Wednesday, April 3, 2013

When I take care of myself, I take care of my kids better

Maybe that title should be followed with a big, "Duhhh!!"

Maybe.  It seems simple enough.  But sometimes that sentence is also very hard for moms to fully comprehend.

I've been doing a lot of thinking lately (Tyler would laugh reading that, because I start a lot of discussions saying that...kind of a joke between us.)....

Being a mom is tough.  In short, for me, it's about putting others before myself; taking the time to care for another's physical and mental health and happiness.  We also all know that a mother is more than that. 
Fill in the blank.... A mother is ________ (basically any occupation).  A good mother becomes so much for her children.

A mother is exhausted.  Even on good days when your child is being "perfect".... sleeping perfect, eating perfect, pooping perfect, playing perfect.  It's exhausting because it all takes time and energy and attention.  So, as most days are wonderfully imperfect, they simply wear you out (especially when your kids are young and still need help to do just about everything). 

Before you are pregnant, you think about motherhood and understand there will be countless beautiful and sweet moments, but you also try to be realistic and remember how people say there are plenty of hard times.  You think it's funny that people suggest someone write a manual for raising children.  You think, I know it's going to be tougher than babysitting, but it's not anything I can't handle.  While that is true, you don't really realize the magnitude of those statements until you're a parent.

Aside from sleepless nights and sassy 3 year olds, there's a toll it takes on you.  What's worse?... the pile of dishes or the mountain of laundry? Plus the toy mess is out of control. Your hobbies get put on the back burner... meant for a day when life is less busy.  Making friends is just another thing to clog your busy schedule. You begin to realize that, while being a mother is super duper awesome, being a mother also defines you.  (Yes, I think that is super duper awesome too, don't get me wrong.)
Until you focus on how awesome it really is, it can get you down.

I don't believe I'm the only one that has felt that a lot of their "true" self has been pushed under the rug and they're losing their identity...Yeah, you perceive identity theft is the problem here, and Mom is maxing out your "credit cards"

I don't believe I'm the only one that suffers from poor self-esteem and self-doubt. The thought of expressing the toll you feel motherhood is taking on you is confusing and makes you feel horrible (even if you've figured out a way to actually explain yourself).
You wonder, Why am I feeling this way?...Who have I become?... Why is this so hard? Moms are meant to get the job done.  Moms throughout time have.  Am I doing something wrong?... Today is hard! But it would be silly for me to complain about the little things that went on.  No one would really understand.
You are lonely and you feel guilty even thinking these things. 

Before you know it, your life feels full and empty at the same time.

My two kids are young and not in school so there's nothing at this point that pulls us out of the house regularly.  But in these few short years, watching as they've grown, I've learned new things. I also have had to learn things over (and over) again.  Each child has given us hard days (and still does)!  I can't really avoid them.  But instead of consuming my thoughts in a woe-is-me state, I've learned some tricks to make the tasks easier and my day more fulfilled.

I have noticed when I take care of myself, taking care of my kids becomes so much easier.  (Consciously trying to have a fun and positive attitude obviously amplifies the things I do to make my day better...)

When I start my day off with getting ready, I am more apt to get my house work done.  I have a little more pep in my step.  And honestly, a clean home is a happy home... at least around here.
Also, if I'm ready for the day, we can leave the house (basically) at a moments notice.  We can play outside... and that always makes for happy and tired-by-bedtime kids.

When I take the time to pull myself together and feel cute, I think my kids notice the difference in my attitude.  I am more confident.

When I decide to paint my nails, I make sure I get the dishes done first so that the painting wont be in vain (for a while anyway).  Plus, if I have my dishes done, it is also so much easier for me to get the rest of my house work done.  Not sure why, but when I have a sink full of dirty dishes, it is really hard for me to be motivated to clean the rest of the kitchen or anything else.

When I exercise I feel more ambitious. 

When I eat healthy I am more energized.  We have more dance parties and I can keep up with my daughter's fantastic imagination that much better.

When my kids are happy they are more independent and I can work on a hobby of mine.

I can say "When mom is happy the kids are happy. " When I take care of myself, I spend more time doing quality things.

Making friends is important... obviously for myself, but for my children too.  When I have friends over, my daughter can't stop talking to them!  She is a chatterbox and has so much confidence.  She expresses her love to those friends and cares how they are feeling.  She tells me they are her friends too.

It's funny after talking with friends, how much I find they have similar thought processes that I have had about motherhood.  It's therapeutic and uplifting as we share the hard and fantastic moments.

Friends (and family) relate and actually understand when I tell them that some days are just plain hard.  That I still have days where taking care of myself is a very low priority and that I hope that no one comes to visit and see my terribly messy house and me still in my pajamas.  But what makes days like this ok, in my book, is being able to report that my kids are happy, learning, fed, and that I got to spend time with them.  Some days I feel like that's all I can do.  Some days are just plain harder than others (with no solitary reason why) and I feel like I must decide between getting ready, or cleaning, or playing with my kids.

