Although I had dreamed for as long as I could remember about being a mother of eight children, I had no idea what I was getting into when the nurse handed me, my first newborn son. After a few months of life with a baby, I was thinking, “There is NO WAY on this good earth that I will ever make it to eight!!! In fact, I might not make it past one!!”
I loved that baby more than I could have ever imagined, but I was overwhelmed with exhaustion from little sleep, and my baby’s nearly constant crying. I was lonely because my life was filled to the brim with diapers, breastfeeding, and endless hours of walking the floor with an unhappy baby, leaving little time or energy for anything else.
Four more children followed within the next ten years, most of them with beloved strong-wills. While I loved my kids and did not for one moment regret the decision to have a large family, most of the time I felt like I was in a fog.
I loved the idea of being needed by my kids but wished I was not needed quite so much. I loved the hugs and sticky kisses, but sometimes I wanted to lock myself in the closet so that I could have a few touch free minutes. I loved cuddling my babies, but could not wait until they were old enough to be more self-sufficient.
I could not remember what it was like to take a shower without worrying about what the children were doing to themselves, each other or the house in the few minutes that I was unavailable. I missed going out with my husband on a whim.
The days and weeks seemed to drag on forever, and I wondered if they would ever end. I often asked myself if I was cut out for this whole business of motherhood.
Eventually, my kids grew out of those needy stages, and I started to feel like myself again. I could think more clearly when I did not have children always climbing all over me and begging for my attention.
I was not so stressed out when they stopped throwing tantrums in public and could sit through church without even a hint of an outburst. It was like a breath of fresh air when I could squeeze some time out of the day to be alone, even for a few minutes, and I truly needed that to function.
I have since realized that the baby and toddler stage, while it had its beautiful moments, was not my favorite or most effective stage. While I loved my babies and miss cuddling with them, I do not miss many of the other things that went along with that phase of life.
But I LOVE the stage that I am in right now. While it has its share of challenges for sure, some of them being potentially life altering, I still feel like this stage highlights my strengths as a person and as a mother much more so than have other stages that I have passed through.
So if you are feeling overwhelmed with the stage that you are in with your children right now, take comfort in these three things:
1. All stages pass, even when it feels like they NEVER will
Your current challenges will eventually fade into memory, leaving you feeling like a rock star for having navigated them without completely losing your mind. HOLD ON.
2. Everybody has their favorite stage of motherhood, and that is OK:
There is often so much pressure to enjoy every moment of motherhood, leaving moms everywhere feeling stressed out, exhausted and GUILTY if they are struggling to find joy in their current situation.
If you are feeling that way, give yourself some credit. Loving your children is different from loving their current stage of life. Maybe you are in your element with babies and toddlers, and you feel like the challenges are minimal compared to the joy of cuddling your little ones. More power to you; enjoy it while you can.
Perhaps, however, you do not deal with the challenges of young children as well as you hoped that you would. Maybe you don’t function well on little sleep and miss being needed by people other than a baby or a toddler.
Don’t beat yourself up over that. You are going to shine in another stage of motherhood.
3. Joy comes in moments
I discovered this when my children were very young, and I felt burdened with many challenges that continually stretched me beyond my natural abilities. Even when things were not going well overall, I could always find joy in moments if I was paying attention.
Sometimes I found those moments in a simple hug or kiss from a child who said, “I love you, Mommy,” as he ran off to play. Other times, I saw them when two of my kids who usually did not get along were laughing and playing nicely together. I occasionally discovered magic in the colors of a beautiful sunset that lifted my heart, or in watching the toddler who had misbehaved all day peacefully sleeping as I headed off to bed.
Moments such as these sustained me through many difficult days because they reminded me that joy could be found in any stage, no matter how challenging, but I had to look up and find it.
Mothers everywhere…hang on through those difficult stages and know that you are not alone. Try to enjoy life where you are by looking for beautiful moments that are sometimes hidden behind the neon sign of frustration and struggle.
If you are not in your natural element with your current stage of motherhood, remember that things change, children grow, and you will eventually find the place where you truly ROCK. Do not wish away your days waiting for something better ahead, but don’t get too discouraged when some stages stretch you.
Know that each stage of motherhood will eventually come together to create a beautiful canvas that you are now painting one brush stroke at a time. The strokes from the dark and difficult days will be just as important to the finished product as the strokes from the joyful days that pass with relative ease. When all is said and done, it will be a masterpiece.
Just. Keep. Painting.
Thank you!! I have been really worried as I approach this change of my life that I won’t be good with really young ones. I loved this post and it gave me a lot of comfort. Thanks.
You are welcome! I just want to be a fly on the wall when you sing lullabies to your new little one. You are going to be AMAZING at that…and as a mom. I just know it.
What a thoughtful and comforting post! I have been slogging through a slump and wondering what is wrong with me! Seems like others are more natural and talented at parenting, even as I have allowed it to become my identity. Sigh. Thank you for your comforting words!
You are so welcome! Hang in there. I have been where you are now so many times – wondering what was wrong with me for not being able to measure up to the mother that I wanted to be. You are doing better than you think…I promise! 🙂
Thank you! Thank you! This was written for me. One day covered in spit up, a newborn needing another diaper change and a toddler screaming, I remember inwardly shouting, “If this is eternal happiness, I don’t want it!” Although I love my children I remember crying about how I could not imagine eternity (or a decade) with babies and could not dream how one could be happy with no time to even take a shower (going on day two).
