Every mom has rough patches. You aren’t alone. I have some words of encouragement to the mama who’s struggling.
Dear Mama who’s struggling,
I know how bad, your day, week…heck, your year is going. Believe me when I say, I’ve been there. I know you’re struggling. I see you. Yeah, you in that pile of diapers, tantrums and tears. I see you! With that tween who is discovering boys or that teen who is pushing you away. You may be pretending you’re okay, but that smile doesn’t fool me. I know the days feel long and endless. Hell, this whole stage feels endless.
I know that sounds awful, but you know it has nothing to do with how much we love our kids. Love isn’t the problem, right? We love them, there’s no question. Love is what gets us through the sleepless nights and the days of runny noses and stomach bugs. It’s what makes us sit down to a make believe tea party when we’ve got dishes stacked on every kitchen surface. Love is why we play “dinosaurs” for the tenth time today when we’ve got mounds of laundry piled up like a trash heap. Love isn’t the problem.
I get it. Most days it feels pointless. I mean does anyone else really care if the microwave gets clean or the furniture gets dusted? It sometimes feels like we’re the only ones stressing over the state of the house. And for what? We know as soon as we get it clean – as soon as every last goldfish crumb has been swept up and every last Minion, Dory and PJ Mask figurine has been put in its place, it will all be back on the floor tomorrow. I know it feels pointless.
But I promise you girlfriend, it isn’t pointless. I promise you it matters. You matter! You aren’t invisible. Even if no one praises you, even if there are no accolades. Hell, even if you think you are failing miserably, it matters. YOU MATTER. You matter to those little babies. You’re their whole world. They love you no matter what. I don’t care if you totally phoned dinner in tonight. Even if they are on their last pair of clean underwear, they love you and they’re proud of you.
It’s not endless either. That’s the saddest part. Over the years, your kids will slip away from you to live their own lives. In fact, the older they get, the less time there is to teach and shower them with that obsessive love you feel. Motherhood is the only career where you work yourself out of a job. If you’ve done a good job, they won’t need you. These are the good old days you’ll miss. You won’t ever regret loving your kids instead of doing chores or errands.
This motherhood thing is no joke. It ain’t for the weak! It ain’t for the fearless. The truth is – Motherhood can suck. It can also be amazingly wonderful and everything in between. That’s because it’s a journey. It’s a process. And once you’re a mother, you’ll always be one. I don’t care if you never even saw your baby. If you lost your baby in the womb or at the moment he or she should have taken their first breath. You’re a mama. Motherhood is hard…even on it’s best days.
And by the way, I don’t care if you give your kids Vegan snacks or candy for dinner. It doesn’t matter if you homeschool like me or if they are in public school. You’ve got my respect. Your version of motherhood doesn’t have to look like anyone else’s. Seriously, if there is anything moms do wrong, it’s judging other mamas. Let’s not do that. We’re all just winging it. We’re all just trying to survive. Trying to make it through this tough season. Mother Theresa said, “If you’re busy judging people, you have no time to love them.” Truth. Just love each other – we’re all learning this mom thing at different speeds, in different ways. There is no one “right” way to mom.
I know you feel guilty. You snapped at them yesterday. Thank God no one saw that. It’s amazing how quickly you can bottle that up if you’ve got a play date or someone you know unexpectedly drops in. I know. I’ve done it too. And if you think the women in your mom’s circle haven’t done the same at some point – they’re lying. Because here is what no one tells you: all moms lose their shit at some point. There…I said it. It’s true.
Even if you are an awesome mom, we’ve all locked ourselves in a room, or a car, or some quiet place alone and sobbed into our hands. Raise your hand if you’ve cried to a husband that doesn’t understand. We’ve all wondered if we’re completely failing at this. We wonder if anyone sees that our life is a mess.
Let me tell you something I’ve learned: motherhood is a lot of work and a lot of second guessing. You might think the moms you know have it all together. They don’t! They just use perfectionism as a masquerade. Trust me, I invented that! My life is a mess. Everyone’s is. They’re very own hot, lovely, perfect, beautiful mess.
The feelings after surviving miscarriage are complex, but you aren’t alone mama. Surviving miscarriage is hard and I want you to know there is hope.
