We are not polar bears.
Being a mom these days feels sort of like trying to accomplish the impossible. Clean the house, feed the people wholesome well-rounded meals, wash the clothes, make fun and elaborate lesson plans, teach the children, exercise, and still look beautiful for your husband when he gets home. Or maybe those are just my issues…
As a stay-at-home mom, one can even be tempted to think that she must do all of this for herself, by herself. “I have no job outside the home, so that means I have to do it ALLLL. This place should look like a magazine, even while children are running all over it.”
Well, that makes no sense whatsoever. Children are exhausting. Toddlers are especially so. They are wonderful and adorable, and I love them so much that we had four of them, on purpose. However, by 3pm everyday, I sometimes look like a pile of emotionally wrought mush, sitting on my sofa, saying things like, “Okay! Who wants to watch a movie!!??? Pick a long one…”
Then I feel guilty when my husband arrives home, and I practically fly out the door to go take a walk by myself. There’s this one lady I see on my walk, every time, outside playing with her three little boys. What a great momma. She probably thinks I don’t have a clue. Ha! I am so with you, sister! You just only see me when I’m escaping!!! I would tell you that, but I am surprisingly shy.
I thought about this guilt thing yesterday morning, as I was still in bed, and yet I could hear my amazing husband, returning from the gym, and getting John David out of his crib….at 5:30am. Sometimes I wonder. Is Alan just a way better person than me with infinity more energy than I have?
He exercises at 5 am. Sometimes JD or Daniel, or even both, wake up that early, and Alan puts them in the double jogger, and takes them with him.
Why can’t I do that? Will you ever see me out jogging at 5 am, with two babies in a jogging stroller?
Don’t hold your breath.
Then Alan comes home and even makes those little ones breakfast! Okay, I’m starting to feel super lazy… But do you know what Alan DOESN’T have to do?
He does not stay home with them all day long every day. After all, someone around here really should go to work… 😉 He does not have to mediate their every dispute. From morning until evening, he is free of diaper duty and meal supervision. He does not have to write their lesson plans. He does not have to teach them reading, writing, and ‘rithmetic. Nor does he have to make them say “An element is a basic chemical substance defined by its atomic number (number of protons) and atomic mass.”
Daddy does not have to listen to four children take turns crying, falling, whining, or complaining all day long. Oh, that might make my darlings sound bad. They are NOT bad. They are FANTASTIC, lovable children, but they ARE children. Children are not miniature adults. They are more like larvae. They have lots and lots and lots of needs, and whoever spends all day trying to meet those little larval needs will 100% guaranteed be very wiped out by the end of the day.
That’s right. Hug your childcare provider. Seriously. It’s draining.
This is why there are two parents. Some people aren’t that lucky. Many times you can’t help it. There’s only one parent, and you do the best you can do to get by in that situation. That is insanely hard. Every single time Alan deployed, leaving me alone with our children for months on end, I packed my kids up and lived close to family. That whole village thing is no joke. No one should have to raise children alone.
So ideally, there are two parents, and that is by design. We are not polar bears.
What am I talking about with the polar bears? Well, my first-born son obsessed over all things animals for several years. We watched these two polar bear documentaries over and over. I can tell you with great confidence, “Be glad that we are not like polar bears.” Polar bear cubs are raised exclusively by their mothers. The fathers are too mean. They steer clear of the father. If they don’t, he could actually attack the cubs, so it’s important to just stick with mama. Mama Bear does it all.
People aren’t like that. Mama shouldn’t do it all. That’s why Daddy is there. It’s a shared job. I’m so thankful I married an especially great one. I was so extremely careful about who I even dated, for that very reason.
Alan cooks breakfast every morning for whoever is up early with him. Alan gets the laundry started many days. He packs his own lunch. He cleans up in the kitchen. He earns allll of OUR money. When Alan comes home at the end of the day, he knows that I will probably have supper made, but he also knows that I will be desperate to get out and go for a walk, just to have a little silence. Alan is our number one boy hair comber and toothbrushing supervisor. He is also better at keeping up with Caleb’s medication than I am. We take turns cleaning up after supper. We take turns on a lot of things. We put the kids to bed together, every single night, and we always have.
I’m SO thankful that I have Alan. Taking care of babies and toddlers is a special kind of exhausting. Thankfully, that’s getting a little easier here. Daniel is almost 4!!! JD is 18 months and is sleeping a little better lately.
Mothers of little ones, hang in there. Enjoy those hugs and cuddles as much as you possibly can, and never feel guilty about your need to hand over those little ones and have alone time. Seize it! What we are doing is something that is bigger than ourselves. It is a selfless but necessary job, and it is so incredibly important.
No one person can do everything. I figure it’s more important to be happy than to do every single thing that “needs” to be done. I guess it’s easy for me to say that since I am not really much of a perfectionist. Writing is something I’ve done for therapy since I was eight years old. Find your therapy. Cling to every bit of good that you can find in your life.
Before you know it, those little ones will be big ones. My oldest is nine now, and he doesn’t need me all the time anymore. He’s actually a pretty good helper. All that work is starting to pay off for me!
Here comes Dan. He still needs me about every 5 minutes. He decides when my fun time is over….yeah, it’s over. Oh well, I suppose I should cook supper too. Let me go see if I can find Alan…. 😉