Forget Thriving, I'm All About Surviving

My mother-in-law always told me that the first year in a baby's life is all about survival. For the parents, that is.

Woman with crazy kids | PregnancyAndBaby.com

Photo credit: Darrin Klimek/Digital Vision/Getty Images

This morning, in between shuttling the older kids out of the house and trying to figure out how to correctly insert my one-week-old into the new baby wrap I had just purchased (honestly, can someone come give me a tutorial?), I realized it was 11 a.m. and I was starving.

Suddenly frantic for food, my eyes fell upon the plate of fresh-baked blueberry muffins a kindly neighbor had dropped off. I'm not even sure I took more than two bites to choke one down before the two-year-old said he had to go potty and the baby pooped in the brand-new wrap.

Such is my life these days. And I'm OK with that.

The first year

After three kids under my belt (wait, that doesn't quite sound right, does it?), I am going into life as a mother of four with my eyes wide open to the fact that the next year of my life isn't always going to flow smoothly. It will be crazy and chaotic and a lot of the things that make me feel like me may have to get sacrificed.

But luckily, unlike the first time around, when I despaired if I would ever recognize myself again and even suffered from postpartum depression, I know that this stage isn't forever.

Survival of the fittest

In some ways, knowing that I can go into the next year on survival mode takes some of the pressure off me, in my own mind, as a mother. No one makes us mothers feel like we need to have perfect bodies; Pinterest-worthy homes; delicious, home-cooked meals; and tons of energizing crafts for the kids except us. I know all too well that feeling of pressure, and when another day passed in a pajama-clad, laundry-filled haze, I would feel like an absolute failure as a mom.

But now, I'm letting myself off the hook. I think I can safely say that the standards I have set for myself, no matter how much social media, Photoshop and Pinterest are to blame, are impossible. No one can do it all while staying home with little kids.

And it's time I accepted that. Along with a few extra pizza deliveries.

Striking a balance

That being said, I have to admit that if I don't incorporate a few of the things that are important to me in my days, even surviving won't be enough. I may not thrive as the Mother of the Year in the first year of this new baby's life, but I can't let everything that I value fall through the cracks either.

For me, this means exercising on a somewhat regular basis, my work as a writer and, as horrible as it may be to admit, some help with the kids. Mama needs some alone time to get through, OK?

My life won't be balanced for a while, but it is important to me to find a balance in being the type of mother that I'm OK with being for now — and the type of woman who knows that motherhood is always changing.

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