Thank you for a wonderful post that gives encouragement. Nice to know I am not alone with my worries and stresses. I know motherhood is the best thing to be doing with life although it is the hardest responsibility I have ever had.
I hear you, Stacy. I remember many a day just like you described. Yes, motherhood is wonderful, but it is also like the refiner’s fire. It stretches us to our limits and beyond. It is the hardest responsibility that I have ever had for sure. But this stage will not last for eternity, even though it might feel like it right now. You are going to THRIVE in a later stage of motherhood, which will make you so grateful for what you are learning and overcoming right now. Sending hugs from one mama to another! You can do this!
Katie @ Wonderfully Made says
Oh friend, I needed this today. Every single bit of this post spoke right to my heart. Thank you!!
Oh, Katie…you are seriously my inspiration. I can only imagine what you must be feeling right now with all of the challenges in your life. I am so glad that my words were helpful to you today. Hang in there. You are amazing…and I mean that from the bottom of my heart.
Oh the many days, weeks, months I have felt I was not up to the task of being mother to these 5 beautiful, wilful, snotty nosed, tantrum throwing, loving children, that have come to share our lives. I am so glad I am not alone. I felt like a failure and stressed myself out trying to learn from each experience and to implement the necessary changes. Our children have now all passed through the toddler stage and can SPEAK! Although I really miss the cuddles, I don’t miss the complete dependence and having to guess what the problem is. The next stage definitely suits me better. Thank you so much for this post. I needed it.
I am with you, Petra! I am so glad that you are enjoying the stage that you are in right now. A few words from your kids sometimes makes all the difference!
Thank you so much…I needed to hear that so I can keep going with my little ones when it is getting tough…
“The strokes from the dark and difficult days will be just as important to the finished product as the strokes from the joyful days that pass with relative ease.” Beautifully said. Thanks for this post, from an overwhelmed mother of an adventurous 1 year old and a demanding 3 year old.
I really needed this encouraging message. I have been struggling with being overwhelmed and thinking that I am not measuring up or even close to deserving of my angels. Some days I just scream and then feel huge mom guilt and shame. I have a 2 year old and 8 month old and I am just so overwhelmed. Some days I wish for them to be older so it can be easier for me. I know it’s selfish, but I think these current times like you said are just paint strokes. I will become a beautiful masterpiece one day. Flawed and all! Some day I rock and some days I suck, I thank God for grace. Bless you!
I’ve been there, Jessica. These days will pass, melting into different stages with different challenges and joys. I have no doubt that you will eventually find the stage where you truly shine. Hang in there, girl!
This is awesome! I needed your message to lift up my spirit.I have toddler twins and lately I feel
like I’m losing control over these two! I woke up this morning just bawling, feeling so overwhelmed, helpless and guilty. Your words brought a new perspective and encouragement! Thank u, Lord bless u!
I know exactly how you feel and I’m glad you found encouragement in my words.
I have a 3 1/2 year old, a 2 1/2 year old, a 9 month old and the biggest baby of all, a corner store open 16 hrs a day, 7 days a week. Lately I’ve been wondering if I should be seeing a counselor or taking some kind of anti depressant lol I really appreciate the outlook you gave me with this read. I was also wondering if you could maybe suggest a self help book for overwhelmed mothers?? Thanks again
Cynthia, three babies and a corner store? I am amazed at all you have on your plate! You are incredible; I can tell! One book that I love is called “A Mother’s Book of Secrets,” by Linda Eyre (mother of nine) and her daughter, Shawni Pothier (mother of five). It is packed full of inspiration for those days of motherhood overwhelm. You can get a copy with this link: https://www.amazon.com/gp/offer-listing/1606410709
You might also want to check out https://powerofmoms.com
It is a website dedicated to mothers who are just trying to do their best. It is packed full of great information. Let me know if there is anything else I can do to help. 🙂
Thank you for these encouraging words.
Ashley (Reining in Mom) says
What a lovely sentiment. I will just keep painting. It is oh so hard when they are tiny but I’ve found that carving out a little place where I can build something for myself, like a passion project, has made all the difference. I have so much more to give to my kids when I build something for myself too. Thanks for all the encouragement!
That is so true, Ashley! When my kids were small, I did not make time for myself much, and that is one thing that I wish I could go back and change. I think I would have had so much more to give my kids if I had taken the time to fill my own bucket. I am glad you figured that out early in the game. Thank you for sharing.
Wow..i needed this.. mom of three… with 3 different stages 1,3 and 8. Sometimes i just feel so lonely. Thank you for those encouraging words… i will keep painting…you are right.
This post really helped me be able to see that my children are truly a blessing, I am a mother of 5 children who are two 8 year old boys one 7 yr old girl a 5 and 4 year old boy, my house is always chaos and I’m always running around cleaning and cooking clothes never end, and it’s nice to read so words to inspire me to keep pushing. It’s difficult but I love all of my children, and thank the Lord for all of my blessings. Thank you for this wonderful inspiration
Thanks for this! I’m expecting my third in a month, so mine will be 5, 3 and a newborn. I really hate being a mom to young kids and have been very low about starting over. Very, very low. This advice is practical. I know that in general I like older kids, so it makes sense.