I could come up with a lot of names for that first year of baby-raising. The year of no sleep. The year of caffeine. The year of hormones. The year of no time alone. The year of craziness. The year of depression. The year of joy. The year of I-must-be-insane-because-how-can-I-be-fine-one-minute-and-full-blown-angry-the-next?
Honestly, I wish we would call it “The Year of Grace”. Most moms don’t give themselves enough. They’re trying so hard to be super mom, they don’t realize their kids already think they are.
I was about three quarters of the way through our first year with baby #3 when I realized Josh and I were both yelling at our kids way too much. And then I started seeing our bad actions replicated by our children… that’s a yucky feeling.
I was carrying the weight of my guilt and making sure Josh saw our mistakes too. Doesn’t every husband want a wife to point out his flaws? I owned my share of the flaw, so I thought it was fine.
Over and over, I’d tell Josh we have to control our anger. What is happening to us? Why can’t we get it together? We need to do something about our parenting. Our parenting is the problem. How can we fix it? Read books and blogs and research. Try methods from this expert or that mom.
But in one moment of my desperate search, I stumbled upon this truth. If I take care of me, I’ll take care of my kids. If I make sure Lisa is okay, then my parenting will be okay. If Lisa is well, then my family will be well.
As I feed and fill myself, I can feed and fill my kids. It’s kind of like breast-feeding. I have to take in sustenance to make milk for my baby. If I don’t get enough calories and water the milk will dry up, and I will have nothing to feed my child.
If I don’t feed myself I will dry up, and I will have nothing left to give my family.
This is where the grace comes in. At some point I recognized I was still in YEAR 1 with my baby. That first year is not easy. It’s freaking hard, and that’s OKAY. When I let go of the impossible standards I was holding onto for myself, my whole family benefitted from it. I had to allow for my flaws and Josh’s. Grace for myself and grace for my husband.
Breathe that in.
You have permission to be tired and grumpy with a messy house. You, also, have permission to get away and go be you – not mom or wife – just you. While you’re away don’t beat yourself up for all the things you’re doing wrong and don’t worry about the baby – he or she will live. Instead, focus on the things you’re doing right. And tell the guy you’re doing life with that you appreciate him too. Gratitude goes a long way in changing one’s attitude and outlook.
Gratitude and grace. Hm… that combination could change my whole life.
Here’s to you, sister! You’ve got this. You’re doing great. No one else expects the impossible from you, so don’t put that pressure on yourself. Your kids already think you’re super mom. Go feed yourself and be filled. Breathe in that grace, and extend it to others.
I’m cheering you on!