If you’re new(er) to me, I used to have a blog called I Still Hate Pickles. I’ve taken it down* but this post draws from those old posts!
This blog post started in my journal this afternoon. Where I started to write, “What has motherhood done for me?” but instead wrote, “What has motherhood done TO me?”
It’s definitely WAY more of what Has motherhood done TO me. For sure.
So I thought that (of course), I would write a blog post about this. Because: duh. I started processing my very first thoughts about motherhood on the Still Hate Pickles Blog. (Don’t google it; I took it down.*)
But here’s the thing: have I REALLY learned that much? I’m not sure. I think actually this post should be about things that are STILL true, ten years and five kids later.
THINGS THAT ARE STILL TRUE TEN YEARS LATER AS A MOM
There still is no real measure for success.
At the end of many days, the house is quiet and I think, “What happened? What was today? What is the point? What did I DO???” Here is an excerpt from my first few months as a mom on the old blog:
What is the measure of success? I don’t know. And that’s what makes parenthood so hard. And not just parenthood–all relationships whether you’re being a daughter or a sister or a friend or a husband or wife. There is no way to qualify (or quantify) how well you love. You probably will see some fruit when you scatter seeds. But it may not be the kind you want to see, or you may not live to see it, or it may never grow at all.
You don’t know what you will get back or what will come when you love. I don’t know what will happen in Sawyer’s future, or what kind of man he will grow to be. I don’t know what impact my love will have on those things, and I will probably never know. And yet, here I am standing in the kitchen at 3am, loving him to sleep in his sling. Because I think with these really important things in life, you find that you can’t worry about success–you have to find contentment in faithfulness, no matter what the outcome.
Yep. Still true. (Also? Maybe I knew more about blogging then? Because: gold.)
If you hate the housework part of parenting, you’ll likely always hate housework.
I love for some things to be clean. One particular counter in the kitchen. the kitchen table. But I have to put on blinders to walk through most of the house because if I take OFF the blinders, I’ll have to clean the house and won’t finish my writing and blogging. (#priorities) I realized early on that I was never going to be great at all the things like taking care of people AND my home. My people are all alive. My house…is ick. (And yes, I know this isn’t technically motherhood. Whatever. Motherhood impacted my house.)
The working/staying at home struggle is still real.
I’ve always done some form of writing in the past ten years. I make more money now with the blog and my podcast and coaching and other things. Money aside, the choice to actually be home (working or no) or going to work is still one that I find challenging and not easy and not one-size-fits-all. More from the old blog:
Sometimes when you’re staying at home, you long for a normal office job–something that would be out of the house, that had definite beginning and ending hours, and that you didn’t have to bring home with you. Staying home and being a full-time-mom means that you’re on duty 24-hours a day. And often it can feel fruitless… There are days when I am loving every minute of being at home with the little guy, and there are moments where I wish that I was making maps like Kia, or teaching like Laurie. Being a full-time Mom and pouring into a person is exhausting. Rewarding, but exhausting.
Then I think of how it must be for Kia, who works that office job and THEN comes home and is full-time mom as well. How the heck do you do that?? That sounds infinitely harder. I don’t know that I could juggle that, so props to you Moms who are working full- or part-time, whether in or out of the home. I guess in some ways, the grass may always seem greener, but being a parent in general is just filled with joys and struggles. And all in all, I’m thankful for what I’ve got!
To have the choice to work at ALL (in or out of the home) as a parent is a privilege. I love the work I do, but have also been so lucky that I’m free to do either. I still struggle sometimes being at home most of the time. I don’t feel like it’s in my DNA the way that it is for some moms. But I’m still here, working in the corners of my life and being home with my little peeps.
I still have meltdowns and feel like I can’t do it.
There are days when I think, “Will I make it through this parenting thing?” You might think I’m being dramatic (and I am, just a little), but there are other times where I do actually feel like my soul is dying. Or I might just be mush by the time all my kids go to college. I’ll be like 11’s mom in Stranger Things, rocking in a chair and repeating the same phrases again and again. Fine, yeah. Dramatic.
I was surprised to find this gem when Sawyer wasn’t even a year old:
I talked recently about meltdowns, and I feel like I’m sort of having one continual meltdown. Things really are not bad, I have just felt sort of on-edge lately. And then I have days like today. I hope you can laugh at this, as I am now doing at the end of the day.
