I read a book the other day.
Like a legitimate, actual real book that I picked out from the library. And it didn’t have pictures.
I know to many of you this is not a large feat, but for me, it’s huge! I’ve read around a dozen books in the last year and though it might seem weird for someone who was always an avid reader as a child to admit, I don’t know if I have read a dozen books in the previous 15 years of my life just for me. Now, as a religious person, I read my scriptures consistently but books for entertainment beyond that have been almost nonexistent. I have read plenty of picture books and a few chapter books with my children but that’s been basically it.
You see, I stopped reading books just for me when I had my second child. I had this issue where I had a hard time not finishing a book once I started it and that required me ignoring my children more than I wanted to, so I put reading on the back burner for a long time. I know it would have made sense for me to read after they went to bed and have some downtime for just me but my youngest two kiddos were terrible sleepers and that just didn’t work. I know of many moms who are able to pursue their hobbies while they have young children but that just wasn’t something I was great at.
Having young children with health and sleep issues was completely consuming for me for several years. While I tried to make time for self-care, I was terrible about it overall. I also just really tried to be invested and connected to my kids and there wasn’t lots of extra time for just me. I’m ok with that.
I’m here to tell you that those days don’t last forever. If you are in the midst of feeding a baby all day and night, chasing toddlers, potty training, or just trying to keep your small humans alive – I see you.
I know what it is like to feel like a zombie and a milk cow and trying to just keep up with all their basic needs. There isn’t a lot of “me time” because someone always needs you, and getting any sleep becomes a priority over any personal pampering.
I’m here to tell you that what we all hear way too often is true: these times will go by so fast. The days are long but the years are short.
You will get to go out for girl’s nights again; you will get more than 4 hours of sleep at night; you will get to wear the same outfit all day without getting puked on; you will read again (or whatever it is you are missing currently).
Teenagers bring an entirely different type of exhaustion and can be needy in their own ways (calculus anyone?) but they also don’t need/want you all the time. I feel like moms today are told too often (and shown through social media) that “doing it all” is possible and almost expected. While I’ve been happy to see this mantra shifting more and more recently, moms have had too high of expectations put on them for far too long.
We are supposed to somehow feed our kids all organic, local foods, shop for the cutest clothes on a budget, keep our home immaculate, plan the hippest parties, be going to college, work out at the gym daily, hold two jobs, run a home business, be at peace with the world, have strong opinions about everything, and still find time to soak in a tub, reading and eating whatever snack we’re promoting on social media.
At the same time, we are told to let go of expectations and not worry so much.
For some, motherhood is not quite as exhausting. Some moms have good support, kids who sleep through the night for 12 hours (teach us your ways!), and are able to not sweat the small stuff as much. Because of those things, they might be getting all the time to work on hobbies or relax that they want. For others, being a mom doesn’t come easy, they don’t have the support they need, feel totally inadequate and overwhelmed, and are just doing their best to keep putting one foot in front of the other.
To you new mothers who are just trying to keep your kids clothed or figure out how to juggle the basics of life, give yourself some grace. You don’t have to do it all. You don’t have to be a superhero. There are many seasons of life and there will come an easier, less all-consuming one for you.
If it’s been a long while since you got to do something just for yourself (like read a book), know those days may come sooner than you want them to. Now, don’t get me wrong, self-care is so important and extremely healthy. I hope that you get some even if it’s painting your nails while your kids are in the tub, eating that treat you keep hidden in the back of the freezer while they are playing outside, or buying yourself flowers while you are grocery shopping (you can even order them on grocery pickup). Just don’t think that there is some magic formula for motherhood and that you’re constantly doing it all wrong.
Who cares what so and so down the road is doing. They are probably wondering how you do all you do. You are your child’s mom for a reason and they just need/want you. They don’t care how you look or what you don’t do perfectly. They are just happy for the time you can spend with them and the little things you do each day together.
I don’t regret the books I didn’t read all these years though I do know now that making more time for self-care is ok too. I know it might feel somedays like you will always be wiping behinds and explaining why it’s not ok to shove things up noses, but those days will come to an end and you’ll be writing that bestseller (or going out for girl’s nights or competing in triathlons or whatever else has been on hold) sooner than you realize.