After I'd gotten the kids in the car and as I was starting to load the groceries an older man (one who'd been waiting while I herded my kids across the parking lot) drove up, leaned out his window and said, "Keep up the good work there! You're doing a great job, mom!" All I could do was look at him in a stunned manner and stammer, "Thank you..."
What!? I was shocked. I'd just stood in the middle of the road shouting at my kid to hurry. Yet, the man's words spoken so genuinely warmed me. He knew. In that moment I needed to hear that I was doing a good job. I didn't need a dirty look. I didn't need someone telling me to be more patient. I didn't need someone to make a snide remark about how many kids I have. I needed encouragement.
This role of mom is so full. It's not just cooking, it is navigating picky eaters. It's not just cleaning, it's shoveling through piles of clothes, cleaning up various caked on substances, and sifting through mountains of drawings and crafts. It isn't watching children, it is shepherding them. It isn't only dressing your kids in clothing, but dressing them with dignity, confidence, and honesty. It's not just washing their faces, but kissing their little faces, looking them in the face... making their face light up with the knowledge that you see them.
It is loving.
It is cherishing.
I remember mentioning to a mom of teenagers one day that I'd heard someone once say that when you have several kids it is your job to make sure that you always depict it in a positive way. Without skipping a beat she said, "Wow. That's a lot of pressure."
Pressure not only to be a good mom, but to make it look like it's not difficult.
Amidst a conversation with my neighbor she spoke of her friend in Chicago, "My friend said that it's really weird. Where she lives all the moms act like they have it all together. She thinks it's really strange that they never ask for help or act like they would even need it. Everyone seems to live such separate lives."
There is a fine line between admitting that something is challenging and saying that you don't like it. When did these two things become synonymous? I love being a mom, that doesn't mean that because I love it, that it is easy.
Those days when everything spills, you yell when you don't want to, your kids won't listen. The days when there is mud on the floor right after you mopped, your kid lies, and your living rooms gets trashed 15 times. The day where the craft you painstakingly planned takes 30 minutes to get ready, 5 minutes for the kids to complete, and 30 minutes to clean up. The day the dinner burns, the dryer breaks, the dog next door wakes up your baby from their only nap, and someone pees their pants right as dinner is about to be served. Those days. Those are hard.
Sometimes? Sometimes you need encouragement. You need to know that you don't have to be perfect. You need to know that regardless of your reactions and your failures that you're still awesome. When that older gentleman in the parking lot pulled up and encouraged me in a low moment I felt like regardless of my frustration someone could still see I was trying. I was still a good mom.
Being a mom, being a parent - is difficult for everyone. Remember that. Know that you're not the only one. We're all in this together. We're all changing diapers, we're all sleep deprived hoping for a shower, getting drinks for the hundredth time, pushing kids on swings, and being used as Kleenex because we're closer in proximity than the tissues.
When you have so much emotionally invested in something it isn't going to be easy. It doesn't matter if you have 1 kid or 18. You love your kid, you want what's best for them, and you're going to try your hardest to make sure that they are well taken care of. That, my friends is hard work.
It is ok to stumble. It's going to happen over and over. After all you've never done this before, at least not with this child - because remember, each child is different.
It is ok to admit that you're having a bad day sometimes. Your bad day does not define who you are as a mom. There is a big difference between saying that you're struggling versus complaining, being negative, and slandering. It's ok (and good) to sometimes even ask for help. Sometimes people don't know you need help unless you ask for it.
I don't have it all together. I burn cakes, I flake out on friends, I have to say I'm sorry to my kids. I'm learning to ask for help on occasion, because sometimes I'm just good and tuckered out. I'm also learning to ask my husband for a compliment because on occasion I really need one. This parenting stuff, the bad days, they're not for the faint of heart. That doesn't take away from how awesome this calling is.
Dude, it rocks. Just look.
I can't look at those faces and say that all the work isn't worth it. It is so, so worth it. Even the bad days.