I was late. You see, I spent most of my 20’s as a doormat for meat-heads, young doctors and yes, even professional athletes. I dated sorry excuses for men. I didn’t believe men like my husband existed. In fact, it took nearly three years for us to get together and I did the asking. Although we had a whirlwind romance, by the time we married I was in my early thirties. Like many couples, we wanted at least one year together as a newly married couple. So at age 34, we began trying to start our little family.
We didn’t have to try long! I had stopped taking my birth control pill and didn’t even have one cycle. My expected period came and went. I recall laying in bed with my husband gleefully wondering if we had indeed become pregnant. After waiting a few days, I took a pregnancy test and nervously waited for those lines to appear. And appear they did! We were pregnant! That Sunday morning, my husband was still asleep before church. I woke him up, with that gross little pee stick behind my back. I could barely contain myself. It took him a moment, but he jumped out of bed. We were so happy.
You see, I almost couldn’t have children. A tumor and a pre-cancer scare left me minus one ovary. I had no idea if it would affect my ability to conceive. So when we got pregnant almost immediately, we felt like prayers had been answered.
Sharing the Good News
We immediately told our families, who were equally thrilled. We were so excited to announce it to the world. A few weeks later, I had the pregnancy confirmed by a doctor. Initially, I felt the early pregnancy symptoms: breast tenderness, nausea, etc. We immediately began planning.
Then a few weeks later, we went to my OB/GYN. I was about at week 9. As the doctor completed the vaginal sonogram, her silence told me something was wrong. We had lost the heartbeat. I tried to listen to her as she spoke to me, but the overwhelming feeling of grief and disappointment washed over me like an ocean. She explained, I could let the miscarriage occur naturally or I could under go a D&C. Honestly, the D&C sounded too akin to an abortion. I opted to go naturally. I went home and sobbed into a pillow.
Over the following weeks, the pregnancy symptoms faded away one by one. It was incredibly painful to experience. I didn’t know how painful miscarriage is. Nor did I understand the range of emotions I would feel.
We had planned a trip to Arizona to visit family and friends. Once there, I sobbed to my husband’s aunt, who told me of her own miscarriage some 40 years before. She insisted that despite having 5 live children, her thoughts still go back to the one she lost. She also encouraged me to name our baby so we didn’t refer to him or her as “the one we lost.” So after prayer, we named our baby “Gabriel (after the angel messenger) “Emmanuel (God is with us).
When we returned from our trip, I was 12 weeks into my pregnancy and still had not begun to miscarry. That is until one weekday afternoon around 3 pm. I felt the pain first. Then the contractions started and they increased in frequency and pain much like childbirth. I began to pass blood and tissue. I laid there on the bed weeping, moaning, and screaming into a pillow. My husband eventually came home and held me as it continued. We wept bitterly.
Surviving Miscarriage includes the 5 stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. I absolutely went through all of them. The only way to get through denial is look at death square in the face. That’s why we have funerals. Funerals are for the living, not the dead. It allows us time to process grief. We need to see with our own eyes, they are no longer with us. That’s why I personally chose to go through miscarriage naturally. Even if you choose not to do that, you’ll find your way to “face it” because sadly, we can’t escape death.
Surprisingly, I felt angry at God. I was surprised to feel that way, but I did. I felt like the rug had been pulled out from under me. Later, I had anger at myself, which immediately moved me into the bargaining stage. This stage includes thoughts like “if only” and might even include asking God to bring them back in exchange for a promise on your part. The bargaining stage includes lots of self-blame. I wondered if I had worked too many hours or exercised too hard. Was it that glass of wine I had before I knew I was pregnant? Did I contribute to the death of my child? I felt like it was my fault. I felt like I had let my husband and our families down. It’s these thoughts that lead you down a dark road.
Depression hit me before I knew it. I no longer felt like a woman. What good was I if I couldn’t bear a child? Those thoughts seem extreme now, but my fatalistic thoughts seemed perfectly reasonable at the time. One time I broke down at bedtime. My husband asked why I was crying. “My child died alone in the dark. He didn’t even know his mommy was right there with him.” Now I know how silly that sounds. The fetus had no conscious thoughts yet, but that’s how badly grief terrorizes you. It’s confusing, overwhelming and it comes in waves. Like the ebb and flow of an ocean – one day you are good, the next day you aren’t.
