3 Pieces of Advice from a Mother of Five
A Note from Bildo
You guys remember my Guest Poster, Danielle – well she’s back to share her experiences of being a mother of five – and the one questions she gets asked most often…
Danielle is a blogger from the States and a mother of five – this is her tiny tribe.
Check out her blog My Tiny Tribe Blog and give her some love!
Now, without further ado…
That loaded question: How do you do it?
I’ve never counted, but I imagine the number of times I’ve been asked “How do you do it?” by mothers of one or two children is somewhere in the hundreds.
I have five children, and judging by the look on my extremely exhausted face when I’m asked that question, that number seems simply impossible.
“How do you do it?”
How do I do it?
That’s an interesting question because the “it” is different for everyone.
What they are really asking is:
– How do you care for five little people? – How do you operate on little sleep? – How do you keep them safe? – How do you find time to do the laundry? – How do find time just for yourself? – How do you afford them? – How do you keep from losing your ever-loving mind?
Or just simply how – to all of it!
Mamas of one and two children, I want you to know that I understand every one of these questions. And I understand exactly where you’re coming from.
There are some things I want you to know about me. About children. About this journey through motherhood that we’re both on.
1. You are maxed out, emotionally and physically, at the number of children you currently have
When I had my first daughter, I sat on the edge of my bed and cried like a toddler who dropped their brand new ice cream because I thought my life was over.
This child, my supposed dream come true, was supposed to sleep, sleep all morning while I did dishes and caught up on laundry and then I would have a nap along side this sleepy child.
Of course, this did not happen. I was completely overwhelmed.
When she grew into a mobile baby, I thought this would be a good time to get pregnant again so that while she was ripping everything out of the cabinets, bleeding from the mouth from playing bumper cars with the coffee table, eating the sofa, crawling towards the stairs to plummet to her demise and licking the electrical outlets, I could also be barfing.
And then there were two.
My son arrived 19 months after my daughter. And I had no idea how people could possibly care for two children.
Who are these lunatics who have a ton of children?
How on earth am I supposed to nurse a newborn and keep my maniac toddler from imminent death?
I was maxed out. It was one of the hardest times of my life, caring for one and then 19 months later, two of them.
Mums of one and two children – you are doing hard work.
I know you are maxed out, in every way. And I tell you this not as someone who is patting you on the back and looking at you with condescending pity but as someone who knows how hard you are working and how taxing this is on you.
But there is hope. It does get easier. Not because a light bulb goes off one day and you figure it all out.
But because …
2. You will find your way. Not your mum’s way. Not Granny’s or Aunt’s way.
Because what worked for your mum, granny and aunt, may simply not work for you.
I love hearing the wisdom and experiences from the older women in my life, but I have to sift through their advice to find what really helps me and what doesn’t.
Not only are children all different, but mothers are different. We tick and tock to different beats, some of us slower and some on hyperspeed, some on schedules and some just wingin’ it.
As you get to know your children and build your home life, you will find what works for you. You will. And letting go of the expectations of others is a big part of that.
Pull what works for you. Respectfully let go of the rest.
This applies to friendships as well. I have a very difficult time developing and maintaining friendships with people who have found the one and only way to do something.
“You gave him peanut butter at 10 months?”
“You don’t have a laundry day?”
“Three-year-olds shouldn’t still be in nappies.”
No, we cannot be friends. Not close friends. Not cry-on-your-shoulder friends.
And as you’re finding your way, quick-steppin’ to a groove with those babies dancin’ along with you, I’ve got some really, really, really good news…
3. It gets easier
I now have five children, and I’m maxed, totally maxed out just like I was when I had one and two and three and four.
But, mothering is easier for me now than it used to be.
And within all the hard work, I found that I needed God more.
I need his patience. I need his joy. I need his love.
But you may find that you need your husband or family more, that you rely on your friends with kids more; books may be your comfort or maybe you just want to trust your instinct and parent the way you feel is right.
There is no wrong answer.
So when you ask me, “How do you do it?” I know what you’re asking.
And I know what you’re feeling and what’s behind your eyes, I walked in your shoes, and you are doing the hard, hard stuff of motherhood.
But as you find your way, it gets easier.
And it gets so, so good.
So be patient and enjoy these years – because one day, you’ll find yourself crying because it’s all over.