Motherhood is this great refiner’s fire. Nothing gets you reevaluating everything about yourself, your life, your goals, and your time management quite like motherhood. The more time goes on, and the more children you have, the better mother it would seem you’d become, because you continue to go through those refining flames.
I don’t know if that’s true.
Lately, I’ve been thinking I was a better mother two years ago than I am now. A little over two years ago I was “only” the mother of twins (who were almost three years old). Now I am a mother with five year old twins, a two year old son, with another baby soon to arrive.
There is no question that my twins put me through the refiner’s fire of first-time motherhood during their first three years of life. Raising twins is a whirlwind of emotions, of learning, of growing pains, of new experiences, of adjustment. Learning how to breastfeed, how to sleep train, how to potty train, how to break up fighting, times two, was a challenge.
Our situation in life was difficult financially and emotionally. I had to make the hard adjustment from full-time student to full-time mom of twins practically overnight. I was lonely, and felt so isolated, many, many times. But, through it all, our little family had this great sense of the important role we had undertaken and have embraced the steep learning curve of parenthood and adulthood with gusto.
Now I wonder if I’ve gotten “too comfortable” in my parenting and my mothering.
I wonder if I am no longer questioning enough about my parenting methods, parenting choices, or parenting style. I no longer question whether I am a bad mother. I am no longer plagued by mommy guilt and unrealistic expectations. I do not find myself generally overwhelmed by the three children I now have. I am generally happy with my life.But, I think that’s part of the problem.
Here is why I question whether I was a better mother two years ago:
1) I’ve stopped reading parenting books and advice.
As a first time mom, I prepared for childbirth and twins by reading everything I could! I stayed up to date with what fruit my children were the size of in my womb, week by week.
After they were born, I read tips on breastfeeding and sleep training. When they entered toddlerhood, I began reading parenting books about different discipline methods, potty training, sibling rivalry, and finding time for yourself through the challenges of motherhood.
When they entered the preschool ages, I started researching homeschooling, techniques on teaching your children to read, life skills they should develop, chores, and how to start instilling important values and characteristics.
I was all about figuring out the best way to do everything.
And now? Well, let’s just say that I am almost due to deliver child number four, and I have no idea what fruit she’s supposed to be the size of this week and ask very few questions at my OB appointments.
I only occasionally read parenting books. I do still read parenting articles, because, well, I’m a blogger and that’s kind of what I do now. I don’t know how many are actually making me reevaluate my own parenting views or philosophies, in large part because I am no longer looking for answers, which brings me to the fact that….
2) I don’t reevaluate.
With five years of parenting under my belt, I’m no longer reevaluating and searching for my parenting “niche.” I know that I don’t fit into certain molds, so I stop focusing on their viewpoints, because they aren’t for me and my family.
Before, I would read about attachment parenting, co-sleeping, no-cry solutions for sleep training, positive parenting, and more, with a much more open mind, wondering if I should try this or that. Now, not so much.
Even more convincing, is the fact that I don’t reevaluate myself against myself.
I don’t break down in tears at the end of a long day, scouring the internet for how to handle X, Y, or Z. There are certainly times my husband and I come together and ask each other what we should try to correct (fill-in-the-blank) bad trait we’ve been seeing in our son or daughters as of late, it isn’t as pressing to remedy it as thoroughly and as quickly as possible.
3) I write less posts about motherhood and parenting
Okay, this may not be technically true, as I do write parenting tips and articles about motherhood on my blog more often than I did several years ago, but this is in large part because I just write more content now, as I’m now a professional blogger, and no longer doing it “for fun.”
But, the tone of these latter articles are different. They are less self-reflective. They are less raw. They are less in the moment, in the trenches, in the struggles, in the now. (Like when I wrote this post about why parenting twins is just so dang hard).
My posts on motherhood are far less self-evaluating, exploratory on the meanings of motherhood, and more encouraging to other moms.
More tips for helping them if they feel how I once felt. Reading over my early posts about my journey in motherhood is eye-opening. It’s humbling, and also reminds me of what great advice I had to share as I brought others along with me. They are a large reason why I think I may have been a better mother two years ago than I am now.
4) Life is Busier
Two years ago I wasn’t a full-time blogger. I was focused on being a stay at home mom. While I already had two children, they were all I focused on, for the most part. Adding in a third child certainly made my life fuller and busier. I had another person to feed, clean up after (and the messes certainly multiplied with another child, and tend to). Only a few months after my third child was born I began running and exercising regularly.
By the time my son was only about 5 months old, I decided to follow up on the promptings I was receiving to turn my family blog into a business. Little did I know how much time that would require of myself, as I have grown my blog tremendously over the last two years. The time commitment and the amount of energy I put into thinking about my blog has detracted from how much time and energy I focus on whether or not I am improving my mothering skills.
In many ways I know the time I spend on the computer and social media is detracting from me being the best mother I could be for my children.
What does it all mean?Knowing that I was more self-reflective earlier in my parenting career serves as a great reminder that I do need to humble myself so I can be open to inspiration and guidance from God, from other bloggers, from other parents, and from family on how to improve myself and my parenting.
Part of figuring out who I am as a mother, has meant knowing that I don’t have all the answers and do need help from others sometimes.
I don’t want to get complacent in my parenting approach, getting in those ruts, where you are much more on auto-pilot than actively participating. This realization also means that I’ve succeeded. It means I’ve figured out who I am. It means I’ve gotten past my need to confirm my parenting choices in comparison to others.
It means I’m content with my life, my family, our situation, our parenting, and our kids.
It means I’ve gone through that refiner’s fire and come out a useful, beautiful tool, equipped and able to handle whatever new difficulties come my way, without having to be rehammered, and resharpened, and reheated over and over again. I’ve been shaped into the version of me that leaves me comfortable, able, non-stressed, relaxed, and ultimately, very happy to be the mother of my three children.
The early years of new motherhood have formed me into the mom that is true to me and my beliefs, the mom that my children need, and really, the mom that I want to be (most of the time).
I have many, many years of parenting ahead of me to challenge my convictions, resolves, parenting philosophies and style, but I no longer feel the need to constantly question myself or my instincts. I have embraced the reality of my life, my weaknesses, and my imperfections, as well as my strengths.
Motherhood has let me know that I am capable of so much good. Motherhood has made me a much better person than I was before.
While I never knew true anger until becoming a parent, I had never known true unconditional love either.The challenges of motherhood have shaped me into the person I was destined to become, one who is more patient, more kind, more understanding, more giving, more laid-back, more inquisitive, more balanced. So while part of me thinks I was a better mom two years ago, I mostly think I was a different mom two years ago, and am happy with the mother I am becoming now.
Knowing I can still be better, knowing that there is more I can do, is good for the soul too.
Katelyn Fagan is a 20-something wife and very soon-to-be mother of four. She’s a homeschooler, book club organizer, outdoor lover, Christian (Mormon), who enjoys a laid-back, simple life, on a budget. She blogs at What’s up Fagans? about raising kids, pinching pennies, and living simply.
I am so thankful that Katelyn shared here! Her amazing strength and contentment in her motherhood experiences is a great example for finding joy as a mom. She has gained so much motherhood experience in a short time. I think of Katelyn as a blogging world kindred spirit since we both find our supreme mission in life through our faith and love caring for our families.
All that she shares, and her heart for motivating moms, is very inspiring! Thanks, Katelyn, for sharing here so we can gain from your experiences.
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