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Yeah…Immaeatthat

Apr 06

Motherhood update.

I wanted to share what I’ve been thinking about lately when it comes to motherhood and parenting. I enjoy thinking through these things and sharing. At the time of posting, Jo is 3 1/2 years old and Ella is 21 months.

What makes motherhood a worthy calling for me?

I’ve really enjoyed working 28-35 hours a week and having one full down day a week for appointments, home order, and space to get the girls out of school early for activities or just spend more time with them. We have more childcare than we absolutely need…and that is such a sanity saver. It’s allowed for flexibility and Andrew and I feel fortunate that we have support in getting to be the parents we want to be. Our setup right now also feels very sustainable and like we’d be able to add another kiddo in, if we decide to.

One week in therapy my therapist said, “how can you make the motherhood hat more worthy?” I need direction. I worry about getting things wrong, but she had the helpful reminder that God will be with you and refine you if you get it wrong. Andrew can’t even know how to support me if I’m not clear on what I want. It was a helpful statement and I ended up making a list of the titles that are most important to me – wife, mother, entrepreneur – and what makes each of those callings worthy/important. 

For the motherhood hat, things that make the calling more worthy and things I want to be intentional about are:

  • Exposing kids to humanities, hobbies and activities. Giving them the chance to be exposed to something that will hopefully become something they can enjoy for years to come. Working in eating disorders, I’m a solid NO on ballet and gymnastics, even if the girls want to do it I would say no. Other forms of dance I could easily get behind. There are so many fun ways to move your body outside of disciples that requires and encourage a particular aesthetic. We are putting in a pool at some point, so the girls have just recently started swim lessons. Jo does it with an instructor and I get in the water with Ella. This is where having more childcare than absolutely needed comes in handy, because I can pick up one of the girls and take them to swim and leave the other kiddo at school for another hour. Ella’s swim lessons are comical to me. It’s like baby synchronized swimming and I laugh the entire time. Ella also has zero fear of going under water. She seems to have this mentality of, “I’m getting that pool ring. I don’t care if I inhale water.” It’s a bit terrifying, so I really have to watch her.
  • Being fun, silly, and playful with the kids – bring on all the potty humor, body slams, tent building, nail painting, art projects, hot chocolate drinking in the bathtub just because!!
  • Organized and consistent in the things that matter to Andrew and I.
  • Use all available time to be with them…within reason and not at the expense of maintaining health of self, family and marriage.
  • Have food taste good and be used for fuel and/or connection/joy/pleasure.
  • Supporting new moms. Reminding new moms who are struggling that those early months are all about survival. This isn’t your new normal. It gets so much better. Do what you need to do to survive. I love sharing a snippet of wisdom that I hope will come into their mind at 1:30am when they’re so past their limit and feeling terrified and defeated by an incessantly crying newborn.
Ella and me waiting for swim to start.

Kids are a virtue

This is more optimistic than I usually am about children (I blame getting out of the newborn years and sorting out for me what makes motherhood a worthy calling in my head and heart). In the bible where it says, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Children are all those things: right, pure, lovely, excellent. Andrew says often, “Jo is sweeter than anything I could’ve ever imagined.” Both girls makes our heart ache on regular basis, because they are so good. Not like behavior-wise, but pure and genuine and kind. I’ve been using the Calm app to track what I’m grateful for (aka intentionally turning my mind to beautiful things when the discontent comes calling for me), my kids or something they do is always on there. I just looked back and my latest “what am I grateful for” lists included: 1) when I yell, “hug!” and start to count down from 5 and both girls sprint to me and give me a hug (unless Jo is feeling moody and then goes, “no, don’t say that!”), 2) Ella cuddled with me twice this weekend (a rare occurrence), 3) evening bike with family, 4) a backyard for the girls to play in. 5) Ella running to me when I get home screaming, “MOMMY!!!”, and 6) childcare (childcare makes the gratitude list quite often).

Getting to do life with them is better than anything I could’ve ever imagined.

