Tuesday, September 10, 2013

I Struggle as a Mother

I used to think motherhood was about watching Lifetime and drinking diet coke all day. 

Seriously.

I was more than a little misinformed. 

I thought I would have all this spare time to pursue goals like playing the piano, learning Spanish, making crafty crap, and running a perfectly organized home. 

Instead, I spend my days cleaning crusty pureed sweet potatoes off the blinds because Ainsley decided that she has to grab the food off the spoon with her hands before it can make it to her mouth. Really.

I honestly didn't know motherhood was stressful.

The reality is that it has been more stressful than any job or college course AND... it has been much more time consuming. It's a 25 hours a day, 8 days a week kind of job. Somedays, while nursing Ainsley in my rocking chair, I cry while she claws my face and kicks my stomach, pulls my hair, bites me, and pushes me. Why? Because motherhood is really hard and YES, stressful. Most days I feel like I got beat up by WWF wrestler by noon. Your job never ends. No vacation. No sick days. Ainsley is, without a doubt, the toughest boss I've ever had. Aside from the physical demands, I feel like I'm running a freaking emotional/mental/spiritual marathon every.day.

Today was one of those days...where my tears mix with her bath water and I'm tempted to eat my feelings in chocolate frosting because that's THE ONLY sweet thing we have in the house. That's a tragedy if I've ever heard one. (For the record, I haven't had any frosting...HOLD ME BACK!).

There are a lot of good days and even more good moments, but there are a lot of want-to-pull-my-hair-out, I'm-running-away, get-me-out-of-here days! 

Another thing that terrifies me? I only have one child. If I feel so overwhelmed now, how am I going to make it to child number two? I want more kids. Would I even be able to handle it?

Did you supermoms just faint?

Now is probably the time where you're expecting me to tell you how much I love motherhood and how worth it it is. While that's true, I'm much too tired for sugar coating. I haven't slept through the night in like a year, ya know. At least

Instead of sugar coating, I thought it might help other moms to know that their feelings are valid. Motherhood is hard, hard work. Sometimes someone telling me that they're having a hard time too is more encouraging than hearing someone say something like, "keep your chin up." 

More times than I could count I have wondered if something is wrong with me or if I'm not a good mom because I seem to have so many overwhelmingly stressful days...which contributes to me feeling more stressed and overwhelmed. I also struggle with feeling unimportant. Most of the time I feel like what my husband does all day is more important. He has a rewarding job where he uses his talents to improve the lives of others AND make money. What do I do? Change diapers and try to keep Ainsley from eating the rotten piece of cheese that slid under the stove a month ago. 

I remember a quote from Elder Scott that says, "When we are building others, we are building the kingdom of God." I know that I am doing God's work. I still struggle with feeling important, but I know that this is my purpose. The consequences of my work are eternal.

I've sobbed to the tune of this video more than once today: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZE-xIPOlbKw

One of my favorite parts of this talk is:
But one thing, she said, keeps her going: “Through the thick and the thin of this, and through the occasional tears of it all, I know deep down inside I am doing God’s work. I know that in my motherhood I am in an eternal partnership with Him. I am deeply moved that God finds His ultimate purpose and meaning in being a parent, even if some of His children make Him weep.
“It is this realization,” she says, “that I try to recall on those inevitably difficult days when all of this can be a bit overwhelming. Maybe it is precisely our inability and anxiousness that urge us to reach out to Him and enhance His ability to reach back to us. Maybe He secretly hopes wewill be anxious,” she said, “and will plead for His help. Then, I believe, He can teach these children directly, through us, but with no resistance offered. I like that idea,” she concludes. “It gives me hope. If I can be right before my Father in Heaven, perhaps His guidance to our children can be unimpeded. Maybe then it can be His work and His glory in a very literal sense.
Moms out there, this is hard work. I feel overwhelmed more often than not. I feel inadequate more often than not. I feel unattractive more often than presentable. I'm stretched to the limit. It's a big deal if my day includes pants with a zipper (i.e. not sweats). I'm more tired than I've ever been. More stressed than I've ever been. BUT, this is the perfect setting for me to call on my Heavenly Father to carry me through this. I'm grateful to know I have help through this.

17 comments:

Lauren said...

You are the coolest, Alexis! I totally look up to you.

Brooke said...

Alexis, you are awesome. Thank you for being so candid. Also, there was a CES fireside on Sunday by Elder Nelson and he said something awesome. He essentially said that mothers have more of an impact on the economy raising children in the home than a man working in the actual work force does. What you are doing is amazing and important, and you are doing GREAT :)

Meredith Tuttle said...

wish you were on twitter where we all commiserate together!! motherhood is rough.

Tia said...

Ya don't worry, nearly every night this week has ended in years (from me). I fall apart quite often. And get yourself a chocolate stash for these days! Unfortunately, I really go through mine, haha

Tia said...

*tears

Kelsey said...

Umm yes, you nailed it. Some days are so so SO hard! Thankful for each and every little smile, laugh, and love these babies give! I feel like that's their way of telling us they DO love us and don't mean to make our hair fall out (literally and figuratively!). And you just helped me come to a realization, I have been ravenous when it comes to sweets for these past couple months. One cookie? Who eats one? Give me TEN! Thank you motherhood! :)

Whitney said...

I can totally relate to you most days. Being a mom is rough stuff, but so worth it! I just have to remind myself how fast time goes by in those hard seconds that seem to drag on for days.

Chelsie said...

Alexis, you are an amazing mother, just even the fact that you are so worried about it shows that. That video has gotten me through some tough times. I went through a phase where I had to watch it every day. I think we will all experience ups and downs, joys and sorrows in mothering just like everything else in life. I can finally say I am proud of myself as a mom and have gotten ok with letting some things go. It took trauma to do that for me though. I know you'll make it through this.

