As a mom of nine, who has had to fight to prevent the demon of post partum depression from entering into the equation, I crafted a formula I had to follow after each child. The following as the alphabet guide for surviving the transition into parenting and coming to terms with the vocation of motherhood.
a) Ask for help and accept it. Even Jesus had twelve apostles, what makes you think you should have to go it alone?
b) Wear Bright clothing. Joseph felt pretty darn special in his multi-colored coat, so why not you?
c) Call your friends when you feel like crying. Christ tried to tell his friends of his fears as he faced his coming crucifixion. Sharing your stories transforms suffering into struggling.
d) Have Date night 1 time a month minimum. Your marriage is a reflection of Christ’s love to your children. You need to maintain its health –healthy marriage =happy grown ups = more generous and happy parents =healthy happy family, even in the most difficult of situations.
e) Exercise daily (even one sit up or one push up counts). Your body is a temple that needs to be tended to, it is a healthy form of self love.
f) Food tips… Short cuts for good nutrition for you and your children
*ice cream = milk
*strawberries = brocolli
*french fries are a vegetable –so is ketchup
Eat a balanced diet but remember its okay to sometimes have a strawberry sundae with fries on the side with ketchup. Feasting is so common in the bible, it’s almost cliché. God wants us to be joyfully sustained spiritually and physically.
g) Mary gave us the rosary so we could tell God all our troubles –why do you think there are four sets of mysteries and all those decades? As the Mother of God, don’t you think she stressed about the little stuff occasionally?
h) Humor even in the form of canned jokes and bad puns can make even the worst moment of motherhood better. My favorite is my son’s first made up joke. Knock Knock. Who’s there? Car Wash! He thought it was hilarious and just remembering his joy as he told this joke to a friend who also thought it was the funniest thing she had ever heard, makes whatever it is I was brooding over, less overwhelming.
i) If you got dressed today,…give a cheer, some days, that’s all one can manage with small children. It counts.
j) Keep a journal in your purse to write down whatever, including your fears.
k) Keep the Diaper bag in the car
* Fully stocked (it only works this way)
* may require a trailer hitch
l) Add 15 minutes lag time (front and back) to each + every task
* Do not schedule more than 2 tasks in 24 hours
m) Put on music when the house or apartment feels cluttered so cleaning is less dreary, or when the home feels lonely or when despair threatens your internal motivation to act.
n) No one is perfect. When you are trying to make the picture perfect home or dinner or whatever it is, remember who your audience is, they don’t expect perfection, just love and attention and food on the table.
o) Off. Turn the TV and computer off and go outside or at least out.
p) Pray each day – even just God…..help. Pray for friends, pray for wisdom, pray when you are stuck in line at a light, it makes the time less tedious.
q) Queue things up. Schedule multiple kids hair cuts, dentists and doctors appointments together. Jesus was the ultimate multi-tasker, healing bodies and souls, forgiving sins and teaching the Pharisees at the same time. He didn’t just heal one leper, He did ten at a time!
r) Dad is the relief pitcher.. Feel free to call in the reliever from the bull pen.
s) Stash emergency chocolate in your purse, have it ready to share with someone else who has or is having a bad day.
t) Take time to read to yourself for even just 2 minutes –I keep books in the car.
u) You make lists; cross them out as they get done. Moses made lists.
v) Vary once in a while, make the list and rip it up.. Moses did this too.
w) Write your stories; there are thousands every day.
x) Schedules and meal planning help keep budgets and diets, and as a bonus, fight boredom. Have them posted EXTRA BIG somewhere central ( I know that seems odd, but it is true). There are seasons and schedules and feasts in Churches and states and Governments and they are all well advertised in prominent places to ensure proper preparation and planning. The family is no different.
y) Accept that part of who you are forevermore, is Mom, and there is no such thing as being “just a mom.” A mom of one is vital to that one child. A mom of seven is just as vital to each of her children individually.
z) Nap in the car with the kids if they fall asleep in their car seats. Zzzzzzzz.
Even God rested after creating the world in six days. You helped create a life and you are mortal –of course you are tired! It took nine months to get to this point, give yourself at least nine months to fully recover.
Lastly, remember: Doing all the little things with great love is what God calls all of us to do. It’s hard and sometimes repetitive and frustrating, but it is a great and simple calling to love these little ones well. When you feed your baby, you have fed the hungry. When you bathe and dress your children, you have clothed the naked. All of this is the work of building the kingdom of God. Rejoice and be glad.
Copyright 2009 Sherry Antonetti