YOU. Hey, you. I see you. We pass each other in the grocery store once in a while. We don’t know each other….but I definitely know what your life is like. You have 3 small children with you. One is happily skipping along behind you, another is dangling off the side of your cart, and the third is safely tucked in a baby backpack.
BUSY. Your days are crazy. Your nights are hectic. You can barely find 15 minutes in your day for a shower, makeup, a meal you get to eat sitting down, or a bathroom break. It might have been 2 days since you looked in the mirror, because you have a unicorn sticker in your hair, and there is a mascara smudge ringing your right eye. You laugh when your friends talk about how they can’t believe it has been FOUR WHOLE WEEKS since their last pedicure. SUCH A TRAGEDY.
YOU. Somewhere in the swirl of your daily tasks, you are going to feel lost. You might even forget that you exist outside of your tiny people’s needs. The sticky hands, runny noses, refereeing fights, folding the laundry, feedings, housework, lawn work, more laundry……it can feel never ending. Don’t forget that there is still a you outside of all this.
FREE. Maybe you were a runner. Or an artist. Maybe you loved to read. What I want you to know is that you are still that person too. Sure, these tiny people take up most of your time. Once you are a Mother, there is no such thing as “free time”. Ask any Mom out there, and all time is precious and valuable….definitely not “free”. Gone are the days when you get to wake up at 10AM and stroll around in your pajama pants until lunch time. Gone are the days of “running a quick errand”. Hell, it takes me 11 minutes to get all my kids from inside the house, to safely buckled into their car seats.
TIME. I’m not going to say something generic like, “make time for yourself”. I have heard/read that advice on numerous occasions. I might have even repeated it once or twice. It dawned on me how silly it is to tell someone to “make time”. If it were that easy, we’d all be doing it, right? Absolutely. I’d make an extra 3 hours in each day to head out to my workshop and build something. Or stand in my garage and sing. Or get in an extra workout. Or maybe just take a shower without anyone dictating how long or short it has to be.
SQUASHED. Your kids will only be this little, and this needy once. Be brave. Be strong. Help your children have amazing adventures in your backyard. And above all else, don’t forget about the person who is still inside of you – the person who gets squashed back inside by the sheer amount of time it took to get all 3 of your kids in their shoes and out the door. The person who you would be if you could “make time” for yourself. Because what all those well-meaning advice givers really mean is, “don’t forget to be yourself”.
AGAIN. As I’m wrapping up my trip to the grocery store, we pass each other again in the produce department. Your happy group of children has melted into a crying puddle of grocery store dismay. Your oldest has thrown herself on the floor, the baby in the backpack is crying inconsolably, and your middle child is sitting in the basket of your cart, working his way through an open bag of chocolate chips. (I’m assuming you were buying those to make cookies) I won’t insult you by saying something like “you sure got your hands full!”, because that definitely isn’t how you feel.
SOUL. You don’t just have full hands, but a full house. A full heart. A full soul. These tiny people take absolutely everything you have, plus 10% more. Every.Single.Day. Instead of pointing out that it looks like you are struggling, I’m just going to put the baby’s pacifier back in his mouth, scoop up the trail of chocolate chips you left near the bananas, and continue on with my day. You and me…we are sisters in this battle to maintain our sanity long enough to get all of our kids safely through each day. Maybe down the road, our paths will cross again at the nail salon, once all our kids are in school full time. Until that time – keep up the good work, Sister. You are not alone.