Yay! This is my first time hosting a guest post!
I have been a big fan of The Other Johnsons blog. She has a witty sense of humour and also a strong and honest voice as a mother. Her blog is a place for me to go to read, relate, think and feel encouraged by reading about her realities of motherhood, and I also feel uplifted from her writing on some of the funny topics. The quality of her writing and also the topics she chooses got me hooked to her site. Heather is the awesome blogger / wonderful mother behind The Other Johnsons blog and she and I became online friends after sharing our life stories and motherhood challenges over the past couple of months. Today, she is sharing her challenging days as a mother, and ways to overcome those times with us here on my blog.
Let’s welcome Heather!
Over the past couple of months, I’ve felt a sense of defeat slowly accumulate on my snot-splattered shoulders. I’ve made some pretty big mom fails. It started with the day I washed my $600 iPhone in the laundry. (Yes. I’m not sure how I managed that either.) That was followed by the day my one-year old daughter knocked her tooth out, while napping in her crib. (Apparently she inherited my ability to achieve seemingly impossible accidents.) Then in another freak incident, the dog tipped over an accent table that landed directly on my daughter’s forehead. The next week our car broke down. Another night we had to take our daughter to the ER for a 105.5 degree fever. All the while, I’ve had my share of the usual mom fails – not paying enough attention to my daughter, leaving the fridge stocked only with a can of pickles and some Ranch dressing, ruining dinner, forgetting about other responsibilities, neglecting my husband, and the list goes on.
Everywhere I turn, I see defeat. It’s beat me before I could even try.
I finally lost my mind about a month and a half ago. Desirae decided it was time to enter the season of toddler life that she is granted the pleasure of tearing the house apart without limitation. Anything that can come out of a drawer, will come out of a drawer. Laundry is dragged around the house. Bookshelves have transformed into climbing walls. Items on tables are now weapons to throw at innocent bystanders. And anything I touch or glance at, must be immediately investigated, deconstructed, and preferably eaten.
Cleaning the house is really more of an exercise routine than a chore. I should buy ankle weights to help tone my calves.
Shortly after Desirae entered this phase, I had to host a weekly Bible study and pack up the family for a long weekend at our cottage. I was cleaning the bathroom while Des scattered the contents of the cabinet for the sixth time that day. I don’t know exactly why, but for some reason, all the chaos, messiness, and my perceived failures collapsed on me in a great avalanche of defeat. Maybe I wasn’t accustomed to repeating the same chore multiple times in one day. Maybe it was the heat that finally decided to show up for the summer. Maybe it was my personal goal to have the whole house sparkling before guests arrived.
Whatever the reason, I found myself on the bathroom floor with a bottle of cleaner in one hand and my head in the other. There I sat, crying, and feeling utterly defeated.
I think this sense of defeat happens to a lot of mothers. As moms, we put forth so much effort, but we still fall short. We clean the whole house only to apologize for the mess. We don’t understand why are children haven’t started walking when their friends took their first steps months ago. We make weekend plans that are disrupted by a broken car or a trip to the ER. No matter what we do, defeat always finds us crying on the bathroom floor.
Why do we feel this way? How do we deal with this constant sense of defeat?
As much as I may feel defeated by the grocery budget, the to-do list, and the play dates I still haven’t scheduled, those things aren’t the problem.
The truth is, the only force defeating me is my own expectations. Even if they aren’t written down in a list, I set goals and create expectations for myself each day. Then life happens, my personal goals aren’t met, and I feel defeated.
That day I was crying on the bathroom floor, I felt like I was failing everyone. The house wasn’t clean for my guests. The bags weren’t packed for the weekend. I was too busy cleaning to play with my daughter. In reality, my guests didn’t notice the house was dirty. Aaron was more than happy to delay the departure of our trip to help me pack. And Desirae didn’t care about any of it, as long as I was there to play peek-a-boo. I thought I was failing as a mother and home maker, but I was really only failing my own expectations.
Being a stay at home mom is hard because we live in a society where success is considered quantifiable. Organizations determine a person’s success through aptitude tests, task lists, percentages, and pie charts. Then we attempt to apply the same principles to motherhood. Each woman creates her own qualifiers for success, and those usually change every day. Those qualifiers could be completing a list of errands, cleaning the house, teaching your child a new skill, or trying a new recipe. Whatever the measurement, mothers just want to know that if we accomplish X,Y,Z, it means we have succeeded.
But a mother’s success cannot be measured. My job as a mom is a balancing act, and I’m always learning to juggle new things. There isn’t one foolproof way to do it. Every day is different.
The moment we try to measure our success as mothers is the moment we find ourselves buried under the mountain of defeat.
Motherhood isn’t about getting everything right. It’s about learning from your mistakes and trying again the next day. Motherhood is consistency, resilience, patience, sacrifice, grace, and love. It means constantly experimenting with the balance between family life, home life, and everything else life. It means not giving up and learning to let go. Motherhood is learning what can give up and what can’t. A successful mom is one who wakes up every morning and chooses to sacrificially and selflessly love her kids, even on the days they drive her crazy. That is the only measurement.
When you are crying on the bathroom floor, feeling defeated, ask yourself, “Why?” Chances are, the only person defeating you is yourself. Forget the dirty bathroom. Leave all your expectations on the floor with the rest of the toys. You’re the only one holding on to them. Let go of the sparkling house, the prodigy student, the early walker, the Joanna Gaines inspired bedroom, and the tantrum free Target run. Just be Mom. Love everyone who comes in and out of your house with everything you’ve got. That’s all that matters. That’s all that your children and your friends will remember. And at the end of the day, the only thing anyone wants from you, is your unadulterated, unconditional love.
Thank you Heather! And thank you so much for reading.
I will be writing a guest post on her blog next week, so stay tuned on The Other Johnsons blog.
You can also find Heather on her Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter!
Hope everyone has a wonderful week.