Now that my daughter Rachael has become a mother, I’m afraid she’s going systematically crazy from debilitating exhaustion. Now when I was a child, my mother left me outdoors for hours where I could eat dirt and bugs. We ate hot dogs and if we dropped one on the floor mom said, “Eat it. In this house, we have the 10-minute rule.” Today’s mother would be online flogged then blogged about for such behaviour.
Today’s mother is expected to feed her 1.5 children a diet fortified by sugar-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, peanut-free, calorie-free, pesticide-free, free range, hand-shucked lettuce leaves. Today’s young mother must ensure that her child’s physical, emotional, spiritual, social, academic, intellectual, environmental and nutritional needs are met while learning the alphabet and being potty-trained by his or her first birthday. She must be primed at any moment to speak with acumen on the pros and cons of formula, onesies, vaccinations, and the many uses of coconut oil. She must keep her child processed-foods-free, plastic-free, and screen-free.
Now, being a parent in any generation has been a time-consuming, hair-raising, sleep-depriving experience. If you doubt this, try starting your stove using only wood and flint then laundering your cloth diapers by beating them with a stick while fending off wolves. Still, I don’t think any generation would envy what you’re up against. And so, my darling daughter Rachael with a toddler and a newborn, I hope you won’t mind if I tell you something. Maybe three somethings.
1. You can do this. You are engaged in one of the most vital missions on earth. Your muscles and nerves will throb, but you’re up to this. You can nap in spurts. You can eat while doing laundry. You can keep your sense of humour amid screaming, griping and raging guilt that threatens to steal your joy. And one day you will see your toes when you climb on the scales, and you will sleep 90 minutes in a row and say, “That wasn’t so bad. I have no idea how, but I lived.”
2. You will be tempted to compare. Don’t. Forget other mothers whose profile pictures are perfect, whose kids are fully dressed by lunchtime. Forget a spotless house, a perfect perm, a finished to-do list, the caramelized figs with beef wellington. Dare to not compare.
3. Lean on God. Confide in Him. He loves you and smiles on you. Psalm 28:7 is a theme verse for tired mamas: “The Lord is my strength and my shield. My heart trusts in Him and I am helped.”
Hang in there. You are loving these babies and pointing them heavenward, so lighten up and laugh. And remember: you haven’t yet put dishes in the stroller and little Judah in the dishwasher. You are awesome.