A few months ago, while I was at the park with my kids, I found myself watching another mom interacting with her child. I always find myself unintentionally staring at other moms who have a kid or two. I don’t mean to stare; I just get lost in thought. My mind takes me back to when I had a few young kids — it feels like a lifetime ago (it was over 10 years ago)! Back then I remember being so unsure of what I was doing and whether I was doing things correctly. Every outing I went on, every store I went into, I was so self-conscious, afraid I’d mess up. I didn’t want to do or say the wrong thing. Even worse, I worried about what others thought about my first kid, who was a wild child. She would run around, scream, and go up and talk to strangers — she never stopped! As an introvert, that was a big learning curve.
Back then I used to care about that stuff.
I used to care how my kids acted. You know, when you had notions about how your kids should talk, act, dress, and behave? Ya that.
I used to care how my kids dressed. I would go head-to-head with my kids about outfits, with clothes I wanted them to wear. I’d buy adorable outfits that they never wanted to wear.
I used to care about my house being kept clean at all times. It didn’t matter that I was a big ugly grouch to my kids, or that I yelled at them when they made a mess, or that I never took a break.
I used to care about throwing amazing birthday parties for my kids. For my daughter’s 5th birthday, I made 10 monogrammed felt crowns for her princess party. I set up a tea party and made customized cake plates for the table. I would spend SO much money on goody bags, money that was thrown into the garbage, along with those bags, as soon as guests went home.
I used to care about how my house looked. I strove to have it look Pottery Barn-worthy, especially the kids’ rooms. Never mind my own bedroom looked like a thrift store basement. I had to make all the other rooms look on point, so I could take pictures and show off how amazing my house was.
I used to care about how my life looked on Social Media. I’m guilty as charged with this one. I’d care so much that I would stage photos. I’d push crap out of the picture frame to look like my house was clean, or organized. I had to have that perfect shot of my perfect life. *eyeroll*
I used to care how I looked. Ok, I admit that I still care how I look, but it’s more how I FEEL. When I am eating well, exercising and getting some self-love, how I look doesn’t matter as much. Although I do end up looking better when I do those things, so it’s a win-win.
I used to care about all these things. They were so important to me. These “things” were a higher priority than what really mattered most.
Now I don’t care about that stuff.
As each child joined our family, I quickly realized a couple of things:
First, they each had their own personality. Who was I to break them into something they weren’t? They came with their own likes, dislikes, gifts, talents, struggles, problems, weaknesses and strengths. And the more time I spent on THINGS, worrying about stuff that DID NOT matter, the less time I spent with my five babies. Five children who were given and entrusted to me by my Heavenly Father to nurture, guide and love.
Second, I didn’t have the time I did with only one or two kids. You may think that’s a no brainer, but when you are used to your “normal,” you try to keep it that way, especially when you bring in another kid. That is easier said than done! I realize now I only have time for so much. I can’t spend hours planning and preparing a party. I don’t have time to keep my house clean. And I definitely didn’t have time to pretend I had this perfect life online. I had to learn to let things go.
So although I still get on my kids to clean the house and I throw a birthday party here and there, I don’t care about that stuff as much now. I don’t have time to care and worry about that stuff — it just doesn’t matter to me. To be clear, there is nothing wrong with a clean house, well-behaved kids, or amazing parties. I just can’t do it. My brain can’t manage that many things at once. I’ve realized I have a very small plate. I can only handle so many things before everything falls off. I’ve learned the hard way, by becoming burnt out, that I needed to step back and reset my priorities.