It’s 1:20 a.m. Awakened and unable to return to sleep (thanks, insomnia), I’m in the living room, so as not to disturb my slumbering husband. The neighborhood, silence moments ago, is alive with all four of the neighbor’s dogs barking madly at something. From my daughter’s room, I hear Brahms’ lullaby on repetitive loop.
In moments like these in the past, I’ve tried to count sheep. Who does that actually work for? Once that fails, my mind starts running through the week’s coming days and tasks and responsibilities, and that can be hard to silence.
Tonight, as I sit in the rocker/recliner my husband had to have (and we all secretly love), beneath one of the softest blankets known to man, I’m just offering up prayers.
Not prayers to deliver me from the insomnia, nor prayers for the dogs to be silenced once more. Rather, I pray for the intentions of friends.
For our friend Anna, who’s undergoing a miscarriage of the third child she so desperately wanted. For our friends Christine and Kristin, who both just had beautiful daughters. I pray for friends Alicia and Maria and Anna, who all had very rough experiences on Mother’s Day.
For Angela, who is praying for her seventh child on Earth. For Susie and April and so many others who celebrated Mother’s Day without their mothers. For all women who experienced Mother’s Day with a piece of them missing, whether due to infertility, miscarriage, still births, or a child’s death.
In this sleep-deprived way, I use my time to focus beyond my mini-struggle with sleep to bring these hurts to Jesus for others. And the peace of our Lord, who is listening to these intentions, falls on me, and sleep seems attainable.
I’ll take that over counting sheep any day.
This week on the blog, in honor of moms the world over (and coinciding with Mother’s Day on Sunday), we’ve been focusing on that awesome part of our vocation as wives: motherhood.
On Monday, Kristi opened up about reaching the breaking point and realigning her family vision with their actual family goals. Tuesday had Rachel ordered on pregnancy bed rest for the rest of the month. Then on Wednesday, Kristi was back with a post about how easy it sometimes can be to become the mom we all swore we’d never be.
In today’s special Mother’s Day Edition of FIAT: Faith in All Things, Kristi gets to hang out with her mom, Cindy, for a chat and a sing-along! The duo chats about pregnancy, raising kids, and lullabies.
Grab your beverage of choice (Mother’s Day mimosa, anyone?) and hang out with Kristi & Cindy for about 15 minutes.
Happy Mother’s Day to all of you moms (both spiritual and literal)!
Kristi & Rachel
A mundane (routine, even) task that escalated quickly showed me how close we all can be to becoming the mom we swore we’d never be.
Little Miss was in need of a dose of children’s ibuprofen. Superman attempted to administer it. This was met by shrill comments of, “Wait, wait, wait!” and tears. Inexplicably, tears. My turn. I attempted to administer the thick, grapey, purple solution and was met with the same reaction. She actually likes the taste of this. I couldn’t wrap my head around it, but I was growing in frustration. I *calmly* told her to open her mouth, I placed the cup to her mouth, and she pushed it away with her hands, sending the purple goo flying in slow motion out of my hand, into the air, onto her hair and jacket, and all over the tile in the kitchen.
I felt it welling up inside. The complete surprise from this turn of events. The frustration at now being forced to change clothes, rinse hair, and clean up a sticky floor. Frustration gave way to irritation. Irritation gave way to anger. I started spouting sentences that I can’t even fully recall right now, removed from it, about the mess and the waste of time and the sheer nonsense that this entire episode was.
More tears. Followed by a plaintive “I’m sorry, Mama.”
I realized that not even Little Miss realized the why of that situation, but here in its aftermath with me, she, too was looking to pick up the pieces and make it right.
You know the one I’m talking about. You’ve met the one I’m talking about. Likely, you’ve also judged the one to whom I’m referring. Chances are, you’ve been the one I’m talking about.
The mom who loses her temper. The one who allows her child to be openly defiant.
I swore that I’d never use my vocabulary to loose vicious and cruel statements upon her children (so far, so good). That I’d never not make time to play with my children (have you seen Monday’s post about my breaking point?). I thought that I’d read stories to my children every. single. night, without fail, rain or shine (this one’s hit and miss).
