Thursday, May 11, 2017

One, two, three.

Three kids. I still can't believe it. Six months later, I still pinch myself whenever I see three sets of eyes staring right back at me. So what is life like with three kids under five? Surprisingly enough, we're all still alive (can't say that all my houseplants are), and the transition from one to two was actually tougher than two to three. Many of the factors revolved around several transitions our family was going through during that time, and the most challenging part was our oldest child rebelling and scoffing at the idea of sharing his throne with his baby brother. There were many dark moments during that time when I felt so alone and completely incapable of raising my children.

Fast forward to the transition of having three kiddos, and I still feel incapable of most days. Often times, us Mamas are guilty of portraying parenthood on social media as being a walk in the park (literally, figuratively), filled with eventful, craft-filled days and excursions. And yes, there are wonderful moments that we don't want to forget, and use it as a bragging tool to pat ourselves on the back, but it is merely 10% of our days. Don't get me wrong, being a Mama to the littles is too indescribable for words, and I would never trade it for my life pre-children (I still have my moments). However, it is the hardest job I have ever had to take on, and there are no real "lunch or potty breaks" involved.  When you think you've got it down, an event seems to knock you back down on your feet-- take last week for example, when I silently cheered myself on for getting all three kids out the door and into the van somewhat on time, and then realized when I heard a loud scrape, that I had left the trunk door open as I was exiting the garage...ouch.

On the other hand, having three littles definitely hasn't been easier physically-- in fact, it can be extremely physically taxing. Emotionally, I haven't been as much of a train wreck, but I do have my moments, especially when the Husband is out of town. Never have I whined and complained as much as I do now (probably explains the Hub's extensive wine collection, heh heh ^^), and clearly it is something I need to work on. And just when I am filled with Mama-guilt, thinking I'm the only one feeling these awful feelings, I connect with other Mamas and realize this "thankless slavery" (as one Mama terms it) truly is the ultimate form of sanctification. It is a glimpse of what it means to "lose your life" for the sake of little beings that sometimes seem ungrateful and more devilish than angelic. I find myself fighting against my nature of wanting to hold onto myself pre-kids for selfish reasons, and it is a constant battle. It makes marriage feel like riding with the training wheels still attached.

So how is a Mama to survive? Some things that have helped me get through the transition...


Reach out 
Again, no Mama can live on an island, and it truly does take a village to raise a child or children. We've been extremely thankful for our church community and friends who have brought us meals during the early months of transition! There were a couple weeks when I was battling major pinkeye (thanks, Lukey!) and feeling miserable, and it was such a blessing to have meals lovingly delivered when we needed it most. I am also thankful for my fellow Mama friends out there, who lend an ear or time out of their busy schedules to empathize/sympathize/rant/pray with me. I honestly don't know where I would be without their support.

Let go 
There isn't enough time in the day for all your checklists to be completed, and curveballs will always throw you off schedule. I've learned that I need to be okay with not getting everything done, and I'm also learning to stop being so darn hard on myself when things aren't completed (hello, laundry!) by the end of the week. And who's going to tell if the kids haven't bathed in a couple of days? ; ) I'm not SuperMom, nor will I ever be, and I have to be okay with that. My priority needs to be making sure the kids are alright, alive and fed. Sure, we are also responsible for teaching and guiding our children, but we cannot control every situation and how these little people may respond with their big personalities. Control shouldn't be our motive, but so much of our energy is put into "controlling" our children, especially in a public setting. The Hubs sent me a link to this podcast  on disciplining with love, and I found it to be most encouraging and relieving.

We are flooded with a plethora of information in this day and age. And all of a sudden, everyone is telling you how you should or shouldn't raise your child. I've let the criticisms and opinions of others get to me (some with well intentions), and I find that it has been mostly unproductive and discouraging in bringing up a child. The controversies and biases with discipline, diet, sleep, emotional, spiritual and physical upbringing of children are enough to drive you mad. Yes, there are great nuggets of information that ARE helpful, and I think it's always good to read and do your own research when it comes to parenting. However, there isn't a cure-all, one-size-fits-all solution for every child. I still find myself experimenting and seeing what works best with each child, and I still don't have answers to many things...but the more I let the outside noises affect how I raise my kids, the less empowered I feel as a Mama.

Heart Matters
On the contrary, one of the best advice I've received was from a more seasoned Mama, who told me she was praying for the Lord to change her son, only to realize the Lord was telling her that she was the one that needed to change. For some reason, that really resonated with me, as I have been struggling in guiding my oldest child. It caused me to pause and wonder, "is most of my angst coming from whether or not my child's behavior is a reflection of my parenting and self-worth?" If so, that is a huge amount of pressure for a child, and they can sense it. How my child behaves does not define who I am as a person. A bigger question I've been trying to ask myself is, "what is going on within their hearts that is causing the actions that follow?"

Look up
This has been the most important realization for me -- I used to think I had my life somewhat in control, until the littles came along. I've noticed that when I don't begin my day with prayer, I'm a hot mess. I cannot do this mammoth-sized task of raising children on my own, and it takes a super-natural being to help me fight my daily battles. Oh, and grace! I am constantly in need of His amazing grace for me, especially when I fail and lose my cookies, which happens more often than I'd like.

Tri-pod photo of the fam (best way to get family photos without anyone missing, even if it is a little blurry ^^) 

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