*Today's post comes from Stefanie. Stef and I were friends in highschool and have kept in touch all these years. She remembers lots of things about me (my old nickname, my oldboyfriends, my old stunts), and yet has chosen to keep them silently buried for me. I don't know about you, but I think that's the meaning of true friendship! Stef juggles many things in the air with her career and growing family... so when she sent this to me I knew it would be helpful to others. Enjoy!
Allow me to introduce myself. I’m Stefanie, a mother, wife, short-order cook, maid, carpool driver, math tutor, referee, personal shopper, dreamer, and lunatic. Oh, and I have a full-time profession outside of those roles. My husband, Blake, and I have a combined total of 5 children. It was your classic Brady Bunch scenario: we each had two children, met, fell in love, got married, combined households, and made a baby of our own. Our kids are 3, 9, 11, and 11, and the baby is 4 months old. Chaos is really an understatement. When we go out in public, holding hands like a line of ducks, people stop and stare. Traffic halts. Eyebrows raise. We are instantly labeled as Duggar-wannabes. Our lives are full of more insanity, yet more love, than most people ever have the chance to know.
I’ve always worked outside of the home. The reality of most women’s situations is that we have to work. There is no entertaining the thought of staying at home once the baby is born. Not that I’m complaining; I’ve accepted this, and have learned to love the little niche I’ve carved out for myself in the professional realm. However, there was a time in my life when I struggled greatly with the “it’s not fair” thing.
“It’s not fair that I have to drop my baby off to be raised by other women while I work.” “It’s not fair that I don’t have a housekeeper. How am I supposed to get all of this done?” “It’s not fair that we don’t have a 7-bedroom mansion complete with a gardener, chef, and au pair.” “It’s not fair that my furniture is thrift store junk that I’ve tried to repurpose.”
You get the idea. I was swimming in self-pity. We’ve all been there, I suppose. I can’t really point out when my a-ha moment in time was, but I do remember praying, praying, praying for contentment and peace to enter my heart. I was so consumed with feeling like a failure for not having it all, that I couldn’t see that, in reality, I have it all. When I decided to see the glass as half-full, I had a renewed sense of self and one mantra that I continually repeat over and over to myself: DO WHAT YOU CAN. If you’re a busy mother like me, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about. I’ve come up with the 6 Commandments for Maintaining Sanity:
2. Nobody will ever know you paid $2 for those shoes. High-end consignment stores are your friend. Pretty much my entire wardrobe has been purchased at second-hand shops. Every time I wear my $30 BCBG pantsuit, I get nonstop compliments. If you feel put together, you are.
3. Sometimes you have to scream. Don’t beat yourself up if you find yourself losing your temper and raising your voice occasionally. We can’t all be June Cleaver. Ask any mom with preteen hormones running rampant through the house, and I guarantee you she’ll feel the same way. Just take a breath and move on.
4. When in doubt, trash it. I constantly struggle with piles of mail, recipes, memos from school, etc. If you’re not going to use it, throw it away. It’s a freeing concept, really.
5. Sometimes, chicken nuggets and French fries are a healthy supper. One of my biggest challenges is the food situation in my house. We have to buy enough to feed an army on a weekly basis, and cooking large quantities is a daunting task. Sometimes, though, it’s really ok if your priorities aren’t organic, perfectly-balanced meals. More than one child has survived on the occasional Happy Meal.
6. Find moments to reconnect with your spouse. Seriously, my husband is my rock. I couldn’t even manage
a quarter of what I do without his support. Make time to flirt, talk, and communicate. Put each other first – your kids will thank you for this in the long run. Parents (even in the non-traditional sense) who remain stable for one another remain stable for their children, too.
As a natural born control freak, my journey to true maternal sanity is still in the making, and I have a long way to go. But, I’m getting there, one load (mountain?) of laundry at a time.