Many of us may think that families are (or should be) free from stress, that the home should be a haven of peace and tranquility. I strive to make my home a peaceful pace but most days it's far from that. A certain amount of family stress is inevitable. It is how a family handles and copes with stress that is truly important.
Each day, my children cause me to feel a "stressful joy." Here are the definitions for stress and joy.
Stress: a state of mental or emotional strain resulting from very demanding circumstances.
Joy: a feeling of great pleasure and happiness.
Those two definitions combined is exactly how I would describe motherhood.
My kids are one of the most important things to me. Their personalities are so different. Each one of them brings me joy and stress in different ways.
It took us a long time to get pregnant with my first son, Lincoln. After trying for a year, I went to the doctor and found out I have PCOS and endometriosis. I had to have laparoscopy to remove a polyp in my uterus and to remove the endometriosis. I took Clomid for four months and finally got pregnant. You can probably understand how trying to get pregnant caused lots of stress. You can also probably imagine the joy I felt when I finally did get pregnant.
Lincoln has been a joy since the day he was born. He is outgoing, friendly, smart, and so much fun! He has such a cute sense of humor and loves to play sports. He loves his mama but is for sure a daddy's boy. Lincoln's a good boy but I can think of three things that cause a bit of stress. He loves to sneak out of bed, he still pees the bed, and he's not the best at entertaining himself. He bugs me 24-7 to play with a friend. These are tiny stresses that aren't too hard for me to deal with, but still add to the other stresses as a mom.
Cannon and Bennett
Photo by Kelly Willard
Before trying to get pregnant again, I had a blood test that showed I still needed Clomid. I ended up getting pregnant with twins the first month I took Clomid. Since they were born, my twins have caused me the most stress of all my kids. Not because there are two them. They just have demanding personalities and cry when they don't get their way. They are mess makers, they are picky eaters, they have speech delays, they are so loud, and they love to run away from me wherever we go. Though I must say that they are getting easier as they get older.
Cannon was born 14 minutes before Bennett. Cannon is my little smarty pants. He loves anything that has to do with learning. He loves letters and numbers and can already read. He wishes he could go to preschool everyday. Cannon loves to laugh, play with friends, and be outside. He is full of energy and can't sit still for two seconds. He's my most destructive child. He is always jumping around and ends up breaking something at least once a week. He sometimes will break or rip things on purpose. He's not trying to be naughty, he just doesn't think before he acts. He also has issues that cause stress that aren't his fault. He has asthma and allergies. He's allergic to peanuts, soy, eggs, bees, grass and dogs. Even though he causes me a bit of stress, I love my little energetic guy!
Bennett is my little buddy. He is a mama's boy and loves to give me hugs and kisses. He's my best helper when we clean up toys. He's very independent loves to do things by himself like getting dressed, buckling his seat belt, etc. Some days he's my easiest child and some days he's the hardest. He can play easily by himself and doesn't need me to entertain him. He loves to do puzzles and pretend with his toys. He's hard because he cries at least 15 times a day. He gets upset by little things: if cereal falls off his spoon, if he gets a drop of water on his shirt, if his hands get too messy, or if someone messes with his toys when he's playing alone. He's always been a particular child. I actually had him tested for autism when he was three by the school district. I was worried he had autism because he wasn't speaking, he loved to line up toys, he loved playing alone, he had temper tantrums, he would get really attached to objects (hats, bowls, cups), and he was a really picky eater. The test showed he had mild PDD-NOS. One point different on the test and he would have been considered "normal." The people giving the test told me that this wasn't a diagnosis because it wasn't done by a doctor and he would need lots more testing. They told me not to worry much about the test because he was so young and could grow out of his autistic-like behaviors. Even though they told me not to worry, of course I did worry and stress over it. It's been 1 1/2 years since he's been tested and he has improved so much. His speech is almost caught up, he doesn't line up objects, he plays more with others, he shares, and he handles change. Since he's getting better as he gets older I'm not stressed about it too much right now. I love his personality and he makes me smile everyday!
My little Huddy Buddy! I was really surprised when I ended up pregnant with Hudson when we weren't even trying. I guess my body figured out how to ovulate. Hudson wants to be just like his older brothers and they adore him. He bypassed baby toys and has always wanted to play with whatever his brothers are playing with. He is so fun, likes to help me, and he is my best eater. This boy makes me smile several times a day. He of course is two and stress just comes with the territory. He is potty training, he doesn't think he needs naps, he always wants his way, he doesn't like to share, and he wants to do things by himself but gets frustrated when he's not able to do it. He's not a terrible two year old, just a typical one. His personality is so cute and I just love him to death.
My maiden name is Treasure and I have always wanted a girl named Treasure. I finally got my little girl! She is such a great baby and loves to laugh. Her brothers entertain her all day. I want her to stay a baby forever but at the same time I love watching her grow. She is so sweet and innocent but babies can of course cause stress. She wakes up in the night, needs lots of attention, adds lots of clothes to the laundry, and can make it hard to go places. Even though she sometimes makes me tired, the joy this little girl brings is worth even ten times more stress than she causes me. I can't even express how much I love her!
As you can see, I know how stressful children can be. I try to view stress as a temporary challenge that can and be coped with and controlled. Here are a few strategies that can make motherhood less stressful that have helped me.
1. Make lists and be realistic about time frames.
2. Don't compare yourself to other moms.
3. Don't feel like you need to get it all done. There will always be projects in process.
4. Don't expect your house to be super clean.
5. If you can afford it, buy services or goods that will give you more time.
6. Give yourself credit for small tasks accomplished.
7. Select commitments carefully and learn to say no.
8. Limit time on the internet.
9. Acknowledge the blessings in the midst of burdens.
10. Recognize and take time to enjoy moments of joy and fun.
Sometimes as moms we expect too much out of ourselves and that can cause added stress. When my kids are grown up and have moved away I hope that they will have great memories of their childhood and know that they were loved. Being a mom can be stressful but the joy that comes with it makes it SO worth it.