Ladies of Little Ones: Don’t be so hard on yourself. NO… really. The world we live in sends very unrealistic expectations of women today. In fact, they’d like us to believe it achievable to feel perfectly balanced any day of the week, while we are inundated with attempts to fulfill baby needs, toddler needs, spouse’s needs, work’s needs, and our own, usually left for last…all. day. long.
I am just now exiting this stage of life… but am not too far away from it so I find myself reflecting on the woman I was, just a few years ago. I wish I could tell her a few things. I would have saved her a lot of angst, stress, frustration and joy.
Below are just three lessons I wish I would have known better:
- God has a time for everything. If this stage of life has left you wondering if you will ever be more than a nose or butt wiper… you will. But it takes time and right now you are granting the gift of service to your children. Even babies come to learn that when they need you, you are there. Toddlers come to learn that you are their safe haven and make up their entire sense of security! I am no psychologist but I know that fulfilling these basic needs only grants your children a healthy start at life, which will help them to be emotionally healthy and better able to make our world a more loving, beautiful place. And right now, in this world we live in, we need as much love and beauty as possible! YOU, right now, are making this happen. You may think you are just wiping another butt, but you are actually beautifying our world by your love given. Don’t shortchange yourself. God has you here, for a very specific reason, right now. I wish I would have known that, instead of hoping for my kids to head to school so I could achieve more professional success!
2. Learn how to Prioritize Yourself! Our faith teaches us that service is important. However, too often, women fall easily into the trap that service means putting everyone first, always. Ladies, we MUST prioritize our needs as well as our family’s. WE are important. Our emotional health is important. Our spiritual health is important. Our physical health is important. Don’t let anyone tell you differently. What do you NEED today? This week? Do you need a few minutes to read and feel refreshed to better manage your day? Do you need to adjust the morning schedule so you can go for a walk before the day gets started? Do you need to exercise the gift of friendship by scheduling a night out so you can enjoy the supportive nature of women? Do you need to make that doctor’s appointment you have put off for too long? While Jesus certainly served, he also knew when he needed time away to be alone and pray, be refreshed and refocused on the greater perspective. He prioritized his needs so he could better serve his Father. So must we. What might God be trying to tell you by giving you desires in your heart to explore other things? Listen to Him. Where is He leading you? You are important. Your needs should not be neglected.
3. Prioritize your relationship with your spouse. Raising children is HARD on a marriage. While I love my husband, there were days I was not sure if I liked him. (We try to laugh at this one). We knew that to maintain a healthy home life and relationship, we needed to spend time together, alone, every now and then. We did not settle for simple (and easy) excuse of not being able to secure a babysitter. It was difficult and expensive at first but after a while my husband and I would say, the $40 we spend on a babysitter will not break us. Dating your spouse is an investment in your marriage. Cut the excuses. Be the hero of your marriage, even if your spouse isn’t fully on board at first. Find a babysitter (or swap with a friend or neighbor), go out! Revisit how you and your spouse fell in love. Ask about the first night you two met. Relive the excitement in a simple conversation. More than cuddles, tuck ins or good night kisses, your children want a happy Mommy and Daddy. Make a night out happen.
In a few weeks, my youngest goes to full day kindergarten. I find myself reflecting on the many years, having babies and toddlers fill my home. I regret that I ever said, “I cannot wait for them all to be in school.” It was in that moment, I realize now, God had me in that stage of life, at that time, for His specific purpose. He is using this stage of life now, for a different purpose. All in due time.
Older women used to stop me at Target while I had an infant, a toddler and a 5 year old with me, trying to shop. “Enjoy this time,” they would say with a warm smile. However, while I politely smiled back, I would always think, “Enjoy this time of no sleep, constant needs and no time to do anything I actually want to do? HOW?” And maybe those women could have included a qualifier… like, “I know it is not super easy right now but these years will be gone and you will spend the rest of your life, looking back fondly on these early days… so enjoy what you have right now, don't be so hard on yourself. God has you exactly where He wants you.”
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Ladies of little ones: This time of your life is hard, tiring...errrr…exhausting. You are doing a great job. YOU ARE DOING A GREAT JOB. No matter what messages our world sends you. Keep your head up, know that you are in this moment for God’s bigger plan, prioritize YOUR needs because you are important and valuable and please, make time for your relationship with your spouse.
I do not claim to have all the answers, but looking back, I would have been a lot less stressed out if I would have listening more intently to God’s greater plan for my life, in that moment. Ladies, you are exactly where He wants you, right now. Hang on, there is more coming your way where you may be less tired, and then you will look back and realize those older ladies at Target were right.
Copyright 2016 Meg Bucaro
About the Author
As a college instructor, wife to “the Hubs”, Mom of three energetic children and a highly skilled PB&J sandwich maker, Meg shares the ups and downs of Motherhood in her candidly humorous writings and speaking programs. To learn more about how Moms can maintain a life with less stress and more peace by leaning on their Catholic faith, visit www.megbucaro.com.