When I was a young Mom I was in one word, terrible. I think my ADD (attention deficit disorder) was a big contributor to this inadequacy but at that time of my life I wasn’t so in tune with what my nerve endings were doing. All I knew is that I wanted to scream most days. I struggled with postpartum depression for 9 months after the birth of my oldest daughter. I sucked at mothering.
Many days all I could do was get through. I was working too much and racing too much and trying to do it all perfectly when in fact I was doing nothing perfectly. I was a wreck and yet no one seemed to notice except my husband who had to calm me down several times a day. My daughter was so perfect and so energetic and so, so me.
I was flailing.
The bread on the peanut butter and jelly sandwich was stale, the laundry was heaped in piles in the bedroom and the toys were a mess all over the dining room. When I was at work I wanted to be at home and when I was at home all I could think about was work. It was not good. It was a mess, just like the dining room.
I was a mess.
So I had a 2nd child. Never once did I think, slow down. Breathe. Relax. Enjoy the moment. No, my life was a pressure cooker and I just kept blowing off steam to keep from exploding. But once I had my 2nd precious baby, I noticed something. She wasn’t double the work. She was hardly any more work than just juggling one.
I was how should I say it…adjusting.
Oh, I still swirled about. Still cried because I was so tired from doing it all. Still struggled with potty training and meals and guilt and leftover macaroni and cheese. I still leaned on my husband and was exasperated with my job and dreamed of going to bed at 7 pm just so I could catch up.
Mothers never sleep you know. Or, that is we rarely sleep.
And so I had Baby #3. I’m so glad I never had to put in an application to have children because they would’ve handed it back to me with the word stamped DENIED. I simply was sub par in the Mothering world. My own Mother had never been a shining example of how a Mother should be, so I guess I didn’t really know how. But no Mother really knows how to be a Mother.
It’s all a big experiment of trial and error.
The first few years I’d been erring. The trials seemed bigger than I’d imagined. The girl who had been good at everything she’d ever tried was not that good at this. But I did one thing…I kept flailing.
I kept loving my babies (between the screams).
I kept moving forward.
I kept making changes. One day I walked into my boss and handed him his pink slip.
I was going home to be with my babies and learn how to be a good Mother even if the thought simply terrified me. (And it did.)
I’d been flailing for years and the flailing was working.
I was getting better.
I was growing.
I was screaming less and laughing more.
I was spending more of the right time with the right people and less time obsessing over work.
I was becoming the Mother I knew I should be and wasn’t settling for being the Mother I knew how to be.
So in this long-winded scenario in which I reveal my true Mother colors I want to make this point. You have to flail. It is part of the process of life. It is part of the process in which you grow and stumble and fall down and get back up. And you do it again and again and again.
It doesn’t matter what you’re flailing at. It might be motherhood. It might be your career. It could be marriage. Maybe it’s money. It might be with friendship or God or simply taking care of yourself.
It’s okay to flail.
My youngest son is now 21. I tell people I just got really good at this mothering thing the year he left for college. I’d been a Mother for 26 years at that point. The first few years I was terrible. The middle few I was satisfactory to average. And the last decade or so I was really getting my groove on.
My daughter gave me my first grandson almost 3 years ago. I’m an amazing grandmother. I look at his tiny feet and swing with him at the park and hug him and love him with this overwhelming sense of God in my heart.
I spend time. No agendas. No demands. Just time.
I’m a master of loving him…so patiently, so fully, so there.
Flailing is the training ground for becoming a master…of anything