Why I’m Surviving, and Not Thriving, Right Now (And Why It’s Okay)

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I’ve always been a perfectionist and a planner with high standards and enough stubbornness to make sure the job got done. I had a moment of panic when I was newly pregnant with my first child where I broke down and asked my husband “How are we going to do this?”

By “this” I meant: both of us working 40+ hour/week jobs, two needy dogs, my two “side gigs”, traveling to see family since none lived nearby, trying to spend time with friends and somehow trying to enjoy some of our hobbies. He reassured me that just like everything else, we’d figure out a way to make it work. It may not be pretty or perfect or planned, but we’d figure it out.

Now here I am, still wondering how I’m going to do all those things while raising a 14-month-old and pregnant with our second child. But now it’s a new set of “how are we doing to do this”: solo bath time when my husband works late, making sure I don’t miss out on my son growing up when I’m tending to the new baby, finding time for myself to do something I enjoy (actually, probably just sleep, I enjoy that the most), not feel guilty when I look forward to going to work because I really enjoy my job.

Survival mode as a mom

I’ve realized as a mother, some days it’s all about survival. Your life may not look pretty on the outside, but on the inside – it’s truly beautiful. Your shoes may not always match, you may not always have handmade treats for birthday celebrations, you may be the person late to every engagement because time completely warps when you try to get your family out the door on time. And that is okay.

My natural futuristic and planning strengths really help me to be able to accomplish most that I want to in a given day or week, but sometimes there are curveballs that throw me off my game. Some days I meet myself where I am and am just thankful for the innate strengths I have, without being down about not having the opportunity to grow. I find myself asking “Was I really this tired with my first pregnancy?”.

More dishes have been in my sink these past few months than ever before, clothes have gone unfolded and unfortunately, I haven’t exercised near as much as I’d like to this pregnancy. But I remind myself – this is what I need for this season in life. This season is not forever, it’s just right now and it’s temporary and will help pave the way for the days in the future that I really can thrive.

So, say it with me – motherhood is NOT the time for perfectionists to be critical of themselves or other parents.

Every day is a new opportunity to thrive or some days we purely just survive and count the hours until a new day starts and we turn a fresh page. Motherhood has many seasons. Some recur each year (start of school, summer, holidays) and some are new experiences entirely (adding another child, one going off to college). The silver lining is that there is always a new chance to start fresh: a new day, a new hour, a new opportunity.

We’ve all seen that mom that seems like she has it together with her little ducklings marching in a line behind her in matching outfits and with perfect manners.

Even that mom has hard days.

We will all go through periods of being that mom or the mom that drops her kids off at school in her pajamas and unbrushed hair. We will go through days where it may be obvious to the naked eye that you are not at your best and there will be days it’s not so obvious on the outside.

It’s important to differentiate between survival in a figurative sense and survival in a literal sense. Anxiety and depression are sneaky little devils that can strike when you are most vulnerable and can shut the door to any stairway toward thriving. Please don’t underestimate the benefits of professional help at any level of survival or stage in motherhood. Recognizing the need for this level of care is often the first step toward flourishing.

Survival as a mother means ensuring both you and your family have the essentials. This is a big task in and of itself and if that’s “all” you’ve accomplished in the day – that is pretty darn good. Being a mom is a humbling lesson in self-love and grace that reminds me that I don’t have to knock every day out of the park to meet my high standards. My son will love me just the same if he has matching shoes on or not.

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