Editor's note: This article was originally published on Power of Moms. It has been republished here with permission.
This has been a crazy week.
We've had conflicting events involving family members pretty much every evening; one son has needed tons of help with homework every afternoon while the neighbors keep coming over to play; I'm still unpacking a few boxes from our recent move and the pictures leaning against the walls are crying out to be hung; a daughter developed a weird rash that required setting up and squeezing in a doctor's appointment; we've got major projects needing attention at The Power of Moms; no one could find clean clothes to wear to school today because laundry time hasn't materialized this week; and, to top it all off, tonight is the Cub Scout Pinewood Derby, and three kids have three cars that need to be finished before 6:30 p.m. – plus the big boys are really excited about going to meet a professional basketball player from our local NBA team with with their basketball team during the Derby.
But you know what? I went into this week knowing it would be hard. It's turning out pretty much how I expected. My husband and I worked on the schedule last Sunday and figured out how to juggle the conflicting stuff but realized there were going to be some tight connections and some lateness and some things we'd just have to miss.
I knew the kids would be really grumpy yesterday after a family party that went late the night before so I cut them some slack.
I decided that I'm only going to get to the most urgent things on my Power of Moms list this week – the rest can wait.
I know tonight may not work out great, I figured we could do our best to get the boys' cars in the earlier heats of the Pinewood Derby and that might allow us to still make it to the NBA Player Appearance. But when I told the boys about this plan, they responded that they didn't care that much about the player appearance which was a very good piece of information to have. We won't bother trying to get over there!
It'll all be OK. And "OK" will feel fine because I'm not expecting "great."
And you know what? Next week will be a little crazy too. I work to cut out what is superfluous – but, still, five school-age children and two businesses plus a lot of community and church involvement means lots of work, plenty of running around and quite a few surprises. I chose all this. I accept that these choices will result in some periodic craziness. And I've found that acceptance takes me a long way toward happiness.
Every stage of motherhood offers different facts that we need to accept
When we have newborns, we have to accept interrupted sleep. When we have babies who spit up a lot, we can't expect to have pristine clothes. When we have stubborn 2 year olds, we must accept that there will be tantrums as they learn to accept that they can't always have their way. When we have grade-schoolers, we need to accept that homework time will be crazy when everyone needs help at once. And no matter how old our kids are, we need to accept that grocery shopping with our kids will likely be quite chaotic.
As we accept the facts of our own stage of motherhood, our own circumstances and our individual children, we don't have to add surprise and frustration to the already difficult situations we encounter each day.
We can go into a lot of situations prepared
When we wake up to a newborn's wails, we can think, "Yep, time for her to eat – a little early, but hey, newborns are unpredictable."
When we pick out clothes for ourselves and our kids and furnishings for our homes, we can keep the inevitable dirt and spills in mind and choose things with colors and patterns that will hide some of that.
When we head into the grocery store, we can have our route mapped out in our mind (hitting the most important things first), remind our kids of the rules before we get out of the car to go inside and be fully prepared to leave if things get bad, even if we only got to a few things on our list. The rest can wait.
And each day, we can expect that there will be a time when everyone needs something at once and tensions escalate. When that time arrives, we can think, "Yep, here it is. I knew we'd have a crisis sometime today, but things will calm down in a few minutes. They always do."
Every stage of motherhood has its ups and downs. Every week and every day has its ups and downs. We might as well accept it and prepare for it where possible. And once we've got that acceptance and preparation in place, it's a lot easier to enjoy our lives.
Saren adores her five energetic, adventurous, precocious children but doesn't totally adore the mess and busyness and bickering that comes with them! She grew up all over the world, did her B.A. at Wellesley College and her M.Ed. at Harvard, did humanitarian service in Eastern Europe, and conducted training programs for teachers and enrichment programs for kids. But after she got married and had her five children, the real education and work began! When she's not trying to answer five different needs and questions at once, she writes and puts together programs for moms for the website she co-directs, Power of Moms. She currently lives in Ogden, Utah and loves reading, hiking, and biking with her family (or by herself when possible!). She often struggles with balance but finds joy in being involved in many things that are meaningful to her.