Monday, January 24, 2011

Motherhood is tough.

Why did my own mother do such a fantastic job raising us that motherhood not only looked enviable (you would always have friends a.k.a. your children, you got to dress real live "dolls" and cook food for everyone!) but it seemed easy? Now, I only have child and I cannot help but marvel at the people who have more than that and look so well put together.

Tonight Maddy and I went to the store and I broke my cardinal rule of going to the grocery store in sweats. Not only that but my other rule, I had on no make up and hmmm did I even brush my hair? Or my teeth!? The apartment is messy after I just cleaned it this morning, the dishwasher is calling out to be unloaded, phone calls need to be returned, YW Presidency meeting plans for tomorrow, photo shoot to be edited and re-scheduled because I'm not happy with the lighting, banana bread to make, pots to be scrubbed, library books to return...well, you get the idea. In fact, you probably have a list longer than mine.

I'm determined to help Madelyn learn how to soothe herself to sleep. Which means crying. I can't stand crying. Not even a little bit. I'm horrible at "tough love". I always want to run into the bedroom and rescue her and get out some toys to play, to let her know I'm there. But as I read in a book recently, there is "intelligent love" and if I look at the situation clearly, it will benefit her so much more in the long run (and myself as well) if we both can learn that when it's bed time, she goes into her crib and I have to leave. The goodnight's sleep that ensues is so worth it. Otherwise, if I try to rock her to sleep she fights it and wants to play and it's hours and hours before she'll relent. Then she's extra tired and I'm extra cranky. Tough love baby. Tough love, mama.

Aaron has had to jump into his busy season with both feet. That means, gone at 7:30am and we see nor hear hide or tail of him until 10:30-11:00pm. Saturdays he's at the office and Sundays we just try to catch our breath. Only 6 more weeks to go!

I guess what I'm getting at is...everyone keeps asking me how Aaron's busy season is going, there is such a "to-do" about it. We go to our friends' house for the weekend to relax and vent about the boys' busy week and eat delicious steaks. But what about a mother's busy season? The moment that sweet bundle of joy comes home you're on call 24/7 and suddenly your needs, wants, dreams, desires, goals, taking showers regularly get shelved. It is the highest calling or position demanding an endless rope of patience, bottomless energy and tough arms for swimming through the mire of other responsibilities. If you're a mother, chances are no one has asked you how your busy season is going...how are you holding up? Boy, that was a late shift last night, wasn't it? Did you get that potty training project finished? How about that nap schedule? I need it on my desk asap.

I guess growing up I assumed that my siblings and I were all my mother needed to be fulfilled and happy. And I bet she would say that we were a big part of that. But I never would have thought of the things she put on hold for us, the lonely nights spent treading a circle with a baby in her arms, the endless afternoons cleaning, feeding, running after, changing, and soothing. So much of that I never figured into this motherhood thing until it happened. And I have found that reaching out to others who are in my same boat is about the only thing that keeps a mother sane. We need each other. Friends (mothers or not) are essential beings to helping us remember who we are underneath the spit up and sweat pants.

So, from one mother deep in the trenches..how is your busy season going? Are you staying afloat? What troubles are you encountering with your "clients"? You are not alone!

10 comments:

  1. Hang in there! I just "finished" a late shift (or is it early shift) with my almost 3-year old getting up at 4:45am and not going back to sleep because by the time he's ready, it's time to get the older kids up and out the door. I'm so hoping my baby sleeps a while and I can catch a bit of rest. Anyway, life doesn't really get easier, but your ability to handle it will increase. You do have an incredible mother! Just remember, though, you only remember her seasoned years. I've learned so much from her, and one thing I'm pretty certain about is that she understands perfectly what you're going through now because she's been there! Am I right, Sydney? :)

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  2. P.S. It helps sometimes to remember that even though we get little recognition for our long hard hours, we have a Father in heaven who does know every single thing we do. :)

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  3. Elder Holland understands too.

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  4. Oh, Jenna! My heart goes out to you! I wish we lived closer so I could help. Just so you DO know - - you most likely look fantastic in sweats & you are beautiful without make-up, I am sure of it! :)

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  5. Jenna,

    I have to agree that I'm sure you look gorgeous in sweats. Melissa Fraker once said - "That girl (you) could wear a paper bag and guys would still be drooling over her." Hope that cheers you!

    I often read your posts and enjoy seeing what your family is up to. This post is very well done and I appreciate your honesty. Of course, all mothers understand your plight! I'm so glad that you have friends, and indeed, that is the key. It is also important to keep a little time for yourself each week to pursue your interests, and it looks like you do that at least sometimes. My husband supports me in going to book club once a month and symphony chorus once a week. And my girlfriends and me always go out for each others birthdays, with hubbies watching the kids. It truly feeds my soul so that I continue to have something to give to my family. (I have 5 children now - the oldest age 11 and the youngest age 2) It also sounds funny, but if you do your Visiting Teaching every month and let your VTs come see you, that will bless your life immensely! Everything in life worth having usually requires a lot of hard work. (NO FAIR!)
    Sorry for the unsolicited advice - you can obviously take or leave it. ;)
    All my best,
    Jessica Gray (from the Chelsea Ward, now I live in CT)

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  6. Shall I just say "ditto" to all the comments, thus far. Such good thoughts and advice. First baby is your first draft, your manuscript to your mothering, parenting and womanhood. Your writing your life, in a different way than you are use to doing, and you are doing quite well. By far, the most importantant and toughest job in the world...loving, caring, nurturing, watching after, raising little ones! It is huge! We older mom's know exactly what you are talking about. You are in the groove...all normal, newer mom life and times! xoxo

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  7. Been there, done that 8 times! It is tough but it gets easier each time I think. I did that with my kids at bedtime but now my daughters do the opposite, they go right in and soothe their little one and they go back to sleep, I don't know which is right! Hang in there ;D

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  8. Thanks to everyone for your thoughtful comments and insights. Good friends indeed do make all the difference. You're the best!

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  9. p.s. Jessica, thanks for commenting! So good to hear from you and that you're family has grown and is doing well!! I'll take any and all advice :)

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  10. Jenna - I'd be happy to email anytime if you have any ?s. You can reach me at ctgray7@gmail.com, and then I'll give you my personal email address. I always had my kids on a feeding schedule and let my kids cry themselves to sleep and they all slept through the night by 2 months old. HOWEVER, this does not work for all kids or mothers, and you've got to find what works for your family - thank goodness for prayers!

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