We agreed to start trying again. We immediately got pregnant a second time. A few weeks into the pregnancy, I miscarried again. I was utterly devastated. It was hard to bounce back. Only after I started to share my story did I learn many women I knew had also miscarried. They’d dealt with it privately like a dirty little secret.
My husband and I agreed to take a break from trying and that’s when we conceived my oldest living son. I wish I could say, I enjoyed being pregnant, but honestly, I spent it terrified. I was always afraid of losing him. Miscarriage scars you by implanting deep fears. My pregnancies weren’t without complications. My placenta failed with both my sons. Both were born early – but both are amazingly awesome kids now.
Surviving Miscarriage & Restoration
Even though four years have passed, I still think of Gabriel and Daphne. I always will. I conceived them. I carried them. I was there when they died. Don’t let anyone tell you “it doesn’t count” because you lost him or her early in your pregnancy. Don’t let anyone tell you men don’t feel loss with a miscarriage. It is incredibly hurtful to them too. Let him know, he doesn’t need to “be strong” – it’s okay to mourn. Lastly, don’t let anyone tell you it wasn’t a baby. The sound of the heartbeat has always been used to determine who is alive and who is dead. If you’re a Christian, cling to Jesus. Seriously, He helped me out of the pit and restored me (Ps 40:2). Surviving miscarriage is hard, but survive it, you will.
Staying home is a big decision for any woman. It’s hard to stay sane as a new stay at home mom. It doesn’t matter your background, although I think the more you’ve invested in your career the harder it is to give it up. Some women can’t stay home. It takes two incomes to make ends meet and there are some mothers who view staying home as giving up their independence. I’ve learned, it couldn’t be farther from the truth. You actually have to be extremely independent to be at home. It can be a very lonely road. There are no awards or commendations. No raises or promotions if you did an extra good job this year. And truly no sick days! I’ve learned it takes a very special person to do this and enjoy it.
When I first became a stay-at-home mom, I left a 50-hour a week job. It was a very stressful job full of confrontation and lawsuits. Moving from the corporate world to being at home was like shell shock but after lots of trial and error, I’ve learned what works for me. Here are some practical things that helped me stay sane when first started staying home. I hope they help you find your own way.
Create Routines and Schedules
My job was appointment based and so while I was working, I lived by a planner. When I quit my job, I threw it out. Who needs a planner at home, right? My first 6 months at home were awful. Let’s just say, I couldn’t get a handle on anything. I couldn’t keep up with chores. Laundry piled up. Dishes were stacked in the sink. I’d double booked myself or forgot appointments altogether. I felt unaccomplished and overwhelmed.
Then I discovered a Happy Planner. It’s a planner, except you can customize and decorate it. You may not be a planner person and that’s fine, but I will tell you that creating regular routines are good for both you and baby. You choose how stringent or relaxed you want it. Babies and toddlers do well on routines. It’s good for their circadian rythyms. When they know what to expect, it reduces anxiety and tantrums. They feel secure and you can better manage responsibilities without feeling frazzled.
Leave The House Often
I get it. I know how awful it is to leave the house with an infant. You feel like your packing for a 2 month trip across Europe. But the more often you go out, the more confident you’ll get doing it and eventually, it won’t even seem like such a big chore. This is key to staying sane as a stay at home mom. It’s so easy to get stuck in a rut. It’s easier to stay home, but I promise it will do both you and baby a world of good! You’ll feel like a prisoner in your own house if you don’t. I recommend one outing a day.
Meet your husband for lunch, visit parents or in-laws, or have breakfast with a friend. Take a walk with the stroller. It doesn’t even have to be outdoors. Walk a mall or shopping center. Target seems like stay-at-home mom hangout everywhere. You can stop at a coffee shop or schedule a play date with another mom. If you have shopping and errands to do, I recommend spacing them out one per day. You get a break from your house and one outing ensures it won’t be overwhelming. If it’s a very quick outing, make it easier on yourself by just bringing a diaper clutch. It’s scary at first, but over time it will become second nature.
