on mothering a one and two year old

Oh man. I saw this book at the library, read the title and added it to the stack. I couldn't agree with the title more. I grew up babysitting. I used to call mom's and ask if I could come over and play with their kids. Ha! I worked as a nanny, babysat every day of the summer for families with working mom's. I took kids on bike rides, plane rides and entertained two sweet boys on a tour bus. I babysat all through college, seminary and even while married and living in Montana, I babysat.

So when we first got pregnant I didn't feel a bit apprehensive. I knew babies. I knew toddlers. I knew tantrums and bedtime routines and how to get herds out the door and into the car. I was ready.

But yesterday I called my mom bawling. I told her I just wasn't cut out for this. I have a cold, Elsie is so fussy lately and isn't sleeping. She was up all night the night before and I was running on no sleep. Ivar is testing, always testing. Trying to find every boundary. And yesterday I just couldn't see any relief. This is my every day. My weekends look no different than my weekdays. And it feels like I am on some perpetual crazy cycle of wiping noses and then wiping bottoms and then noses again and bottoms too.

Yesterday I took a phone call with a woman I really wanted to talk with. I had just made mini muffins (from a box) and as I tried to keep my kids quiet enough so I could really contribute to the conversation, I fed my children a dozen mini muffins. A dozen. Twelve! Mini muffins! Just to keep them quiet.

But thankfully, as happens with every day of motherhood, bedtime came and I got a good nights rest in me. And I woke up feeling ready for this day.

It makes me feel so manic, but I am starting to think that maybe motherhood is manic. My patience has never been tried like this before. I am finding my ugliest self inside of me, a sinful girl that I used to be really good at keeping at bay. But she's tired and irritable and impatient and hungry and selfish and sinful. And she's me. I'm trying to come to terms with that...the girl I thought I was, versus the girl I now know I am. Motherhood is a different kind of refiners fire. And I find myself humbled, aware of my weakness and able to see my inability to do it on my own more than ever before.


Lacy said...

Oh my goodness, I feel exactly the same way! You wrote it perfectly! My ugliest self, yep. Great post, you're definitely not alone:)

Lacy said...

Oh my goodness, I feel exactly the same way! You wrote it perfectly! My ugliest self, yep. Great post, you're definitely not alone:)

val said...

I thought I was a really nice person too, until I had kids.

Then I found out about myself. Yeah. I wasn't impressed. In fact I was a little appalled.

In some parenting class at community ed, the teacher went on and on about the child's anger and don't be afraid of the child's anger.

I finally said, "He's two. I'm not afraid of his anger. I'm afraid of MY OWN because I want to punch him right in the face."

The other moms went, "Yeah, yeah, what about OUR anger?" The teacher looked miserable and directed the conversation back to the child's anger.

Parenthood is humbling and outrageous, that I know for sure.

Muffins? Those will not hurt the children. It's not like you fed them bugs or something, lol.

(Though bug probably have more protein.)

Be kind to yourself.

How I finally figured this out? Okay, it's not a good way.

One of my best friends died. She had a heart attack at 42, on a June afternoon, and went to heaven, leaving all the rest of us reeling, including her own 18 year old daughter--an only child,with a father who had died several years before.

The pain and confusion were intense. The loneliness hurt, and there was anger at the unfairness.

But as a year or two went by and there was more peace, I began to listen to the way I talked to myself and judged myself,and I could hear her voice, defending me, "Oh, come on now." "That's completely unfair."

And I realized I could be the friend to myself that she had been to me.

I love your blog and think so much of your family. Say to yourself the kind things you'd say to the rest of us.

Everything is okay, better than you can imagine. xo, Val

Cara Maat said...

We would all be so much better off if we practiced this kind of honesty, daily.

annika said...

What a beautiful, grace-filled response. Thank you from another mom with little kids. Annika (Becca's sister)

Anonymous said...

Oh Becca, we hear your cries! I think parenthood is supposed to bring us to our knees. I have found a wonderful, encouraging resource in Connected Families and they are out of Chaska, MN. connectedfamilies.org
I hope you are having a good day (got a shower and a bite to eat....).

Also in the trenches,
Erika Solomonson

Nancy Holte said...

I don't always read other people's comments but wow, what Val said, AWESOME and TRUE! Believe it!

Also, I will never forget (and if I've told you before please forgive me) the story that Rhonda Anderson, co-founder of Creative Memories, once told. She was just starting in the business and had to make all these calls with four children underfoot. So, when she was on the phone and the kids would get loud she would grab a handful of M&M's and throw them out into the room. Her kids would scurry about finding and eating them and when it got noisy again she'd throw out another handful. Still cracks me up. So, hey, a dozen mini muffins, no big deal!

Emily said...

I am in the same boat most days! But I wouldn't trade it for the world as hard as it is and as much as I feel like a person who can't control her own anger too.


Becca Groves said...

Thanks everybody for the reassurance. Val, your words meant a lot. Erika, I am eager to look into Connected Families...I was on their site for a bit yesterday.


Sarah (Grimsby) McQuade said...

Word. Right there with you, my friend. Feel free to call any time you need to talk it out -- we can swap stories and laughter. I'm only a phone call (and a few hours) away. :)

Unknown said...

Thanks for sharing Becca. Nice to know I'm not the only one who feels less than my best over and over.