This interview is part of a series we’re doing to support and encourage one another by sharing the challenges we face as mothers, and how we work to overcome them.
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How many children do you have?
I’ve been a mother for five years, and I have four children (ages 5, 3, 2, and 1)!
People often say that becoming a mother changes you. Have you noticed this?
Planning fills my cup so much that I majored in event planning in college. Becoming a mother rocked my world, because all of a sudden my plans did not go as planned. I came to realize just how little control I have over anything, really.
At the time it was scary, but over the years I have learned to appreciate this realization. It has actually been freeing in many ways!
What is one challenge you have faced as a mom, and how have you worked through it?
Our transition from one baby to two was especially difficult, because our second child was born eight weeks early with little warning. We were suddenly members of a club we’d never imagined we’d be in, as we spent several weeks in the NICU, trying to balance our baby at home and our baby at the hospital an hour away.
That was the biggest challenge I’ve faced as a mom. I felt like I simply didn’t have enough to give. Someone gently reminded me that love doesn’t divide, it multiplies, and I found that to be so true as I navigated through those weeks. Every time I felt like I couldn’t do any more, I would find the strength to give my girls all the love they needed—even though at the time it didn’t feel like enough. I relied heavily on my faith and the incredible support of family and friends. It was a very humbling time for me, but we came through it stronger than before and with a much deeper appreciation for life.
With four kids in four years, you have to be a multitasking pro. How do you find balance with the never-ending to-do list I’m sure you have?
A few things that help me:
- I keep a detailed daily planner that helps me stay (relatively) organized despite so much multitasking
- I never leave a room without taking something with me to put away
- I (usually) make a weekly meal plan, and I have a weekly calendar-planning date with my husband to look ahead at our schedules (this is crucial!)
- I have yet to find a way to fit laundry into my schedule…
I saw a post on Pinterest once that said, “Instead of ‘I don’t have time,’ try saying, ‘it’s not a priority’ and see how that feels.” That has really stuck with me, and it helps me plan my daily activities by sorting out what takes priority. People ask me how I make time for so many things, but there’s a lot of give and take. Sure, I may have done a fun craft or made a yummy meal, but I also have laundry molding in the hamper!
Is it hard to have four kids so young, and so close together?
Just as it is hard to have one child, two children, and so on, of course four is hard! But many people say, “I could never do that,” and I smile because no one believes they can do something difficult until they actually rise to the occasion, try, and succeed. We are capable of so much more than we think we are.
The hardest point for me in the four-in-four-years was when we had three kids, two-and-a-half and younger. They were all so little and helpless!
It’s funny because our oldest just turned five, and I now refer to her and her three-year-old sister as the “older” kids. Five isn’t old by any stretch of the imagination, but I’ve learned never to underestimate what a five- and three-year-old can help with—it’s incredible! They, too, have had to rise to the occasion, and they’re mature beyond their years as my best helpers.
Having four kids in four years is also challenging because it’s so counter-cultural and, as you can imagine, draws a lot of attention to us when we are in public! It’s “different” enough to have more than a couple kids, but having them so close in age means that strangers comment more often than not.
At first it really bothered me when strangers would voice such strong opinions about my family, but I have come to realize that (99 percent of the time) they aren’t mean. They’re a combination of curious and utterly baffled.
Most often, people use my gaggle of kids as a means to strike up a conversation—which has helped me realize just how lonely our world is. People simply want to be heard, and if commenting on my children opens the door to conversation, then I welcome it! It doesn’t intimidate me like it used to.
This past Christmas Eve, all four kids were in their jammies, our tree was glowing, and the whole house was brimming with anticipation and excitement. I stood in the background watching them, and the beauty of it all moved me to tears. I thought, “This is true joy, the kind of happiness that money can’t buy.” Yes, four kids so young and so close together is hard. But it is also the greatest joy imaginable.
What advice do you have for new moms?
One fall day when I was pregnant with our third baby, a sweet new friend and neighbor of mine showed up on my porch, unannounced, with a steaming dish of baked cranberry apple oatmeal. I didn’t know her very well. Our kids were different ages, and we had only moved in a few months prior. But I’ll never forget that act of kindness.
This woman took time out of her busy day, not to text and say, “Let me know if you need anything!” but to do something for me, no strings attached, just because. She didn’t fret over whether or not we liked oatmeal, whether or not I’d be home, whether or not it would be awkward. She just showed up and did something out of love for me, a near stranger, because we were both moms.
Right then and there, I knew I wanted to be that mom—the mom who makes time for others, outside of the four walls of her home. Before that, I’d felt sorry for myself. I had a never-ending mental list of all the things I couldn’t do. My kids had been my excuse for not acting, but from then on my kids became my reason for acting.
Making time for other people has introduced me to friends who have enriched my life beyond words! No one prepares you for how difficult it is to meet people when you are a new mom. I wish someone had told me that sharing your time and reaching outside of your little world to cheer someone up is the greatest pick-me-up you can give yourself. (And one of the best by-products is the friends that ensue!)
All moms, and especially new moms, want to be noticed, to feel like they belong to the “club.” So I encourage you, even if you don’t feel like you have much to give, even if you fear that it might be awkward, reach out! You’ll never regret it.