Mom in the grocery store

I was in the grocery store recently with just Ella and she was losing it, so I went over to the granola bar aisle to give her a bar to munch on while we shopped, but after I opened it she screamed NOOOO at me. So I said, “Ella. This is the option. It’s this or nothing!” When another mom walked by and said, “Yes!! Stay strong! Hold the limit!” I found it very encouraging and helpful. One of the hardest part of parenting for me is holding and enforcing the limits I’ve set. After that mom said that I realized that is what I need from me. I need to give myself a pep talk in those moments of overwhelm that encourages me to follow through on the limits I’ve set. I will talk about this more later, but I’ve also been working with an OT on some sensory processing issues in me and it’s been really helpful for tolerating children being children.

Resentment

Andrew and I both like Jordan Peterson. He’s very straight forward and slightly less empathetic then other self help professionals out there. I was reading one of his books and he said, “if you’re feeling resentment it’s for one of two reasons: You’re either not standing up for your self sufficiently or you need to grow up.” Most jobs and class projects I’ve been part of I’ve been told by managers and professors, “you’re going to get taken advantage of.” This has come up in our marriage and it’s been helpful in giving me confidence to uphold the distribution of child related tasks we have decided on. The expectation of who does what in our house is clear. Specifically, we have bath time divided up between me and Andrew during the week and bath time starts at 6pm. The person who doesn’t do bath time is responsible for the dishes and starting the dishwasher. I’ve talked about resentment towards Andrew a lot since having kids, but lately resentment has been basically zero. We’ve figured out what our family set up looks like and it’s been great lately. We’ve been having a lot of fun and are getting better and better at arguing and productive conflict around our marriage/choices for our family. If we have a third I imagine resentment will return because I want to nurse and that means a lot is required of me in those months. But my view of the newborn times now is very rooted in reality and I know what I’d be signing up for. When I think about the newborn time I think it is miraculous and wonder-filled, but I find those months very unpleasant.

Also, below is something I’m working on. I do a good job at being able to admit when I’m at fault…but being able to hold my ground when I’m not at fault requires more thought and intentionality.

Also, realizing Andrew expects me to do what I need to do to take care of myself. He isn’t going to handhold and approve my care of me. He expects me to be fully in charge of that. So it’s been helpful to not ask for permission when I need to do something for myself and instead just schedule it and be like, “hey, this is happening.” Sufficiently standing up for yourself and your needs, because without that resentment comes calling.

Have their toddler selves walk back through the door.

Any motherhood post on Cup of Jo I often enjoy reading the comments even more than I like reading the post. On older mom who’s kids were out of the house said, “I’d give anything to have their 4 year old selves walk through the door again.” It makes me tear up. I already feel nostalgic for their toddlers selves.

Mom who can handle big whatevers (i.e. emotions) from kids

“Mom leaves when things get overwhelming. Mom can’t handle my emotions.” I don’t want my kids to say that. I want to be capable of handling the intensity of what they go through.

I remember my MIL saying her mentality when the kids were young and crying was basically, “I can outlast you little baby. Bring it.” I tried to cultivate that but I was like, “ahhh I’m crumbling. I can’t take this.”

Our house will have love. We won’t be able to meet our children’s ever need and that may feel like abandonment on a small level to them and that is just going to be what it is. They will be deeply loved. I want them to remember a mom who loved being with them, but also had boundaries and limits to keep her healthy. Like I said above, I’ve started working with an OT for some sensory processing things in me that have given me some skills when the noise fatigue is high and I find myself shaking my arms in an attempt to get the frenzied feeling out of me (IYKYK). My mom reminds me that I’m a great mom who engages her girls all the time. I’m a words of affirmation kind of person, so I find encouragement helpful. We were with friends and their baby and the baby was giggling at the mom and her husband looked over and said to his wife, “she adores you.” And I was just like oh my gosh what a blessing to get to be a mom.

Baby Number Three?