It could be worse. But still, in the midst of a failed day, it’s hard to keep that perspective. I did laugh, but it took me until 11pm to find any of this humorous. Mostly I just got upset.
I keep coming back to a verse I read this morning in Isaiah, which I think I need to remember during days like today: Isaiah 46:4- Even to your old age and gray hairs, I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.
I like to encourage moms who have fewer kids than me who feel like they can’t complain. Constantly moms of one or two kids will say things like, “Oh, but I can’t complain! I only have one! You have five!” I like to tell them, “IT DOESN’T MATTER. IT’S HARD. ALL NUMBERS OF KIDS.” Totally true. Meltdowns then, meltdowns now. Why was this comforting?? Maybe because I’ve made it through ten years of my own meltdowns.
Kids still don’t sleep.
Let’s start with this from the old blog, which I could have written like yesterday:
That’s one of those kind of awful questions that you get asked a lot when you have a baby. I say awful, because it’s one of those questions that has an implication–your baby should be sleeping through the night, and the sooner the better. Sleep in the first few months is really elusive for Mom and Dad, and something you really want. Compound that with the question and there is a lot of expectation. Let me go ahead and lower those expectations a little: when a baby is sleeping five consecutive hours, that should be considered to be sleeping through the night.
This week, one kid had diarrhea in her diaper in the night. And in the bathroom floor. Everywhere. All over. Middle of the night. Another one or two had nightmares. Several woke up at 5:30am for no reason and today on Sawyer’s birthday, the boys woke EVERYONE up. One kid still crawls in bed with us five nights a week.
So while I hate to still keep killing your dreams, new(er) parents– YOU WILL NEVER SLEEP AGAIN.
My kids still learn more from what I model.
It’s hard to teach your kids things. In our home there is a noise level that is like, beyond what noise levels in the world should be. So trying to have a teaching moment? Nope.
Sometimes I get that rare moment when a question is asked and people want to have conversations with me, but often it’s just insanity. My kids still, though, do what I do. Even if they may or may not hear what I say.
I wrote this ten years ago:
I can teach Sawyer with words, by reading the Bible to him, and by praying for him. I’m already doing those things, even though he won’t understand it for a while. But maybe the best way we teach is by what we model. If I read to him about love and patience and then don’t show either in the way I treat him or Rob or other people he sees, I’m pretty sure he’ll remember my actions more than my words. Or both and think I’m a hypocrite. Sawyer is going to see what or whom I worship, maybe better than anyone else, since he’s with me so much and sees me at my worst and best.
This was super convicting to me. Because I think it’s been too easy lately to just gliiiiiiiiide through the days. Actually, “easy” isn’t a word at all that describes most of my days. I think I mean all I can DO is just make it through the day sometimes, which means I’ve NOT been very intentional about my actions. But man, I see my kids reflecting me in their actions.
I still need my ME things.
I started roller derby at the time I started having kids. And for almost ten years, I skated, had babies, coached or called lineups, and skated again. I really really miss it, though there just isn’t time now.
What hasn’t changed is that I have to have things that are for ME. Non-kid things. Me things. Writing and blogging are a big part of this. Podcasting. Publishing novels.
Here are my thoughts back then:
Not many mothers are probably sitting down tonight thinking, “I got knocked down four times and elbowed in the face tonight. It was awesome.” But that’s pretty much how I’m feeling at this moment.
The last two times I’ve been to Houston Roller Derby’s Rec League, I have felt more and more assured that it is making me more sane as a mother. Not that I’d recommend it for everyone–the first time I tried derby, I felt such an immediate connection and sense of rightness that it was like I’d been waiting my whole life to do it. Now, as Mom, being a part of this sport is even better for me.
Everyone mother needs something like this in her life. Maybe it’s not derby for you. So, what’s your sanity-saver??
I’d love to go back to derby one day, but for now the writing is enough to give me something non-mommy to help me with my momming. 🙂
I think I could write more. But there are five kids running around here somewhere and laundry that hasn’t been done. JUST LIKE TEN YEARS AGO. (Minus five kids, of course.)
Happiest tenth birthday to the little (now big) man!
*I took the blog down because I had thousands (literally) of posts and many broke rules I didn’t know about in terms of images and links and things. I don’t have the time to make them compliant OR the money to get sued.