I love putting together this quarterly series on Motherhood. I especially enjoy reading the submissions and peaking into another Mom’s life, her joys and triumphs, along with her struggles and challenges. In this digital world we live in it can be difficult to slow down and tap into who we truly are, and what matters most to us as Moms. For me it’s working daily to help other Moms, practicing balance, and putting my family first. I’ve met all five of today’s contributors and know you will love what they have to say! I think they each shared a dynamic and unique perspective. Here is the question I asked all of them:
“Describe your best and worst days as a Mom? What do you try to focus on to make each day one of the best?”
Parenting is like firefightingYou put out one flame (diaper changes, tantrums, breaking dishes, starvation) while the other flames escalate (fighting over light sabers, punching brothers, running into the road with no pants in 4 degree weather, flooding the toilet, dumping apple juice all over the floor) and you can try the best you can but you are only 1 firefighter and you got 4 raging flames about to burn your house down and very rarely are all 4 flames extinguished. At best they are little embers sitting and waiting to be ignited at the drop of a hat. Some days the flames are all around you screaming, yelling & crying non stop and you do all you can to keep your cool, and not become yet another fire yourself (this is where my caffeine addiction comes in) Its a HOT MESS literally. I gotta say 4 has actually been a little smoother transition than I anticipated but only because it was already SO CRAZY before, what’s 1 more?! Bring it on! This afternoon was up in flames but I have been putting an extra effort to not surrender to my days, but to embrace them. I love these little fireballs to the freakin moon. I know I am the best mom for these kids, and I know they need me just as much as I need them in my life. They are my purpose, what I have been given time for and I want to make every day count. The fires and all. I just want to send fist bumps to all the fire extinguishing moms out there, we got this.
Ashley Reeves is a mom of 4 and calls herself a “foodie family girl”. She shares daily snippets on her instagram @ashleysfreshfix – a mix of mom life and delicious recipes! She also has a blog with great ideas for whole food snacks and meals. My personal favorites are her weekly menu chart and her e-books. Most currently she is apart of the #choosingtoloveyourself campaign which you can get involved with here. She is also a social media consultant – catch her live on periscope @ashleyrosereeves.
Best days and worst days? This is actually a great question because it’s something that we’ve really been trying to gain better control over, lately. Our oldest (Scarlett) has had a bit of a difficult time adjusting to becoming a family of five. You’d never know the reason is the new baby though, because she loves and dotes on her two younger brothers constantly. Instead, she takes her frustration with these changes out on me. With a third kid, it’s been a real drain dealing with outbursts and meltdowns. I’ve let it ruin days, I’ve let our “head-butting” turn into some of my worst parenting days. We’ve tried it all, talking her through it, taking away toys, taking away privileges, sending to her room for some alone time, one-on-one dates to give her extra attention, but even that doesn’t work when it’s already been a rough day. So most recently, I tried something that’s not exactly my strong suit… Lots of patience and lots of listening. I mean more patience and talking about feelings than I’ve done in my entire life. She has so many feelings inside her tiny little body… And boy does she like/NEED those feelings acknowledged! This little experiment has made situations that used to make for a “worst” kind of day turn into a “best” kind of day, as I’m breaking through and strengthening our relationship.
Well besides focusing on patience to make for a “best” kind of day, I would say finding joy in the simplest of things. Welles has taught our family this. That kid finds such joy in things like watching snow fall outside of our window, feeling different textures of flower peddles and he savors every single hug and snuggle. He truly appreciates all beautiful things around him, big or small. What a way to live! I’m grateful for his example of making the most out of each day and his constant focus on making everything a “best” kind of experience.
Oakley Peterson is a mom of 3. Her son, Welles, “has an extra chromosome and a smile that rocks our world!”. She has a blog and instagram (@nothingdownaboutit) where she celebrates “Up Syndrome!” and offers her support and love to other Moms of special needs children.
As I think back to the years I have been a Mom to my two little girls I can think of many good days and of course some bad. Some of my best days include taking my children to Disneyland for the first time and seeing their faces light up with excitement over everything. Every holiday watching them excited about each new tradition it brings. But even more so my favorite days are just the little things; such as picking up my four year old from preschool and seeing her happy face ready to tell me about her day. Watching my toddler develop new skills and be so proud of her! Every night being able to read and sing to my girls and tuck them into bed knowing that they are mine. I of course have many bad days of parenting just as I’m sure you have too. My worst days include a lot of tantrums, a lot of yelling, and a lot of tears from both myself and my girls and the worst part being told that “I don’t love you anymore Mommy!”
