My name is Mandy. I am 29 years old and I am the mother of three boys ranging from almost 1 to almost 9.
I am not going to lie to you – there are days when I just want to fold into myself and cry. Life as a parent is really hard.
Despite this, I loving being a mom, and I even want to have more kids. Am I crazy for wanting this? I don’t think so.
Yes, things change when you become a parent, many times for the harder, but with all my heart I say, not for the worse. Let’s talk about some of those difficult changes. I promise that with all of these difficulties come blessings. See if I am right after you keep reading about my life.
Cleanliness of the Home… and the people in it
I am someone who loves a clean, organized house. At this time in my life, it is pretty far from that description. At the end of any given day, there are toys strewn all over the floor, crumbs comparable to the sands of the sea under the kitchen table, kids with food stains all over their clothes and faces, and an at least one pile of laundry spilling off the couch.
It doesn’t only seem this way, but it is true, that my husband or I clean up and five minutes later there is another mess. Sometimes we think, why clean at all? Then we face reality and start cleaning, often after the kids are in bed.
What could be good about this? Well, I can be grateful that I have food to feed my kids. Crumbs show they are fed. I can be grateful my kids have toys so they can have fun and play together. I can be grateful that my kids are curious and want to touch everything. This means they are learning.
I used to apologize every time someone would come over to my house and it wasn’t perfectly clean. I have learned over time that true friends and loving family are coming over to see my family and me, not my clean house. They understand, and they usually want to help.
A friend of mine told me about a wall plaque that says, “Yes, we do live here.” I love that. It’s not just that we sleep in this house either, but it’s that we have joy here. We live in our house, and happily so. That is what makes it a home.
There have been times in my life when I have been really concerned with how I looked. I wanted to make sure my makeup, hair and clothes all looked fabulous. I wanted to look great all the time.
Having kids changed this for me. Hey don’t get me wrong, I don’t all of a sudden want to be smelly and gross. It’s not like that. I still have a desire to look good, and I have even had self-confidence issues due to my weight after having kids. However, I no longer make the way I look my top priority. I am not going to lie – sometimes I don’t take a shower until noon or later. I only put on makeup and fix my hair if I have time, but mostly just when I go to church or spend the day out. I don’t wear fabulous clothes that often either, but that is probably smart. I would have spit up, snot and food all over them at the end of the day anyway.
Not focusing so much on my physical appearance has helped me in many ways. I have learned to see myself as more than my outward appearance. My insides – my character, my mind, my spirit – have become so much more important to me.
I have learned to put others’ needs before my own. I do this by making sure my kids have the clothes they need, that their faces and hands are clean, that their noses are wiped, that their bums are clean. Putting others before myself has made me happier and more humble than ever before.
The icing on the cake is that there is no better smell than freshly washed baby. It is beyond heavenly.
Privacy and Free Time
Once you have kids, you are really lucky to go to the bathroom on your own or sit down and eat a meal peacefully.
When you are on the phone, your kids are the loudest and craziest. When you want a quiet moment with your spouse, your kids run in and jump all over you. When you think you might be able to get a nap, your baby wakes up from his nap just as your head hits the pillow.
Not only do you have little privacy as a parent, you also have very little free time. I know I go all day every day because my kids always need something. Each day I look forward to when the kids go to sleep so I can relax a little. Earlier in the day, when the little ones nap, assuming they actually nap at the same time, I have to make a choice. Do I catch up on chores, take a nap, or do something fun like watch a movie? Actually, I usually choose to do something responsible, like pay bills or work on a lesson. All this work can be really tough because I still have hobbies and interests and friends.
This concept of less free time and privacy has taught me many things. I have learned to multitask and to survive on less sleep. I have been able to see what in my life isn’t important and get rid of it.
I have pondered on what is the most important. There are many things that are important in my life. Some I have time to do now; others will have to wait. What I do know, though, is there is nothing more precious than my time with my husband and my kids. So, though I don’t get a lot of time alone, that time alone I would not cherish as much as my time with those I love most.
When you have kids, you are really busy. They take up most of your time. Even when you and your spouse are both at home with the kids, there is always a never-ending list of things to do. By the time the kids are all in bed, quite often my husband and I are exhausted. We have struggled with having enough time together to keep our marriage strong.
We are still working on this, but a good thing that has come from it is that we are planning things to do with each other. We have goals we are working on. It has been rewarding to talk together about what we want and need, and how to do that. It is helping our communication.
Sometimes we have moments when we look at each other and just smile with love and adoration. Those moments come when we see each other loving, playing with, and teaching our children, and when we see our children do something amazing that touches us to the core.
We recognize for a few short years we may not have as much time together, but we are growing in love and adoration for each other each day as we see each other develop into a better spouse because of trying to be a better parent.
I mentioned sleep earlier, but it merits mentioning again. Reasons for staying up late and the definition of sleeping in change drastically when you are a parent. It is rare you stay up late for fun. You instead stay up late so you can clean the house, do other chores, and possibly spend a little time alone, or with your spouse. The amount of sleep you get changes too. Eight hours? What’s that? Try five or six hours – and those five or six hours often are interrupted.
