Perhaps you were the mum who felt bad for shouting at your toddler, because he was grumpy from waking up three times the night before, and absolutely refused to eat his cereal. Or you lost your temper when your little foodie, who usually gulps down his lunch in 15 minutes, demands for "Pasta only!" and screams when you put sauce in his bowl, and then needs to be fed his lunch while you had to bounce a fretting baby in a carrier. You might be the mum who felt like tearing her hair out because the kids didn't want to drink their water the whole day and had to be chased with their water bottles.
Or you might be the mum who yelled at the kids, when you went to the toilet and returned to find that they had found some twine and a scissors, and were busy cutting little bits of fibre and flinging them everywhere. And then you felt terrible for losing your temper, especially when you just told them not to yell at each other.
You may be the mum who felt too tired to bring them down to the playground to play, and then was plagued by feelings of guilt. Or you may have been fighting this rising sense of irritation with the older kids, who didn't seem to be able to turn their volume down when you were trying to get the baby to sleep.
Maybe you were the tired mum, who had to rock the baby to sleep umpteen times, because he woke up every single time you put him down during his naps. Or your back ached for carrying him almost the whole day while you did your chores. Perhaps you struggled to feed the baby because he was fussy or didn't want to drink or was just plain distracted.
Perhaps you were the mum who felt frazzled, because you had to bathe the kids while the baby wailed in the background, but the kids squirmed and splashed and took their time. Or you felt guilty, because you were rushing to cook and couldn't read a book to them, or because you felt like hiding in the toilet for 10 minutes, to be away from all the "mama mama!"s. Maybe you felt like crying, when someone gives some unhelpful remark like "I've never seen kids fighting so much before!".
Well then, mummy, amidst all the feelings of frustration of things going wrong, and amidst feeling guilty for things that you think you did wrong... take some time to think of the things you did right today. Think of the times the kids played nicely together, and said please and thank you, and the times when they asked nicely for toys and negotiated instead of throwing punches.
Think of the frozen (but still healthy) meal you cooked for lunch, which had veggies in it. Think of the books you read, the booboos you kissed, the advice you dished out (whether or not it was heeded is a different thing). Think of the dinner that went into their tummies, and breathe in the scent of kiddy shampoo and clean skin because you gave them their baths.
Think of the baby growing well, because you have been diligent in feeding him. Enjoy that baby cooing that comes after a feed. Think of the lessons your kids have learnt today, from the books you read, or from resolving the fights they had, or from helping out at home. Think of the relatively chaos-free home that greets your hubby when he comes home. Think of the clean clothes that came out from the washer, because you loaded and ran a wash cycle.
Then give yourself a short break when you can afford it, have that cup of tea, or that bar of chocolate, or that slice of cake. Whatever that tickles your tummy's fancy. Each day comes with its own challenges, and tomorrow would probably be challenging too. And the day after. And the day after that. While we face those challenges each day, it is easy to get stressed over what we did wrong and what we did not do. Even as we try to be better each day, try to remember the things you did right. We are not perfect, but we are saved by grace, so let's extend that grace to ourselves and to other mummies out there!
I'm writing this at the end of a long crappy day (what I wrote probably describes everything that happened today!), and I admit that by dinner time I was ready to throw the older kids at the hubby, and run away from home for a couple of days with the baby (since he still had to nurse). Except that the hubby had to attend a late meeting over dinner and only came home when I was putting the older ones to bed. I was so thankful for my mum who came over to help at dinner time.
And as I was thinking about everything that went wrong today, I realized, there were things that went right. And while each day can sometimes feel like a whole mess, there is always progress as we plug on. So I'm trying to take motherhood from a "glass half full" perspective instead, and I hope you'll join me!
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