Warning: I’m 38+ weeks pregnant, tired, hungry, emotional, and if this state continues, likely to be in labor in a matter of days. Remember the emotional part. It *might* affect this post.
I was just reading some comments (by “reading” I mean “skimming” because I’m not a com-box person. I rarely get into reading comments on other blogs. Not my party, not gonna be part of the things that can get heated and cray cray in comments. I do read all the comments on this blog, though) over at Catholic All Year on her post about “wide families”. We have one of those, the kind of family in which the oldest child(ren) is old enough to help with the baby. It makes a huge difference. Anyway, one of the comments I skimmed mentioned feeling like there is so, so much to do, and how hard it is to do that with just littles, as well as how hard it is to do things to fill up as a woman and, I assume, have time for self-care.
Yes. Yes, it is hard. Some days, darn near impossible.
And this is where my post begins.
We need to learn to let go. Let go of things so that we can enjoy the moments with the littles. Let go of things so we can get some self-care every blue moon, or heck, even every month. One day, we might even find we can get self-care weekly…or, *gasp* daily. Oh yes, we can do things for ourselves that often. Not always. Some days and weeks might still suck the life from our souls, but this elusive and glittery dream of self-care *can* be achieved.
Mamas, just let go.
Let go of having vacuumed floors daily. Please. If necessary, leave the vacuum in the dining room so you can do a quick run through after dinner, which takes 1-2 minutes. The whole house? Puh-lease. No one cares or notices that much. The vacuum can sit and be lonely while you sit and read a darling picture book with your darling little kids instead.
Let go of perfect dinners. Ain’t nobody got time for that. We have time (and a responsibility) for healthy meals, and regular meals, but if a few of those are cereal, smoothies, pizza, pb and j, don’t sweat it. Sometimes the nicely planned dinner with veggies and proteins just isn’t going to happen, because life with little kids (or any kind of kids, really) is unpredictable, can be rather messy, brings us to our knees, or sends us out chasing butterflies and sunsets instead of eating that (albeit healthy and often delicious) roasted broccoli, baked chicken, and steamed rice.
Let go of all the activities. There are seasons for ballet and drum lessons and soccer and swim and community play dates and group nature walks and all the rest…but don’t be a slave to any of that. If it’s stressing you out, stressing out your kids, making you miss too many sit-down dinners with Dad, then it’s time to step back. Reconnect.
Let go of the parenting books. Most of them work for a certain population of select babies who aren’t yours or mine, so forget the so-called expert advice and listen to your mama heart. Your love will help your child better than any “expert” book.
Let go of your inhibitions and dance in the rain. Chase the butterflies through the field. Stomp in puddles. Let the toddler do the pudding finger paint–it washes. And a mid-day bubble bath to clean up can be fun.
Let go of comparisons. The only one you should be comparing yourself to is you–in the image of the Father who is the perfect parent and has a perfect you in mind. You can learn from some saintly mothers (Our Blessed Mother, Saint Monica, Saint Gianna, maybe your own mother or grandmother). You can put your worst days in His hands. You can compare yourself to yourself, and how much fun you can have compared to holding on to all the silly demands of the world.
Let go of Pinterest. Please, for the love of all things good and messy and imperfect, if Pinterest makes you crazy and makes you feel like a terrible failure, stay away from it. If it makes you happy and inspires you, great. I go back and forth between loving and hating Pinterest myself.
Let go of guilt. Guilt for having a babysitter and getting out for a haircut, or going on a much-needed date. Guilt for sometimes letting the baby cry because you take a shower. Guilt for using a paci. Guilt for not cloth diapering. Guilt for whatever choices you’ve made that should *not* bear guilt with them. Give it up. When you are lovingly parenting, there should be no guilt.
Let go of your control and let Dad lead. Let Dad have a night with the kids, so you can sit and read in a bubble bath, or have dinner with friends. He won’t do parenting exactly like you do, and that is fine. It is even a good thing.
Let go of unattainable standards of the perfect mom, perfect house, perfect children.
Forget about the grannies telling you to “cherish every single moment because it goes so fast”–do that if it helps you, but likely it doesn’t help at all in the hard chaotic all-the-littles-are-crying-at-the-same-time moments and you just want a moment of peace. Take a deep breath, and let go. Cherish what matters and dust your feet from those harder-than-hard days.
Cling to your your snuggly and giggly kids. Cling to the goodness in the chaos. Let some days come and go in their miserable nature (because some days are flat-out hard), watch a movie during the witching hour, and cling to the hope of a better future. The future is just around the corner. Tomorrow is usually better, in my experience. If all else fails, have another cuppa–coffee at 3:30, wine while making dinner, whatever. Let go, Mamas, and give yourself some grace.