Yesterday we celebrated our baby’s 2nd birthday! It’s hard to believe two years has gone by since his exciting birth. You can read about all the excitement – and grossness – of his birth here if you are so inclined.
The birthday went very well; it was a nice, relaxing, and fun day for everyone. We decided to have his family birthday party in the morning instead of the usual late afternoon/evening time and it worked out nicely that way. I did have to prepare a lot the day/night before but I might prefer that over working all day to get ready and then try to not crash during the party. I’ll spare the food details for another Tasty Tuesday.
Before the day ended yesterday, I watched the simple picture slideshow I put together of his second year and felt Joy and Peace…and profound LOVE. It’s really amazing how much love one can have for their children and how much love a child can have for his mother and father.
In putting together the pictures it didn’t feel like time had gone by that fast, all the memories from a year ago felt as if they only happened a few weeks ago. I could still remember some of them and that is a great feeling. Life hasn’t been as much of a blur as have other years with other babies. I wondered, why is this? Why do I feel calmer and slightly more relaxed this time around?
I can’t say for sure but a few reasons come to mind:
1. Our son is finally one of those babies – you know the ones who sleep nicely, sit in their high chairs – sometimes even fall asleep in them.
He nurses well, never had too much reflux or bad latch issues (yay for no bleeding nipples!). He likes baths - loves jumping into the shower with his older brother. He’s just a mellow sort of guy. Or at least he has been in comparison. I don’t think I’d think this way about him if he were our first, though.
After a challenging first baby, every other baby seems easier. So if you have one of those first babies who you love soooo much but wonder if they are really going to be the death of you and you can’t imagine possibly having any more - have HOPE. IT WILL GET EASIER.
2. I have help.
Lots and lots of wonderful, God-loving, help. Because I ask for it. Early into the pregnancy with our 4th, I sheepishly confessed to my husband about just how hard it had been for me with the last ones. I mean he knew of course that it was hard but I never really fully divulged the extent and depth of my postpartum depression. It’s a lot easier seeing it when you are out of it. Who wants to admit or talk about being depressed? That’s depressing.
I think also, as women, we tend to want to cover things up – make them look prettier than they might be or try and be stronger than we might be. It’s in our nature to be tough and grit our teeth and just keep going. But, my friends, hormones are a BEAST. And they can be a very untamable beast at that.
So if you find yourself in such a postpartum stage that leaves you feeling cut open to the core, paralyzed in your overwhelmness, and you can’t seem to do anything but cry alllll day or want to hide or run away forever…or worse (not saying that was me quite but it is a reality of PP.) Get Help.It’s hard – so, so hard – admitting we need help. But once you ask for it and get it – you’ll be able to breathe and function again and you and everyone around you will be a little happier.
Talk to your spouse, your mother or in-laws, your friends, your neighbors, your priest or pastor – talk to you doctor if needed. Get yourself a community – a village. I guarantee once you get off your high horse and realize you really can’t do it all alone and get some help – you’ll be a much saner and happier woman and mother again.
3. I chilled out.
Or at least I am in the process of chilling out more about parenting. With my first and even the second and partly the third – I knew everything about everything. Now - I know nothing. Well, the truth is I probably know more of what’s really important and less of what I thought was important.
I’ve chilled out and let go of expectations of my children, my husband – and of myself. And this has made all the difference. I’m still learning, now I’m actually allowing God to slowly but surely chip away at my exterior and find out who He made me to be deep down under this superficial surface.
There are a lot of wonderful and inspiring ideas out there about parenting and I am glad in a way for all the information and various parenting techniques I’ve collected along the way. Now, it’s time for me to let go of others’ ideas and opinions about parenting and just be the mother I am.
4. I have older children.
Our children are getting older and this cuts down on the stress exponentially. I know the secret of big families now – instead of growing extra arms, God gives them their older children’s helping hands. They don’t help all the time and there’s still a fair amount of whining, stomping and eye-rolling. But it takes the edge off of parenting, gives me just a slightly larger hole to breathe through.
If you have older children - let them help. If you don’t , go find some! I’ve found many moms are very happy to offer their older daughters and even son
as slaves helpers for a young mother in need.
5. I pray better.
In my early life and mothering I prayed – a lot. I prayed rosaries while I walked the halls in the wee hours of the night waiting - pleading - for my colicky baby to go to sleep. I might have prayed more Our Father’s, Glory Be’s, and Hail Mary’s than all the Saints combined when I felt like I would never get this mothering thing right and all I wanted was for God to come down from His heavenly throne and do it for me.
But I wasn’t really praying. I was whining – stomping my feet around and throwing the biggest internal hissy-fits that would make any 3-year-old’s tantrums look like happy giggling. I know, now, that’s not what prayer is.
Prayer is a conversation. It’s a relationship with the One who knows me to down to my deepest core – and loves me anyway. It’s not so much about all the babbling words that make prayer effective, it’s about how much heart you put into it, how much plain and simple honest giving of yourself and placing everything - everything - into His hands. It’s about Trust and letting go. True prayer exposes me for who I really am, lays me bare in front of my God, and makes me whole again.
I’m not perfect, life with four children is still incredibly challenging. I still cry and whine and shake my fists up in the air asking, “Why, Why?!” But I see the light at the end of this tunnel clearly now and it gives me much warmth, strength, and peace.
How about you? What are your secrets to surviving – and enjoying - motherhood?