I’m impatient to be pregnant again, but also not in a rush to have the child bearing years behind me. I love the transformation of the female body in pregnancy and actually do believe pregnant women and pregnant me are the most miraculous expression of life and beauty. I’m young, so we don’t have to rush to have a third (even though on a daily basis I go through the wave of, “I’m ready to go ahead and get pregnant again. Ahh wait. No. Two is already a lot, we could just have two?” I feel so nostalgic for for pregnancy. I have so many pregnant women in my life and I love being as close to them as possible as they go from pregnant to not pregnant. The anticipation of meeting your child is better than anything in the entire world…and I don’t even bond right away to my babies and it’s still the best thing in the entire world. Like 10 christmas mornings and 5 trips to Disneyland all rolled into one. I don’t want another baby, but I do want another human. I’m trying to be patient, but I am very impatient. It could be argued that our house is too small for another kid. We want to stay in this house to raise our family. Financially, we’d not be able to move to a larger house in our area. Having 3 kids in preschool at once is a bunch of money. I don’t have an interest in getting the baby making and growing season behind me. I know I’m going to be so sad when it is over. I feel this overwhelming feeling that we are missing one human. There will be times the girls are playing and I’m in the kitchen cooking and I look over at them and feel like there should be one more little head over there popping up from behind the couch. Right now I’m trying to inundate myself with all the good things about having two kids and really be present with that, because at the end of the day I don’t know what we will end up deciding for our family. I hate the unknown of it. Andrew and I need to be aligned on if we have another kid and there are still many a conversations to be had around that.

Sometimes I see photos of Andrew and I and I’m like, “holy crap we look like siblings.” For instance, the above photo lol.

23 comments on “Motherhood update.”

  1. Loved every bit of this post. Thank you, Kylie! The sentence, “I feel this overwhelming feeling that we are missing one human” really struck me. Tender for you as you navigate that!

    I remember before I was pregnant with our second, I was doing dishes one night and out of nowhere I felt this strong sense (probably Holy Spirit) of preparing my heart for our second child. I started feeling tears behind my eyes and stopped what I was doing to take in the feeling of my heart changing. Up until that point I was very content with one child. Now I’m pregnant with #2 and due in 11 days.

    I once had a pastor who said “God will be crystal clear about His plans for your life, insofar as you need to know them.” He shows us the way when it’s time.

  2. Thank you for sharing all of this! I am very similar in your newborn feelings. I did not feel ready to have a second child for a very long time because I disliked it so much. My daughter is 5 now and I am 21 weeks pregnant. I’ve now realized it’s okay to not like the newborn phase… it doesn’t mean anything about me as a mother. I can see with her being 5 how fun it is now – and that I too want another HUMAN in my life but not necessarily a baby. I love baby making and being pregnant and agree it is such a special time! Soaking it up. The thought of never doing it again makes me so sad… I’m not sure if I will feel our family is complete or not after no. 2. We will see!

  3. Thank you for being so candid. I feel right now like 40 hours a week and an 8 month old is way too much and overwhelming me. I just feel so tapped out all the time – I am writing this in my little ten minute interval between bedtime and trying to do a work out… but im so tired I might just go to bed… I love her so much but I’m so tired. It is encouraging to me to think that when she is older it might be easier.

  4. I am not a mom yet, but I appreciate this post so much. I have some sensory difficulties as well. Every time I hear a baby cry I become so activated. I do want children but I get this “mom guilt” already that I am not excited about the baby phase. My family keeps telling me it’s the best part, that I should be excited for that, etc. When you said “I don’t want another baby, but I do want another human” a wash of relief went over me. Thank you for normalizing that feeling, and thank you for always sharing with us! Your posts are so incredible in making us feel like we are not alone in this.

    • Yes about becoming activated/frenzied when a baby cries. If you don’t like that, it’s likely that your family is wrong haha and the baby phase won’t be your favorite!! Which is fine!! There are so many good parts to kids, even for those with sensory glitches. Babies, however, are a different breed lol.

  5. Thank you sooo much for this post! I enjoyed reading every line.  Im a new mom of an almost 11 week old and I’m with you in that the early months are hard! My daughter can be  fussy and it is a challenge.  Thank you for recognizing that and for being so candid with your experience. Definitely not wishing time away and doing my best to enjoy this time, but looking forward to when she is a bit older and experiencing some of the things you enjoy so much about toddler life.  On resentment, I have waves of that too, as I am breastfeeding and again thank you for sharing your experience and for allowing me to feel that these feelings are okay and normal. My emotions have been all over the place, especially recently, but im giving myself some grace and making sure im make time for selfceare/me time.  I love your writing and these posts so please continue to share.  I look forward to having another baby sooner than later and enjoying them like you do your daughters.  PS, you have such a beautiful family.

