Editor’s Note: The Power of Moms is a website for mothers of all religions (and for mothers who are not necessarily religious). Each Sunday, we post a spiritual essay, and we would love to gather a wide variety of perspectives and ideas. Our goal is to be respectful of all beliefs while simultaneously offering opportunities to share meaningful, spiritual thoughts with one another.
Katie and I greeted the dawn this morning. She had her three-week-old eyes fully open and lay peacefully in my arms as I rocked her this morning at 5 A.M. My eyes were not so alert after waking up two previous times during the night to tend to her, and one time to rock and hold Harmony, my 21-month-old. It was a tough night that followed a tough day.
But, as the light from the sun began to fill the nursery with softness and warmth, I felt two emotions simultaneously. The first, a mixture of awe and gratitude for the beautiful gift I held in my arms – I felt privileged to be her mother. The second, exhaustion and fear about my ability to handle the demands of the day while maintaining my patience with eight children.
Thus, the postpartum roller coaster. Either I feel on top of the world, or I feel that the world is on top of me.
Yesterday, I was at my wit’s end. My feeble attempts at a nap had been thwarted by interruptions, and my nighttime sleep is so disjointed and interrupted as to rip my nerves to shreds. None of my babies have been good sleepers, but Katie has been one of my worst. At least some of the others could give me four or five hours at a time. Up until this week, Katie wanted to be fed every two hours like clockwork, day or night. This week, I was pleased when she extended that to three hours before her first night waking. It seems the longer I go without regular sleep, the more the sleep-debt interferes with my functioning.
I might as well admit it: When I’m tired, I’m cranky.
On a normal day, irritations can pile up and I roll with the punches. However, on a day like yesterday, I just can’t handle the toys, blankets, clothes, and legos that are STILL on the floor (despite three kids being asked three times to clean them up), the two loads of laundry I discovered in the washer and dryer after I’d finally folded and put away all the rest of it, the defiance and disrespect from a child who wants to do the minimum amount of work for the maximum reward, the garbage and dirty tissues piled up next to the garbage can but not inside, the comments about how dinner should have been improved instead of thanks for a darn good meal, the arguments between children, the missing toothpaste from the kids’ bathroom, the sticky kitchen floors, and the feeling that everything depends on me.
I really hoped for a good night’s rest last night, but I didn’t get it.
What I did get, however, were some lovely moments this morning as I waited for the dawn. I had the time to prepare myself for some tough hours, to pray for help and guidance, and to strengthen my resolve to be kind and patient no matter how I felt.
The morning was a challenge – it took until 10:00 A.M. just to get the kitchen clean – but I didn’t even lose it when my five-year-old bumped the container of strawberry jam and it poured (yes, poured — this particular container hadn’t set up just right) all over my newly-mopped kitchen floor. It was a small victory, but a victory nonetheless.
And this afternoon, I got a long, nourishing nap, courtesy of my wonderful neighbor.
And once again, I’m on top of the world.
That doesn’t mean I don’t have my moments. Sometimes, I wish it didn’t require so much sacrifice of my time and my sleep and my efforts. I worry about how much I can handle, how much I can take on, before I reach my wit’s end again.
Then other times – like when I hold a little piece of heaven in my arms as I rock and nurture a precious new daughter of God – I look forward to the dawn. I can feel myself stretching and becoming more than I was before, and I can’t wait for the day to begin.
QUESTION: What have you done to regain perspective on a particularly rough day of mothering?
CHALLENGE: Find some quiet time today to recharge.
Photo by Evgeni Dinev @ www.FreeDigitalPhotos.net