Wednesday, April 18, 2012

When You Want To Give Up. . .Don't!

One of my best friends just gave birth to her very first baby--such a miracle. It seems like such a dream, such joy, such sunshine and rose petals right now. I pray her path through motherhood stays just as sweet as it is at this very moment. But for the times ahead, the times that are a bit more difficult, a bit more overwhelming, a bit more "overcast" than they are right now. . .Becky, love, this post is for you.

It also seems so many of us are going through the ringer lately. So many of my friends have been approaching those "throwing in the towel" moments of motherhood. This post is for all of them.

And it’s also for you.

This post is for those days when "get over yourself" is the last thing an exhausted, I-can’t-take-it-anymore, run-down mother needs to hear.

Can I just take your sweet face between my hands and look into your tired eyes and tell you what you’re doing is exceptional?

Tell you that motherhood is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Period. And I’ve worked for some very high maintenace individuals; property management, customer service, marketing and advertisement for over 300 clients, a nation-wide print publication company.

And I still maintain that having the 24/7 responsibility of a child is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. By far.

Being at some else’s literal beck and call will lay you low. It will rob you of a sense of self that can take time and tears to rediscover in this new identity of motherhood. Give yourself grace to realize that and to mourn the loss of who you were, before you begin to embrace the who you’re becoming.

I remember when I was just a two-month-old mother and the baby would cry, looking over at my mom, an aunt, anyone else in the room and wondering why on earth they didn’t pick him up?
I couldn’t accept the daunting reality that his crying would be my forever responsibility.

There will be days when you just want to be done. When you want a pass. When you want to go back to your books and late afternoon naps and movie nights on the spur of the moment.

This doesn’t make you a bad mom.

This makes you a human being going through some of the profoundest growing pains ever designed.

I have some small suggestions for those moments. And I’m going to open up comments today for the wise moms who’ve travelled this road of motherhood much longer to please share. To please encourage. To please offer their advice for how to navigate the desperately alone moments of motherhood.

For now, from the little experience that I have had, here is my advice to you:


1. Get more sleep STAT.

Each time I’ve had a baby, I’ve often found myself in irrational arguments with my husband during those first few months. And he knows enough now to call a time out and tell me to go and take a nap. This used to make me mad and I’d fight it all the way till I passed out in the bedroom. And emerge hours later filled with a renewed love for life and baby and husband.
You need a babysitter, mom, husband or friend who can gift you with time spent sleeping. Not cleaning, not watching TV, not grocery shopping. Just sleeping. It’s essential.


2. Take a time out.

It does not make you a bad mom if you need a break. It makes you a wise one who is taking care of herself so that she can keep taking care of her baby. Whether it’s a few hours at the mall, going to a movie or a weekend away. You will need this as much as you need sleep and oxygen if you are going to keep on keeping on. Make plans, friends, right now.


3. Call a girlfriend.

The daddy can’t be all things to you. He just can’t. Even if he wants to; even if he tries to. At some point you are going to need girlfriends who’ve been there, cried that and can offer a different kind of comfort. Surround yourself with them. Don’t let the baby cocoon leave you isolated.
Seek out your friends, your mom, the kind lady at church or the next-door-neighbor with twins. You need a woman to confide in. Regularly.


4. Eat what you love, not just what you’ve got time for.

Moms are notorious for eating leftovers or crackers or food that’s cold, or fast to fix or forgetting to eat at all. Work in meals that you love, that you get to eat while still hot, and while someone else is holding the baby.


5. Chocolate.

Enough said.


6. Get real with God.

He’s a parent. He knows what it feels like. He designed the system. Go ahead, tell Him how you really feel about it. Vent. This is the most honest kind of prayer. Give Him all your frustrations, your exhaustion, your desperation and hear how He listens to you.

Then know this – when you collapse at the end of a day; when the baby finally sleeps for a few snatched hours; when you close your eyes with no thought but the desperate need for sleep – He stays up, friends. He stays awake and sings over you. Sings! All through the night. Just for you.
God promises to love me all day,
sing songs all through the night!
~Psalm 42:5-7 (The Message)

7. Laugh & cry.

Because there is so much of the ridiculous, the hard and the wonderful wrapped up in motherhood. Go ahead – let some steam off. Sometimes that takes tears and sometimes, especially with girlfriends who’ve been there, laughter will heal you best.


8. Know when it’s time to ask for deeper help.

This list, it’s a beginning. But if it doesn’t help. If you don’t find your joy emerging from the fog. If you feel alone and isolated and desperate. Then you need to find a wise and professional counselor who can listen and give you the tools to help yourself.  This choice does not mean you are weak. It means you are strong.

I love all of you immensly and wish I lived close enough to come over with cookies or cake or celery if that’s your fancy. But know this, you are not alone. You walk a familiar road trodden by thousands of moms over the decades who have struggled to find the balance between the miracle of motherhood and the quiet desperation that sometimes arrives in it’s wake.

Just admitting that out loud – that may be the first step to starting to feel normal again.

So please pipe up in the comments – share your encouragement for moms who have a desperation simmering just below the surface of fine.  Or voice your own desperation for us all to relate to. We are encouraged sometimes in just the knowing that we are not alone.


  1. I absolutely love your blogs.. you are so real :)

    My advice is some that an older parent gave me when my daughter was a toddler. "Pick your battles". This may sound like teen advice but I've used it her whole life.

    When she wants to wear some craziness that you just can't wrap your mind around,let her. It won't hurt anyone but it will grow her independence. When she needs to "redecorate" her room from the beautiful baby room that you loved, let her. Neon pink or green walls won't hurt anyone but it will grow her artistic talents. When she wants blue or purple streaks in her hair, let her. It won't hurt anyone but will give her some individuality that she needs to grow and it's much safer than following the crowd and trying things that are dangerous.. and when she wants to talk at 2am about her best friend or boyfriend or anything else that's going on in her life... Let her. Moms, you're her ultimate best friend and she needs that time with you to keep her knowing how much you love and support her.

    Our kids are our most important job in the world... let's do a good job!

    1. Thank you so much for your inspiring words and advice! I will definitely start using them early. "Pick Your Battles" is one of the important ones no matter what age! Thanks for the encouragement!

    2. Wow...once again thank you for your posts/blogs.

      I became a mommy again pretty late in the game (42)yo. The strength, stamina and overall mental fatigue being a mommy produces is something I didn't really contemplate in it's entirety when becoming pregnant. All that being said, I LOVE every minute of it.

  2. love the get real w/ God piece as well as the take time out for me...

    I know the post was geared toward the ladies...good read for guys as well.

  3. Thanks for all the compliments, friends! Hope it was encouraging. I wish someone had sat me down ahead of time and told me about the hard stuff and parent-to-parent advice when I was pregnant. But I was the "pioneer" mother within the group of my friends and did it a bit before everyone else! Thanks for the comments!

    1. I think we're all in denial before it actually hits us over the head. I know I heard some advice and comments while pregnant and I thought - "It'll be different for me." It's impossible to understand just what motherhood/fatherhood is until you've lived it. The best we can do is start listening once we're here.

  4. I cried through most of the post. I'm definitely in that spot, far from relatives, crappy town, busy husband...but I've made a couple friends and boy does that make a difference! I need to find a good babysitter next! And I have no advice at the moment. It's all I could do not to lose it when my son purposely head-butted me in rage this morning. Survival mode right now, maybe in a couple decades I'll have some sage advice for young mothers.