I am so excited to be blogging again! With an 8-week old and 2 other kiddos 5 and under at home, only a Mom can imagine what it took for me to even carve out the time to do this blog! I have, however, been thinking about it for the past 8 weeks. I have had 2 maternity leaves in the past. For some reason, this one was very different for me. I somehow feel it changed me, even more so than how you change when you have a baby. Somehow we adjust and quickly find ourselves back at who we were before. But this time I feel I have been changed forever, from the inside out. I wanted to share with you what I learned. (Ok- I am already bawling as I write, just for a visual image!)
I’ll first share the funny things, although true aside from their humor.
1. I learned that I can truly do 4 things at once! I always bragged at what a multi-tasker I was. But I did not truly realize how many things I am capable of at one time. I quickly learned if I didn’t do several things at once, there would be NO time to ever sleep (as if the baby would allow it anyway but there is ALWAYS hope!)
2. I learned that if my 2-year old eats a smashed blueberry off the floor he will not immediately contract some rare disease I have created in my imagination. And when he looks up at me, smiles and says “yummy”, it is ok for me to smile and laugh. I don’t need to correct him, he knows not to eat off the floor! Enjoy his moment of happiness.
3. I learned that if my boys do not get a bath at night when they have been outside sweating in the soaring tempatures and a heat index of 105, the germ monster will actually NOT come and kidnap them while I am sleeping.
4. I learned enough self restraint to not chase after the school bus that my little boy excitedly loaded onto for his first day of Kindergarten. I wanted to chase after the piece of my heart that went with him on that bus! (ok- now the tears are flowing heavy!)
5. I learned it is ok to let others that you barely know help. I have always been ok with letting my close friends and family help. However, this time I had some people offer to help bring a meal, entertain my kids while I take a shower (seriously- it was THAT bad!), pray for me…so many things. I had to humble myself and allow them because I knew I couldn’t do it all on my own.
6. I learned those offerings of help were truly little gifts from God.
7. I learned that you don’t have to schedule 1:1 time with your kids. Dates are great but some of the best moments are those seized when 1 child is sleeping and the other is at the neighbors. Instead of doing the dishes, I would get on the floor and play with the little one! Even for 5 minutes! Those moments added up and kept us connected. I am such a planner that it would have been easy to miss these moments. I’m so glad I didn’t.
8. I also learned to have those moments with God. I get down on myself when I am unable to spend my alone time with God. Mostly because I enjoy it so much. But I had to adjust and realize 5 minutes of quiet here, a whispered prayer of gratitude for the smile on my baby’s face, a cry of desperation in the middle of the night for just 30 minutes of sleep…. all those are time spent with Him. I have learned it now as a habit and am enjoying making it part of my entire day.
9. Life is full of seasons and this too shall pass! I often remind my clients that life is full of seasons. Sometimes it’s spring and things are new. Sometimes it’s summer and it’s time to have fun. Sometimes it’s fall and things are starting to change. And when it’s winter, ugh, winter is hard and long but spring will come. So when families were going on vacation, when kids would pass by our house to head to the pool, and when my 5-year old just wanted to go to the park and play and I couldn’t accomodate because of a baby and the heat outside, I reminded myself that it was a season and not forever. This helped a lot.
10. The final thing I learned: sometimes you just have to surrender! Remember when you used to wrestle or play around, the first one to cry uncle surrendered? Yep, that was me! I don’t know how many times I said in my head (and to God!), “ok- uncle! I cry uncle!” And in that moment, when 2 of the 3 were crying and the third was obliviously asking for a snack, not noticing the crying… I had to surrender. I took a deep breath, said a prayer, and started putting out fires!
Many of my clients have asked me if it was hard coming back. Every working mother knows that when you leave your children for the day you literally feel like you are taking your heart out and leaving it with them. But I am so grateful that I love what I do and enjoy my clients and watching them grow. I learn something every day! But I will be forever changed by the birth of my third child. And hopefully a better Mom and person for it! I thank God every day for the wonderful opportunity he gave me to be at home with my babies.
Thank you for reading….Have a blessed day!
*Natalie Chandler, MA, LMHC is a therapist at Imagine Hope Counseling Group. Natalie enjoys doing marriage counseling, individual counseling, and couples counseling. We also specialize in family counseling, child, and adolescent counseling. Imagine Hope serves the Indianapolis area including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Fishers, Noblesville, Westfield, and Zionsville.