Motherhood is a Marathon, Not a Sprint

motherhood is a marathon

motherhood

The other night on the Face book page I asked how old my readers’ oldest child is. Answers ranged from 51 on down to a few weeks old. That is a lot of years of motherhood, no?

“Oh, but that 51 year old does not need mothering.”, you may say. “Oh, but a 2 week-old is way easier than my tween.”, someone else will say.

The fact is. . . mothering never really gets easier. And, unlike a job that eventually (but not always) has retirement as an ultimate goal, mothering is a forever thing.

My grandmother never stopped worrying about her kids. . . or her grandchildren.

That mom with a 51 year old “child”, is likely to still be giving advice, encouragement, and prays daily for her offspring.

So now, we may be in the thick of things. Our kids are infants, terrible twos, tweens, or even getting ready to graduate from high school and leave for college (sigh). We need to keep our mothering energy up.

How do we keep from “losing it” now, so that we still have the energy (emotional and otherwise) to still be great moms once our kids are adults?

Go With the Ebb and Flow

There are times in your childrens’  lives that are very time, energy and emotion consuming. Their first year, with sleepless nights, endless feedings and thousands of diapers seems never ending. So many decisions you make seem like they are life changing and life-altering. Do we breast or bottle feed? Daycare or stay at home? Cloth diaper or disposable? Crib or co-sleep? Sleep train or no?

While these decisions should be well-thought-out for your family’s situation, let me let you in on a little secret:

Don’t sweat it, mama! Junior won’t breastfeed well and you are worn down trying? My best friend has three bright formula fed children. Don’t want to use disposables? That is fine, plenty of people use cloth. . .or they don’t. Worried that if baby spends one night, or one week, or one month, or one year in your bed that you will never get her out? No worries, most high school seniors sleep in their very own big kid beds.

And when motherhood gets just a wee bit easier, like after that first day of kindergarten– relax a little. Get a mani-pedi. Have coffee with your girlfriends. Stare at baby pictures and sniff a little. You just might get a little mothering downtime–at least during the day.

Things will ramp up again. Sports, clubs, plays, dance recitals. They will possibly consume your social time. Get a good planner, and soak it in. . .because the teens years can be lonely for a mom.

You might feel a bit like Beverly Goldberg, that your kids don’t need you anymore.

 

But they do. Whether they act like they appreciate you or not. They still need you.  And they always will.

Be ready to be that listening ear, open door, and supporter.

But to be able to have this kind of mothering stamina–stamina to endure the marathon of motherhood, you have to pace yourself.

Don’t burn yourself out on the minutia of the newborn stage, don’t hover/helicopter (using up all of your gas) in the preschool to tween years, and don’t let teen angst discourage you.

Each stage of childhood has its own unique joys, and each stage of motherhood does as well. The key is taking time in each stage to be present, to breathe it in, to make memories, and to love our kids for who they are, right here and right now.

Chime in! Where are you at in your mothering marathon? What are you doing to enjoy it?

Why I’m Not Giving Royal Baby Advice

Royal-wedding-Prince-William-to-marry-Kate-Middleton-2 Congratulations sweet Catherine! Welcome to the wild and wonderful world of motherhood.

Motherhood is a club of sorts, and many of your fellow mothers will feel the need to subject you to an initiation rite that we females are particularly good at.

Mothers around the world are going to give you advice.

They will give it to you whether you want it or not.

It’s not fair.

Motherhood is hard enough without having to endure such conflicting “truths”:

“Don’t hold him too much. You will spoil him”

“Wear him attached to your body or you will never bond with him.”

“Sleep with him”

“sleep train him”

“let him cry.”

“Never let him cry.”

“Enjoy him”

“Power through”

Quite frankly, all of this unsolicited advice is just noise to a new mom. The truth is, we moms do what is best at the time according to our situations.

Kate has a mom, a sister, a step-mother-in-law, and the Queen to give her advice. Our job, Dear Internettes, is to admire the sweet little boy and keep our mouths shut and our typing fingers still.

I will, however, break my own rule, and offer Kate the same advice that I give all new mothers: make sure you have the newborn screening done. The newborn screen tests for many genetic diseases, such as cystic fibrosis, from one small blood sample. The sooner you know about any health issues, the better health your child will enjoy. Do it, and you have my permission to share this piece of unsolicited advice with all new moms and moms-to-be.

Chime in! Are you an advice giver? How do you handle unsolicited advice?

My Life by the Numbers

Isn’t if funny how our lives stack up? I may not be where I ever pictured myself, but I’d not trade any of this for the world!

