“My Mother had a great deal of trouble with me, but I think she enjoyed it.”– Mark Twain
What keeps a mom sane? Is she sane? Is sanity in the eye of the beholder? How many kids does it take to get to the center of a mom’s sanity? Though a mother’s inner thoughts can be poked and prodded for years and years, it just takes one…tiny…pinch for for a mom to unleash a spewing volcano of tears and indecipherable sonic waves, much to the bewilderment of husbands and children alike.
What are we to do? If you’re like me I’m sure that you have had a few nights where you’re sitting in the dark, unable to sleep, and going through a list in your head about what the next day will bring. You have a plan. You’re going to get the kids to school smoothly; you’re going to get the treats ready for the bake sale in record time; you’re going to put a movie on for your toddler so you can take a long, hot shower and finally shave your legs, because, girl, it has been almost a month. And once the kids are in bed you will be intimate with your husband, tired or not. Your plan will prevail!!! And what happens? Your alarm doesn’t go off in the morning, you’re struggling to get your kids out the door when you realize you forgot to pack them a lunch, the baby had a potty accident on your bed, and you realize you have no eggs to bake the treats for the bake sale. After stopping by the store to get eggs, you were distracted by so many things, it is already lunchtime by the time you get home. You prepare lunch, and as always it’s an Olympic event with sitting down and standing up over and over, because they spill before you even sit down, the sandwich wasn’t cut to their liking, they are begging for you to wash out their favorite cup, or you forgot a fork for yourself, etc. After lunch, you decide to let your children help you with baking, knowing in your heart that it will be filled with bonding, teachable moments, but they drop all of the eggs you just purchased. Defeated, you quickly turn on the TV and try to rush to the shower, ignoring the all too familiar squeal, “Mommy! Where are you goooooooing?!” Your shower is constantly interrupted with knocking and crying and fighting, and (just great) there isn’t any hot water left. Of course the rest of the day doesn’t go as you had planned and it causes you to be weighed down by the belief that you are a failure. You then sing to yourself, “Hello, sanity my old friend…”
Sure, these blogs are filled with what I think is helpful advice, but believe me, I still dismiss the fact that I struggle to follow the advice myself. Nevertheless I need to try and help, because I know that the best medicine for mothers is encouragement. So, don’t panic when your plans change and you are on the cusp of a meltdown. Here are a few things that help me:
Never underestimate the power of hyperbole and melodrama. It pays to overact with your kids. Sometimes if my child is acting a little bit whiny, I mimic him, but fling myself on the floor in tragic, dying scene fashion, and usually it just gets him to start cracking up, and it’s over. When your child is showing you their Lego tower that reaches all the way to the moon, go with it and really react in the most awesome way that you can. It will make them smile. If they spill, instead of rolling your eyes or groaning, start applauding and say, “Hooray! I’ve seen a lot of spills, but that was magnificent!” Then give them a high five. Enjoy your kids. Even if you’re ready to collapse, muster the strength to make everything bigger, happier, and magical. When they hug you, be the last one to let go, because sometimes it will benefit you the most.
Don’t use little blunders as an excuse to worry about the future. Don’t think that way down the road your daughter will be in therapy, because you accidentally sprayed too much hair spray when you had no idea that she was right behind you. Don’t start planning out a difficult conversation, just because your little boy wants to dress up like mommy. My mother recently confessed to me that she was always worried that I would run away with a tattooed motorcycle-riding bad boy, because I was obsessed over a song from Grease 2, called Cool Rider. I laughed and told her that I really had no consciousness of what Michelle Pfeiffer was singing, I just really liked that her Pink Ladies jacket was reversible; that it could be black leather or pretty pink. Nobody knows what the future will bring, just be confident that you are a fantastic mom, doing the very best that you can.
Don’t judge and don’t allow others to judge you. Don’t feel outclassed, because you have toilet paper for wiping noses instead of lavender-scented cashmere facial tissues. I am telling you, most of your mom friends use toilet paper for cleaning kitchen counters when they run out of baby wipes. When you invite your mom friends over, don’t make everything sparkly, because you never know when it will make another mom feel a sense of solidarity. “Wow! My sink is filled with grease-crusted pans too! Maybe I’m not such a failure.” Also, there is unspoken freedom when you can stop caring what other people think of you. If someone gives you a hard time about your mom life, it is on them, not you.
Music is a powerful tool, for keeping your cool. Every once in a while, I will play a 90s playlist rekindling a nostalgia so therapeutic, that my mood changes for the better. My daughter looks at me strangely when I attempt the dances I remember to MC Hammer and New Kids on the Block, but it makes her smile and she eventually wants to join in. Yesterday we were creating lyrical dances to Hold On by Wilson Phillips; leaping and twirling through the hallway. And that certainly wasn’t on my To Do List. We had a blast. Sometimes I have noticed that even the most upbeat and positive songs tend to deviate into noise if I’m having hard days. When this happens I turn on a classical radio station, and it’s nice to just hear pure, calming music and sometimes it calms the kids down as well.
Don’t give up on yourself just because today didn’t go as planned. Just keep being you, and there will be days where treasured moments will outweigh the plans that went wrong.
So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up. -Galatians 6:9