*I wrote this the day before Thanksgiving. I have tried to edit it as little as possible, and to include the most real/unflattering images to capture the feelings of this day and mental state. Most days aren't quite like this, and we have many sweet days and beautiful moments too.
Thanks for reading.
I’ve been thinking about the concept of radical honesty lately, and considering how I can implement the concept into my life. I also have been thinking lots about how we are all shaped by, and shape ourselves for, social media. There is more and more personality curation I sense in myself when I present myself through social media because that is one way I protect myself. Because my business is on social media and it feels implicit that we supposed to act a certain way that does not include radical honesty when we are in business. Fuck that.
Radical honesty: today is hard. This week is hard. Having 3 small kids is hard. I don’t really like being a parent this week. I feel only 1/2 way in reality the past few days and have no idea how to get off of the merry-go-round of exhaustion I currently inhabit. I sometimes wish that it was some personal failing of mine that was causing me to not get enough rest. But it’s largely tied to the fucked up system we exist within in that doesn’t support families. I mean, how could we support families when we don’t even support basic humanity or the environment?
I have childcare right now for 3 precious hours. (At least childcare for my kids. The baby is with me) In those 3 hours I have wandered around wondering what I could, should or want to do? I am in a state of exhaustion where I don’t know the answer to any of those questions. I feel like I need a manager today, someone who can say: “Now is a good time to rest. Try to fold some laundry while baby plays and then walk to the store for groceries.” That would be nice because my head feels completely jumbled in it’s current state. I am utterly disconnected from my needs, desires and what is possible in the small moments I have between soothing baby, feeding him and changing him…
This morning with all best intentions I walked the 3 blocks to the store with the baby sleeping in a wrap, and the 2.5 year old and 5 year old walking (while fighting over who got to pull the wagon). Upon arriving at the store, the baby was inconsolable in the carrier and therefore I only had one hand which meant I couldn’t really navigate the store at all. I stood waiting for the bathroom to empty for a bit because I had to wash his pacifier which had fallen on the floor (a pacifier is a thing I thought I might never use and right now kind of worship TBH)…as I stood waiting for the bathroom I thought about trying to navigate the store one-handed.
We had a list of 25 things, some of which were bulk items like honey. I tried to think about how much my 5-year-old could do for me (she often does A LOT) and was almost considering it until the girls got into some argument which left the 2.5-year-old screeching. The toddler thought that the shelf of lip balm was candy, and the 5-year-old tried to correct her. The toddler insisted in a high-pitched screech “NO IT IS CAAAANNNNDY!!!” such that the whole store would know. At that point I decided to jump ship. After I had washed the pacifier, I realized that I couldn’t put the baby back in the wrap or put him in the wagon without him screaming bloody murder. And I also couldn’t negotiate the wagon out of the store one handed. I stood there for a few more minutes puzzling this out. Luckily an acquaintance came in and when she asked how I was doing I answered honestly that it was a tough moment. She offered to help me and got us out of the store.
Once we were at home, I just gave up on plans. I wandered aimlessly around the house because (of course) the baby was sleeping peacefully once we got home. The girls stripped their clothes off and played some game which involved lots more screeching and throwing my therapy balls from the kitchen to the living room. At least they were occupied. At least they only woke the baby up a few times during this nap. At least I could maybe go to the store later…
I checked Facebook more than I am proud of and did some online shopping. Online shopping for used items can sometimes give me a vague sense of purpose on days like this which feels strangely rewarding and vaguely unhealthy at the same time.
Just now he went to sleep in the woven wrap on my chest. I thought I might walk to the store and get the things to make the couple of simple recipes I desperately want to concoct in my kitchen today. But I knew that didn’t feel like a good use of my time. I don’t want to spend this precious time in a crazed store around all of the thanksgiving shoppers. So I climbed into a bed covered in dirty spit-up rags, random things like baby nail clippers, breast pads, hemorrhoid cream, dirty clothes and clean clothes from me and baby…the sheets are semi-clean at least. I lay there a bit. I got the baby settled on the bed, out of the woven wrap (a small mercy because that doesn’t always stay asleep alone these days.) I thought about clipping his nails which are wicked-long. He scratches me on the chest when he gets upset. No, I decided I didn’t want to clip the nails right now, I feel like I “should” sleep. But I don’t want to. I am so tired that it will take me most of the last hour I have childcare to fall asleep and that doesn’t feel worth it. I want to stretch and also dump some of these wild thoughts out of my brain. I have too many thoughts today and many conflicting, confusing and unclear musings. I want to write this down. I get my computer and sit down on the floor to stretch while I type. So far it’s pretty satisfying. I am also drinking a small glass of wine which adds to my satisfaction. And I am still exhausted.
