Type A: organized, impatient, time urgent. Motherhood: messy, unpredictable, tiresome.
The two don’t necessarily go hand in hand. So how can we make it work without just keeping our heads above the water, but actually thriving? As a new mom, I swore I was going to do it all. I was determined to maintain a spotless house at all times, home-cooked meals every day, regular showers and daily self-care, a healthy sex life, a social life, date nights, stocked fridge and pantry, budget, fitness routine, and most importantly a healthy and happy baby. I quickly learned that was a twisted fantasy and when you stretch yourself too thin, every aspect of what you’re trying to achieve suffers.
I am a firm believer that you must take care of yourself before you can take care of others. Kind of like on an airplane you’re supposed to put your mask on, before assisting your child. It never made sense before, but one day it clicked. If I’m stressed to the max trying to live up to this ridiculous standard I’ve set for myself, then I’m not going to be the best mom I can be to my son. At 1.5, he’s still at an age where he relies on me for most things, and I have to be able to approach situations with a calm and level head and really be present when attending to him, not just going through the motions so I can get back to the dishes. I had to learn patience.
Being patient with ourselves as mothers can be really difficult at times, but when I began to slow down, I learned to not take any moment for granted. I had to hand over the reigns sometimes or step away from a task sometimes because my child needed me more. As moms, even when the little ones nap and we sit, just to sit down and do nothing, for some reason we feel guilty. We feel guilty because our to-do list is a mile long. The sink is full, the dryer is beeping, the phone is ringing. And you’re ignoring it all. The reality is that everything will eventually get done and your sanity is more important. I had to learn patience.
There’s an old saying that kids don’t come with handbooks, but nowadays there are tons, and I read a bunch because I liked schedules and knowing what to expect (and yes I read that one, too). I would stress myself out if something wasn’t panning out exactly the way I’d imagined. My Type A would kick in and I felt like I studied for a big test only to flunk it. Motherhood can be a wild ride and I just wanted to embrace it. I wanted to be able to enjoy the special moments with my son more without being pressured to have everything perfect all the time. Then, I realized I was the only one putting this pressure on myself. Even when my family would see me struggling at times and offer to help (which I greatly appreciated), I had to also tell myself that things don’t have to be done exactly the way I do it. There’s more than one way to change a diaper and make a bed, so what does it matter? It doesn’t- I started to learn some patience.
I started to leave a messy kitchen to go play blocks with my son. I started to put my phone down more. I let him skip a nap or nap in mommy’s arms every once in a while. I became less paranoid about schedules. I stopped being so hard on myself. I started to tell my husband I love and appreciate him more often. I decided to stop feeling guilty about taking time for myself to go get a manicure. I started to let my kid do the things I said “I’ll never let my kid do” when I saw other families in my pre-mom life. Because now, I get it. You can’t control everything or do everything perfect all of the time.
Adopting a more patient mind has allowed me to relax and go with the flow more, trusting my maternal instincts. I feel inspired to encourage other moms who may struggle with the same things to slow down and put childhood first. It’s a one-shot deal, and toddlers especially have so much to learn and explore and should have the freedom to do so with a happy and present mommy. We can’t control their every move and emotion and instead of beating ourselves trying, let’s resolve to allow them to express themselves, feel loved, and develop trusting relationships. Cleaning can wait, PB&J’s are acceptable dinners sometimes, and your spouse loves you just the way you are. Although it is still possible to have it all together and get everything done, maybe it doesn’t necessarily have to be all at the same time, and that’s okay. So buckle up, throw your messy bun up high, and thrive on this wild ride of motherhood!