“I don’t know how you do it!”
If I could have a dollar for every time I’ve heard that over the last decade of my life, I’d probably have enough for a decent vacation here soon.
Look, I get it. I understand I’m different, what with twins straight out of the gate, followed by five more children, including a second set of twins here at the end.
How do I do it all?!
The truth is I don’t do it all, all at the same time, and my progression into this life I now live came little by little, one (or two) kids at a time.
I didn’t overnight go from single independent woman with the world full of options in front of her to married, homeschooling, and seven kids.
Yikes. That would be a lot!
But, day after day, and year after year, I’ve learned how to manage my life, putting systems and routines in place, learning and understanding the nature of children, of life, destroying and rebuilding thoughts and opinions I once believed about myself and about what it meant to be me, now.
But, it’s still hard work, and the work only continues!
Simcha Fisher, a mom of nine, once wrote a ‘letter’ to moms of only one child, though I felt her message applied to all first-time moms. In her letter, she stated that it is harder to be a first-time mom than to have nine children.
Here is what she said:
When I had only one child, I truly suffered during those long, long, long days in our little apartment, no one but the two of us, baby and me, dealing with each other all day long. I invented errands and dawdled and took the long way home, but still had hours and hours to fill before I would hear my husband’s key in the door. […]
My husband got to leave the house every day, and sleep every night. He got to go to the bathroom alone. I hated him for it.
When I had only one child, I told myself over and over that motherhood was fulfilling and sanctifying and was filling my heart to the brim with peace and satisfaction. And so I felt horribly guilty for being so bored, so resentful, so exhausted…
I loved my baby, I loved pushing her on the swing, watching squirrels at the park together, introducing her to applesauce, and watching her lips move in joyful dreams of milk. But it was hard, hard, hard. All this work: is this who I am now?
I, too, often felt isolated as a new stay at home mom during those long, long days when my husband was at work, and I stranded at home with no car and twins to take care of, a first-time mother not knowing how I was supposed to adequately stimulate my children all. day. long.
I did get bored. I was resentful of my husband who got to leave the house and have real conversations.
Being a mom is extremely taxing, especially with your first, but not so much because of the baby, but because of the changes you are undergoing as you grow into motherhood.
You don’t know anything as a new mom.
And everyone and everything is telling you how to mother “the right way” and “the best way.” And you just want to make it to bedtime.
You stress and worry about every new thing that your baby does or isn’t doing.
But even worse is your struggle to even know who you are now.
Are you still you? What do you even like to do anymore? Why are you letting a tiny person control your every moment? You never have time for yourself, and when you do make time for yourself, you feel guilt.
You want to be you, but you also are starting not to care about the same things as you used to. Your priorities are shifting, and it’s painful.
As Fisher said at the end of her letter:
To become a mother, I had to learn how to care about someone more than I did about myself, and that was terrible. But who I am now is something more terrible: the protector who can’t always protect; the one with arms that are designed to hold, always having to let go.
Dear mother of only one child, don’t blame yourself for thinking that your life is hard. You’re suffering now because you’re turning into a new woman, a woman who is never allowed to be alone. For what? Only so that you can become strong enough to be a woman who will be left. […]
Dear mother, don’t worry about enjoying your life. Your life is hard; your life will be hard. That doesn’t mean you’re doing something wrong—it means you’re doing it right.
I absolutely believe that motherhood has refined me, changed me, and turned me into a new woman, a better woman. I would not be as patient without all these kids. I would not be as understanding of others. I would be a totally different person, a proud person. A person who still cares about what others think about her.
I love that message. Children are blessings from God. They come into this world dependent, needy, innocent, pure, perfect. God made them. And he has entrusted us with these precious souls, to raise them up unto Him, to teach them correct principles, to help them make informed decisions, to be good citizens and neighbors. And while our children will turn out how they ultimately decide, it is our job to do our best to teach them while they are young.
As it says in Proverbs 22:6:
Train up a child in the way he should go; and when he is old, he will not depart from it.
But, these blessings certainly do bring their own set of personality and temperaments. They challenge us. They make parenting hard because it isn’t a simple approach of “if I do this, then that will follow” method, because our will is not the only one involved.
What are your thoughts on these articles? Have you read them? Do you agree or disagree with them? What is your advice?