Mummy. Mama. Mum. Mom. Mumsy. So many different words to express that one special relationship. What is it in your household? I am currently known mostly as Mummy, occasionally as Mama, and frequently (by Pippa) as Mumumumum. It’s amazing though how just one word, one concept, one relationship, can effect your life so wholly, completely and utterly. While I worked part-time when Heidi was a baby, I am currently a Stay-At-Home-Mum (SAHM) with the desire to continue being one at least until our hoped-for move overseas in maybe 18 months. It is an absolute privilege to be able to do this. Many women (millions, I’m sure) have no such option. The choice is, well, not even a choice. No work? No money. No money? No food. I am entirely aware that pretty much primarily due to being born into this wealthy country, Australia, that I have even an option here. And it is one I am truly grateful for.
This does not make it an easy task though. And it is one that has been a little challenging lately. I feel like I am going through the crazies associated with being at home with small children a lot, mostly for the first time. Considering my oldest is not quite two and a half, I feel like this is not such a bad effort. But in saying that, maybe it’s happened before and I am simply choosing to suppress and forget those feelings! Either way, it feels fresh for me right now.
I’m feeling overwhelmed by the responsibility of bringing these two little people up into the world. I’m feeling underwhelmed by the prospect of another day trying to get a baby to sleep and needing to entertain a toddler. I’m feeling frustrated by my lack of enthusiasm for getting out and about. I’m bored from being home a lot. In short, it’s a conflicting time!
I spent some time thinking about the advice I would give to myself, if I was the giving advice to myself kind of girl. Here is that advice:
Don’t be ruled by the routine. Even though babies and toddlers need to sleep and eat, try not to be controlled by their routine. You are the Mama, you make the decisions. If you need to get out of the house even though it’s in the middle of nap time, just go out anyway. You will feel better, and more able to care for the kids if you are feeling good, calm and present.
My rebuttal: But the kids’ sleep is way more important than my sanity. If they sleep they won’t notice my crazies. Until they wake up…oh…then they might notice the rubbish in the fridge and the vacuum up the tree. Hmm.
Enjoy the little joys in the day. That first wobbly moments of standing alone for a few seconds won’t happen for much longer. That tender stroke on the face and whisper of “You’re so precious Mummy” will spark a fire of affection for your toddler that can keep you going in the middle of the next tantrum. Hold onto the good moments like they are a life jacket in a stormy gale – they may just keep you afloat the next time you think you are going under.
My rebuttal: Sometimes good moments are nice, but what I really need is a 10 minute break and a hot chocolate. Oh. Maybe I could do that. Yes. Good idea me. (So here I am!)
Pray together. With the kids. Even the little ones. Remember Mel, those times when you were having a grumpy morning and you could feel those frustrations rising and your patience decreasing (why not the other way around) ?You should sit and pray with Heidi. Out loud. Thank God for her. Ask God to help.Think of the wonderful things about Heidi and thank God for them. It really helps. God really helps.
My rebuttal: But I like being grumpy. Self-pity makes me feel worse. And I love revelling in my disastrous life. It’s awesome down here. Or maybe not so much.
Have a plan. Even though you are not a naturally super organised person, it can be helpful to have just a few things roughly in place. When you might have lunch, and what you might do before lunch. Stop looking at Pinterest and feeling crap. You don’t need a perfect morning filled with crafty creations that cost a fortune and make you lose it because it’s not quite working. Say something like “Let’s draw” – with blunt pencils on crumpled paper. Or “Let’s go for a walk” – which consists of the baby being popped in the Ergo and the toddler walking about 50 metres over 20 minutes, examining each gumnut, crack and leaf on the ground. The walking part of “Let’s walk” is so insignificant it can’t even count as exercise!
My rebuttal: But I can’t be bothered. And my kids are bored which is so annoying. Oh…
Talk about it with your spouse. There is nothing like bottling up feelings, seething resentment and bubbling bitterness to make life suck. Talk, listen, specifically explain your feelings. Remember that generally guys have a harder time hearing the feelings we are saying, and not just listening for the problem. So to help him out, be clear. And then clearer. And then add some clarity. Getting it out of the system is half (if not more) of the battle.
My rebuttal: But I like Paul to walk on egg-shells around me wondering about what is wrong. Then we can snap and argue ALL the time. I love that.
So I think I may have just convinced myself to take some of my own advice. I might just have to let you know how it all goes. Next week is looking better already!