Change of plans. I had this whole blog post practically written out on a notepad, point by point of what I wanted to talk about. I was in the car on the way to this coffee shop to hash it out on my computer when I couldn't shake the phrase "I can't do this." The weird thing is, it's irrelevant to not being able to write the blog post. I felt it had zero connection to my current circumstances, which was odd. I'm actually feeling pretty strong in my "mom game" today, even though it's only 12:30pm and I am still somewhat doped up on coffee. However, the thought was random enough for me to probe a little deeper into my brain as to why I kept repeating it.
A memory came to mind.
I was sitting in West's nursery. He's screaming in my arms as I rock him. Cambelle is losing her mind in the next room as Drew drags her to time-out for some deserving reason. Sutton is screaming my name from her crib because she had taken her diaper off and peed all over her sheets. Hi. Welcome to the harsh reality of being responsible for three humans and the feeling of your capacity meter being pushed to breaking point. I am not sure if someone told me this at one point or if I thought of it myself, but I am firm believer that you can't grow your capacity without reaching it first. The analogy I just thought of is hilarious, but just humor me. You know when you get your jeans out of the dryer and you have to lay on your bed to button them followed by five to six sumo squats that will enable you to breathe again? Eventually they will stretch back out and be comfy, but you have to wear them around uncomfortably in order for them to stretch back out. (Unless you just try to squeeze yourself into pre-pregnancy jeans that never stretch out and you're constantly walking around with a muffin top #flowyshirtsforthewin). BUT ANYWAYS, This is an analogy of how I would describe growing in capacity, and it's HARD.
You know when you "go on a bear hunt" and you can't go over it, can't go around it, you gotta go through it? Yep. Capacity. You have to go through it to get to the other side of it. You have to get the "hard as hell" experiences under your belt. You have to embrace the moments where you're crying WITH your children because you feel just as distraught as they do. The exception is that it's not over wanting a third chocolate chip cookie, it's because you feel like "YOU CAN'T DO IT" or you're not doing a good enough job, or you don't know how to handle xyz. Does anyone feel like from the moment you open your eyes in the morning, to the moment the kids close theirs at night, you are a need meeter? Me too. It's exhausting. Thinking of them and their needs all day long. Don't forget the cherry on top, you have a husband who wants to have sex with you and during this season, it can easily feel like you're simply meeting "his needs" too. (Another post for another time, my friends.)
All of this to say, "I CAN'T DO THIS" is the phrase I used the most in the first few months of mothering all 3 of my babies. This is the phrase that my postpartum depression thrived off of. My brilliant husband finally sat me down one night and said. YES YOU CAN. I wasn't sure what he was referring to, but he continued to tell me:
"I have watched you and listened to you beat yourself up and put yourself down on a day to day basis when things get hard. You say "I can't" ALL THE TIME. But you actually can. This moment is living proof. You are here right now, you're alive, and so are the kids, which means you've done whatever you thought you couldn't do. You can do hard things, Caroline."
Sorry, let me get up real quick. I was just hit with a mac truck of TRUTH. First of all, I am not sure what I would do without Drew. He offers such great perspective when I am camping out on pity party planet. He brings me back to earth a lot. This was a really big catalyst for me in my journey to healing. From that point on, I told myself that any time I used "can't" in my self talk, I would immediately say, YES I CAN. Even if it is followed by a lot of "buts" and excuses as to why it feels like I can't do it, it is still moving me in the right direction and keeping me away from the absolutes in my language. It frees me up a bit to believe in myself during the hard mommy moments.
I guess I needed to write about this today. For anyone who is feeling in the trenches or has felt powerless in your parenting lately. I get it. I literally don't have enough arms to take care of all three children at once. Sometimes, when the shit hits the fan, you just have to laugh and do what you can. I didn't mean to make that rhyme but I love a good jingle, so maybe just remember that phrase.
I'll leave you with this, in 10 years, your kids will not be ruined because you let them watch too much TV one weekend, or you accidentally slept through your newborn crying in the night because you turned the monitor off (GUILTY), or you bribed your four year old with a cupcake so she would just let you brush her hair without having to chase her around the house and pin her down like a fresh caught fish. Just saying. They're going to be ok. You're going to be ok. Remember that you're strong as hell mama. Our job is to raise these little bee bops into half decent human beings and WE WILL. WE CAN. Even if it's accompanied by a lot of wine and breakdowns in the closet. We recoup and carry on.