Liz: Well, the biggest thing that changed was…. everything. Those first couple months I was dealing with the overwhelm and all the small, immediate changes of taking care of a newborn. And then as I got a handle on that, I felt myself feeling super tired all the time (even when my babies sleeping through the night). There was this inexplicable exhaustion even after things were getting back to “normal”. It felt like I was always reacting, not being proactive. This bugged me. I’m a planner and usually had my “crap” together. I couldn’t handle chasing everything all the time, and being exhausted to boot.
That led me (three kids later) was this crazy, zig-zagging journey towards being healthy. Before I had kids, I took my emotional and physical health for granted. Once I had kids I didn’t have the time to focus on myself- I had to make myself a priority. I learned a lot. I changed what I knew about health and wellness. That not only became a priority for me not only for me, but because I had kids, especially daughters. I needed to evaluate how I wanted to create a lifestyle to live, grow and be proud of. I needed to position ourselves as role models.
Looking back, it’s crazy to see how far we’ve come. I remember feeling intimidated and scared when I first started, like I was never going to crawl out of this hole. When you are in that spot of exhaustion/tiredness and you aren’t sure which way to go, it can be really dark and hard. It can be easy to give up, but taking one small step each day (even just not grabbing the cookie after dinner or going for a walk) or even a couple times a week is important. And, crazy how quickly that can become a habit.
Kate: It’s important that you said lifestyle. I’ve always struggled with my weight up until now, and, that was the turning point for me. When you are exhausted/depressed/tired/dark spot, it is so easy to continue down the road, but for me it was always helping manage my mental health. It helps my mental health stay in control to exercise. So, 7 years into it, I’m still running behind a stroller 4-5 times a week to maintain homeostasis.
The biggest surprise was definitely that no matter how much I wanted to be a mom, being a mom wasn’t going to come easily to me. I’ve always been someone that things have come easy to. This sounds terrible: but, I’ve never had to work very hard at things. I’ve always been ok not being good at stuff, if it didn’t come naturally to me I would move on to something that I was good at. As a mom, you can’t do that. I had a hard time when things didn’t come easily to me as a mom, I took it really personally. For instance, my breastfeeding journey with my first. It wasn’t going well for either one of us, it really affected me. Breastfeeding is the first thing you are expected to master as a mom in the first couple days and weeks. It was so disheartening to not be able to master it, that it wasn’t easy, and that I NEEDED to master it. I needed to let go and be ok that it wasn’t going to come easily to me.
I still really don’t pursue things that are really hard for me. If it’s something to do with discipling my children or dealing with an issue with one of my kids, I do it. But, if it something that’s above and beyond AND hard for me to handle, I let it go. I just don’t have the mind space for it.
Now, I have a gauge: Is it going to affect who my children become, my relationship with my husband, or my relationship with myself? If it doesn’t directly impact one of those and it’s just “extra” hard then I don’t do it. And, I don’t feel guilty about it.
Liz: If you are pushing so hard for something to happen and it’s just complete resistance (yes, it’s different if it’s disciplining your kids) but when it’s outside that or your relationship with your family – You have to be able to weigh it and decide if this has to go.
Hand in hand with that for me is that I can’t control everything. That was such a wake up call for me. Once the kids started getting older and asserting their personalities, how am I going to get them to do what they need to do?
If you could give someone one piece of advice to get through those moments of complete and utter insanity, when you just want to tear your hair out – how do you get through it?
Kate: Well, short of crying or swearing (because yes, it happens). I’m a fairly emotional person, so I just need to yell. Not AT someone, but to just yell “AH!” and then once it’s out (also, it’s an indication to my older children that mommy is losing her cool) I’ve acknowledged that I (or we) are losing it. It may not immediately fix it, but can relieve the tension.
And, my expectations are really low of both myself and children.
Honestly, most of the times I feel like I’m losing control it’s not because of what my children are doing, but of all the OTHER stuff going on in my life. When I’m at the point I’m really frazzled, I start taking things off my plate.
Another thing that I’ve been known to do when things are getting out of hand is to simply just sit down on the floor, wherever we are. Kids are usually crying/tantruming, but we are all down there crying and breathing together. My middle and youngest still need this grounding to happen, we just cuddle. Just stopping and acknowledging.
Liz: Something that gets me to the place of acceptance is finding something to laugh about. Even if it’s something silly. My middle daughter is usually the source, she will say something so out of left field and will be hysterically funny. I stop, look at her for a second, then laugh.
I think stopping and and being able to breathe. It can be infuriating and overwhelming to even just getting out the door on time with everyone’s shoes on.
But, that’s the thing. Does it REALLY matter? Yes, it totally sucks when I’m late to work. But, does it really matter in the big picture?