You'd think by now, nine years into this motherhood gig, I'd be full of confidence in my abilities as a mom. Sure, in some ways I am. I'm more confident in my choices of how I parent and what I feel is best for us as a family (most times). I've got the sleep deprivation, baby wearing, stroller packing, grocery shopping with four kids, juggling homework help, and dinner preparations at once down pat.
But, motherhood is always changing. Just when you figure something out or make it through a horrible phase — like those terrible twos — a new round of issues comes along. Just when you get in a good routine of your day — finally figuring out a balanced schedule — someone gets sick or the baby pops a new tooth and throws everything off with some all-nighter exhaustion. Inevitably, once you figure out a good discipline method that works for one child, child number two comes along and responds in a completely different manner. And then? Then I'm left floundering with what to try now. Panic and frustration sets in as I pretend to know what I'm doing in this motherhood job of mine. I put on my brave mom mask, but behind it my thoughts are more along these lines: I've never done this before. My oldest never did this. What do I do?! Can I use a phone-a-friend lifeline?
With four kids, the differences and stages are so evident to me now. You'd think I would have it all down to a science, but kids are truly unpredictable! Having four kids has equaled to be four different little people (surprise!). My never-wanting-to-get-in-trouble oldest daughter did not prepare me well for my third child with the curiosity of a cat and the talents of a ninja. Each child is unique with their personalities, preferences, and dispositions — and well, that can be challenging. My second is on the shy side and very cautious about anything new. I mean, the kid hated swings and slides for two years of his life! My third, though, loves the thrill of new things and is my little social butterfly. How do you discipline and encourage four completely different people whose needs are all so different, too?
This is what I'm confident is true of motherhood: don't get comfortable. Literally — because as soon as you finally sit down for dinner someone will summon you for seconds or a sippy cup of water. In all seriousness, though, don't get too comfortable. Motherhood is a roller coaster that has many highs and lows. Some moments are all thrills and joys when everything is going smoothly, some moments are terrifying and you are unsure why you boarded this ride in the first place. It is always changing, ebbing, and flowing between seasons. Hourly. Daily. Weekly. Yearly. It is always changing.
The key to not getting too comfortable is wearing leggings, I'm convinced, to stay as comfortable as possible as you go with the flow of parenting. We cannot get stuck in the rigidity of what we think motherhood should be — therefore neither should our choice in pants. After all, we spend all day picking up toys, bending down for face-to-face chats, and lifting loads of laundry (my biceps are awesome! Thanks, motherhood). For every season there is a learning curve and we must give our self grace. Just because we want to run a tight schedule, desire to do something differently, or add another activity, in reality it may not be the time or what is best for our specific children. What works for one family may not work for yours, and even what worked for one child may not work for another. We need to not consider ourselves failures when we approach a new challenge and what we thought would work isn't. Keep pressing on, Momma. You'll get past this.
We must learn to let go of our ultimate expectations and take one day at a time. Set priorities for what is truly important for today, remembering your self-care on that list so you can easier handle the waves of frustrating moments and dips of disappointments. Today the dishes probably won't get done, nor the ginormous mountain of laundry waiting to be folded, but my short priority to-do list will be checked off and my kids will be happy at the end of the day together. That's all that matters today. Tomorrow will be different, and I'll face new challenges, but today is as comfortable as it is going to get. If today isn't comfortable at all for you-- remember tomorrow is a new day!