You know when you have a brand-new baby and you’re completely and utterly exhausted? You go to the grocery store, and you’re trying to hurry out because you know that any minute your baby is going to need to eat. Then, as you’re standing in line waiting to check out, your baby starts screaming and crying because she’s starving. But you’re so close that it doesn’t make sense to leave all of your groceries to go feed her immediately.
You’re totally stressed out because your baby is screaming, but then you’re trying not to get stressed out because that can affect your milk supply. You’re thinking, “I still have a 10-minute drive home. Do I let the baby scream the whole way home or do I spend 20 minutes nursing in the car before I drive home?”
Deep in thought, the sweet little old lady behind you interrupts your train of thought to say, “Enjoy this time. It goes too quickly and you will miss it!” She’s so cute and well meaning that you don’t punch her, even though you really want to. Instead, you leave feeling guilty that you aren’t enjoying the sleep deprivation and the rigid breastfeeding schedule and you feel like—even though your baby is three months old—you’ve failed her and maybe you’re not cut out to be a mother. No? Just me?
I have realized, in parenting, that seasons come and go and feelings change. Because of that, I find myself conflicted. I want to be real and show people that my life isn’t perfect or easy, and that I don’t have it all together. But then again, I don’t want to say something in a moment or season that I may later regret. I dated a guy one time that said that tattoos were a permanent reminder of a temporary feeling. Well I feel like social media is that way too.
People post something on social media in an emotional moment that is then out there forever. Will you be proud of your status that says how difficult your teenager is in 10 years when they are an adult and you have a great relationship again? Do you want them to see how much you complained about them one day when they are older and get on Facebook or Google themselves? My goal is to tell about my life and what has worked for me, but to also tell you that in no way do I have my life figured out. There are many days that I go to bed thankful for a new day, and many days that I go to bed wondering what God was thinking choosing me for this life.
Every stage of my kids’ lives so far has come with moments I absolutely cherish and moments that leave me wishing for the next stage. When I was pregnant with the triplets, a woman told me that I needed to make my older child a priority when the triplets were babies. If they are crying and she is crying, tend to her first. She’s older, and she will remember while an infant will not. I decided that when the triplets were babies, I was going to make my relationship with Harper a priority.
Just like any relationship, it took work and I chose to be intentional with her. I had a babysitter twice a week for 4 hours. One day I would go run errands and one day would be all about Harper and me. We would have a special lunch date and then we would go do something fun. I bought a zoo membership, we went to the park, we went to the mall and rode the carousel. I have learned that when you let your child know that you are choosing to spend your time with them, they are happy to do anything. There were times that my week would get crazy and my “special alone time” consisted of going to the grocery store and letting her pick out her favorite candy. Our quality time was special for both of us. I got to know her, not as a big sister, not as my helper, but just as Harper.
Once the triplets got older, I started doing it with each one of them, and now Hunter too. I have always wanted the triplets to love being triplets and realize that it’s a special bond that not many people will ever know; but also to be confident as individuals and know who they are. I feel that spending alone time with each one of them and letting them decide what they want to do, giving them a voice—and taking away the distractions and threats of the other kids—I am helping them see themselves as individuals.
Also, because I want to make quality time with my kids a priority, my house suffers. I get frustrated that my house is so messy. I feel overwhelmed with stuff everywhere. I pray every day that no one just pops by because then they will know what a mess I truly live in. But I hope that if someone ever does pop by, they will stand on my front porch and listen to us belting out “Can’t Stop the Feeling” from the movie Trolls. Or they peer through the window and see us jumping from pile of pillows to pile of pillows while we dance to “Still Standing” from the movie Sing. Those are the moments they will remember. Those are the moments that matter. Not my pride or my reputation among my peers.
Having many kids close together has forced me to learn my limits. For the longest time, I put pressure on myself to do what everyone else could do. I never wanted to use “I have triplets” as an excuse. What I didn’t realize is—it’s not an excuse. It just means my life looks a little different.
I had a group of friends that did play dates every now and then, and they would graciously invite me to come. Honestly, I had zero desire to attend. I knew that it was going to be a ton of work and I would not get a lot of quality time with my friends. However, every time that I said no, I felt bad about myself. I would look at other people and feel like I should do more! It’s the same with church functions. I wanted to join a class so bad at church and it started a few weeks after Hunter was born. I knew that I could put all of my kids in the nursery and since I wasn’t really involved in anything at the time, I kept telling myself, “You need to do something!” However, the thought of having to be up and having myself and 5 kids out of the house and checked into the nursery by 10am sounded exhausting!
I had to give myself grace to know my limits. Even if every other person in the world could do it, I couldn’t. People will say to me, “How do you do it all?” Well I don’t. I just do what I have the grace to do. My husband supports the things that are in my heart and it helps so much that he’s willing to share the load with me so that I can say yes to those things that really excite my heart. It’s a balance, but one thing is for sure: I’m still learning and I pray that my journey can encourage other moms so that we all learn to love our calling.