Friday, March 25, 2011

To the struggling mama

On the ride home from the hospital when Gavin was two days old, I sat in the backseat with a 9-pound bundle of blue while he cried the whole ten-minute drive home.  He cried all night, too, and he didn't sleep much of the next two weeks.  I had been around babies my whole life and still I felt clueless.  I wondered how anyone ever had more than one child.

Gavin, 4 months old
When Maddie was born not quite twenty months later, things went into higher gear.  I would put her in the swing to take a morning nap while I brushed my teeth in the bathroom.  I would barely get a minty taste in my mouth before I'd hear her wails and run out into the living room to see Gavin standing in front of the swing (or sitting on the swing tray), talking to her and ending our few minutes of quiet.

Being a mom of a 2-year-old and an infant was hard and it was lonely. 

Getting two little children ready to take them anywhere was a huge undertaking.  Zipping coats and pulling on shoes and making sure each one had a fresh diaper took a long time.  A trip to the grocery store was monumental.  I remember one such trip when Maddie was four weeks old.  I put Gavin in the front of the cart and Maddie nestled in the sling.  When we paid and left the store with 2 weeks worth of groceries and 2 mostly-happy children, I felt like Superwoman!  

Our family of 4

When Owen was born, I found out what it means to have a high-needs child.  He only slept in my arms, including naps and nighttime.  He wanted only me to hold him  Occasionally, my mom could hold him, but not Brian.  Even as a tiny baby, he screamed when he was in a group of more than five or six people.  Birthday parties or family dinners were near impossible because he was inconsolable.  Smells bothered him and so did tags in his shirt and colors in his food.

3 kids ages 3 and under
Our family of 5

Being a mama of a 4-year-old, a 2-year-old and a needy baby was overwhelming and stressful.

And then number four was born...and number five...and suddenly I find myself on the other side of it.  I have women ask me how in the world I do it with five kids when they are barely making it with two.  I don't have an easy answer because I've been where they are.  It really, truly does get easier.

And then there were 4

My kids are 8, 6, 4, 2, and almost 7 months old.  When we go out, one of the olders takes care of getting out coats and shoes for the group and even helping the little ones get ready.  When we cross the street, I don't have to hold five hands.  I only hold Alaine in my arms.  Gavin holds onto Benjamin while  Maddie grabs Owen's hand.

When we ride in the car, some of the kids buckle their own seat belts and they all entertain the baby, singing and playing peek-a-boo.   When we get home, everyone grabs a bag to bring into the house and I'm often left with only Alaine and the keys.

At bathtime, I bathe Alaine.  Benjamin and Owen only need help washing their hair and the oldest two don't need my help at all anymore.  Three of my kids dress themselves and Benjamin knows how to un-dress himself.  (It's a start!)  I change two sets of diapers, but the rest are self-sufficient in the bathroom.  

I cook and get food on the table, but the kids all help fold napkins and place the silverware and plates.  Everyone clears their own plate and they entertain the baby and read to the toddler while I finish with the dishes.  

Our family of 7

In other words, life with five, ages 8 and under, is not the same as having five babies or toddlers.  I still get lonely without adult conversation and the days can still be monotonous and I need His grace everyday to keep my patience.  But the parenting aspect? It isn't so hard and overwhelming anymore.  (Packing everything we own into boxes for our move next month is overwhelming, but taking care of my children is not.)  

So take heart, mama of little ones.  Some day soon you'll find yourself as the mama of bigger ones.   You'll find yourself on the other side, too.  It will get easier.


  1. Thanks for that encouragement! I'm where you were with three (similar ages too!), but my seven month old isn't so hard. Praise God!

  2. I think a lot of mama's will find this encouraging! As one of 8 kids, I heard people constantly asking my mom "how do you do it?" and I was thinking to myself "Because I do all the dishes, that's why!". ;) But seriously, she always said that after 3, it was all downhill. By the time she had #8, she had 7 alternate mothers to help her out. :)

  3. What a wonderful and encouraging blog post. Cudos to you for writing about life- the difficult parts and the parts that have become easier for you! :)

  4. love the way you shared this!
    keep on keeping on mama, motherhood is a beautiful thing! =)

  5. Yes! So true... it *does* get easier. You just have to persevere through the hard years and it gets easier. :)

  6. Thank you so much for the encouragement. I needed it today. I am definitely looking forward to the day that my oldest helper is older than 3, but trying to savor this season as well.

  7. what a beautiful post and I have to agree with you... somehow it does just get easier. :)

  8. Totally agree with this! When we added #4 in the spring people marveled that I could have 4. 4! At the time they were 7, 5, and 3. Hard? Yes-ish. But I was amazed at how much easier it was than have a toddler and a baby! I would tell people "I thought it would be harder than it is." But...that was the summer. When we had no responsibilities. No math, no phonics, no school. School has made having 4 hard for me. We're getting better, getting more into a groove, and the baby is taking longer naps. But - wow - school is a doozy! Lol... But I'd never change it ;)


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