I've learned I didn't lose my identity when I became mother; I gained another title. 
I am still me, now with the title of Mother.  I have to admit that about the first year is hard (for various reasons) on me.  It's around the year mark that I notice I'm feeling close to my old self again and when I realize I can handle things a lot better.  That's me.  (That's also to not say I am miserable the whole time.... in fact, I am mostly happy... I just feel different and need to work on that.)

As President James E. Faust said: “There is no greater good in all the world than motherhood. The influence of a mother in the lives of her children is beyond calculation” (“Fathers, Mothers, Marriage,” Liahona and Ensign, Aug. 2004, 3).

[A mother] "teaches her 'children to pray, and to walk uprightly before the Lord' (D&C 68:28). Rather than listening to the voices and partial truths of the world, she knows that gospel standards are based on eternal, unchangeable truths. She believes that to be 'primarily responsible for the nurture of [her] children' is a vital, dignified, and 'sacred responsibilit[y]' (“The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” Liahona, Oct. 1998, 24; Ensign, Nov. 1995, 102). To nurture and feed them physically is as much an honor as to nurture and feed them spiritually. She is 'not weary in well-doing' and delights to serve her family, because she knows that 'out of small things proceedeth that which is great' (D&C 64:33). (Julie B. Beck, A "Mother Heart")

(This next quote made me tear up.... by Julie B. Beck, A "Mother Heart")
"I was recently at a park where I met a group of women with mother hearts. They were young, covenant-keeping women. They were bright and had obtained advanced degrees from respected universities. Now they were devoting their considerable gifts to planning dinner that evening and sharing housekeeping ideas. They were teaching two-year-olds to be kind to one another. They were soothing babies, kissing bruised knees, and wiping tears. I asked one of those mothers how it came about that she could transfer her talents so cheerfully into the role of motherhood. She replied, “I know who I am, and I know what I am supposed to do. The rest just follows.” That young mother will build faith and character in the next generation one family prayer at a time, one scripture study session, one book read aloud, one song, one family meal after another. She is involved in a great work. She knows that “children are an heritage of the Lord” and “happy is the [woman] that hath [a] quiver full of them” (Ps. 127:3, 5). She knows that the influence of righteous, conscientious, persistent, daily mothering is far more lasting, far more powerful, far more influential than any earthly position or institution invented by man. She has the vision that, if worthy, she has the potential to be blessed as Rebekah of old to be “the mother of thousands of millions” (Gen. 24:60).

We wish our lives were peaches and cream and came with instruction manuals (and that we really had eyes in the back of our head and 6 arms) but Tyler and I are realizing, as our kids are getting us an opportunity to have something to look back at now...we really love the crazy moments where we had to learn new and ever-changing schedules, stretch our patience (it's gotten a pretty good stretch in lately), and grown into better people...hopefully, along the way, instilling something great into those growing children we love so much!

I echo the importance of mothers; mothers in all forms.  I feel so grateful for our children and that I am their mother.  I know that even though I complain about hard days... which, after having a different perspective of my situation, makes me feel bad for even complaining in the first place... I am SO grateful to be a mother and know I made one of the greatest decisions when I was blessed as one. 
I have the perspective and knowledge that I have not and will not be given any challenge I cannot handle.  That I, through the help of the Lord and others, will figure out solutions and find happiness in all things.


  1. I couldn't have said it better myself. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and feelings. Us Mom's need to know we're not alone. Thanks for helping me put it in perspective.

  2. That was a great way to put into words, what so many moms feel. I am a mother of 4 and I could not agree more! Thanks for sharing.

  3. Thank you so much for putting this into words. It is a perfect description of being a mom and that each of us go through each day.

  4. Thank you so much, ladies, for your kind words and support!! It really means a lot to me to hear them! It is nice, on some level, to know others can relate :)

  5. Yep, I can definitely relate, too! It takes me about a year also to feel more normal, and if I nurse longer than that, I'm still tired a lot of the time for even longer. If that makes sense... But I was actually just thinking about that today - I feel pulled in several directions at once and I can't always tell which is most important. They ALL seem very important and I hate that even though I'm working so hard I'm still letting so much slide! So thanks for including those quotes. I need to do some thinking and re-prioritizing and some humbling of myself, I think. Thanks for the reminders. :)

  6. Hey Emily,

    Just wanted to take a minute to respond to the comment you left on my recent makeup look! :) I replied in post too... But I dont think you get notified for that. So figured I would comment here too. "You know, I'm a little more colorful with makeup than most! I love color on my eyes. But I know how intimidating it can be! Its not for everyone, and these looks are mostly for the fun of it. I love wearing these looks, but I know they are not for everyone. I would encourage you to try to step out of your comfort zone though and just try one new color you wouldn't normally expect. You may surprise yourself. Also I think with wider lids, maybe do a brighter color on the lid, then add a darker color to the crease and blend downward into the lid to make it appear a little smaller and more shaded. That may help. :)"

    Much Love & Hugs,


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