My plea furiously fled through my fingertips. Tears streamed down my face. I tightly grasped my phone, my seemingly only source to reach the outside world, as I typed out my frantic message. Facebook, my only method I could think of at the time to reach people quickly. I needed help. I needed advice and I needed it fast:
“Okay… Now would be the time for words of encouragement or advice from moms with two or more kids. The first kid will be okay right? My poor girl is having a really hard time and my heart is breaking for her. We’ve only been home with her little brother for 4 days and it’s been really hard. We even have tons of help! But Hadley has regressed in her potty training and pees her pants every 30 minutes, cries all the time, has lost focus to play or complete any kind of task. Those are just a few things. To make it worse, I can’t pick her up or hold her in my lap because of my stupid c section. Oh and she has a cold so the little guy and I have been upstairs all day. I’m like the neighbor who says “ hi,” occasionally to her. I just need to hear that it will get better and that she’ll be okay.”
The transition to two kids was one of the hardest things I have ever had to go through. My second c-section had made my ability to stretch my love to reach two children seem totally impossible. I was grasping for any advice or help to get me through. I had all the physical help one could possibly have with two grandmas, two aunts, and my dear husband, rotating around the clock at our house. I didn’t have many close friends who had more than one kid at the time. Words of encouragement were what I needed, even if they were from someone who was a, “Facebook friend.”
Words seem to sometimes not be enough. When a stranger offers advice or a kind life lesson phrase, often unwanted or unsolicited, it can seem empty and shallow. Even when someone close to us offers a word of wisdom, depending on our mood, it can seem cliche.
Sometimes though, words are exactly what we need to hear. We are desperate for them. Desperate to hear the words that affirm our thinking, feelings, and experience.
I got a lot of responses from my post that day. Some I clung to.
That’s just it. When we get a response or phrase we find hope in or we like, we cling to it.
The kids and I started watching a new show on Netflix, Our Planet. The first episode we watched was, The Jungle. Dodging poison dart frogs, picking off ants, our young watching our every move while learning and growing, are just a few examples of how I related motherhood to the jungle, figuratively and literally, while watching this show on Netflix. This got me thinking about life as a jungle. This tangled up, intricate, intense, beautiful display of life, is made up of layers, much like the jungle, and the different experiences people have.
Sometimes we get so stuck in our motherhood lives, tangled in roots at the jungle floor, that we forget other people outside of our home have lives too. They have been through things. Hard things. Sad things. We will never know where the well-meaning comment or advice stemmed from that the person behind us in-line at the grocery store so graciously shared. All we see is the spit-up, tantrums, and the smell of our showerless selves on a continual basis. It is truly difficult to see good intent and take the advice for what it is. Honest, truthful and heartfelt (most of the time). It’s hard to see the whole jungle or even know it’s there, when you feel stuck at the forest floor. There are people who have seen more of the jungle than we have. Perhaps we should listen to what they have to say.
Like anything, it is challenging to see beyond the circumstance you are in, which is why I think taking advice or a meaningful comment from someone looking in (if only a for a 2-minute glimpse) might not be such a bad thing. If you like it, take it and cling to it.
I believe when people offer us moms advice or words about motherhood, that we shouldn’t take offense so easily. People are well-meaning. Especially women who are older and are moms. They have been through the jungle (Maybe they still are in it. Do we ever leave?), but have seen the other side. Maybe their kids are grown and they know that we will truly miss these days? How are we to know if we haven’t been through it?
There is something to be learned from people who aren’t in the same stage of life we are in. We should not so easily brush them off as misunderstanding or overstepping strangers. Just because they aren’t sweeping away the thick jungle foliage with us, doesn’t mean they don’t have anything to offer or haven’t swept away huge jungle leaves themselves.
Now that I’ve adjusted to life with two kids and I’ve, “been through that part of the jungle,” I can see the beauty of having two kids. I see my son and daughter playing together, laughing, even arguing and learning, and I know that all that jungle madness I went through was worth it. My heart did indeed stretch and my love reached them both. This is not something I would have known unless I experienced it myself. No amount of words of wisdom or advice could have gotten me through or prepared me. I had to live it. Breath it. Let it crush me down like a pounding rainfall, only to let me rise up again spilling over with bigger, greener leaves and a colorful display of tropical blooms.
This post was written as part of a blog hop with Exhale—an online community of women pursuing creativity alongside motherhood, led by the writing team behind Coffee + Crumbs. Click here to read the next post in this series on “Rewriting the Script.”