Find Support With Other Moms
The most shocking thing about being a stay at home mom hit me at about six months. My phone stopped ringing. Maybe you’ll have a different experience than I did, but I was absolutely shocked by this. I was very quickly forgotten by friends and colleagues after a few months away from the workforce. I’m not blaming anyone.
When you have a baby, your life changes. It’s common to stop accepting invitations shortly after giving birth. After all, you’re not sleeping and you’re trying to find your feet. After a while, people stopped inviting me altogether. Severe post-partum depression compounded my loneliness. I didn’t have any friends in the same stage of life as me, but then I’m an older mom. Sadder still was that my poor husband, although supportive and attentive, was suddenly solely responsible for all my social and emotional needs. If you want to strain your marriage, this is a great way to do it. No one person can be your everything.
I needed friends. Not just any kind of friends. Friends who understood why it took me a couple of hours to leave the house and was still late. I needed friends who understood all the doubts and second guessing you do as a mom. Friends who force me to leave the house and have some fun. I needed mom friends. These days, if you don’t have any you know personally, you can find play date groups in Facebook groups, Meetup.com, churches, and local websites. I can’t tell you how my life changed when I made non-judgmental, supportive mom friends. I found out I wasn’t weird, inadequate or a failure.
Only in the last 50 to 60 years have women been in the workforce. Before that, all women were at home and had the support of other women at home. Your mom, sisters and neighbors were all at home too. They’d talk over the fence while they hung laundry on the line or did gardening. Women didn’t have to look far for support. Now women are divided between home and work. Those who choose to stay at home may feel alienated because we no longer have the support system we once did. But some awesome women out there have created mom and play date groups to help, so go join one!
Make Your Wellness a Priority
When my oldest son was about 8 months, I felt miserable. He was sleeping through the night, but I was still perpetually exhausted. If I’m being very honest, I had no joy either. I felt depleted in just about every way you can. That’s when I realized I wasn’t taking care of myself anymore. When you have a child, your focus goes from yourself to another person in an instant. That’s good, but don’t forget that you need to take care of yourself and you have to make it a priority. If you wait for it to happen organically, it won’t. Trust me. Don’t give yourself crumbs either. Make it a priority.
This means being deliberate and purposeful about making time for yourself, even if you have to pencil it in a planner. Talk to your partner and get them on board. Whether it’s exercise, a mom’s night out, or a long bubble bath, do things that bring you peace, restoration and fun. There are lots of ways to take care of yourself and I’ve written another post with a free printable if you need ideas. I used to think that “love thy neighbor as thyself” was just about another person. But it’s actually two commands in one. You can’t give what you don’t have and you can’t teach what you don’t know. Practicing regular self-love is about caring for yourself, so you can care for others.
Bloom Where You’re Planted
Attitude matters. When I was working, I went through a season of joylessness. I was working in insurance and was very unhappy that I wasn’t working in my field of study – psychology. But that’s when God revealed to me that I was using it, just not in the capacity that I had planned. Everyday I helped people recover when their house burned to the ground or was completely flooded. I was there when family members died. I was, in fact, doing the very thing for which I trained. Everything is a for a season, and it’s up to us to embrace the moment. To put it plainly, your happiness is up to you.
Some days you’ll have to dig deep to find it. It’s hard to remember there should be joy in this. It’s hard to remember why you’re doing this when the house is a mess, babies are fussy and toddlers are on the ground in a full blown fit. You’ll find yourself fantasizing about how perfect working was, even though it’s completely untrue. You had bad days there too. There will be days you need to adjust your attitude. Learn more about how to stay sane by Resetting Your Day as a Mom. Our kids grow up fast and these will one day be “the good old days.” The small things you do everyday are our children’s memories. Make it count, because their lives will be spent away from you longer than they were with you. Enjoy this season and bloom where you’re planted.
Give Yourself Grace
I saved this for last on purpose because it’s the last thing I want you to hear (or read, that is). We’re on our own journey. Your life should look like your own – no one else’s. It’s perfectly okay if you don’t homeschool and bake pies. It’s okay if your life isn’t Pinterest worthy. Trust me when I say Facebook, Instagram and other social media are full of moments that only make the highlight reel edit. It’s an illusion of perfection. Comparison will suck all the joy out of life. Don’t do it.
