My oldest got married last week. Oh. my. gosh!
It’s really true!
You always smile and nod when the older ladies tell you to enjoy it–that it will be over before you know it! But you don’t really believe them. How can you when nights are endless because the baby wakes up every time you try to lay it down, and days are filled with endless diapers? And you’re so tired you fall asleep sitting up? You can hardly imagine sleeping through the night, so imagining them grown up and gone is impossible.
My youngest is only five, so, thankfully, mine aren’t gone yet. And since I’m no longer a sleep-deprived zombie I have realized how quickly it goes. Here’s a little unsolicited advice for young moms; have several children. Your younger children will inspire you to be more patient with the older ones and the older ones remind you to enjoy the little ones. You will be so grateful as your older children are leaving home that you aren’t done quite yet, and the realization will prompt you to better enjoy all of the moments![bctt tweet=”Have several children. Your younger children will inspire you to be more patient with the older ones and the older ones remind you to enjoy the little ones.”]
This stage of mothering is probably my favorite so far. I love that my littles like to cuddle in my bed for storytime and that they still need lots of hugs and wear crazy, mismatched clothes, but don’t have to check my shoulders (for spit up) and my shirt hem (for boogers–yes, I was a human handkerchief!) before I leave the house. (Not that I always remembered back then–gross!) I also love that I can have meaningful, delightful conversations with my older kids.
Here is my huge regret. Last week my 3rd child told me, hesitantly because he didn’t want to hurt my feelings, that he wasn’t going to get married or have kids because he could tell I was miserable and he didn’t want to be miserable. He said he could tell that “we are burdens” meaning himself and my other kids and wondered why anyone would willingly subject themselves to the burden of parenting.
My heart broke! The last thing I have ever wanted was for my kids to feel like burdens! They are my treasures! How did this happen?
If I am honest with myself, I think I do know how it happened.
Being a mother all day when I had six kids eight-years-old and younger was exhausting! I’m sure nobody will dispute that. I know my husband’s full-time job was, too, but I was positive it did not even begin to compare to mine, so when my husband arrived home each day I had to demonstrate the difficulties and frustrations of my job by whipping out my grumbling, poor-me, pity party. Sadly, I often told him, in great detail, every single naughty thing each child had done.
My life was NOT awful, but in my mind I was competing with the television shows, fantasy books and video games my husband so dearly loves for his attention and time. I needed to demonstrate adequate misery to guilt him into helping around the house. Unfortunately, in order to ‘feel honest‘ I had to remain consistent with what I had begun, so I continued the vicious circle of acting miserable and therefore feeling miserable, and on and on.
My husband disliked coming home to his grumpy wife (of course!) and hid in the bathroom more frequently and longer. He has never been inclined to organize or jump eagerly into home improvement projects, or any projects, really, but my actions never changed him, rather they exacerbated our marital problems, established me firmly in a ‘poor me’ role, and negatively impacted my children.
I was at a friends house one afternoon and watched incredulously as she jumped up and gave her husband a hug and kiss as he returned home from work. It felt like ‘Leave it to Beaver’ and I wondered if it was genuine. I actually asked her if it was because he deserved it, which made her laugh, although in a kind way.
My friend wisely reminded me that husbands don’t need to deserve affection in order for wives to give it and that by withholding affection I was surely worsening our marital problems. She challenged me to treat my husband the way I would if he was doing all the things I wanted him to, and see how he responded.
Her challenge made me think, and I changed a few things, but I was apparently really stuck in my negative mindset. If my own children feel that kids are burdens to be avoided at all costs, and, worse, that they themselves are burdens, I am parenting wrong.
Instead of trying to change my husband through false and hurtful actions, I should have been honest and communicated my frustrations with him to just him, individually, and not involved our kiddos.
Sure, I was running on fumes most days, but I laughed my way through nearly every one of those sleep-deprived days. My sweet children said the funniest things, my toddlers constantly wrapped their chubby arms around my neck, and I loved close to 95% of my job every single day.
The days momming was hardest, I’d check on my kids after they were asleep and still feel the hugest love anyone can ever imagine well up in my heart. So even those end-of-my-rope days ended on a good note.
Being a mom is the best job in the entire world! We get to help God create tiny, hilarious, sweet, cute humans! We get to decide what we do each day, and we are our own bosses. We can make creative artistic messes or lay around in our jammies and read picture books or spend our afternoons at the park. What job could be more fun?
We moms should CHOOSE happiness and put it on display for all to see! Life will always have ups and downs. Kids get sick. Cars break down. Ink ruins entire loads of laundry when you forget to check pockets for pens.
It’s okay to scream a little and blow off steam. It really is okay. But then pick yourself up, look around, count your blessings (they’re probably running around your legs) and choose to be laugh instead of cry. You are a mom — you have the best job ever![bctt tweet=”We moms should CHOOSE happiness and put it on display for all to see!”]
Going forward, I vow to do my best to tell my kids every day how much fun I have skiing with them and playing kickball and reading to them. I vow to smile more and laugh more, which won’t be hard because I really do feel that way inside!
I vow to hug and tickle and hold them, even my big kids. And above all, I vow to be more honest with my husband. He needs to know how much I love my job as a mom and how happy I am every day to have the best job in the entire world.
I love these precious children so much that I homeschool them because I would miss them too much if they were gone all day! I am so blessed to be able to be at home with them!
Updated 3 weeks after initially writing this post: Since writing this post a couple of weeks ago (I couldn’t bring myself to publish it after writing it because it felt too raw and honest and um… embarrassing) I have apologized to my kids and husband.
I have also made a conscientious effort to be more vocal about all the things I’ve enjoyed each day, and just to smile and laugh more. And oh, boy! It has made such a difference! It’s almost like I’ve given everyone permission to be happier by setting a better example for them.
I have decided to set aside my pride and publish this so other young moms can learn from my mistakes. I wish you all the very best!
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