By Susie Cortright
Like many moms, I suffer from selective amnesia.
Mostly, it revolves around things like pregnancy, labor, childbirth,
and the isolating early days with a newborn, which, with the first
baby, culminated in the night I emptied the Diaper Genie and my
battered soul by howling something unintelligible and swinging
a roll of smelly nappies over my head.
Thank goodness for the sharp memory of my husband,
who sometimes finds it wise to remind me about those things.
My baby is six-weeks old now, which means she
has reached that magical age when the doctors okay her (and her
mommy) to fully participate in life. But there are these struggles
that keep popping up…struggles that I had somehow forgotten
about in the two years between babies, and I have to rely on my
husband's remarkable memory once again to let me know that these
the same issues that popped up after the first baby. Then they
buried themselves deep in some dark hole somewhere only to re-emerge
now that we are settling in with daughter number two.
I have become familiar enough with these problems
that they now have a name. They are The Monsters. The Monsters
emerge from this dark hole to crawl around my brain when I can't
sleep at night, and they pop out of my mouth before I can stop
The say mean things about finances and the sharing
of responsibilities. At bottom, they may just be a sign that I'm
bored enough to want to pick a fight for the sheer drama of the
experience. Because I now recall some of these struggles that
you all report and I seem to have forgotten. It's the tedium of
playing with the playdough and vacuuming up the playdough and
finding playdough in my bedsheets.
It's the lack of control that pervades my days.
It's the attempt to get up four hours before the rest of my family
because in this warped world of early motherhood, work time counts
as "me time," and hearing my toddler's footsteps on
the landing as she makes the long climb to my office. I'm glad
she takes the steps one-foot-at-a-time because it affords me the
time to sweep away my initial reaction, which may involve the
words, "Can't you give mommy a few moments of peace after
all the sacrifices she makes…" and somehow dissolves
into an empathetic smile, a long hug, and a tuck-in to the mattress
I've moved into my office for this very scenario, which usually
happens about half-past four.
It's times like these when I struggle to recall
how I finally reclaimed the power and the control over my life
after my first child. After a little searching, I remember. After
a long while, I snatched at all the
control I could, and I let the rest go.
I surrendered to it after realizing that, no
matter how hard I try, I can't control when the little ones will
wake or when they'll want to eat or when they'll poop, but I can
control the way I deal with it. I can control my energy level
by controlling what I eat and how much I exercise I get. I can
even control a few things in my work life.
After the first baby, I reclaimed my power by
joining a gym with good childcare and started a home business.
This time, I kickbox during naptime and work - mostly for the
sake of my own identity - during the wee hours.
Through it all, I repeat to myself (as though
it were a mantra) that these choices are mine. I chose the nursing
pads by insisting on breastfeeding. I chose the crazy work hours
by insisting on staying home with my girls. And if I forget, my
husband will remind me of that, too.
Happy Mother's Day to you all. May you clutch
what's important this year and surrender what is not. And may
God grant you the wisdom, as that familiar prayer pleads, to know
Susie Michelle Cortright is the author of More Energy for
Moms - http://www.momscape.com/energy
- and founder of the award-winning website Momscape.com, designed
to help busy women find balance. Visit http://www.momscape.com
today and get Susie's free course-by-email "6 Days to Less