Don’t be hard on yourself. Give yourself grace for mistakes and learning. Make forgiving yourself a habit. Allow yourself to be human. Progress is more important than perfection. Just when you think you have the answers, children will change the questions and the learning begins again. Some days are going to be incredibly hard. Keeping little humans alive might be the only thing that gets done and that is perfectly okay.
It was week 20. It’s a big milestone for any mama. You are halfway through your pregnancy and you get the first big look at that little, but growing human inside. All of my pregnancies had been marled by complications. Two ended in miscarriage. I had GD with both pregnancies. My placenta had failed with my first son, something they noticed at our 20 week anatomy scan when my amniotic fluid was fairly low. So anatomy scans are both happy and slightly terrifying for me.
So when I laid there for my second son’s anatomy scan, I tried to calm myself with positive vibes. The sonogram tech did her thing, then handed it over to the doctor. She slid the ultrasound transducer across my glistening belly. Everything seemed fine, until she got to my son’s legs. She went back and forth, pressing harder each time, staring intently at the screen. My heart sank as I sensed something was wrong. “So, baby’s foot looks like it might have a club foot.” Fear swept over me as she continued to examine his little twisted foot. “It’s hard to tell because it’s up against the placenta. So is it like that because of the position or is it a club foot? Let’s see…” She measured both little feet. “So I’m going to say that he has a clubfoot because of the width, but we’re going to keep an eye on it.”
In an instant, our happy moment vanished. The doctor went on to explain that a club foot was a congenital defect that deforms the foot into a club-like appearance and causes patients to walk on their ankles. She didn’t have to tell me. I had seen it. When I lived in Europe, I saw it frequently. Their socialized medicine leaves so many untreated. Go the Vatican and you’ll seen tons of them, lined up along the streets begging. Let’s be honest, it’s a pitiful sight – at least in this day and age when you know the treatment is available. It’s absolutely heartbreaking. So when I left the doctor’s office, that’s about all I could think about. Those poor people I had seen years before.
My OBGYN didn’t give me a ton of information. As far as pregnancy is concerned, it’s business as usual. They said I would be directed to a pediatric orthopedic surgeon after delivery. So here begins our journey. This is where I tell you that I’m not a doctor or medical professional and I’m not giving any medical advice. I’m just sharing the emotional journey we went through because I had no idea what to expect and didn’t know where to find support.
An Emergency C-Section
At week 37, I developed preeclampsia and had an emergency c-section. My blood pressure was over 200 and so they had me on Magnesium Sulfate for 24 hours after delivery. My poor little guy was just barely 4 pounds. He had stopped growing due to my placenta failing. He was rushed to NICU minutes after delivery and let me tell you that Magnesium Sulfate (or Mag as the nurses call it) is just terrible. It gives you double vision, nausea, a screaming headache and disorients you. So it nearly 48 hours before I was wheeled down to the NICU to see him. Now let me be honest, when I found out my little boy was going to have a clubfoot, I went home and googled it. I scrolled through image after image of misshapen feet, slightly horrified and totally discouraged, despite reading that it was totally curable in a first-world country. But not even all that research prepared me for what I saw. That’s because when it’s your baby – the baby you hoped and prayed for – the baby you want desperately to protect – is born with a deformity, your heart sinks. I cried. Like body shaking, sobbing into my hands, can’t catch my breath, ugly kind of cry. Nurses comforted me. They tried to remind me that it would be okay and that the Ortho nurse Daphne would be up shortly to talk to me.
This is where I knew God was working. My ears perked. You see, Daphne is a special name to us. My husband had an great-aunt Daphne who never had children. She poured out all her affection on my husband and his other siblings and cousins, earning a special place in their hearts. So when we lost our second baby due to miscarriage, we decided to name her after our two aunts who loved us deeply, but could never have children of their own. Daphne Guadalupe is the name of one of the babies I lost and here – as if it were God’s own design, a Daphne was here to help my little boy. Chills.
When she arrived, she explained she’d be taping Tristan’s leg and foot. The sooner you start training the foot to the correct position, the better success at a complete healing. So while he was in NICU, he’d under go this treatment. Everyday they’d undo it and perform a series of stretching and physical therapy. Then they’d retape his foot, carefully monitoring his skin color for circulation problems. This went on for nearly two weeks. It was still very turned, but already you could see he was responding to it.