So what do I do to make each day a better one? I try. My children are my motivation. Every night in bed without fail, good or bad day my husband and I talk about our girls and their different personalities, the funny things they did that day, and the not so fun parts of the day. Communication is my band aid. It makes me reflect on the day and I realize how these small problems don’t matter. What matters is that my children know that I love them, and that I am trying. I have a lot to learn from my girls. They forgive and forget easily, they love unconditionally, and they motivate me to try harder. So here is too many more good and bad days, happy and sad, knowing that my children will still love me just like I will always love them!
Courtney Miles is the mother of 2 beautiful little girls. A little over a year ago she was diagnosed with colon cancer. She amazed many with her positivity and radiating smile. She documented much of her treatment on instagram (@court_miles), giving strength and hope to others. Recently she has been cleared as disease-free! After chemo, she began working out and it has become one of her favorite things to do. She and her husband, Cole, enjoy Bear Lake cabin trips, water-skiing, and traveling anywhere warm!
My best day as a mom: my best day looks like one that includes no phones, no iPads, no computers and no Disney junior. Basically no screens. They are usually the days when there is one objective, be present with Loo in life. Usually this happens when we decide to get out of the house and have a little adventure…little being the key word. It doesn’t have to be extravagant! Although every once and a while we do something a bit extra special like a trip to the farm to ride on the cow train and pick strawberries. But usually it’s simple, a trip to Home Depot to walk around and explore the nursery. We sniff flowers and run up and down between the aisles of plants. We talk about the colors and how beautiful they are. Or maybe it’s our Saturday morning tradition of going to McDonald’s for breakfast while daddy plays hockey. I let London order her own “egg white mcmuffin and oatmeal”. She is learning to make eye contact with the person at the register and tell them thank you. Then we sit at our favorite booth by the window and wait, I ask her to tell me our number is at the top of the receipt, and we listen for that number. We eat our breakfast and talk, and usually some interesting characters stop by to talk to us. Other good days include drives in the car around the neighborhood or the beach and we roll down the windows and listen to music. She loves “Downtown” by Petula Clark and “Sugar Town” by Nancy Sinatra. I love to be in nature with London. There is a peace and an energy there that makes me feel in touch with the present, with God and with her. Without the distractions of the digital world or the noisy boredom of kid tv. But also the reality is that we are gonna be at home on most days and I have to be diligent on being engaged. So we make a lot of stuff, paint stuff, bake stuff… Like pre-made cookie dough. Those can be good days too. But what ever it is we’re doing, my best day is found in the moments that I really absorb her, in those seconds when she is talking to me and she is saying stuff that is blowing my mind, and I look at her and think, “Holy moly that’s my kid! This is real!” I realize that it is all happening so fast and she is growing too quickly and she is so beautiful and funny and such a gift and I freak out that too often I’m missing it!
My worst day as a mom: My worst days are usually ones when our eyeballs are glued to screens and our minds are numbed by overstimulation. Also, I’m trying to simultaneously work and be a mom. We watch back-to-back-to-back-to-back Disney junior and Jake and the never land pirates. We’re in the “back room”, the multi-purpose tv/office/play room. I’m trying to get the work done that I didn’t get done the day before on the computer while Loo is literally fighting my hand away from the mouse and playing tug a war with my arm. Maybe I’m on a conference call and she is whaling “no more work mom” in the background. She tells me every 2-4 minutes that she is hungry, we make countless trips to the snack cabinet and fridge hoping some snack of her liking will magically appear. I try to get her to eat carrots but we end up eating an entire bag of goldfish crackers and/or fruit snacks. By 4 o’clock it’s no surprise our behavior takes a turn for the worst. We are in full melt down mode… the whining and fit throwing starts to escalate. We’re still trapped in the back room, It’s taken me four hours to almost respond to one email and I’m not sure I can succeed at another 5 seconds of motherhood. I finally give up on work and find myself on the couch trying to do a puzzle and watch doc mcstuffins with her, while mindlessly and compulsively checking my Instagram. You know, because I could use some validation and connection to the outside world. I’m scrolling and scrolling though crisp curated squares of perfection and productivity, I want to be inspired but instead it makes me feel like crap in my soul and gives me a dull ache in my face. I probably post something a little too long, too personal. The number next to my profile pic drops. My ego starts to flare up. My insecurities come to a roaring head. I do my lowest thinking in this moment, I start comparing myself to others, feeling guilty, unproductive, anxious, lonely, unmotivated and disconnected. Knowing that I didn’t get my work done when people were counting on me while feeling like I failed my child by parking her in front of the tv with processed food all day is a double whammy. Cue shame and anxiety. Pity party ensues: I’m ruining my beautiful child. I can’t follow through on anything. My life is so good, I should be grateful. Also dinner time is the scary monster in the corner ridiculing me because I have no idea what I’m gonna make and we have no groceries and let’s be honest I haven’t made dinner in weeks… Months. The laundry still never made it out of ikea bags and what do I have to show for this day. We pray each day that we can grow our family, but I only have one kid and I still can’t keep my shiz together. On these days I lay in bed at the end of the day, convinced that I don’t deserve another baby. These days are my worst days as a mom. They happen more then I’d like to admit.