  • Married: 16.5 years
  • Pregnant: 208 weeks (just shy of 4 years)
  • 4 sons
  • 2 daughters
  • 12 years (so far) of diaper changes
  • 87 months breastfeeding (just over 7 years)
  • 5 states
  • 9 homes
  • 5 vehicles
  • 2 graduate schools
  • 3 elementary schools
  • 1 middle school
  • 1 high school
  • prayed over 4 Godchildren
Those numbers seem staggering, but that is only the tip of the iceberg. As a result of those seven years of breastfeeding, our children are very spaced out! That means we will have a student in out high school for the next 11 years straight, in the middle school for 11 years straight, and kids in our elementary school for 11 years straight. . .and then one more round in the middle school and high school!
All this is to point out, ever so gently, that motherhood is a marathon, not a sprint.
As mothers we will make errors. We will make big and small mistakes. But we have YEARS to make corrections. And sometimes, we learn that the things we stressed out about were not such a big deal after all (like decisions over crib bedding).
I also like to think that there is extra special patience granted an oldest child. We make most of our mistakes with him!
Chime in! How do your number stack up? You know I’d love to hear from you!

 

 

The Silver Lining

It was a tough motherhood week last week. The boys were very busy, the girls were teething and then ill. I had to be a grown up more than I wanted to. Some days I feel like I am teaching and reteaching and then reteaching again with the kids.

It can get frustrating.

This week I made three last minute grocery store trips. Elizabeth managed to lock herself into her room, and then also managed to lock her and I into another room the next day. I still need to get to the hardware store to buy new door knobs, currently most of the doors have no knobs. . .which makes it tough to block twins from getting into off limits rooms.

Needless to say, yesterday I was tired. And I was cranky. I was looking forward to getting out on a play date with friends. And then, a crabby toddler crawled up on my lap, popped her thumb into her mouth and fell asleep.

So I sat. And I rocked her. I nuzzled her fuzzy head and told her about all of the dreams I have for her. I whispered about how I wondered how she would look. I told her how I was afraid to mother one daughter let alone two. I savored her weight in my lap, her sticky warmth. I was just present.

Later that afternoon, Elizabeth was taking a second nap (she has a cold, hence the crabbiness). Emily was restless, but not wanting to go to bed. Finally I pulled her onto my lap. She put her little head on my shoulder and we rocked. I repeated all of the things I told her sister. I nibbled her little ear. And then she fell asleep. She NEVER falls asleep on my lap.

I savored it all.

Everyone has bad days, even bad weeks. However, there is nearly always a silver lining. God gives us glimpses of the good amidst the hard times. It is funny how even a sick toddler can make my day!

Chime in! What has been your silver lining this week? Sometimes they are hard to find, sometimes easier! You know I’d love to hear from you!

The Trouble With Twindom

twins
At the end of the day, they are sweethearts.

The trouble with twins is that while we have two times the fun, and two times the snuggles; here at 20 months of age, we also have two times the tantrums. There are challenges with raising twins.

I’m not going to sugar coat this. I’m not going to lie. Some days I feel like I have a twin crying All.Day. Long.

Combine the tantrums with our family tendency for late talking, we have tantruming toddlers who cannot talk to me. Not that I really want to know what they think anyway. I’m fairly certain they would just tell me that I am mean for not allowing one more cookie, or insisting on a nap or not putting the shoes back on for the fiftieth time in a day.

Going out in public is getting tougher. Neither girl is fond of sitting in a shopping cart. However, neither girl really wants to walk  nicely next to the cart either. Have you ever read Llama Llama Mad at Mama? In the middle of the story, the climax, if you will, the little llama throws a tantrum of epic proportions in the middle of the store. Groceries, shoes, toys, and clothing go flying. This is but a wee insight into what happens when I shop with the twins.

This would all not be so disturbing, except that I am an experienced mother! This is not my first rodeo! I have four other kids who I stayed home with, and took grocery shopping, and took them in fitting rooms with me so I could buy jeans that fit. And while the boys may have whined and complained; none of them threw fits that caused fellow shoppers to stare at me as if I were the one throwing a fit.

So what is a mom to do? For now, I stick pretty close to home. A cop-out perhaps, but sanity is important too. I can wait until after school when I have older brother assistants, but they are not fond of spending their free time running errands either.

I was sharing my toddler twin woes during a playdate on Friday. All of the moms of singletons clucked politely and said silent prayers of thanks that they had but one baby at a time. However, sweet Mae, mom of two sets of twins, two years apart, laughed. She said, “I wish I had some great Mom of Multiples wisdom for you, but I’ve got nothing.” And then I realized that we are all wallowing through this motherhood thing.

Advice from other moms may or may not work. . .we are all a product of our current and past environments. Some days I even dream of the freedoms something like a live in housekeeper or nanny would give me. And yet, I wonder if extra help could even complicate things further.

What I do know is that no matter how difficult these days are, I would not trade them for life without my crazy, moody, sweet, beautiful twins. They are a blessing beyond words, and a lesson in patience for me as well.

Chime in! What are your kids teaching you? Patience? Acceptance? Unconditional love? You know I’d love to hear from you!

Do you have twins, are expecting twins or know someone who is? Make sure you click on over to my “Got Twins?” page and learn more about the wonders of twindom! Lots of advice and experience from pregnancy, breast feeding and beyond!