11 September 2009

Hey, this is hard!

Having one baby, or a baby and a toddler, or a baby and a toddler and a preschooler, is not a sufficient gauge* of whether one "can do this." Those years are wretched. They are not representative of the familial experience. I remember reading once in some Dobson book on parenting that the hypothetical mother whose personal well-being worried him most was the one home with two or three kids below preschool age. Quitting at that point is like calling your mom to pick you up from boot camp or giving up on getting in shape because your first time out you get a stitch in your side. You've just got to get past it, when there's the most work to do and no one to help.

*in most cases, in most cases, in most cases.


Marie said...

Yes! And I actually feel that the worst part is over... the worst part being: stay-at-home mom of one needy baby. Oh, yes, there were always "things" to do, but was I ever BORED! Now, with a preschooler, toddler, and ready to pop, there's NO time to be bored! And there's ALWAYS conversation to be had (or heard). The preschooler is turning into quite the helper... folding towels, grabbing diapers for me, cleaning up, and occasionally sticking her fingers in the fan (ok, so that part wasn't so helpful!)

But, as if I didn't already have a complex toward the "quitters", how can we use this information to "convert" others who "just can't handle anymore"?

Thanks for the encouragement!

HappyFox said...

This IS hard! Last year, I finished 20 years in the Army to stay home & take care of our then 6-month old - and I feel like the last year has been harder than the previous 20! Now we've a new little Peanut on the way in December, which means we'll have a newborn & a 2 year old. Thanks for your post - it was encouraging! I guess I just have to keep telling myself, "Plenty of other people have done this & didn't go insane or die - you'll be ok too." :)

Melrose said...

My mother advised me to drink a glass of wine every single night while preparing dinner...amazing how much that helps :)

MooreMama said...

A glass of wine? Every night? Preparing dinner?

DH is already telling me that being home (!) with two (!) under two (...) is going to be harder than I think. Just so long as he doesn't start thinking that it's easy, I guess.

lisa said...

MM - That's right! Just so long as he doesn't think (or say) it's easy. Whenever I get the sense that my husband (even though he assuredly does know better) must be thinking I sat at home eating bonbons all day (or "just played" with the kids - a very IMPORTANT pastime I must add) I make it a point to fall behind on dishes, laundry, cleaning or all three (I'm always behind on ironing and bedmaking). I think this falls under the "innocent as a dove" clause. :)

Baby 1 was a hard transition bc I was "on" all the time; a totally new thing for me. Baby 2 was a smoother transition for me - bc I already knew sleep, free time and clarity was going away for awhile :) I was more OK with it :)

When/if I'm preggo with #3 and caring for #1 and #2 we'll see how it goes - pregnancy is such a wild card.

HappyFox said...

I thought about this post last night & it hit me, "Holy cow - I have at least 3-4 more years of this?!!!!! Aaaaaahhhhh!!" That made me want to have more than one glass of wine every night. :(

lisa said...

Marie -
I think as far as converting women who are struggling, all we can do is be there with a helping hand and offer God's word and sufficiency for comfort. PP in general (with finances, critical family/friends/parishioners/even spouses, stress) can be like boot camp. Sometimes your bunkmate goes home - no matter if she's seen you skulk through, been cheered on, "knows" it gets "better", or even feels that she does "want" to finish.

Either she (and her spouse) believe in God's sufficiency, or they don't.*

*I hate to even have to qualify this for "hard cases" again, but since there's always a literalist lurking somewhere :) I mean this to apply to run of the mill breeders such as myself.

lisa said...

Oh but Happy Fox, when your children rise up and call you blessed or you've got grandbabies to visit, those 3-4 yrs will really seem like the gift they are. I am TOTALLY taking the hardship of it seriously, but you know...when you get to stare at those sleeping babies (after all their dirt, grime and war paint are washed off)... ;)

Pam said...

Rebekah, I think I read the Dobson book to which you refer, and I recall getting really peeved with the author over that whole part. !!!