Eventually we left the NICU and visited our new Pediatric Orthopedic Surgeon. Thankfully we were paired with someone with a beautiful bedside manner. As my husband and I sat there nervously, he began to give us a brief history of clubfoot. For centuries it was a deformity that was left untreated. Then there was a French Method which involved the taping we had done in NICU as well as a surgery that honestly, sounded horrifying. It was a very invasive reconstructive surgery that as he described it “was basically taking the foot apart and putting it back together with pins” and then casting. It sounded awful, but he suggested we start with another, less invasive method and save the French method for a last resort.
He suggested the Ponseti method which had proven very effective. The only catch was that it would require a strong commitment on our part. Our son would go through serial casting. It’s a plaster cast, like when you break a bone except that it would be changed out weekly to allow for growth and to check progress. Then he’d go through a small surgery where they cut the achilles tendon, then another cast for several weeks. Then finally special orthopedic shoes attached to a Ponseti bar that would keep his feet in the proper position. Then he hit me with a 2×4. He’ll have to stay in the boots and bar until he’s four.
He tried to comfort me by saying that he’d only be in them for naps and nighttime at that age, but immediately I thought about how I had fought my toddler to nap and how hard that had been. It ended with me giving up on naps. I couldn’t imagine fighting a toddler to wear a contraception to sleep. I left both hopeful and horrified, with our son’s leg in a plaster cast all the way up to the top of the thigh.
Living With Clubfoot
There are so many things that you don’t think about until you’re faced with it. What kind of clothes will go over a cast? How will I bathe him? I was surprised to learn that he could wear most regular clothes with the cast and I found that Glad Press & Seal was a life saver when it came to keeping the cast dry during baths. One day Tristan had a terrible bout of gas. That’s when I learned he couldn’t kick his little legs when he had gas pains. He became even more inconsolable. It broke my heart. By the way, blowouts still happen to babies in a cast and let me tell you, it isn’t fun trying to get the poop off a plaster cast.
Then there are stares. Most people never asked about his leg, but it was hard not to notice them stare… or do the exact opposite. Some people would look only at his face, purposely avoiding anything below the neck. Don’t let this bother you. Most people are good people and they have no idea what they should do, so even if they are awkward and obvious, don’t let that get to you. It’s their best effort at protecting your feelings. I even had a friend buy him shoes. It was hard not to be sensitive about it. There are going to be all kinds of opportunities to be offended, but I strongly caution you against giving into that. Believe that people have good intentions and you’ll be much happier.
Every week we went to the doctor and every week we had a new cast. If you’ve never broken a bone before and worn a cast, it can be a little unnerving when they remove it. They use a special saw that has a blunt blade. The blade moves back and forth and its the vibration that cuts. The result is that it cuts through the cast but not the skin. It’s loud and still looks like a blade, so it’s a little unnerving regardless when its cutting around your infant. It’s perfectly safe, I assure you. Our doctor was very thoughtful. At his suggestion, we planned appointments around his bottle time, so he was feeding during the cast removal and new cast application and therefore didn’t shed a tear. He was too busy chowing down!
Several weeks in, they removed the weekly cast and the doctor felt confident it was time for the surgery. I admit, I was very scared, but I’m going to tell you, it’s not bad at all. They sent us out of the room and one local anesthetic and 20 minutes later, they were done. He had a new cast on already and you could see it was already bloody, something they informed me, was totally normal. Unlike the other casts, he would stay in this one for three weeks. He was a little fussy that day, but he seemed back to his normal happy self by the next day.
When I went back three weeks later and they removed the cast, I was shocked. His foot looked amazing. I couldn’t even tell there had been an incision. Our doctor said they used a delicate scalpel designed for eye surgery. It was perfect for little babies. It was time to move on to boots and bars.
So much of the success would be up to us. If we resisted the urge to take off the brace and follow instructions exactly, he’d be okay. We went to the orthopedist who fitted him. Tristan was so tiny that he’d be in the smallest shoe and he showed me how to properly put it on. The heel needs to be all the way down, the foot flat and held sturdily in place with the use of buckles and straps. This was crucial. Isolating the foot in that position is what will heal it. Fail and you risk reoccurrence. As they instructed me, I held back tears. All I saw was the heavy, clunky metal, straps and buckles. They showed me how I could easily remove the bar for diaper changes with a quick disconnect. It looked like a medieval torture device. They assured me, I’d get used to it and so would he. I wept all the way home.
