August 29, 2018
How to Honor Your Season as a Mother
When I was a mother to two children under age three and I saw school-age moms walking by, my primary emotion was intense jealousy.
They always looked so much more well-rested, so much more put together, like they were doing a better job at momming than I ever would. Their children weren’t hanging on them, blowing out diapers, or throwing tantrums in the grocery aisle. In the moment I couldn’t imagine myself ever getting to that point. It seemed as though my children would be little forever. They would never get bigger, and I would never be that mother with her act together.
Now that I have a child in elementary school and one in pre-school, I am making my slow exit out of the baby/toddler phase and into “big kid” mode.
And to my own great surprise, I am becoming a much closer version of that mother than I expected. Not that I am completely put together, as that is a daily effort for me. But things seem to be leveling out, finding their new groove if you will. The primary factor here, of course, is time. Simply time to shower, to take a walk, to run my company, to work on this blog post. I am no longer stealing moments in between naps and feedings, no longer working late at night after the second wake up, or just staying afloat. I have entire 6-hour windows of time that I can now dedicate to something outside of mothering. And let me tell you friends, it is much more daunting than I imagined.
Now that I have this time, I find myself completely upping my expectations of myself. Before when I knew I was in survival mode (which lasted a total of about three years), I kept my expectations fairly low. Shower if you can, cook when you have time, clean – uh, never. But now! I have ALL THE TIME! So I can do ALL THE THINGS! Except that this is still not remotely realistic on any level. This flood of time can almost be paralyzing. It’s like a larger version of the early days of naptime- the decision fatigue sets in immediately, but now instead of choosing between laundry and a shower, I’m trying to prioritize work, client projects, personal projects, writing and personal development. I know I know, anyone who is reading this as a newborn or infant or toddler mom is rolling her eyeballs out of her head at this very moment. But what I am saying is that EVERYTHING CHANGES.
Every time I talked to a seasoned mother in my early parenting days, they would tell me “don’t blink”. That used to make me want to cut someone. I hated that term because I thought to myself, “easy for you to say. You aren’t a walking sleep deprived zombie shell of yourself lady. Stick your life wisdom where the sun don’t shine.” But now that I’m moving out of the first huge season, I understand it more and more. The only constant in life, and especially in mothering, is change.
So now that I have a teensy bit of perspective on this parenting gig, I am choosing to see things in terms of seasons.
Seasons change. Winter gives way to spring, no matter how hard of a winter it was. Summer gives way to fall, things are released and die, lying dormant under the snow. This has been such a helpful way for me to view life in general, and mothering in particular. Nothing lasts forever, nothing in this life is permanent. Holding it all loosely and with gratitude can be so helpful.
When I was changing diapers, the diaper stream seemed endless. But now they are gone. Six years of changing diapers and wiping rear ends. Well there is still some rear-end wiping, let’s be honest. But overall I am no longer swimming in excrement. When I was freelancing and nursing, working during naps and keeping clients happy, it felt like that would always be my season. But I began to hire people, the client load got lighter, and my role shifted from contractor to manager. When my daughter started Kindergarten, those more flexible mornings with pancakes and slow chats during the week went away and were replaced by a new morning rhythm.
Change. Change, more change.
This season for me is one of focused and prioritized work, hopefully work that continues to bring in reliable income and also fulfills me on a core level. I certainly don’t want to squander this precious amount of time I have, but I also want to give myself grace for the days when I might be less productive. I can’t possibly check off everything on my to-do list today or any day for that matter. But identifying what my top priorities are and making sure those get done will do. And knowing that when that 3 o’clock hour rolls around, it’s time to transition and be intentional about spending time with my daughters.
Knowing that this season as a mother is something that won’t last forever gives me the courage to do the next right thing, right now. To give myself grace when I don’t look as put together or feel as on top of my game as I think I should be. I mean, I will totally still be rocking pajama pants and flip flops in the car line. Obviously.
This is my season, and I’m going to honor it. Because I know that soon enough, it will change.