“In The Trenches”

We have all been there – that moment where nothing seems to be going right or as planned. That moment you are running out the door and everything happens at once – one child poops their pants; one kid pours everything out of the diaper bag; the dogs run into the yard because one kid opened the door; you lose your keys in the midst of repacking the diaper bag (only to find you actually put them in the diaper bag); you get everyone loaded into the car; you run back into the house to grab a sippy cup and the favorite toy of the week; you finally get the dogs back inside; a child unlocks their carseat; you get everyone re-strapped into their seats; you start the vehicle and realize … I’M ALREADY EXHAUSTED AND I HAVEN’T LEFT THE DRIVEWAY?!

Throughout life as a mom, there are challenging phases with children – I like to refer to these as “in the trenches”. Most moms and parents can appreciate this comparison and being “in the trenches” can sometimes feel like a lonely, never-ending phase.

Like when your little one is a baby – you are running on zero sleep and can’t remember the last time you took a real shower or slept for longer than 3 hours at a time. Or when your toddler is screaming at the top of their lungs because they can’t communicate and you clearly didn’t give them the right dinner. How about those Pre-K years when all the kids do is bicker over who gets to play with Elsa or they scream when you refuse to buy them strategically placed candy in the checkout aisle. Or the dreaded teenage years where there’s a 90% chance your child will hate you at some point if not all the time.

IN THE TRENCHES!

Ever been to the grocery store with 3 small children? I tend to wear workout clothes because I know taking my small army of strong willed children to the store does not usually teeter in my favor. One usually begs for that princess cup in the breakfast aisle; another is trying to climb out of the cart; while the other isn’t able to comprehend you have to buy the food before you eat it. By the end of the shopping trip (after the epic battle to get out of the driveway), I usually look slightly disheveled and understandably frazzled. Occasionally another shopper will smile and say “you have your hands full.” But there are also moments when moms gently smile and say something like “Oh honey, you’re going to make it. It’s just tough right now but I promise you will get through this. You’re doing a great job!”

Those women get it; they’ve been in the trenches at one time or another, raising babies, surviving the chaos and sleeplessness that is the very definition of motherhood. I am so thankful for these no judgment women, who even though are strangers, can relate to public survival with children.

Inevitably I am told moms do survive what I can only describe with a war term. During life in the trenches with our children we create those memories we will “laugh at someday” – but in the moment you just aren’t sure if you will make it. Someday you will be able to get out of the driveway without feeling like you are competing in an Olympic decathlon. Better yet, you will be able to go to the grocery store without having to explain to your child why you aren’t buying all the boxes of princess gummies. And when you do feel alone, trust me, you never will be – other moms are fighting the good fight right next to you. We are all muddy wishing for a long, uninterrupted shower!

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Perfect Parenting

Remember those months before becoming a mom … well besides the sickness and endless trips to the bathroom … those months you thought about what kind of parent you would be.

My husband always said I would be the easy parent – always giving in to my children’s demands, a “softie”. He thought he would be the “tough dad”. I envisioned myself making homemade meals every night, doing activities with my kids, our house being organized, and working out just like I used to – I would be the “perfect parent”.

As soon as my first baby was born, my daydream of “perfect parenting” flew right out the window.

Like all new moms, I was hormonal, exhausted, and overwhelmed – not a good recipe for “perfect parenting”. Then I started second guessing every decision I made and every action I took for our new baby. As our kids get older the decisions get harder and I wonder; am I disciplining them correct? Am I saying the right things? Do I play with them enough? Am I teaching them what they need to know?

As moms we constantly feel at war with ourselves. In our own minds we can never do enough for our children. But what is “perfect parenting”?

Some people think “perfect parenting” is – staying home with your babies; pulling yourself together with full faced makeup before the kids get up; having all laundry done at all times; keeping a clean house; planning and executing specific activities with your children; having homemade meals and premade snacks; reading stories and learning all day long; getting the kids into bed without a fight; going to bed to get 8 hours of sleep.

Other people think “perfect parenting” is – working full time to provide; having a nanny or babysitter; Chapstick is the only makeup a mom needs; doing laundry once or twice a week works; making sure the kids eat something; a mom sacrificing all her needs.

Here’s the reality – there is no such thing as “perfect parenting”. “Perfect parenting” is a myth and does not exist. Even if you have the perfect day planned, there’s a really good chance your child will throw an epic tantrum or attempt to eat something they’re not supposed to. Most days motherhood is about surviving, let alone perfection. Every family has a unique situation – It’s okay for moms to work and it’s okay for moms to stay home. Only you know what is best for you and your family.

We are our biggest critics and anyone who says being a parent is a breeze and their kids are perfect is lying. Society’s unobtainable expectations are overwhelming enough, then we have veteran moms judging our every move – keep in mind anyone who expects you to be their version of “perfect parenting” needs to wake up and smell a diaper. There will be days pizza is the best you can do and moments you literally want to pull your hair out – good days and bad.

We sometimes think – I should be doing more. But the majority of the time we physically, emotionally, and mentally have already given motherhood our all – we’re already doing a stellar job. And for anyone who is bold enough to think our best isn’t good enough, is the furthest thing from “perfect parenting”.

“They grow up fast!”

My Grandma always says “Enjoy your babies when they’re little because they grow up so fast!”.  I’ve always understood the sentiment behind her advise – but for some reason I didn’t fully understand it until the other day. 

As moms, we are constantly on the go – making meals, grabbing snacks, thinking about what’s for dinner, doing laundry, kissing “owies”, cleaning, changing diapers, working, etc. etc. etc! Most of the time we are just trying to survive let alone sit down and stare at our kids through nostalgic eyes. 

A couple ago days I actually did sit and just watch my babies – now 1-year-old and 2-years-old.  I watched my 1-year-old laugh, read books, and terrorize my 2-year-old, while my 2-year-old picked up small toys and put them in a container to carry around their playroom. They both brought me toys asking “Dis?” and “What’s this?” and gave me repeated “squeezy” hugs. We read books all the time, but on this day, we read even more.  We smiled and laughed even more. 

My kids absolutely amazed me. 

Their steps amazed me; their laughs amazed me; their words amazed me; their sharing amazed me; their eyes amazed me; their personalities amazed me – I was flat out amazed.  For the first time, I actually understood what my Grandma means.

Just yesterday my toddlers were babies and somehow, overnight they started walking and talking. The epiphany hit so hard it brought me to tears – Life has flown by these past three years and will only start going faster.  In a few months even, my once babies will be progressing to other milestones and they are constantly growing.  Even sappier – before I know it they will be off to college and living lives of their own.  

As a self proclaimed perfectionist with a driver personality (go-go-go and get stuff done!), I have recently made my main goal in life to enjoy my kids and to “smell the roses” on a daily basis.  Don’t get me wrong, I still attempt to get stuff done. But in life, stuff will always need done.  And just a hint, you will never be caught up on laundry! (I frequently pull late night laundry parties and I still never get it all done!) – that’s life.  It is so easy to get wrapped up in cleaning, laundry, phones, and work, but the bottom line is simple – our kids are our reason for living and their very existence should stop us in awe. Yes, we all have moments where we literally want to pull our hair out or pop in some ear plugs, but instead of focusing on the bad moments, let’s change our attitudes and focus on the gem moments.   

While living in this hustle and bustle world that never sleeps, I challenge all parents to slow down a bit; hold your baby a little longer; read the dreaded long bedtime story (or two); watch your child learn instead of rushing them to the next task. I haven’t and don’t always follow the slow down.  But I have found when I do, I am a better mom, my kids are happier, and I enjoy my babies to the fullest because like Grandma says … “They grow up fast!”