I was having a crabby night tonight. At one point, David asked me what was wrong and I said, "Nothing, I'm just trying to keep it together until Dekker goes to bed." I have had a great day, which included an early daycare drop off, working, chapel and a prayer walk in 2" platform shoes, a huge pregnant belly, commuting, and coming up with something for dinner in a house that very much needs groceries. I'm doing laundry and baking and trying to get things ready for our annual family reunion. I know that women do this all the time, but whatev. I'm crabby.
Before I had kids, when I heard someone crab about their family life I had very little sympathy. Big belly? Can't roll over? Can't sleep? You chose this. Tired from being up all night? Should have thought about that nine months ago. No money for fun stuff because you have to spend it all on diapers? Guess who decided to have another kid. Exhausted from mommy-hood, tired of disciplining your toddler, feeding your infant, cooking dinner and doing laundry? Well, you pulled the goalie.
I could go on, but you get the picture.
Now that I'm a mom, so much about my attitude has changed. Let me just make a few points here:
1. Family Life is hard. I get it, to a point. I don't claim to understand everything you are going through, but I know that it is hard. At the same time, I know you probably wouldn't change it. You'll take away my belly? I could sleep all night? Heck no. This child is precious. You'll take from me my toddler? I can clean and bake and nap all day without distraction? Absolutely not. I can not imagine my life without Dekker. He is one of my greatest joys, even on a bad day! You'll give me all my money back but take my family away? Step away. Unthinkable.
I'd say this is the biggest reality that I have learned. Before I had kids, when I heard someone talk about the difficulties of their family life, I didn't understand the other side of that coin. I heard a very one-sided conversation-- because I think the other half was assumed but I didn't get it! I can tell you that I was honestly totally surprised at how much I enjoyed being a Mom-- because I only heard-- or focused on-- or filtered-- the negative. I'm so glad that I have experienced motherhood-- the ups and downs-- so that when I hear someone crab or complain or break down in tears, that I can understand that much better.
With all that being said...
2. It's okay to be real. I have noticed a real trend with the rise of social media to present a real one-sided view of family life-- and it's the OTHER side than what I grew up listening to. In other words, I have found that people have started to over-focus on the positive, leaving some to believe that parenthood-- or life-- is a stream of easy, blissful days and nights. (I think that's why this blog post made me laugh until I almost cried!) If I believe only what I see on facebook, I'm pretty sure I'd be totally off guard when I feel like crying, questioning, or yanking Dekker's arm out of socket. Thankfully, I have some great Mommy-friends and family who don't judge me. They understand #1 above, and that with my bad days come some great days, too. And that even though I "made this bed," I can still be frustrated, sad, disappointed at times. And that even still, I am a good mom, and that I love my family and wouldn't change a thing. Except that I would find a laundry fairy.
I know it's not popular to add a status update along the lines of : "Stefanie is seriously questioning her decision to have #2 because #1 is a total un-joy today. How do you people do it?" Or, "Stefanie can't wait to go to work today because another day at home sounds like punishment right now."
Then again, maybe social media isn't the place to be "real." Or that real. But I don't know. I'd love to see a fresh stream of "my life isn't bliss" updates occasionally. We can do that without being bitter, right? Since when is it unhealthy or unChristian to be honest about our struggles? Would it give others permission to do the same? But heavens to Betsy, if not on the World Wide Web (and I understand), I hope you have a good friend you can be real with. Somebody who understands you, doesn't judge you, and knows that you still love your kids, #forcryingoutloud. I'm not sure who your friend is, but I hope you have one and that you bend her ear from time to time-- or day to day. It's okay to be honest about your struggles, friends. My friend Jenny once said to me, "I don't know if other mom's don't think like we do, or if they just don't say it out loud." Here, here, friend.
3. People without kids have stress too. My final point comes just two years after leaving the life of PK (Pre-Kids). Please let me remind all of us, including myself, that our friends and family without kids have lots of stress, lots on their plates, and a life of their own. When they are stressed, please don't roll your eyes, make snappy comments, or offer an "if you only knew." It's not fair to assume that they have loads of ample time, sit around every evening doing nothing, or should be the leader of your committees because "what else are they doing." They are doing plenty. Just like you.
This gift of motherhood is such a mixed bag. In the end, I am confident that the main reason God created children and the family is that it is one major learning environment where we can learn to be more like Him, rely on Him, be humbled, sustained, and taught by Him-- an environment where we give up power and control and trust the Almighty in a totally new way.
Stefanie is "learning about how Big God is through her insecurities about Baby #2." Has a nice ring to it.
On the journey,