Lately I've been thinking about appearances. I've also been thinking about reality.
For instance, you may read that blog post and think I always have my hair and makeup in place or dress just so. You may see me at an event looking nice and think I’ve got it all together. Reality is that I shoot for that goal, but don't always reach it. I have days when I wear my workout clothes to the grocery store and have people over with no makeup on. I also have days when I can’t remember the names of my neighbors of six years.
Truth be known - I like looking put together. I want people to think I have it all under control. However, that is not reality.
Lest you live under the illusion that my life is perfect, I want to share something with you.
It is not.
Life with a baby is hard. Life with a baby and four other children is hard too. Life with a baby, four kids, and a water heater that breaks over your bedroom, closet, and bathroom is harder. I could go on, but you get the point.
I'm not telling you this because I want you to feel sorry for me. I'm telling you this so that you know you are not alone. Mothering is one of the hardest...actually THE hardest thing I've ever done.
It is not easy to hold a baby who is crying in pain. It is difficult to try to go about the day holding that baby. It's a challenge to see how many tasks can be accomplished with one hand. It stinks to have to put thought into whether a shower or sleep is more important when you don't know when the opportunity for either will come around again. It really stinks to change a baby blow out, especially when it involves changing sheets, clothes, and bathing...for the baby AND you.
I have five kids and that makes none of this any easier. In fact, it's probably harder because, nine times out of ten, all of the above happen simultaneously while several other children need things as well.
Don't fear. There is hope.
After five children, you do gain a bit of wisdom here and there (even though you often can't remember what it is). So when I've been holding the baby so long that my arm is shaking from all 15 pounds 11 ounces of her, I can remind myself that this too shall pass. She will grow up. She won't always be so needy. Someday she'll be able to tell me what's wrong or what hurts.
If you're a new mom or a seasoned one, hang in there. Even the moms who look together have tough days, tough seasons. Every mom has moments that bring her to tears (not always the happy ones).
There will be moments when you feel like a failure. Those are normal. Don't buy into them. All moms make mistakes. Learn from them. All moms need a hand at times. Ask for help. This doesn't make you weak or a failure.
If you're not currently the mom of little ones, find one who is. Hold the door open for her when she's pushing a stroller. Find something she's doing well and tell her. Better yet, notice the good you see in her kids and compliment her. When she's looking the most frazzled, give her a hug and assure her that what she's doing is the hardest job in the world but so very worth it.
When people do these things for me, it sometimes brings me to tears (the good kind). Those small acts of kindness and love get me through the tough days. They inspire me to do better. They cause me to pray that I don't forget these feelings so that I can do the same for another mom one day.
Children are gifts. They are wonderful and bring you more joy than you ever knew was possible. They fulfill you in ways you didn't know you needed. They help you love deeper than you thought you could. They are worth every - single - minute.
But when they are babies,...they are hard...and that’s okay.