boy in the sunlightThe last few months have been hard.

I don’t think I assumed being home with two little ones would be easy, but I definitely didn’t think it would be this hard. I thought I had things figured out with Emerson, so, naively, I thought adding another little human to the mix would be no big deal.

Seven months later I know differently.

I’m here to say that yes, having two kids, no matter how far apart they are is a lot of work. But you probably already knew that. Now that I’ve accepted this, I can finally start to find my new normal. I only wish I had figured this out sooner!

Does anyone else hate to admit when things are hard?

Even though it isn’t easy to admit that I’m struggling with something, it feels good to have it out in the open. There is power in saying something is hard and owning it, even embracing it.

I am learning that the main reason I don’t like to admit that something is hard is pride.

If I’m honest, I don’t want anyone to know that I don’t have everything figured out. I’m not super mom. I don’t have it all together. There are weeks when I can’t remember the last time I showered, let alone washed my hair or wore a bra (nursing tanks don’t count).

Never mind the fact that if you’ve seen me in person or seen a rare photo of me from the last 7 months you know I’m tired. Worn thin. If you take a minute to look past that quick smile I put on when I see you and quickly say I’m fine, you know there are days when I feel like I’m hanging on by a thread.

brothersI don’t say this to make you feel sorry for me. But there I go again with trying to make it seem like I have it all together. I have a constant need to justify how I’m feeling. To qualify it. To keep you at arm’s length. To compare my situation to someone else’s and tell myself that I shouldn’t complain. It’s like I’m saying, ‘Yes, life is hard, but I don’t need your help. I can do it on my own.’

That’s what it is. I have such a hard time accepting help. And that is so selfish of me. So prideful. I am quick to offer you help, so why won’t I accept yours? Is it because somehow I think I’m better than you? That I don’t deserve it? Those are lies. But even though I know they are lies, my actions say I believe them.

When I try to do everything on my own, I’m actually worse off than you. I isolate myself when I hide behind a façade of having it all together. I build up walls that make it hard for anyone to really know me. And I’m tired of living that way.

I was so convicted when I read Lisa-Jo Baker’s post How to uncomplicated being a good neighbor on (in)courage last week. She described my feelings so well! When someone offers to help, my first response is usually to brush it off, and say, “No thanks, we’re fine.” When in reality we’re not fine. But accepting help would mean admitting that I’m not OK.

One thing I’ve learned in the last few months is that I don’t want to wish away these hard days while waiting for a “good” day.

It’s so easy to put everything on hold waiting for a good day or a good week or for when we move Emerson to a big boy bed, or get him potty trained, or Foster is sleeping through the night, or is done teething. There will always be something that we are waiting for. As hard as the days can be, and as many times as I wish we were past this stage, I know don’t want to forget the sweet moments. And there are so many sweet moments.

Like when I go to get Foster when he wakes up from a nap and he’s all smiles, grabbing at my face, loving me unconditionally and looking at me like I’m the most beautiful woman he’s ever seen. He doesn’t care that my hair is in a greasy ponytail, I have spit up stains on my shirt, and dark circles under my eyes. All he sees is his mama and he loves me.

Or the countless times a day Emerson calls out “Mommy, mommy, mommy!” So excited to show me his trucks, hold my hand when we walk downstairs, or look at books together.

brothersTheir love is unconditional. And that’s more energizing than the biggest cup of coffee.

As any mom knows, every day is full of ups and downs (and if I’m honest, even the hardest days have more good times than hard times). When I choose to focus on the ups, the long days become a little shorter and the sleepless nights a little less exhausting.

I know God is working on me through these hard days. In many ways I feel like he’s stripping away all the extra, unnecessary things in my life. He’s refining me, and it’s not easy, but I know it’s for the best. He’s making me decide what is most important and what my priorities are. Whether it’s a TV show that I just don’t have time to watch any more, books I’ve been waiting to read but don’t even pick up at the library because I know I’ll never finish them in 3 weeks, to making weekend plans or committing to big work projects.