Through enduring this difficult challenge for so long, I find I don’t need as much sleep as I used to. I can feel totally fine on way less than eight hours of sleep, on the good fortune that it is uninterrupted. I also feel way more grateful for sleep than I ever used to. Naps are a luxury and a good night’s rest a reason to celebrate.
When you have kids, it is a huge struggle to get anywhere on time. It doesn’t matter what time of the day it is or when you started getting ready. It seems like right before we go somewhere, someone either needs a diaper change, needs to go potty, has forgotten something, or just isn’t cooperating.
That is my life. I have found that I am most impatient and yell at my kids the most when I am in a hurry. Sometimes it is due to my lack of preparation, but most of the time it’s just the way it is.
I am still trying to master the skills I am learning from this. I do think surviving on less sleep helps sometimes. What I really need to work on is my temperament. I need to be more patient. I need to be more compassionate. I need to keep my voice gentle. These skills would be helpful in so many aspects of my life, and this is an avenue for me to develop those skills.
I also have learned that being a little late or exactly on time won’t make the world end. Life will go on. Do I want to care more about getting somewhere on time, or about how my kids feel about me when life gets tough? I know that the way I act in these situations is how they will act in those situations.
Peace and quiet doesn’t really exist in a house full of kids. Kids use their imaginations very loudly. My toddler imitates just about everything we say, in his adorable and LOUD voice. My baby cries when one of his brothers knocks him over by accident, or when he really doesn’t want to take a nap or be spoon-fed. My two oldest like to pretend to fight each other, but they also really just don’t get along sometimes. Expressing that frustration is very noisy and whiny.
The only times it is really quiet are when the kids are asleep. To get some peace, sometimes as parents, we must get away – a quick trip to Wal-Mart for me, washing the car for you, an occasional date for us. You know what the funny thing is, though? After a date with my husband, or after going out on an errand without the kids, I welcome the noise with open arms. I always miss the laughter and the craziness, even after a few hours.
Ever heard of mommy brain? It’s real. Because of increased stress and lack of sleep, many times we moms are inarticulate, forget where our stuff is, forget what we are talking about while we are talking about it, forget regular vocabulary, go into a room having no idea why – wait, what am I talking about?
Are there good things about this? Perhaps other people learn to be more patient with us? I do know I have learned to laugh at myself more. It also keeps me humble, which is always a good thing.
With kids come extra reasons to spend money: food, clothing, diapers, toys, school supplies, field trips, gifts for holidays and birthdays, etc., etc., etc. What might have been spent on concerts or new clothes now goes to caring for your children. Honestly, I see this as a great blessing. Having to think more about what we spend money on has helped us purge out unneeded expenses. It is also so rewarding to pay for a field trip, knowing my child will have fun and learn. Buying clothes for my kids, especially the little ones, is so enjoyable. I also love buying toys and books for my children in anticipation of their excited, lit up faces.
Food and Entertainment
I have noticed that the food I eat, the music I listen to, the movies and shows I watch, the books I read, the activities I do outside of the house, are so different than they used to be. When we go to restaurants as a family we make sure there is a good kids’ menu. I watch a lot of Pixar, Disney and Dreamworks. I read books with pictures far more often than I read novels. I listen to whatever my kids want to listen to over, and over, and over. My kids use my phone more than I do it seems, playing games or watching clips from “Frozen” on YouTube. When planning family activities, or family
vacations, my husband and I focus on what our kids will enjoy.
Do I miss my old forms of entertainment? Sometimes, but not really. A lot of the stuff I used to watch, read and listen to wasn’t uplifting, and sometimes inappropriate. As far as activities go, sometimes I do wish my husband and I could go swim with dolphins or do a romantic dinner cruise, but we know there will be a time when we can go on vacations alone. Periodically we will, but we know right now, our first priority is making sure our kids enjoy their childhood. What an amazing responsibility. It is one I hold dear.
There are very few times in life we voluntarily go through pain. Any woman who decides to be a mother goes through some of the most intense pain she will ever go through as she bears her children. Many mothers, including myself, keep on having kids even after going through nine months of discomfort and then intense labor/delivery pains. Some mothers also go through grave emotional stress and depression after having children.
Do you know why we do it? I don’t know about all mothers, but as for me, as soon as I hold my baby in my arms for the first time, I forget all about the pain I just went through. I forget about everything but the overwhelming love I have for my little angel from Heaven.
Another thing happens as we have kids. We see them go through pain – emotional and physical. When babies get hurt or are upset, what calms them down? Mommy nursing them or cuddling them. When toddlers get a booboo, what do they say through their little tears? They say, “Kiss it, Mommy.” When you kiss it, they know it is all better.
When our older kids go through bullying, or not understanding their worth, it is up to us to stand up for them, to help them know just how precious they are.
Enduring pain with our children helps our family grow in love. We know we can do anything as long as we have each other.
These are just a few of the major ways having kids makes life harder. I hope I convinced you that these harder things are actually for our good.
There is so much more, though! There are so many things about parenthood that are nothing short of amazing. Let me highlight some of those!
them may we teach prayer, inspire faith, live truth, and honor God. Then we
shall have heavenly homes and forever families. For what higher gift could we
wish? For what greater blessing could we pray? None!
You rock a sobbing child without wondering if today’s world is passing you by, because you know you hold tomorrow tightly in your arms.