When I was asked to write about “keeping it together as a mom” my first thought was: “What on earth does that mean?! Does any mom manage to keep everything together? I sure don’t!”
Being a mother is hard, and society and the expectations do not help. For those of you that are already mothers, you will know exactly what I mean. It doesn’t matter what you do, or how you do it, someone will have something to say.
For example, if you breastfeed, you will be asked if you have enough milk; or you will hear that your baby looks too thin… or too fat! Or it’s time to wean now at 6 months, because otherwise they will be in school still wanting the breast.
If you formula feed, you will be told that you obviously didn’t try hard enough to breastfeed. They will tell you that you are selfish, or that your baby will grow up less intelligent!
If you are a stay-at-home-mom and keep your baby home, you will be told you are stunting your baby’s growth. Or that the baby is loosing out on stimulation or socializing by not being in a crèche. You will be that boring person that has nothing to talk about beyond their baby’s bowel movements.
If you go back to work you will be told that you will miss out on baby’s milestones. And again: that you are selfish, for wanting extra money. Or that when you became a mother you needed to stop thinking about your career and focus on your baby alone.
You get the picture. It doesn’t really matter what we do, someone will make us feel inadequate and like we are definitely not “keeping it together.”
So, I started thinking a bit about what keeping it together means, and for me it means something quite different to what you may think.
When the end of every day comes, I see my children in bed fast asleep and I think:
- Were they fed today? Yip – they have full tummies, even if supper was Weetbix.
- Were they clothed today? Again: yes (apart from my 2 year old stripper), they all had clothes on.
- Were they clean? Yes, each kid did have a bath and was clean when they came out. It may not have lasted, but they were clean.
- Were the children happy? Apart from the kiddy arguments among each other, yes, each kid had a smile when they came to say goodnight to me.
This is how I know I kept it together today. I see it in my children. They don’t mind or remember that the cupcakes for baker’s day didn’t look quite right. However, they will remember that mom let them lick the spoon and add the Smarties! They won’t realise how bad you felt to leave them at crèche that morning to go to work. But they will remember the big hug they got when you fetched them later and how you were so keen to hear their stories of how their day went, in the car on the way home.
Keeping it together shows in your children, it does not show in how clean your home is, when last you managed a proper shower, or when the laundry was actually folded and put away before it was used again.
Babies grow up very fast. Even in just a few weeks they change. So, when you have a really rough day, and think about how you will deal with a year of baby being like this, or how on earth you will manage a second or third child, just try and relax a bit and remind yourself that tomorrow baby is a day older, and next week a whole week older, and things will be different.
When you get into bed at the end of the day, totally exhausted and thinking you really did not keep things together, think back on how your kids would remember the day:
- Fed children
- Clothed children
- Happy children
I’m willing to bet they will think you are the most wonderful mother in the world and that they definitely believe you did everything right!
The author of this guest post is Naomi Mitchell, Dominique’s oldest sister. Naomi is a mother of 6, currently expecting number 7, a qualified staff nurse, doula, and entrepreneur: besides working as a doula, she is amazing with the sewing machine.