope it's an encouragement to you too. Take heart and know that you are not alone and that there are MANY who walk in the trenches with you. Lots of love to you, sweetie!! Connie
    Grace for the Drudgery
    "We look for the big things to do....Jesus took a towel and washed the disiples feet. We presume the place to be is the mountaintop of vision...He sends us back into the valley. We like to speak and act out of the rare moments of inspiration....He requires our obedience in the routine, the unseen and the thankless.....
    Walking on the water is easy to impulsive pluck but walking on dry land as a disiple of Jesus Christ is a different thing. Peter walked on the water to go to Jesus but he followed Him afar off on the land. We do not need the grace of God to stand the crises, human nature and pride are sufficient, we can face the strain magnificently; but it does require the supernatural grace of God to live 24 hours in every day as a saint, to go through the drudgery as a disiple, to live an ordinary life."

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    1. Thanks, Connie! That is a really fantastic quote! I think as a stay-at-home mom, it's easy to forget that other moms are in the exact same position...mostly because, we are stay-at-home moms which means we aren't necessarily out and about. Thanks for taking a minute to encourage me!

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  21. Wow - it sure sounds like you have your hands full - God is great! I'm your newest follower form "Harvest of Friends" blog hop. If you get a chance - I would love a "follow-back": http://godsgrowinggarden.com/
    Thanks
    Angie

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    1. So glad that you "hopped" over! Looking forward to following you as well! :)

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  22. Found you at Harvest Of Friends Hop. Love your blog post and how "real" it is. We all feel like that, even if we don't admit it. I just wrote a post last week on "Am I Supposed to be a Mommy?" It might encourage you a little bit. (http://sewencouraging.com/am-i-supposed-to-be-a-mommy/)

    Keep up the great work ~ You are an AMAZING mom and your kids are lucky to have you! :)

    Blessings, Kimberly

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    1. Ooh! Thanks for the link! I'm heading over there right now!

      And thank you for not only stopping by but leaving a little encouragement on my page! :)

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  23. Hi Rebecca

    We all do the best we can with what we have and what we know.

    Don't be too hard on yourself or compare yourself with anyone else, no one is in your exact situation.

    Congratulations on what you have achieved so far.

    I am now following your blog, if you have the time I would love for you to visit me over at my blog.



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    1. Thanks, Michelle! I appreciate your kind words!

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  24. Hi Rebecca!! I was a member of GKCMOTC for three years and I miss it so much! I moved to TN a year ago for my husband to do residency in family medicine. I have four year old boy/girl twins and a two and half year old (and a husband in residency), and boy, do I resonate with your wonderful blog posting. I blog with four friends who I shared a house with right out of college several years ago. Maybe you can check it out sometime. (cherokeechix.com) And be encouraged! You are investing in eternity right now in your children's lives - in the mundane, every day tasks of feeding them, cleaning up after them, you are serving the Lord Himself. And, another Oswald Chambers quote that I love , "prayer does not equip us for the greater work, prayer is the greater work" - pray for your children, and also with others for yourself. I have been reading a book The Power of a Praying Wife and it has been really good for me in praying for my husband. Anyway, I love your blog! God bless!
    Bethany

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    1. Thank you so much for your comment, Bethany! I remember someone moving away last year and they said something about it during one of the GKCMOTC meetings. I was still in a fog from lack of sleep (the fog hasn't entirely lifted yet, lol!), but I bet that was you! There were a lot of people sad to see you go!

      I jumped over to your blog. Looks like a great group of ladies who write over there! I subscribed, so thanks for suggesting it!

      And I'm currently reading The Power of a Praying Wife too! That is a fantastic book!

      Hope life in Tennessee is going well. It sounds intense on every level. Wow! :-)

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  25. Rebecca,
    Seriously I love this post! I had to stop being of Facebook because it just seemed like everyone had this perfect life that I didn't. I especially love that you brought it all back to God. Today was one of those days where I just had to laugh at the crazy (and I only have 2): I walked in the door from work with the kids and my 4-year-old didn't make it to the bathroom in time, so he had a BIG accident all over the bathroom floor. I got that cleaned up and popped both kids in the tub since it was bath night anyways. As I was getting them changed into their jammies after bath, the diaper-free 1-year-old took that opportunity to poop in a corner!! Thank GOD dinner was in the crock-pot and my husband walked in the door just in time to help finish with pajamas:)

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  26. This is the first time I've read our blog, and this is the second entry, and this brought tears to my eyes. I'm the mom of a beautiful 7 month old girl and an amazing 3 year year old boy. I'm running on less than 4 hours of sleep today, my house is a mess, and I have zero patience. I need a shower, have to make food for my moms birthday party tonight...as well as 10 million other things, ASIDE from taking care of he kids. I'm one of those moms tht try to do too much. Pinterest is evil, lol! Anyways, it was so comforting g to read this, even though I know your hands are much more full. Many think I have it all together, but in reality, I'm barely keeping my head above water most days. Bei g a stay at home mom to young kids is no joke. But, I wouldn't change what I do for the world, despite the struggles. I'm sure you are doing just fine, and so am I. :)

    P.s. pardon the typos, ive got a baby on my lap, lol!

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    1. Aw, girl. You are right in the thick of it. Your day sounds overwhelming and I know a newborn and a toddler add extra stress. I really struggled with my patience today too. We have had over two feet of snow in the last six days here in Kansas City, and my kids are going nuts! Cut yourself some slack and give the rest to God!

      And yes, Pinterest is evil! :)

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