Some days I feel like I am failing miserably at all of this.
This time about two years ago I was feeling very confident. I had two young daughters, and although parenting is always challenging, I felt like I had a pretty good handle on things. My kids were adorable, sweet, and truly life was idyllic. It was at this point I said, “I should have another.”
So we conceived our third child, another girl, and life hasn’t been the same since. She’s sixteen months old, and I’ve been waiting impatiently each day for things to calm down. They haven’t.
I knew from experience the newborn part would be hard, but I also knew we’d get past that. Heck, we’d done it before. Twice. What I didn’t realize is that it wasn’t the same, and it would never be the same. I don’t say that mournfully, and I don’t want it to appear that I’m not happy. I’m just challenged.
Adding a third child to my family turned things upside down. Something as simple as having three children, but only two arms came into play. Two parents, but three children. I began more and more to feel like a failure as a mother. I felt like I was failing the two children I already had, but also the third addition who received my leftovers. I was old, tired, and worn thin. The novelty was gone, and though she was so very special, it wasn’t that same as that new mom feel.
I would be rocking the new baby, and just as she was almost asleep another child would come into the room and loudly ask for something. I’d lose my temper, and I would feel like I failed.
My eldest entered first grade, and my middle child preschool. While they entered new grades, as a homeschooling mother I entered new challenges. I had to learn not only how to teach two children at once, but also center it around breastfeeding and nap times. Some days we didn’t even finish half of what the curriculum called for, and other days my patience was so thin in anticipation of a squalling baby.
“Hurry, hurry.” I would chide my child trying to read.
And I would feel like a failure.
One day my six year old said something to me that made me realize she thought I didn’t like the baby very much. It’s no wonder.
She had heard me say things like, “I can’t do anything with this baby around!”
“I’m always feeding this baby!”
“I’m always rocking this baby!”
She thought I saw the baby as a burden. I cried, and I felt like a failure.
I felt as if there was only so much of me to go around, and I was giving out scraps to each child. I prayed and prayed, help me be a better mother, Lord.
A mother who doesn’t yell.
A mother who doesn’t lose her patience.
A mother who sees her children as the blessings they are, not annoyances.
The thing was I did! I loved my children more than the air I breathed. Each and every single one was so special and perfect. I felt guilty for my frustration, like I was taking the gift of their lives for granted. I would cry, and I would feel like I had failed them, failed God, failed at life.
I would like to say that these emotions are all in the past, but they’re not. It’s easier in a lot of ways, and I have found a certain, albeit still chaotic, balance, but I still have many days where I feel like I’m failing.
Each day I have so many things I wish to complete. My husband says that’s my problem, that I put too much on myself. I wonder sometimes who sets the standards for me. I guess I set them myself. No one has ever told me the living room had to be picked up at the end of the day, or that dinner must be homemade and hot each night. Many days I have to remind myself of all the things I do accomplish.
Yesterday I mopped the kitchen floor because the residue of sticky food was obvious and made me mildly insane. I was so proud of my accomplishment yet within the next hour I walked into Doritos crushed all across that same floor, and I felt like a failure. Silly, I know. It just seemed as if nothing stayed the way I had done it, and I was forever losing a battle to mess around me. I felt like I was failing.
A pile of summer clothes for three daughters sat in the laundry room floor waiting to be changed out from their winter wardrobe. I knew I wouldn’t get to it that day. I swept up the Doritos and I reminded myself of the beauty weaved throughout all the mess. I reminded myself of the things I had accomplished that day such as two homeschool lessons completed, or children who understood God’s character a little bit better. I guess it came down to that most days. I talked myself off the ledge, and I reminded myself that I wasn’t failing. I was surviving, and there was a difference. I was even doing pretty good, all things considered, and the tiny, smiling faces around me proved that to be true.
So having a third child, in a way, had changed everything, but when I looked at her face I knew it was for the better. I feel as if each and every day the Lord uses my children to refine me for His purposes. He shows me through my parenting journey the things about myself that He can improve upon, and I certainly do cry out to Him on a regular basis now. Haha.
I’m working on the not feeling like a failure part, but I am also more readily reminded that I am imperfect and fall short of God’s glory. I suppose adding a third child has humbled me to God’s graces. They certainly are new each morning.