“You must be tired trying to keep up” (When I had one kid)
“You have your hands full!” (When I had two)
“You are busy!” (When I’ve had 3 kids)
“You are awesome.” (When I’ve had 5 in tow)
I’ve been processing these statements this month. I heard them from multiple people throughout my parenting years. I’ve said them to other mamas if I’m honest to myself. And there’s really nothing wrong with any of them. Couldn’t we agree there is a tad bit of truth in all of them really? But today, I’m curious as to why “you are awesome” is the go to response as of late. Especially when I have more than three kids. Why do “hands full” and “tired” apply that much more consistently with fewer kids. Aren’t we all awesome even with *just* one. I think those years were some of the hardest I’ve had. And I say with the daily perspective of having 5 kids under 8, two with special needs. Maybe we can get some funding for a special research project on the subject.
In the foster/adoption community we talk a lot of something called the “honeymoon period.” It’s the period of time that our kiddos our learning the boundaries but not yet fulling testing them. When being at Joe and Lauren’s house is still a fun adventure and not a daily forever reality. It’s usually a good thing when this period ends- when we can make progress and truly connect. When trust is formed. Every kid has their own timeline for this. It’s impossibly hard to go through.
A few weeks ago I think we hit it. But not because the kids made it out of the honeymoon period. *I* was done. I was the one that ended the honeymoon. All the behaviors I was ok with, the ones I was patiently (and not so patiently) redirecting, all of a sudden just seemed too much. The kids were still acting and reacting the way they always did. I was just done. I hit a wall.
“Yes, I am imperfect and vulnerable and sometimes afraid, but that doesn’t change the truth that I am brave and worthy of love and belonging.” -Brene Brown
I can’t say that I ever really came out of it. At least not as of this writing. We made a few changes in our routine that allowed me the space to breathe. I think introducing more safe people who are fully capable of managing that same critical routine helped a lot. I think simply allowing myself the ability to just kinda hate the day to day helped. To feel angry or sad or bitter or frustrated. To just be. To feel something.
As I was processing all of this I wanted to have it wrapped up nicely. How do we handle the ending of a honeymoon period? What do we do if it stretches on for ages? What do we do if we feel like we just. can’t. do. it. one more night. I wanted to inspire you, encourage you, love you in this fight that we have chosen.
“The truth is that FALLING HURTS. The dare is to keep being BRAVE and feel your way back up.” -Brown
I think that Brene Brown says it way more effectively than I ever could. This journey hurts. But we can keep being brave. Sometimes all it really takes is “this sucks.” Or “I feel frustrated right now.” It may be, “I am angry about this.” And than we move on.
The truth is, every time someone tells me how awesome I am, I want to shout back at them. On good days, it’s “you are awesome too, you know that right?” And on bad days it’s “ha! You surely must not have heard ALL of us screaming in the car 10 minutes ago.”
I may be imperfect and vulnerable and afraid most nights but I am also brave and loved and worthy of belonging. These kids may be imperfect and vulnerable and most certainly terrified most nights but they are also so brave and so loved and so worthy of belonging.
We all hit walls, some days they are hypothetical and other days they leave physical dents but the only time we’re going to go wrong here is when we stop allowing ourselves the chance to feel. The permission to not be ok. To be vulnerable.
However terrifying that may be.
Maybe we all just need to start using “you are awesome” when we feel the need to comment on a mother’s state of being when around her children. How amazing if that was our new normal? Even if it makes said Mama furious at times. *cough*
I think I’ll give it a go this month and see what happens.
Did you know you are awesome too?