Courtney B said...

So I was super depressed when I moved to Cedar and one of my clients (who is married to the head ER doctor in St G) told me there are 3 things that usually trigger temporary (or permanent) depression in any person. Moving, major life change, and I can't remember the third. We had just moved (against everything that I wanted) and I got pregnant. While the first was super hard for me, the second I'd been wanting for years! But it was a hormone change and yadda yadda. You've already talked about postpardum (sp?) and now this huge (and exciting but still scary) move! Not to mention your lack of sleep.... I think you're AMAZING! Yes your days are hard, and they are probably harder considering this was a big surprise (having Ainsley) and it will take some major time to adjust. When we moved to northern Utah I stopped working except for once week a month when I'd go back to St G. I was felt so lame not contributing to the family more. Looking back I'm glad I went through that before ever getting pregnant because when you're used to working and school full time, well, I just felt like a failure doing none of it. But I believe you'll look back someday and be so grateful for these days! You'll love that you were able to stay home! You're the best thing ever for your sweet Ainsley pot!
Also, I admit that I really love this being a mom thing. I think it's super easy (not rubbing it in your face, hear me out) and the bad days are super rare over here. But I'm still scared to have more. I don't even want to think about having more kids for YEARS. I had a dream once that I was pregnant and I woke up super angry and ornery the whole day. So what does that say about me? Yikes!

Jenna Foote said...

No one is a supermom, Alexis! We all just do the best we can.

I remember having similar thoughts with my first baby. How would I ever have any more kids? I could barely handle the one I had.

One day, you will wake up and Ainsley will be talking, walking, getting herself dressed, entertaining herself, using the potty and actually communicating with you. You will open your eyes and see that your baby is growing into a child and children -- yes, they have unique and demanding needs of their own -- are not babies. And then you'll find the strength to have more children. If it is what you want, you will have that desire.

It is hard to see the forest when you are surrounded by tall, thick trees. But believe me when I say that babies don't keep. And yes, some are harder than others. That is why my "baby" and the next child will be over 4 years apart! That was absolutely intentional. Some people feel sorry for me because they think I couldn't get pregnant and that's why my kids are going to be SOOOOOOO far apart. I just laugh because honestly, I don't even know if that will be enough of a gap!

There will be days when you feel like a failure, and there will be days when you feel like the best mother in the world. Just know that everyone else is experiencing the same ups and downs as you are and no one has it easy. Well, except maybe celebrities who can hire nannies and chefs.

Sarah said...

You are not alone. You are not alone. You are not alone.

And when it comes to more than one child? Two is easier than one. It just is. They have a playmate, you're older and wiser--not to say you're immature and dump, but with time comes experience.(Now, don't ask me about three because that's crazy again).

After my first my PPD was TERRIBLE. I cried all of the time. He cried all of the time. But the sun did shine again. Around 10 months old things just clicked. My biggest regret, though, is not getting help before then. With kids 2 and 3 I immediately started seeing a therapist (LDS Family Services is da bomb) and taking meds (you can take Zoloft and BF).

Just, again, know you are not alone. I will be praying for you.

Jacquie Lyman said...

I just read this article and it made me think of you. I hope you can appreciate it and relate with it.

http://mamaseeds.com/blog/baby-sleep-training/new-mamas-get-nothing-done-and-other-untruths/

-Danica- said...

Gosh you are right. This is a tough gig, being a mom. There is some great advice in those comments up there^^ My little girl has been one tough baby who turned into a tough toddler. So there is 3 1/2 years between her and the one I am pregnant with. Because it took that long for me to feel ready! But I will say this- give yourself some extra slack while you are not sleeping through the night. That took us 18 months to get down and it was ROUGH. But once I was getting uninterrupted sleep, and my baby was older and not as demanding as a little baby, I noticed I could process the thoughts of "this is a 24/7 job thatnevvvverrrrends" a lot better.

also I read this post today and thought it was such a good reminder: http://www.greatmanythings.com/2013/09/you-are-not-enough.html

Keep your chin up :) And don't be afraid to talk to someone when it comes to needing help with PPD. Heaven knows that shiz is real.

Katie Elizabeth Hawkes said...

So, I have no mothering experience to my name but I can say that I appreciate your honesty and willingness to be vulnerable. I'm a big believer that only good can come from that. It gives other people something to relate to, and gives you a chance to just LET IT OUT and hear words of support from other people. I've been doing that through my whole "I can't find a permanent job" summer adventure/crazy-move-to-California phase, and it makes me feel vulnerable and transparent a lot, but it's also been A LOT better for me than it would have been to keep it inside. (Trust me, I tried that "be perfect and don't tell anyone you're having a hard time" thing and all it resulted in was anxiety attacks and therapy my senior year of college.) I love this post and admire your honesty. It's a good thing and you are a good thing and California is a good thing and In N Out for dinner is a good thing amen. p.s. go to the beach sometime, it helps.

Leah said...

Here's to the new moms, may we remember how difficult it was in the early days when we are old, seasoned mothers and grandmothers. Both to know what we've endured, and also to know what others are enduring when we offer our advice/wisdom/experience so that we can be reassuring and most of all, understanding.

Jess said...

Yes yes and yes! I'm so glad that I just found your blog and wow, this post hit home. There are more than one day that I feel like-and I really do-look like crap. I have to rush a shower, rush getting into clothes and rush doing anything in the ams when Sawyer is asleep. That means my make-up and hair take a backseat. Thanks for this post and I'm a new follower.

Roshii Senn said...

I too am struggling with thinking of having a second baby. My first just turned 2 and she's at the temper tantrum stage, so very difficult to even contemplate another one right now. But, I wish I could you know give my first a playmate.