For sure, I didn’t want my children looking back on their childhood years from now saying “Mom did it all wrong.” or “I’m nothing like my mother.” Thinking that I just didn’t get it or I was too angry.
It’s too easy to get close to that point, though.
We’d all like to think that we’re the fun Mary Poppins moms, with endless energy and ideas for games, time for making toys and homemade science experiments on the regular. But let’s face it. The chores have to get done, and responsibility is a good thing. Miss Hannigan begins to look like she had a few things right.
In all seriousness, though, wouldn’t it be easy to slip into being “that mom?” Our generation of mommies are more stressed out than any of our previous ones, according to studies, opinion pieces, and social media satire memes, Tweets, and posts. We have this obsession (at least in America) with making our children Renaissance Children (with a competetive edge): be fluent in three languages, be disciplined in the martial arts, be a viola virtuoso, a budding sports star, and a performer. On top of school. Add work, PTA, church, a marriage, and more children, moms are practically wired these days to snap.
It is too easy to become overtaken by it all. Haven’t we all been there?
It’s the Pinterest Perfect mom. Obviously. This is actually a phrase I thought I was clever enough to coin, but upon Google searching…well…I’m not. Not even close. I saw a few blog posts about it, but this one is spot-on.
I know that I am never going to be the mom who makes my own yogurt in the Crock-Pot or the pressure cooker. No matter how easy you tell me it is. I know that about myself. Homemade bubbles? I got that, but yogurt…pass.
You know what else?
I’m not a Supermom. God knows that I have tried to be, but I just can’t. Neither can you, lady. Our friend and #CoolCatholicWomen list-maker Ginny Kochis at Not So Formulaic just wrote about this. Check it out here.
A phrase that has been coming back to me in various forms for two weeks now is this: “You can’t be all things to all people.”I’m not going to be the PTA president, class room mom, backstage mom at dance, team mom at soccer, the leader of a new ministry for my children, a June Cleaver-esque housewife, a doting wife to my husband, and a successful working mom. I’m not going to be that because that isn’t real.
It’s a myth.
I am a human woman. Flawed, talented, hilarious, and limited in how much/what I can actually do. It’s perfectly acceptable to acknowledge that.
I am the mom who is a little lame. The room mom (since pre-K). I’m the mom that has impromtu dance parties in the living room. One of the co-founders of Park in the Dark (an event that takes place after sundown in a park with glow sticks). I know how to stroke her back when she’s worried and how to fix the waist of her leggings or tights so they’re comfortable.
I’m also the best mom for my daughter (and any subsequent children that come my way). Together, we craft some truly crazy Barbie/Shopkins/Trolls/My Little Pony storylines. They’re pretty awesome and also involve Mother Gothel, Prince Phillip from Sleeping Beauty, some DC Superhero Girls and some Project Mc² dolls.
She and I are really perfect for one another. On most days, her silly is energizing and my silly is just what she needs. Her hugs are therapeutic and mine reassure her that everything’s gonna be okay.
So be gentle with yourself. You aren’t always going to get it right. Sometimes, you’ll come close to being the mom you swore you’d never be. But motherhood is hard. And I’d suspect that mostly, you’re doing a great job.
While they discussed options for celebrating Mother’s Day, I excused myself from the dinner table, retreated to my closet, and cried.
It was that kind of weekend. Preceeded by that kind of week.
We had something every single day this week. Extracurriculars, meetings, appreciation dinners, commitments at our parish, a work thing for Superman, a performance, a game night and our weekly “junk night,” which both gave way to new plans for hanging out with both our parents. Full week.
Little Miss can be intense sometimes. She feels very deeply and can empathize with almost anyone. Her heart is full of compassion, which sometimes leads to worry of others. She’s also extremely hard on herself and the child can have a temper that you wouldn’t expect from someone so compassionate.
She’s gifted, which means her brain is wired differently. It also means her normal emotional scale is much higher than the average child her age. Add to that a week like the one described above, and it’s a recipe for disaster.
