Comments like "My, your hands are full!" and "Are they all yours? And you are pregnant! That is a lot a children!" seem to be a daily occurrence. However, I am also swarmed with friends who actually know me well enough to say, "Tell me everything. You seem to love motherhood. Teach me your ways!"
It is these words, the words that I love motherhood, that touch my heart. This could not be more true. I genuinely love my life. I love my husband more than I did 13 years ago when we first started dating. And I love my children.
I had a life before children. I wasn't sitting around ready to be a baby-making oven and cook dinners every night. I liked expensive shoes and enjoyed a night out. Has my life changed? Yes....very much so. I am currently sitting here 20 weeks pregnant with baby number five. Five children? What were we thinking?
We've lived in five states in seven years, meaning that four of our five babies will be born in different states. We home school because I just really love being with my kids, and I believe that I can provide the greatest path of education for each of them. We dance in the kitchen, play music way too loud, have 38 meltdowns weekly, say "no" to absurd purchases and try our hardest to raise well-rounded, independent-thinking, happy, passionate and loving humans. As parents, we fail (a lot) but we learn and keep going. The mistakes make us stronger and help us become better people ourselves.
So in all this craziness, what have I learned thus far? I'm so glad you asked—
You are still you. There are college-aged girls who will babysit for $10 an hour... find them. Your partner is perfectly capable of being responsible for the lives of the children while you enjoy whatever it is you want to enjoy. Find time to live your life, both with and without your children by your side.
This one took me two kids (or so) to learn. Before you speak your mind, make a mental list of what your friendship is worth; judgements and disagreements often lead to broken friendships. Remember that you (and I) are not perfect. Everyone has hard days, and everyone is at different stages of learning and parenting. If you disagree, keep quiet and smile. Passing judgement does absolutely no good for you and other moms.
Babies cry because they need you. Step in and snuggle your crying babe and let your sleeping child sleep. Even though it's tempting, do not wake him.
Each kid learns differently, plays differently, feels differently and needs you in a different way. Learning who your children truly are will let you be a better parent to them. It will also strengthen your relationship with them and save your sanity.
You are not superhuman; you need sleep.
I like to hashtag #WildAndFree because that is what I believe in. Let your children get dirty. Let them explore and have secrets. Let them wander more than three feet away from you.
Don't act like your kids are perfect. Perfection means that there is nothing left to learn, which isn't the case. Let your kids make mistakes and be calm and loving when discussing failures.
Bedtime is important in our house. It may not happen at exactly 8:00 p.m. every night, but we try.
I need to talk to other women. I need friends. And so do you. Just as you push your kids to meet and make friends, follow your own advice and foster friendships.
Our house is always clean. Want to know why? Chores. Your children are more capable than society gives them credit for.
Don't think you are a know-it-all mother. If you aren't growing right along with your children, then you aren't learning what motherhood is teaching you.
This is sheer brilliance on my husband's part. Teach your children to love the things you love so that you can continue your hobbies your whole life long.
Your toddler becomes a fiercely independent, back-talking, crazed three-year-old. Congratulations — you're pregnant (again). Someone cuts a new tooth. Potty-training begins. Your six-year-old may lead you to your death while she learns to read … you know, life. Be flexible and love every new adventure.
If you show respect, children learn respect. It'll make parenting so much easier.
This experience is amazing. Even when it's hard, don't forget that.
It's perfectly OK to toot your own horn when needed.
Blast music, cry tears, sing at the top of your lungs and dance – these are the moments that your children will remember and relate to throughout their lives.
Motherhood isn't easy but it is uniquely challenging, exciting, difficult and rewarding for every mother. Embrace the ups and downs of being a parent and cherish this time you have with your little ones — before you know it, they won't be so little anymore.