  6. You do such a great job of describing the difficulties of motherhood simultaneously with the joys. Sometimes I feel, whereas there used to be this pressure to only talk about the blessings of having children, that lately there’s been a pendulum swing back the other way, and every person I follow is posting about how hard it is. I’m in the midst of deciding whether I want to have children at all, and all the posts about hard it is can be discouraging (though I’m sure true). Thank you for speaking so honestly about how motherhood has been both difficult but wonderful for you!

    Also, you look absolutely stunning in that photo! Love the dress too.

    • I try to share as honestly as I can with what I’m experiencing on the blog. Up until recently motherhood was rather unpleasant, but still seemed worth it and I was happy I was a mom and had kids. Lately through there has been a big shift (I think due to ages of kids and my mental health having A LOT of support) that’s led to a lot of fun and happiness. I hear you though, there are some articles I come across that are so negative about motherhood and make me cringe…makes me wonder if that’s really the person’s experience or if it’s click bait.

  7. I always love these posts, Kylie! Thanks for sharing.

    Our oldest is 3, and we have 11mo twins. The section on being present for big emotions resonates with me. Lately some of the 3yo tantrums have been frankly unbearable for me. They get me SO riled up, and I have yelled/screamed at our son, which makes me feel really awful. It triggers my husband, too. Especially when I feel like the “right” thing is to not “abandon” them like you said. But maybe you are right — it might be better for me to leave the room than scream at my child.

    “I don’t want another baby, but I want another human.” DANG, YES. I feel this. Our twins were a surprise, so we went from 1 to 3 not by conscious choice. I’ve always wanted 4, but 3 is A LOT. I think I’ve heard studies show it’s the hardest number of children, lol. Childcare for 3 is A LOT. At this point, we don’t know if we want a 4th child or not. I can totally relate with not wanting another baby/toddler/preschooler, but wanting another human. The stage we’re in with a 3yo and almost 1yos is just so overwhelming at times, it feels impossible to add a 4th in there, but I know it won’t always feel this way. I really admire your ability to sit with the unpleasant stages of life and call them what they are, knowing they will not last forever.

    • OMGSH about surprise twins!!

      I definitely don’t have all the answers on the big emotions. The other night Ella was screaming at the top of her lungs at the dinner table (she wasn’t upset…more playful screaming) and one of us yelled at her and then Jo started crying. We told Jo Ella was screaming and it was hurting my ears and Jo said, “well you hurt my ears” and was SOO bothered by mom/dad losing it. Was very humbling.

  8. I’m looking forward to hearing more about your sensory processing OT experience. I’ve heard of it in the context of children but honestly this is the first time I’m making the connection that it can be present in adults, and I think I definitely have it to some extent. I’m curious how you got connected to an OT and how that looks.

  9. I am so grateful for this post and your transparency, specifically the feeling of resentment. We don’t have children yet but I am so worried I will feel resentful towards my husband when we do. You make a great point about setting clear expectations regarding childcare and duties within your household. Thank you.

  10. Your caption on your last photo made me LOL! You should check out the siblings or dating instagram page, so fun!

  11. Was so excited to read another motherhood update from you! It’s hard to find people who write so honestly about the ups and downs of motherhood and I really appreciate how you do that. I have a 6 month old and a 13 month old and am justttt starting to feel like I can handle life again lol. Motherhood is amazing but I truly had no idea how difficult it would be at times (mentally, emotionally, physically, etc). Also would love to hear more about your OT experience if you ever feel like sharing!

  12. I’ll say this on so many of your wonderful posts… I just love your writing. My life/situation/frame of reference are super different from yours, but I still absolutely love your posts, your insights, and how you approach problems.

  13. Thank you once again for your beautiful and thoughtful post. I am 31 weeks pregnant with my first baby and you just renewed my excitement at welcoming this little human into the world. I really appreciate your honesty around not enjoying the newborn phase, as I have a hunch that will be me as well. Your words always bring me comfort, a sense of being understood and hope. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

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