I added a third baby to our family 6 weeks ago. We now have three kiddos age 4 and under. I thought I understood simple math before this: you start off with zero babies, and when you add one you get one, add a second and get two…but for some reason, when you add a third baby, all of a sudden you have 6 zillion kids. It’s weird. Like, they’re everywhere, and all of them have conflicting needs at the same time.
“I’m tired!” says one. “Time to get up!” says another.
“I’m hungry!” “I hate food!”
“Watch me climb the curtains!” “Let’s go play in traffic!”
“I peed my pants!” “I have the flu!”
It’s utter insanity.
But I have found the secret to surviving it all. Despite what grocery store strangers would have you believe, the answer is not to treasure every moment. No, ma’am.
Respectfully, I will not treasure this moment where my preschooler is throwing a tantrum about jelly beans and my baby barfed straight down my cleavage and my toddler is heaving groceries out of my cart onto the floor like a sailor bailing water in a sinking ship. NOPE.
I don’t have to treasure the moments that feel like chaos and failure. But you know what I can do? I can find the good stuff amidst the chaos and failure. No matter how terrible things get, there is a tiny little part of you that knows the truth: it could be FREAKING WORSE. If you can find the thing that DIDN’T go wrong? The one lone positive outcome amidst a whole slew of negative ones?
That, my friends, is what I like to call a “Mom Win”.
To elaborate, I’d like to share some of my own personal Mom Wins.
The Body Fluid Shopping Fiasco
Nine months pregnant with my two other kids in tow, I arrived at my favorite consignment shop, KidWorks, with only 15 minutes left until store close. My toddler was in serious need of some bigger pajamas, and so we forged ahead, despite the short time frame available. I had just started scanning the racks of clothes when I heard my preschooler repeatedly sniffing and wiping her arm across her nose. I ignored her at first, because sometimes boogers just aren’t my biggest priority, but then out of the corner of my eye I notice long red streaks painted down her arms and all over her face.
“Mommy? I think my nose is bloody!” She looked like she had attacked a zebra. Yes, the evidence points to yes. Then my toddler son’s tiny voice chimed in, “Mommy, I peed…”
The deck was stacked, folks. The store was about to close, both of my children were leaking bodily fluids, I was extremely pregnant and sweaty and frazzled, but you know what? I had both wipes AND clean clothes in my purse for just such an occasion! I wiped those arms, faces, butts, and hands, and we marched out of that store with a bag full of new pajamas with just under two minutes to spare. Another store patron looked at me with such pity and disdain that I’m sure she must have thought I was about to go cry in my car. I gave her a wink, patted my trusty stocked diaper bag, and clicked my heels together on the way out…
Big Mama in a Tiny Crib
Here’s another example. All of a sudden, my 5 month old son had decided sleeping in his crib was a fate worse than drowning, and I was an exhausted train wreck. Bleary-eyed and desperate, after several hours of trying to put him back in his crib, you know what I did? I climbed into his crib with him.
It was a terrible decision.
My legs were bent one way while my arms and head curled around my son, and my back was wrenched at an unnatural angle. I laid there with my eyes wide open and my body screaming at me for the remainder of the night. It went against every parenting “rule”, and all the sleep experts were giving me the side-eye. But guess what? He slept the rest of the night! And then the next night, no matter what tactic I tried, I was confident that it was a better choice than climbing in his crib with him…
That there’s a Mom Win!
The Toilet Volcano
Ok, one more example for you mamas down in the trenches of potty-training. I needed to take a shower. I (falsely) assumed my preschooler and toddler would be entertained by Sesame Street long enough for me to participate in some basic daily hygiene without consequence. Wrong-O. When I emerged from my shower, I discovered a trail of toilet paper leading down the hallway and into the kids’ bathroom. Tentatively, I followed the paper trail into the bathroom and found a scene fit for the baby books. An entire roll of toilet paper was spilling out of the toilet and unrolled in a giant heap all over the floor. The toilet was overfilled and making sounds like it was a dormant volcano awakening from slumber.
Who, and more importantly, WHERE, pray tell, was the culprit of this disaster? To find out, I simply followed the trail of fecal matter smashed into the carpet…my sweet little toddler cherub! He was completely naked with an unwiped bottom, and the bathroom and hallway were a crime scene all their own.
But did I despair? Au contraire! There were too many things to celebrate! My little toddler went poop on the potty all by himself! He learned how to take his own clothes off! He even tried to use toilet paper! I got an entire shower with shampoo AND conditioner…
High-five, Self, that’s a Mom Win!
Starting to get the picture?
When you’re overwhelmed and frazzled, and you don’t feel like treasuring every moment of the never-ending chaos parade, just look for your Mom Win.
It might not be obvious at first, but it’s there. Your children might be running rabid around you, and every last one of them is likely missing at least one article of clothing, and some of them have stink lines coming off of them, but hold your head high and smile, because those little feral stink monsters are alive, they are present, and they are loved. MOM WIN!
Care to share one of your Mom Wins?