This is a season. And even though it feels unending, I look at families with kids who are 3-5 years older than ours and I know we will get there. There will be a time when we can take a weekend trip and not dread figuring out how to coordinate nap schedules and early bed times. We will be able to eat in a restaurant or go to the zoo without holding our breath and hoping no one has a meltdown.

I hesitated to even share these things. I don’t want to sound like I’m complaining. But I want to be honest. Even though we are in a hard, tired, busy season, we have so much to be thankful for. Our boys are healthy. I am able to stay home with them and still do a little work on the side, not because I have to, but because I want to. Adam is an amazing dad and husband and works so hard to support us.

This is one of those posts that I’ve been writing in my head for weeks and finally I just had to put it out here. I try not to have any expectations for who reads the blog, but in the end, I decided I needed to be honest about where I am and I wanted to share this with the hope that it is encouraging to even one other tired momma out there.

If you’re still reading, I’m impressed. I’ll leave you with these verses from Lamentations 3:22-23 that I find hope and encouragement in:

“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;

His mercies never come to an end;

They are new every morning;

Great is your faithfulness.”

You can do this! No matter how many kids you have, how little sleep you’ve gotten, or how overwhelmed you feel. Set aside your pride, let down your guard and ask for help. When you realize you don’t have to do everything by yourself, your load is instantly lighter.

parenthood

The world said good-bye to the Braverman’s last week and I’ll admit, there were plenty of tears shed at the Cooley house. If you haven’t watched the show, what are you waiting for? You can stream it on Netflix. The first season wasn’t my favorite, but get through those first few episodes and you’ll fall in love with this family.

What made the show so great was how real the family was. Life is messy and complicated, but they loved each other no matter what. They are funny and dysfunctional and a little crazy. All things a family should be.

When I watched the love and respect the 4 siblings have for each other, it makes me so excited for our kids to grow up and be friends. (Confession: Adam and I talk about wanting 4 kids and part of the reason is that the Braverman’s have 4 kids. Ridiculous I know, but true!) There is a moment in every episode that I think to myself (or say to Adam if I’ve convinced him to watch with me) that I hope our family is that way. I want us to talk about the hard things. To never leave each other alone. To show up for every concert, game, and recital, and cheer each other on no matter what.

As I thought about the things that I loved about the show (and am seriously considering starting it over from the beginning), here are the things I will remember:

They aren’t perfect.
Everyone knows no family is perfect. And there are plenty of flaws in the Braverman clan. But that’s why we love them. We can relate to them! Whether it was losing jobs, adjusting to a new baby, dealing with in-laws, unfaithfulness in marriage, dealing with cancer, or issues of race, they dealt with it. They fought. And it wasn’t always pretty, but they came through every conflict, stronger.

They fight for each other.
My favorite example of this was Joel fighting for his marriage. Clearly, he and Julia both had issues and were ready to throw in the towel and get a divorce. I loved how the show handled this. No matter how you cut it, marriage is hard work. When you bring two imperfect people together there are going to be moments when the easiest option will seem like walking away. But when you love someone, you are willing to fight for them. To forgive. To sacrifice. To work together to make it work. That’s what marriage is all about.

They support each other.
Adam supported Christina when she ran for Mayor, even when he wasn’t sure about it. Jasmine encouraged Crosby to keep the Luncheonette open, even when it meant she had to take a job she didn’t love. As I watched these storylines unfold, I couldn’t help but compare them to areas in my marriage where I want to support Adam’s dreams and goals, even if I don’t know what the outcome will be. We need to be each other’s cheerleaders, to believe in encourage each other.

No matter what, they love each other.
Sarah wasn’t thrilled that Amber was following in her footsteps and having a baby when she was young with a dad who wasn’t in the picture. But she still supported her decision. And Camille and Zeke accept each of their children and grandchildren with open arms.

I pray our family, the little Cooley tribe that is taking shape, grows to love each other well. That we are our own best friends and biggest fans. I know it’s easy to look at other families, both on TV and in real life, and wish your family looked like theirs. And I don’t want to fall into the comparison trap. But I do want to turn to these families as examples of what family should be.

Why do you love the Braverman’s? Thursday night won’t be the same without them!

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