Weary Toddler Mama
I am one very weary toddler mama these days.
I find myself struggling with an increasing level of discouragement that feeds off of the overwhelmed feelings that I daily try to push away. Don't get me wrong, being a mama is everything I ever wanted to do. I wouldn't trade it for the moon, but I did not sign up for this version of motherhood.
With toddler quadruplets running circles around me, repeatedly pulling books off of the shelf, throwing all of their unwanted food on the floor and generally being far too curious for their own good, many times, it feels like I’m in a losing battle.
Honestly, I just don't feel like I'm cutting it in the mama department.
There is an impression that is given off in blogs, on Facebook and on the ever-addicting, always perfect Pinterest website. An impression of the perfect, pulled-together wife and mother.
Good grief. How do those well-manicured mamas manage to raise kids, run a house, keep a husband happy, work AND come up with those adorable, time-consuming projects? It just about drives me insane, because I can't do all of that.
If I'm playing with my kids, the bathrooms aren't clean.
If I'm cleaning my bathrooms, my kids are eating processed food three times a day.
If I'm baking muffins and bagels for my family, my kids are entertaining themselves with VeggieTales.
Nothing and no one is ever clean (because inevitably, someone poops as soon as I start a project). When I do finally have a minute to relax once the kids are in bed for the evening, I have these amazing ideas and projects staring back at me from my computer screen.
I should start a garden to save us money.
I really should learn to sew so that I can make adorable pillowcase dresses for my girls.
I really, really should learn how to cook elaborate, whole foods-based meals that my family will love and, of course, use coupons to keep our grocery bill at $10 a week.
I really, really, really should start a learning curriculum with my children so that by the age of 2 they know the entire alphabet, can count to 20, make all of the animal noises, identify their shapes and colors and read three-letter words.
Right now, I'm overwhelmed with life and all I should be doing and being. I find myself all too often quietly comparing myself to all of the successful mamas who manage to do everything while raising spectacular, smart, well-rounded children filled with homemade memories.
Where the heck does that leave me and my intense little group of toddlers?
As a quad mom, I’ve had people use words such as “impressed,” “amazing” or “super mom” when talking to me. They ask, “How do you do it all?” Those phrases always throw me off because I don’t do it all and barely manage to make it through the day. I do not have life all together over here. Not even close.
But the truth is that many people keep in touch with me through social media, and many more only know me through my blog and FaceBook page. If someone is simply looking at us from the outside in, I do kind of look like I’ve got this figured out. Do you know why?
Because right before I take a picture of a project, I spend 15 minutes piling all the random objects on my table into one heap on the end. Then I take about 10 photos making sure my pile is just out of the camera frame and deleting any that show crumbs. You know, the crumbs from dinner two nights ago.
Right before a visitor comes over, I panic and either ask Sean to go wipe down the bathroom or I do. Oh, and sweep the stairs. And fold the kids' pajamas that are still strewn all over the living room. And wipe down those pesky counters! I even try to change out of the gym shorts and t-shirts that have become my daily uniform and slap some makeup on my face.
When I feel like I just don't cut it, I try to remind myself that all of those amazing mamas online only let me see what they want me to see....just like I only let people see what I want them to see.
Don't believe a word (or picture) of it!
Those projects are awesome and certainly worth it! But I think that my kids will still have memories, even if I don't make them pillowcase dresses or cook eggs on a hot sidewalk with them. (Seriously, who wants to be outside if it's really hot enough to cook an egg?!)
As I sit here and realize that toddlerhood is a whole other ballgame, I realize that I just simply do not have what it takes to mother them. My patience does have a limit, as does my energy. All I can do is choose to do the things that I feel benefit my family the most, and let the others slide. And in those moments when I feel tiny, unproductive, clueless and completely overrun by children (literally!), it would serve me well to remember that God knows what my children need even when I can't be there to physically meet that need myself.
Rebecca Ishum is a stay-at-home-mom and blogger at www.ABeautifulRuckus.com where she chronicles the ups and downs of multiples, motherhood and marriage. It isn’t all pretty, but it’s a wonderful adventure! Rebecca, her husband, Sean, and their toddler quadruplets live in South Kansas City.