I am a planner. Superman can be a little more spontaneous, but he likes contingencies. Little Miss thrives when everything is planned and when things go according to said plan.
I’m pretty sure we were all sleep deprived this week. Superman and I had nearly no couple time together, as we fell asleep nearly immediately after getting home (late) and getting Little Miss to bed.
It was also Teacher Appreciation Week last week and we wanted to bring coffee and donuts and treats to the teachers in the morning, which meant leaving the house earlier to buy these things. Which meant waking up earlier.
By Friday, we were all a little spent.
Pumpkin Spice Latte Face
Rachel and I have a “PSL face” that we use when we see or hear something crazy. For Rachel, it’s almost involuntary. For both of us, we use little emojis to let one another know when we’re feeling a little PSL face-y via text.
Here’s my Friday evening text to Rachel:
We were supposed to have a family game night at home Friday night. We opted to hang out with my parents and brother for a little bit, came home to a mini junk night (with a glass of wine) and Barbie and the Secret Door. It’s one of my favorite Barbie movies. I fell asleep on the love seat with Little Miss in my arms. Not exactly the family time we’d planned for.
Saturday began blissfully, but by the end of it, the exhaustion set in in Little Miss. We got into tiny arguments over everything and I fell asleep before Superman came to bed. Rough afternoon and evening.
This day, too, began well. We were united in goal and mind. As the day unfolded, though, timelines began to shrink and change and the window of our usual Sunday movie and junk night grew smaller and smaller until it wasn’t a feasible option.
Little Miss didn’t react with her usual intensity. Instead she said just above a whisper, with tears in her eyes, “We didn’t get very much family time this weekend.”
My hear broke a little, but then we sat down to eat dinner and began discussing the week, including Mother’s Day. There I was, feeling like a failure as a mother (and, yeah, okay, also a wife) after hearing my daughter’s words about family time and she suggested to Superman that they give me some time by myself for Mother’s Day.
I broke. While they continued to discuss options for celebrating Mother’s Day, I excused myself from the dinner table, retreated to my closet, and cried.
There’s Beauty in the Breakdown
You know that Frou Frou song from Garden State, “Let Go?” Listen to it here if you don’t. There’s a line that says, “It’s alright, ’cause there’s beauty in the breakdown.”
As I sat in the dark of my closet, weeping, I was able to see clearly. This–this hectic, overscheduled, overcomnitted, bursting calendar family we’ve become–is not what I want for us.
Our Family Vision
Superman joined me in the closet and I expressed this to him. There, on the floor, in the dark, we redefined our family vision.
1. Our immediate family comes first. If we’ve committed to a family game night, nothing can supercede that.
2. Weekends are sacred. Obviously, we will attend Mass and Faith Formation on Sunday, but we will not schedule things that distract us from family time on the weekends.
3. Make time for play. Poor Little Miss. We have several parks nearby and the girl definitely had a good supply of playthings, but when we’re always running, it’s hard to squeeze that time in. Play time is going to take priority. She’s a child. She needs it. We do, too.
Another Friday, another FIAT: Faith in All Things podcast! Woo hoo! Since we’re in the month of May (the month of mothers!) and we haven’t talked with Rachel about her pregnancy on a podcast yet, we decided to do just that today!
Join us in setting aside the Mommy Wars to come together and share our experiences, hopes, and journeys as we suffer and celebrate the moments that lead us closer to our vocation of wife and MOM. We also chat about some of our favorite pregnancy movies.
Grab that toy that’s been driving you crazy, hide it from the kids, grab your cup of coffee and reheat it for the third time in the microwave and join us!
That article from Becky Thompson we mentioned about having a baby leveling the playing field is entitled “Who Knew Baby Puke Was So Powerful?” and can be found on her website, also called Becky Thompson, here.
Have a wonderful weekend!
Kristi & Rachel
P.S. For real, y’all, those Mommy Wars?! Enough! Instead, let’s challenge one another. Check out this post (one of a ton) on the #RockingMotherhood challenge and join us!