Friday, June 10, 2016

Perception vs Reality: Motherhood

It's been months since my last post, but I'm eager to be back in the blogging world. I have a lot of topics I want to cover (so many I actually made a list -- mainly so I can't pull the "I-don't-know-what-to-blog-about" card). I will provide an update on life next week, but let's just say I've been busy being a mama to a newborn (technically she's not a newborn anymore, but that tugs at my heart so I still think of her as one) and a toddler.
Motherhood is amazing. Motherhood is happiness. Motherhood is joy.
But motherhood is HARD. Motherhood to TWO is EXTREMELY HARD. I have NO shame in admitting this. I'm far from perfect and I never want to paint the picture that life as a mommy is sunshine and cupcakes -- sure, a lot of the pictures I post on IG are happy pictures, but I do share the ugly moments too because friends, that's reality.
After we welcomed our first daughter Elizabeth back in August 2014, I longed to be a SAHM. I cried over returning to work. I begged my husband to let me stay home. I would sit at my desk at work and swipe through photos on my phone just wondering how life would just be perfect if I could be at home with her all day, every day. I felt guilt for dropping her off at daycare. I felt guilt when she got sick from those daycare germs. I felt guilt when I had to pick her up late because I had a training for work or it was parent-teacher conference night. But I made it through the tough times. We had a perfect summer together and it is full of memories that I will hold on to forever. 
Once we found out we were expecting our second baby, my husband and I talked for HOURS about what to do in regards to me working. Should I take just six weeks off again? My due date was April 11th, so if I took six weeks, it would only be a few more weeks until summer vacation. Should I take just the summer off and return in August when she was 4 months? Should I just become an oh-so-desired SAHM and enjoy my two children?
Honestly, everything is still up in the air. 
That's where perception vs reality comes in. Don't get me wrong, I was fully aware of the challenges of being home with a toddler and a baby. Back when Elizabeth was a baby, she never slept during the day, so I knew the days would be long. I knew I'd be exhausted because babies require your attention 24/7 and you have to be ready to fed, change, burp, or cuddle with them on their clock, not yours. 
The first two weeks of Katherine's life, Elizabeth was still in daycare. My husband and I wanted to get into a routine with Katherine and we wanted to ease Elizabeth's routine as slowly as possible because face it, a new baby in the picture that takes ALL of the attention off of you is a BIG transition. 
A transition I underestimated. It's not a BIG transition. It's a MONSTER transition. I was completely unprepared. I was unprepared for her to scream when I picked up Katherine instead of her. I was unprepared when she cried just to get my attention when Katherine was crying. I underestimated how sad Elizabeth would feel that she wasn't the center of our attention anymore.  

Not only did I underestimate Elizabeth's transition, I underestimated mine. Don't get me wrong -- I love being a mommy. It's the best job in the world. But it's hard bringing a toddler out into the world when you never know when she's going to have a tantrum. Sure, I could give in and buy her things left and right to make her happy, but that's just not my idea of handling life. Of course I buy her toys here and there, but that can't always be the answer.

My transition also included a medical emergency three weeks postpartum-- two emergency surgical procedures and a painful and emotional recovery (I'll share what happened in a later post). It also included my husband returning back to his traveling schedule for work. This means that I am basically mama and dada for two weeks out of every month. Now THAT I wasn't prepared for. I'll tell you, I cried ugly tears. I cried crocodile tears those first couple weeks when he was gone. I called my parents and said I can't handle this. I begged my mom to come down and help.
I love my babies more than ANYTHING in the world, but I was struggling. Struggling so much that I told my husband that I wanted to return to work sooner than later and that maybe being a SAHM wasn't for me. I was missing the routine. I was missing the adult interaction. I was missing the being able to pee without a toddler crying behind the hallway gate. 

But now that I'm almost eleven weeks into this SAHM thing, I have a better grasp on it. I know I won't get half of the things done on my daily to-do list and that's okay. Do I have to rewash clothes ALL the time because I leave them in the washing machine because I forgot to throw in dryer? You bet. Do I sometimes end up eating peanut butter and jelly for dinner because I'm just too tired to make anything else? Sure do! Does my toddler sometimes skip a bath because our baby is crying? Of course. Do I miss running to the spa to get a manicure? Heck yes!

The perception that I think some people have about SAHM is that we are able to sit and enjoy our morning coffee while we watch Good Morning America, we're able to run to the mall with our double stroller and have two perfectly behaved humans with us, we're able to peruse Pinterest in the evening for meal plans and household decor ideas. Not. Even. Close. At least not for this newbie mama to two.

I'll surely write up a post about my daily routine, but it's chaos. It's messy. It's ugly sometimes. But the reality of it is that I am filled with love over being a mommy to two beautiful girls, that I just move past the glamorous side. Cold coffee, soggy cereal, and piles of clothes is my life now and I wouldn't trade that for anything. 

Motherhood to two is a huge learning curve for me and I'm learning more and more everyday that I absolutely rock at being a mommy. It's not always about crisp bed sheets, empty dishwashers, and three-course meals for dinner. That's the perception of being a stay at home mommy.

Reality is that motherhood has made me the happiest I've ever been in my thirty-two years here on this beautiful Earth. I'm exhausted. I have dirty hair. My house is a mess. 

But I have two girls who don't care. They don't care that mommy is desperate for a day at the spa. They don't care that the kitchen floor needs to be vacuumed.  They don't care that I'm sitting here realizing I forgot to pay the water bill yesterday. 

All they care about is having a mommy who is there for them. There to kiss them. There to hug them. There to play with them. There to smile at them. 

Perception: Being a mom means routines, schedules, and the notion that everything is perfect.

Reality: Being a mom is hard. But being a mom is the best job and the most rewarding. 
I'll be sure to share the birth story of Katherine and some updates on her. But for now, here's our little Katherine Charlotte. 

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