It’s Going to be Hard – and that’s OK

This has been a crazy week.

We’ve had conflicting events involving family members pretty much every evening; one son has needed tons of help with homework every afternoon while the neighbors keep coming over to play; I’m still unpacking a few boxes from our recent move and the pictures leaning against the walls are crying out to be hung; a daughter developed a weird rash that required setting up and squeezing in a doctor’s appointment; we’ve got major projects needing attention at The Power of Moms; no one could find clean clothes to wear to school today because laundry time hasn’t materialized this week; and, to top it all off, tonight is the Pinewood Derby, and three kids have three cars that need to be finished before 6:30 p.m. – plus the big boys are really excited about going to meet a professional basketball player from our local team with with their basketball team right during the Derby.

But you know what? I went into this week knowing it would be hard.  It’s turning out pretty much how I expected. My husband and I worked on the schedule last Sunday and figured out how to juggle the conflicting stuff but realized there were going to be some tight connections and some lateness and some things we’d just have to miss.

I knew the kids would be really grumpy yesterday after a family party that went late the night before so I cut them some slack.

I decided that I’m only going to get to the most urgent things on my Power of Moms list this week– the rest can wait.

I know tonight may not work out great, but we’ll just do our best to get the boys’ cars in the earlier heats of the Pinewood Derby, and I’ve let the boys know that we’ll get to the professional basketball player appearance late – if at all. It’ll be OK. And “OK” will feel fine because I’m not expecting “great.”

And you know what? Next week will be a little crazy too. I work to cut out what is superfluous – but, still, five school-age children and two businesses plus a lot of community and church involvement means lots of work, plenty of running around and quite a few surprises. I choose all this. I accept that these choices will result in some periodic craziness. And I’ve found that acceptance takes me a long way toward happiness.

Every stage of motherhood offers different facts that we need to accept.

When we have newborns, we have to accept interrupted sleep. When we have babies who spit up a lot, we can’t expect to have pristine clothes. When we have stubborn 2-year-olds, we must accept that there will be tantrums as they learn to accept that they can’t always have their way. When we have grade-schoolers, we need to accept that homework time will be crazy when everyone needs help at once. And no matter how old our kids are, we need to accept that grocery shopping with our kids will likely be quite chaotic.

As we accept the facts of our own stage of motherhood, our own circumstances and our individual children, we don’t have to add surprise and frustration to the already difficult situations we encounter each day.

We can go into a lot of situations prepared. When we wake up to a newborn’s wails, we can think, “Yep, time for her to eat – a little early, but hey, newborns are unpredictable.”

When we pick out clothes for ourselves and our kids and furnishings for our homes, we can keep the inevitable dirt and spills in mind and choose things with colors and patterns that will hide some of that.

When we head into the grocery store, we can have our route mapped out in our mind (hitting the most important things first), remind our kids of the rules before we get out of the car to go inside and be fully prepared to leave if things get bad, even if we only got to a few things on our list. The rest can wait.

And each day, we can expect that there will be a time when everyone needs something at once and tensions escalate. When that time arrives, we can think, “Yep, here it is. I knew we’d have a crisis sometime today, but things will calm down in a few minutes. They always do.”

Every stage of motherhood has its ups and downs. Every week and every day has its ups and downs. We might as well accept it and prepare for it where possible. And once we’ve got that acceptance and preparation in place, it’s a lot easier to enjoy our lives.

QUESTION: What do you need to accept about your current stage of life? How can you accept it?

CHALLENGE: Make a list of the things that are hard for you right now. Decide what you could and/or should get rid of from that list and get rid of it. Then resolve to live with the rest, and don’t expend energy wishing it were different and stressing out when the predictable does indeed happen.

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Comments

  1. Koni says

    Oh Saren, I needed to read this one today.  THANK YOU!!!  I feel like you’ve written about my life.  I have some hard things coming up, will be on my own with the kids for a week (how did you do that?),  lots of important decisions to be made, etc.  Thanks for helping me step back and realize that the stresses will happen, but that I need to accept them and not go crazy.  Bless you!!!

  2. Shawna says

    Yes, it’s so much more pleasant to envision the ideal scenarios, but I can see it would be more useful to plan on the not-ideal and accept it. That must be how moms become “unflappable.”

    I’m impressed that with that long list of to-dos, you still managed to make time to write about it! Thank you for the perspective.

  3. Melanie Vilburn says

    Saren,  

    Thank you for writing your experience using the steps of how to do the quick-witted, flexible parent karate we all need to learn.  You truly are the spirit of serendipity.

    I have a picture of Mary and Martha up on my wall above my computer.  I love how she and Jesus are looking into each others’ eyes as they are talking, the storm of Martha just above them. 

    As mothers it’s amazing how we can unwittingly brew up our own storms because of how much we’re trying to love everyone!  Thanks for your example of how to navigate through through those moments!

    It’s important to do our best to never loose the ability to see into each others’ eyes to affirm our commit to treasure each person, since that is the greatest love we can give our family when it comes down to it.

    Thank you for being so much like Mary!  Thanks for writing about your experience in how to cling to that peace.

  4. Kelsey says

    Great message, Saren. The tough things will come up, there’s no use in making things harder on yourself and others by being negative about it. Two sayings come to mind: “If ye are prepared, ye shall not fear,” and “This, too, shall pass.” :) I also like what President Uchtdorf said, “Whatever your challenges may be, wherever you live on this earth, your faithful membership…and the divine powers of the gospel of Jesus Christ will bless you to endure joyfully to the end.” I emphasize enduring joyfully. ;)

  5. Becky says

    I stumbled across your blog from a post by a friend. As a mom on the other side of things, I want to say that all of the things you listed–the challenges, tantrums, lateness, crunch time–will someday be greatly missed by you as a mom. My “kids” are now 23, 21, 20 and 18. The oldest and youngest are still at home full time. The third is in college out of state so is home for the summer and the second is on her own, soon to be engaged, and living 3 1/2 hours from home. Even though I homeschool my youngest–a senior in high school and almost done–I still have a lot of free time in my days. I no longer have loads and loads of laundry to do. My youngest does her own and her brother doesn’t go through much laundry that I have to do. I no longer spend hours in the van, transporting kids all over creation. And, believe it or not, sometimes I wish I could. There are joys to where I am now–don’t get me wrong–but I sometimes miss the “neediness” of the younger years. I have to remind myself that they do still need me but in a very different way. I now have time to read and actually finish a book. I can help out younger moms who need a break, remembering when I was in that position. Is it easy? No. I have cried a lot over the fact that they are grown and have their own lives. But, while the smile of a kindergartener getting off the bus is precious, so is the hug from your 20 year old son, in front of his college soccer teammates, because he is happy that his mom and dad came for family weekend.

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