So what do I do about it: that’s a solid question. I’m still working on it, and likely always will. Somedays I’ve found the secret, other days I know nothing. But, The current goal is to have the best outweigh the worst, and I’m taking that seriously. I’ve had to realize that the truth is I struggle with depression, anxiety and perfectionism. This contaminates all experiences and perceptions. Overtime it produces shame which can be painfully paralyzing. So finally after coming to grips with the bottom line that I need help, I am seeing a wonderful counselor… so far it’s been helpful.I took a course in meditation: absolutely incredible. The trick is just doing it. I’m relying more on my spouse for help and support and he’s been outstanding. I’m putting every happy tool in my belt to use. Sunshine, praying, music, meditating and mindfulness. I’m figuring out the triggers, i.e. Screens, social media, sleep deprivation. Lately I’ve been experimenting with taking longer breaks from my phone and Instagram. I found them to be deeply effective though it’s hard to not fall back into old patterns when I’ve returned. Working on that. I also have learned me and my Loo need to spend less time in the back room in front of screens. It’s about stopping the cycle before it begins. Also, help is essential if I’m going to work. Getting a babysitter when I need to or swapping child care with a friend. I’m trying to break the patterns of over-promising and under-delivering. Saying no and communicating more effectively with the people I work with about what I can realistically achieve. I also am trying to establish boundaries like when London is at school I work, when she is home I am a mom. Discarding the old unhealthy habit of multitasking is something that is hard to shake but essential. Accepting that I can’t do everything is a day by day, minute to minute process. Letting go of unrealistic expectations is not easy. I try to learn from others, at church, from friends, or I listen to books on audible. But probably the thing that will make the difference but is proving to be the hardest change, is to be more loving towards myself, to relinquish the bonds of shame and offer myself grace. I’m trying to redefine my identity and where it lies. I’m trying to believe that my worth isn’t dependent on how much I do. I’m trying to remember that little ones grow so fast and we can’t get this time back. I’m trying to look in her eyes more and just be there, and live in a space of gratitude. I am trying to be aware and simplify. Yeah. I don’t know, I could ramble for a million hours about all the things I’m trying to do, or could do and should do to give my daughter a happy healthy mom and therefore a happy healthy childhood. I wish I could have it all figured out how and outlined in nice tidy tangible bullet points, but I don’t. And hopefully that’s okay, because I’m really trying… My best. And isn’t that all we can do?
Brooke White is the mom of an adorable little girl Londyn, an American Idol alum, and co-hosts a popular web show, Girls with Glasses. Brooke appeared on season 7 of the hit show American Idol, where she dazzled with her lovable personality and talents of voice, piano, and guitar. Her vocal influences are Carly Simon and Carole King. She has 7 available albums you can download here. She shares daily snippets on instagram @realbrookewhite and @girlswithglasses
I hope you have enjoyed reading these excerpts of “Best and Worst Days” as mothers. We all have them! I heard recently, “A good day is a good day and a bad day is a good story”. What’s important is that we keep trying, support each other, and be okay with who we are today. Come say hi on instagram today and let me know your best and worst days!
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Thanks for coming by,
Lindsey Shipley, RN, IBCLC