But the rest of what you're saying, yup, boot camp. And if you give up when you're just getting started, you'd miss out on SO much... all the beauty of those moments later on when you are at your wit's end and one of the older children is finally able to sympathize, and recognizes you are worn to a frazzle, and offers to make breakfast, tend to the baby and the toddler so you can stay in bed a few minutes longer.

It is tough during those years, and I'll echo the sentiment of another mom of many by saying, whoever said it gets easier when they get older-- LIED!!! ;o)

I get it now that I am there myself, with eight and one on the way, ages 11 down... it doesn't get easier, it gets more challenging and more complex. But the blessings are also more complex-- varied, unexpected, multifaceted. It is marvelous!

SO much like boot camp. Like starting to workout and get in better shape. Having just gone through a three month transformation, I'm finding that's a really good analogy. It was really hard at first, but man once I took pictures and started seeing results... wow! And once you do get past that first (seemingly endless) stage, you are stronger, wiser, more capable than you ever thought possible!

And at the same time so very inadequate and incompetent, but much quicker to let go of the "control" and rest in God's grace... because all you have to do is stop for one brief moment and really look at the little souls around you, even when they are at each other's throats, and you see these totally unique personalities, God's creation, and we have the humble privilege of being Mom.

Rebekah said...

I have to say, I do feel like it's gotten easier, but this is probably reflective of my personality. I am not a baby person. Having only babies in the house was a real morale killer for me. My six year old is at least as rational as most adults, and it makes life around here much easier for me, although there is still a baby/toddler and a preschooler and some creature in my belly who is starting to noticeably slow me down, and all the work that comes with them. Once you've been in the water a while it doesn't feel as cold, and that makes the treading easier even when you're more tired.

Marie, on converting: the more I think on this, the more I think the best response I can give to the stupid questions and comments I get is something that is not glib (hard for me! :D), not calculated to emphasize the difficulty and that I'm not superwoman, not Duggarishly guileless because I'm a guileful person and it just wouldn't be honest. Something more along the lines of, "I think it's worth it to make an eternal investment." Smile. Wait. Don't expect anything to come of it.

HappyFox said...

I believe you Lisa. It probably wouldn't have been such a hard transition if I hadn't waited 37 years to have the first one. :) She's here & there's one on the way, so we can't give up now!

Gauntlets said...

I would not be able to do this without my seven year old. All the wars she and I fought through her toddler and preschooler years were totally worth it. She's grown into a really great kid and she is a huge help and blessing. All the wars she and I continue to fight (I expect the combat will escalate as she nears 13??) will, I pray, form her into a really great adult who is a great help and blessing to her husband and kids (DV).

Not that I have anything to do with my daughter's being great. I'm the whetting stone.

HappyFox: Huge congrats on your new baby!!!!! :)

RE: Conversion. All I've really encountered thus far goes a bit like this:

Her: "So, do you WANT more kids?"

Me: "Eh. Whatever. You know?"

Her: "How many kids do you think you're going to have?"

Me: "Wow. I just don't know."

Her: ". . . so you really like kids?"

Me: "Actually, I really like my husband."

Her: ". . ."


lisa said...

hahaha - effective. I like it :)

Much more hands-on than my "Viva La Rabbit People" bumper sticker.

HappyFox - Congrats! You'll kick butt. And on the days you don't, I also affirm nightly wine or, you know, what suits :)
My current weakness is nightly sherbet. It would be nightly Snickers, but I'm being good :)

Marie said...

Gauntlets... I'll have to remember that one! Not a day goes by (when I make it out in public!), without some (probably well-meaning?)stranger making a comment about us, as I haul a 3 and 1 year old around and look as if I'm ready to pop!

E said...

You ladies rock my face off. I'm having an awesome time during my current insomniatic four a.m. blog catch-up time because of you! As a pastor's wife, mom of a 15-month-old and a roughly 10-week-gestational wonder, and recently returned part-time teacher, I cherish the real voices I hear here. Thank God in Jesus Christ for you, for all of you.

Rebekah said...

E, I was awake then too! :D Waiting it out in bed, though.