Motherhood: Thriving or Surviving?

As I write this post, I have huge puffy bags under my eyes and a cup of coffee in my hand.  I have been trying to nap for the past hour and a half (unsuccessful obviously) while my daughter is sleeping.  I dozed a little bit here and there, but then our lovely neighbors decided to have a concert next door (so sweet of them to do that every day allllll daaaaaaay long.  They must not have jobs.  But then again, neither do I) so I eventually admitted defeat and dragged myself over to the coffee pot.

Some days in motherhood, I really thrive.  I am energetic (it really does happen sometimes!), can’t wait until Riley wakes up from naps so I can play with her, snuggle, and plant kisses all over her little angel face.  I’ll get a shower in, maybe even some exercise, read my bible, and maybe even do a house chore! You know, the days where I actually walk out of the apartment with pants on 🙂 (story here) These days are very precious and I savor their every moment.

Then there are days, like today, where it’s all about survival.  The “one step at a time” kind of days where when I hear Riley on the monitor waking up for a nap I am silently begging her for “just 5 more minutes, sweatheart!”  Where my to-do list is my enemy and I consider de-friending anyone whose baby is sleeping through the night (not really, but survival mode will play all sorts of tricks on your mind!)

I recently read in a book about living intentionally rather than just living by reaction.  At first I felt all inspired and motivated about it, but that was quick lived and followed by guilt that I just can’t seem to live as intentionally as I would like.  Then my voice of reason piped in, “dude, you’re only 4 months into being a parent, it’s ok to be reactive sometimes.  Living intentionally is just going to look totally messy and totally inconsistent right now” (my voice of reason talks like a West Coast surfer).

Here’s the deal:  I think that belief that either extreme is a full, accurate portrayal of motherhood is a false belief.  But so very easy to fall into.  Motherhood is not all survival only (thankfully!) as many of us sometimes believe when we are resistant to the idea of having children (or more children).  It also, however, is not all thriving and roses as we sometimes believe when we are eager to have children and dream of all the playing, snuggling bliss!  It’s a beautiful, difficult cocktail of the two.  But I think that our culture surrounds us with lies that fuel us to believe one of the two extremes and get down on ourselves.

Lie #1: You should have it all together (fueling the “thriving” belief):

Our American culture constantly tells us that we should be a jack of all trades, should be able to do anything we put our mind to with a smile on our face, and should be able to balance it all: a great job, a family, a great body, a great social life, etc. etc.  That we should be able to thrive in any situation.  And there are many self help books out there that writers are making a fortune off of to help us achieve that kind of life (or at least a life that tricks others into thinking that).  This makes women believe that they should be able to have kids, and still hold it all together.  When they can’t, they hide it because they don’t want to be exposed as a fraud of thrivingness (sometimes made up words are appropriate);  Or they hide it because they know that if they don’t, unsolicited advice will be thrown at them from mom’s who apparently have it alllllll figured out! (or even worse, non-mom’s who have motherhood all figured out! I swear it feels easy to know a lot about parenting before you become one.  Then you have a kid and you’re like, “crap, that’s not working!”)








–>I got these pictures off of one of the funniest blogs that you will ever read: on one of her posts about “Before and after kids,” you should check it out!

Lie #2: Life is all about you (fueling the “surviving” belief):

Then there is the lie we believe that we should derive pleasure from all things and relationships in our lives, and that the main goal of life is our own happiness.   This lie really feeds the idea that motherhood is all about survival, and therefore is not desirable. We think our days and our lives are supposed to be all about us and so we feel like every little thing inconveniences us and we just can’t wait to get to that glass of wine and TV show at the end of the day (is that just me? No? 🙂 ).  We (and by “we” I mean “I” but I know I’m not the only one who thinks/feels this way) want them to take more naps during the day so we can _______ (insert favorite activities here).  We want our significant others to think about our needs and find ways to make it easier on us, rather than thinking about how we can help them.  Because God forbid we put them before ourselves, we’re already doing that with baby! We want our pre-baby body back asap, none of this “9 months up, 9 months down” mess.  We want our baby to sleep through the night at 4 months old because, “umm hello little one! Mommy needs her sleep!”

One thing that was really eye opening to me when I was feeling frustrated about getting up throughout the night was a study titled “Normal Infant Sleep.”  It talked about how we have unrealistic expectations about infants and sleep.  We think that babies should be sleeping through the night by 4 or 6 months, but studies proved it is actually more normal for it to take a year for a baby to sleep through the night.  We’re not ok with that, so we take matters into our own hands.  Because in America we just don’t put up with things that call us to serve and deny ourselves.  Patience and service are a lost art.  If something is causing us to give up our precious conveniences, well then we’re just going to have to get rid of that, even if it is at the detriment of others!

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying you should never do anything to get rid of inconveniences.  I’m also not saying that you should feel guilty about thriving days, or like you should have a good, selfless attitude during surviving days.  Trust me, I’m writing in the midst of a surviving day right now (writing makes me feel better.  And so does coffee.  More than writing. 😉 )  As a matter of fact, I hear Riley on the monitor and I’m sending her those brain waves asking for 5 more minutes.  What I’m saying is essentially this: motherhood isn’t all hard, and it isn’t all easy.  It is what it is.  It requires our whole selves for service, and brings amazing joys along the way!  Some days you thrive, others you just make it by, but it does not have to be one or the other.  Nor does it have to be one more than the other.  So for those of you mothers out there thriving today, write down the details of your enjoyable day so that you don’t forget those sweet moments! And for those of you surviving, I’ll give you this quote I read earlier today on facebook: “Always keep a bottle of champagne in the fridge for special occasions. Sometimes the special occasion is that you’ve got a bottle of champagne in the fridge.”   You’re welcome 🙂


One Comment Add yours

  1. Grandma B says:

    The only book that can show a parent the way is God’s Word. It says to ‘raise your child in the way it should grow and when they get old they will not depart from it’. God trust us, as Christian mom’s, to do exactly this, raise Riley right with godly parenting, and she will not depart from it. God will sustain and strengthen the parent who does just this! Awesome writer you are sweet daughter of mine!

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