Motherhood is a delicate balance between enjoying/savoring the moment, and getting sh*t done. When we were living in Tucson, for a few months before heading to Valdosta, I found myself more lost than usual in the scramble of work and kid to-dos. My pendulum swung far into work mode, with intense focus on all of the things I needed to complete in those three months.
We were in a temporary space with rented furniture, and 99% of our belongings were already in Georgia. We did the best we could to make it feel like *home* and Sunday nights included the entire family around our kitchen island, laughing and cooking together, while the cousins ran around playing. We had an amazing time with family and friends, celebrated Liv’s birthday, went on date nights, and I took awesome fitness classes with my Tucson friends. (I still miss Orangetheory, barre3, and (r)evolve.) It was such a fun and joyful time, but I found myself overwhelmed with anxiety about the upcoming move.
While spending time with our family and friends in Tucson was the greatest blessing, it was also a major tease. It was a borrowed life, and a reminder of our house in Tucson and the time when we actually got to live there. I found myself begging time to stretch, and hoping maybe they’d just forget about us in Tucson and we could stay there. (Doubtful, but a girl can dream.) I was sad to be leaving so soon, and overcome with the what-ifs and unknowns of moving back to Valdosta.
What if I didn’t like it, just like our last initial experience in V-town? (Spoiler: I don’t! Surprisingly, I love it.)
What if I couldn’t find a good school for Liv? (Thankfully, we found an excellent school. When I pick her up, she talks a mile a minute about her day, and looks forward to going each morning.)
What if it took a long time to make friends? (I feel like I was swooped up by the incredible V-town girls as soon as we got here.)
It just goes to show that worrying has no merit and things can often turn out so.much.better than we anticipate.
At the same time, foresight and patience have never been my virtues. I feel like the way things are now is the way they’ll be forever. It’s one of my many flaws, and a huge reason why I was so anxious while we were in Tucson.
Worry about the unknowns constantly lingered in the back of my mind, in addition to the great moving to-do list. I found myself living from day to day, from chore to chore, from task to task. Survival mode. Thankfully, we were all together, but life temporarily felt like a waiting game.
On the outside, I was watching the girls play at MyGym, smiling and laughing, but on the inside, I was thinking about what I was going to make for dinner, remembering we needed to do baths before getting ready for bed, wondering when the Pilot would be home from his night flight, and going through the mental checklist of things left to do for the move. (Book a hotel, rental car, pack the things we’d need immediately and begin to box the rest, purchase packing supplies, get plane tickets, sell the car, arrange furniture pick-up, etc.)
At night, I’d curl up in bed with a book on the Kindle, and use it as time to unwind before it all started again. While I was reading Chip and Joanna Gaines’ book, The Magnolia Story, I came across something that completely changed my mentality, and redirected my energy.
“I mean, that’s life. Life is never predictable. Life is never really manageable. If your mind-set is always, “I’m just surviving”, it seems to me that would wind up being the mind-set for the rest of your life. You’d just get stuck in it.”
― Joanna Gaines, The Magnolia Story
Here I was, in such an awesome place with people I love so dearly, and I was missing it. I was draining myself by wasting energy on circumstances that didn’t even exist. It was a huge distraction from something that’s incredible important to me: working hard to be a great mom to our babies. My parenting mantra became, “Thrive. Don’t survive.”
In the book, Joanna talks about her insanely busy life with four kids, a business (<— empire), and everything they have going on. She made the choice to thrive instead of merely surviving through the tasks at hand. She’s always been someone I greatly admire, and I definitely have some WWJD (What Would Joanna Do?) moments in my life. Needless to say, I took that part of the book to heart, especially because she seems like she has the whole mom-ming, life-ing, hustling thing DOWN.
It was a huge kick in the pants for me to be more present, and to seek out joy, even in the mundane moments. And I’m not thinking, “Yay, this is fun!” when you’re watching your small child throw an epic tantrum in the middle of a very fancy, and very quiet boutique. (Happened recently.) It’s taking a deep breath and seeking gratitude for what’s happening now, instead of constantly looking forward to the next chores or tasks we have to do. (Which as moms, it can be SO HARD.) For example, when they’re in the bathtub, we’ll sing funny made-up songs, make bubble beards, or I’ll enjoy watching them play while I browse through a magazine. Many times before, it’s been me sitting on the floor writing a grocery list while simultaneously thinking of something else.
“I always thought that the “thriving” would come when everything was perfect, and what I learned is that it’s actually down in the mess that things get good.”
― Joanna Gaines, The Magnolia Story
(Photo: Lindsay Colson)
Since I read that book, I’ve felt so much more joyful and spontaneous as a mom. This summer was our best summer yet, and I think it’s because I let some of the tasks and to-dos slide in favor of afternoons swimming, random adventures, and ice cream on the way home. We still have boxes that need to be unpacked, but I think if we haven’t needed them yet, we might not need them at all. 😉
We have regular childcare -in Tucson everything was on the fly, which often left me scrambling to finish work stuff- so that when I’m working, I’m working, and when I’m home, I’m home. I still get most of my work done either while the girls are at school (P goes to half-day preschool a couple of days a week) or at night when they’re sleeping. It’s amazing what it does for productivity levels when you have a solid block of time instead of quick blitzes throughout the day and playing catch-up at night.
I’m always learning, and always working to be a better version of myself. But, after I changed that mentality, I felt like a better mom. I was doing all of the same things, but enjoying it so much more. When I was constantly focused on what I had to do next, it often made me feel like I was failing.
I’d love to hear something you’ve learned or remembered in your parenting journey. What’s the best piece of parenting advice you’ve received?
Also, what do you do when your child is on their back screaming in a store? (Asking for a friend. It’s only happened once, but I want.. I mean, she wants to be prepared for next time.)