The next few days were hard as we learned how to lace them and strap them. Explaining it to grandmothers is not fun. You can hear the hurt in their voices and you find yourself reassuring them that it will be okay. I quickly learned that pants would be difficult and I wasn’t going to be able to use all those cute footed sleepers that had been so handy with my first son. They find ways to untie the shoes and even kick them off when they are big enough. The metal bar scrapes things and I had to make a cover to protect him, us and our possessions from being damaged or hurt! (Ponseti bar cover tutorial coming) But this is where the sob story ends.
This is where I tell you that we are now six months into this journey and it’s amazing. The boots and bars have not held my son back. He’s found ways to roll over, to sit up, and to play. He is not bothered by it all. It’s completely normal for him and in some cases, even has a physical advantage because of it. This is where I tell you that his foot looks amazing! When he takes the shoes off, you’d never even know there was a problem. His foot looks totally normal. This is where I tell you that we don’t even think twice about it in our routine. There are plenty of other cute outfits out there and that he doesn’t even have to wear the boots and bars a good part of the day. This is where I tell you not to worry. Your baby will be fine and so will you. Parenting is hard even if your baby is well and somehow, by the grace of God, you’ll get through this and there will be far more joy than tears. Don’t waste tears over this. From one clubfoot mom to another, it’s going to be okay and it’s far harder on you than it is on them. Have your cry, but don’t stay there. Embrace it. Pull yourself up by your bootstraps (no pun intended) and show your child how to tackle life challenges.
I remember when we first met with the doctor and he told us about famous people who were born with clubfoot. Damon Wayans, Troy Aikman, Larry Sherry, Sir Walter Scott, Kristi Yamaguchi, Charles Woodson, David Lynch, Dudley Moore, Jim Mecir, Freddy Sanchez, LeRoy Butler, and even Mia Hamm just to name a few. I was shocked to learn how many of them went on to become professional athletes. It was hard to believe, but I totally get it now. Tristan has the best little attitude. His nickname from everyone is “smiley.” I can’t wait to see what he does with his little life. Something tells me it’s gonna be amazing and this was just a little road bump in an otherwise great life!
Some days we don’t feel like adulting. Other days we’re just downright miserable, lonely and frustrated. Instead of wallowing in mom guilt, try these tips for Resetting Your Day As A Mom
It had been 9 days. Nine days of snotty notes, phlegm filled coughs and clingy, whiny children. Furthermore, I was sick and it was my fifth day battling this awful bug. All moms know there is no such thing as a sick day. Moms are expected to just chug some medicine and get right back to nursing others. Meanwhile, in the midst of all the coughing and sneezing, I had also managed to throw a birthday party for my husband.
By the time Monday rolled around, I was utterly exhausted and we were still sick. We hadn’t been out of the house in 9 days and let me tell you that cabin fever is a real thing. We were all sick of being sick and boy was it starting to affect my attitude.
Moodiness Is Contagious
From the moment I woke up, my toddler was under my feet following me around everywhere I went. I felt myself get irritated that I couldn’t even walk without feeling like I was going to trip over him. Normally pretty self-sufficient, he suddenly couldn’t do anything for himself. His mood crescendoed with a full-on meltdown when it was time for me to feed little brother.
Next, there was my infant who spent the better part of 5 days crying and refusing to be put down. The whining was so bad I felt like I could hear it even when he had stopped. Consistent baby cries are enough to make anyone feel like they’re going mad. I felt my blood boil. I just wanted to rest. The mess of the party was still looking at me and I had two babies that were requiring every ounce of energy I had. I wanted to walk out the door and run for the hills! My words whipped around the room like a scorpion’s tail. It’s a moment you pray no one ever sees. It reminded me of something someone said to me once.
If your pastor were to ring your doorbell right now, would your attitude change?