Earlier today I considered if it would be possible for me to sleep less in order to have some time alone around my house—time to tidy things without distraction, or make something or just do things like this more regularly. Considering how to sleep less in the midst of this much exhaustion is kind of comical.
Radical honesty: it is really difficult for me to admit that having 3 small children is hard. I am concerned that if I admit it’s hard people will say “I told you so. Having 3 is too many etc. etc.” And what if I ever wanted to have or to adopt more kids? Would people condemn me and say “You can’t have more. It was too hard for you.”
It was hard enough going through a third pregnancy and having certain types of people greet me by saying things like “Oh, you are having ANOTHER??” or “You’re pregnant AGAIN?” or “Are you going to stop after this one?” No polite: “Congratulations!” or anything like that. Only judgement.
But I don’t want those experiences and my fears to stop me from being honest. I want to be able to honestly share when the days are hard, when it’s hard to muster the compassion over and over and over again to be kind to the kids in the midst of a difficult day. I want to be able to relate that there are moments when I am overcome with rage on the inside, because this is a hard job and there are times I am at a loss for how to cope. I want to share that I think the overwhelm is normal, the rage is normal and the difficulty is 100% normal and even ok.
I do know that all of this is only ok when I share it honestly and commiserate with other moms. This postpartum time has been better than the others partially because I am starting to know more and more how to do things one little step at a time and how to let things go. These are things I have learned in part from teaching Mamas how to slip little bits of selfceare into daily routines with kids. These little things help me float through it all, like today as I type this and straddle stretch on the floor. Like yesterday when I did lat stretches while my 2-year-old sat on the potty and chatted with me…and like last week when the only thing I did in one day that felt at all constructive for my well-being was to roll my foot out with a rubber ball for a mere 30 seconds before all hell broke loose once again. But I told myself that my 30 second sojourn into taking care of my body was enough, that it mattered and that I didn’t need to worry about doing more that day. And it did help, it was enough and some days are just like that.
This is all much more ok when I ask for help and allow people to help—things that are difficult for me.
We have been surrounded by loving help from our friends, family and community in the past few months of late pregnancy and new baby. It has been amazing, and I feel thoroughly grateful. I know the ability to reach out for support and allow myself to lean in to that support has been huge this time around and I wish that for everyone. I hope that when I have written into Mama Moves Cards and into the Video course that it is crucial to find companionship and support in self care, that it helps connect people with their bodies, their friends and their community. Some days, I am lucky enough to sink into this beautiful body I inhabit and give thanks that I am not doing all of this alone, and recognize that it’s hard shit and I am a good mom.
Taking a walk with kids is something we could all become well-versed in right now. Facing the inability to go to the playground means that we have a rare opportunity to really find ways to immerse ourselves in nature with our children.
I know full well that this is not always easy. We have had a long-standing morning routine of getting outside first thing after breakfast. Two mornings per week my kids go to nature school. So, the other mornings I take all 3 kids outside (5,3, and 6 months) and the other mornings I take just the baby. But for now I will take all 3 kids out all 5 mornings.
This morning I was tired. We have kept most of the information about this virus from our kids and just given them a simple explanation that “there is more sickness in the world than usual so we can’t go to school, the library or the park.” But they sense something. Both my girls have had insomnia during the night for the past few and I am tired today. Night wakings from 3 at once can get exhausting.
So, I was tired and I really didn’t feel like motivating them to go on a walk, which was the most accessible thing to do today. Luckily for me it is a routine, which makes it come a little easier, and I know full well that the entire day will be better when we spend the first part of the day outside.
There are a few reasons it makes everything better.
Before we had kids, my husband and I loved to hike together and now we still love to be outside to walk and hike as a family. Yes, there are challenges, and yes, it's different from hiking just as two adults.
However, hiking and taking walks with small children can be really fun. Here are some of the things we've learned to help us enjoy these times outside being active with our kids.
But why would you do this with children that young?
I know what you might be thinking: "That sounds difficult and frustrating, and you will not get anywhere!"
We had times where we felt like that too. Then we asked ourselves a simple question:
"Why do we like walking and hiking?"
When you ask yourself this question, some obvious answers could be:
Focus on the little discoveries, not the big trail
It turns out that we can accomplish all of the above points with our children. Especially with the discovery of something new or beautiful, children actually enrich the experience. Kids discover things all the time. By slowing the whole process down, you are more likely to find and take the time to rescue the lonely turtle out of a puddle.
Even the *getting exercise* part can be enriched, as you will add different movements to your walk by...
So, everything should be fine, but why can hiking/walking appear to be so