Ugh! Of course it would. It would,’t even have to be my pastor. But the answer tells you that you are totally capable of changing your attitude. You are in total control of how you behave. Therefore, if you could straiten up your attitude in a moment’s notice, it tells you that this crabby, ornery mood is totally on you! That’s right – it’s up to you. Believe me, I fail at this more than I care to admit. Moments like this that douse me with buckets of mom guilt afterwards.
You Set The Tone
Have you ever noticed that whenever you are in a bad mood, you’re kids also seem to have the roughest, most emotionally charged day? That’s because you set the tone in your house. It’s true. I know that’s not what you want to hear, but girlfriend, it’s true. Your kids look to you to see how they should behave and they emulate what they see. If you are resistant and angry, they pick up on it. Worse, they mirror it.
The good news is that you can reset your attitude. It takes some determination, but more than anything it takes your will. You have to decide to change your attitude. Here are some things that have helped me in the past.
Take a Time Out
Stop. Just stop right in the middle of that fire-breathing sentence and pull yourself together. Listen to what you just said and how awful it sounded. Walk away from your kids for a second if you have to, but take a moment from spitting venom and cool down. It’s not easy to admit, but the truth is, toddlers aren’t the only ones who have meltdowns! If you need to, phone a friend. Sometimes distraction or talking with a supportive person is enough to change our attitude.
Breathe & Reset Your Day
Go strait up zen and breathe in and out meditation style. Listen to your breath. Let your heart rate fall. If you need to, talk to yourself. Pray. Mediate. It’s up to you. Because I’m a Christian, I often call out the enemy and rebuke him out loud. I recognize that I’m in a battle with an enemy who wants to steal my joy (John 10:10) and devour me (1 Peter 5:8). Compose yourself and decide not to act like that. You have the power to reset your day as a mom.
If there is one thing that I learned with my psychology degree, it’s that hurting people hurt other people. When we are hurting or depleted inside, it rears it’s ugly head in the form of lashing out. Normally there are rational explanations for our mood. Maybe we are running on a few hours of sleep. Similarly, maybe our kids aren’t feeling well. Maybe we’re just all a little tired of being cooped up in the house. It sometimes helps to get to the bottom of why we’re so moody. And if it’s your kids’ behavior that set you off, consider they are hurting or frustrated about something too. This is the place where reason and compassion meet. Gain some perspective and remember you control what happens next. You have a great life and you have so many things for which to be happy and grateful.
“If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.”- Maya Angelou
If you’re anything like me, you had grand plans for your day that suddenly feel like they have been hijacked. You must realize that that is a symptom of needing to be in control. Your plans; your way. Things don’t always go the way we planned and we must accept that. Be willing to let housework go for a day. It’s never ending anyway. I promise you, there would be housework tomorrow even if you worked today. No load of laundry is as important as loving your child.
Reprioritize and remove unnecessary commitments. Many times our moodiness comes from a place of being overwhelmed and frustrated. Take a good hard look at what you have on your plate. Remove unnecessary things that are weighing you down and reorder what you do have, spreading them out into manageable chunks. Delegate tasks to your husband. Usually most people don’t help, because they don’t know they’re needed.
Finally, ask for help. That friend, parent, in-law, sibling or neighbor who always says, “let me know if you need something,” is the one you need to call. People don’t go around offering help if they don’t mean it. If they offer, they truly don’t mind. Swallow your pride and ask for help. No one is going to think any less of you. If you’re truly struggling you need to call on the people that love you for help. Sometimes just having some support changes everything.
This is the hard part. Letting it go. Once emotions are settled and the moment has passed, we are quick to feel guilt and condemn ourselves. Identifying regrets is a healthy way to stop ourselves from making the same mistake, but it can become unhealthy if we wallow in self-pity and condemn ourselves. That’s because over time, we believe what we say about ourselves. If you constantly tell yourself you’re a failure and a bad mother, you’ll start to believe it. Don’t give into that. Part of self-care and self-love is forgiving yourself. Allow yourself to be human, including making mistakes. This life is about progress, not perfection. Hold yourself accountable. Apologize if necessary. Commit to change. Move forward.
In conclusion, it is awful that are children see us at some of our worst moments. But even in our adult-sized tantrum we can show our children how to regain self-control. Don’t be hard on yourself, mama. You got this!