Hitting the Wall...Motherhood's Refining Fire

Okay, you may laugh... I'm heaving a sigh of relief. This is the first time I've had a 2 year old in the house without having a newborn. Yes, for the last 13 years this 2 year pattern has defined our lives and taught me much about life... the important and the not so important. For the record, I never looked like that lady above pregnant... Never.

I have a dear friend who called me a day ago, sobbing. She has 3 kids, 3 and under... her newest just born a month ago. She's not the first to call while rolled up in a ball on her closet floor to ask me, "How? How do I do it?"
Motherhood is a tricky journey. We start out believing we know how to raise kids. We do what makes sense. For some it's a shocker, for others it takes a few kids to encounter the shock (my wall came with baby number 4).

We imagine we're going to get this:
And we become painfully aware that what we really got was a little more of this than we expected:
My hardest years of motherhood were the early years. At one point I had 4 kids 6 and under. The day my husband went back to work after our fourth I heard the door close and I fell on the floor sobbing in a state of panic, stupor, fear, and desperation. At that point in my life I became painfully aware that I could not do it all... not by a long shot.

After 6 kids and years of motherhood there are a few things that I have learned. The greatest thing was that I COULD do it! Sure it was exhausting; it required A LOT of sacrifice but I learned to stretch myself beyond anything I dreamed I could do.

These hard moments in life either break us or strengthen us. I decided breaking wasn't all that appealing so I sought to be refined; or made stronger. Each difficult season of my life I have learned to grow in knowledge, spiritual power, faith, and ability. Going to Costco with 4 kids 6 and under sounded like parting the Red Sea 7 years ago... now it's a blessing. (How? I put 2 kids in one cart, and pushed a double stroller with the other 2 while I pulled the cart... I have fantastic arms and NO ONE gets in your way! It's great!) I've learned so much about multi-tasking and managing BIG things because of these hard mothering moments. These are the moments when as mothers we grow and become great.

I'm joining Melissa at The Inspired Room for her Beautiful Life series... this topic: Motherhood defines my beautiful life... it's the hardest thing I've ever done but it's my most beautiful work... Ever.

Monday I'll finish this post with a few ideas of things to do when you've Hit the Wall in Motherhood.

I'd love to hear about your moments of hitting the wall. Do you have any mothering How To questions I could answer in upcoming posts?


Renata said...

My 4 were in 3 3/4 years (that's what twins gives you) & I was alright with that until we moved 1200 kms from my parents & family when the twins were not quite 2 - definitely a wall-hitting moment (after 1 1/2 years I still some days hit the wall). I know I can't do it all on my own & rely on God for strength to get through every day (sometimes minute by minute).

Pam said...

I so admire your strength and stamina. I also wonder how you stay sane! I was only able to have one child. But, he was NOT easy. Very strong willed and a complete homebody - even as an infant. We lived 1200 miles away from all family, until my MIL moved to be by us, but, she worked a full time job. So, I was pretty much on my own most of the time. He would scream all the way through the grocery store, the mall... Many times, we would try to go out for dinner and have to get a to-go box just as our dinner was arriving at the table because he was screaming so. Whew! So glad THOSE days are behind us! :0) I've often wondered how mother's like you do it with so many children. You have my deepest admiration!


Jane In The Jungle said...

Great post Pretty!! My wall was last fall, homeschooling the 3 boys, intertaining the girl and trying to run a direct sales business........the business took an exit and the wall came tumbling down!

becca said...

I had my 3rd before my 1st turned 3 and can easily say those first few years after that were the hardest. The people with older kids who would say "it never gets easier" oh I'd just want to punch them. B/c there was no way it could get harder. Not physically anyway. I taught too (extremely part time, but I DID have to get out of the house looking presentable). I look back and sometimes wonder how I did it.
Now people ask how I manage 4 (and one on the way) and I almost laugh. It is NOTHING compared to those first few years when I had 3,2,<1 (and did I mention he wouldn't take a bottle?) Now I have 10, 9, 7, 2, and -2.5 mos. The 2.5 yr old wants to hang out with the older ones and WOW I can do something else!

becca said...

ok, that should be the TWO year old wants to hang out with the older three... I'm not referring to the negative 2.5 monther.

Carla said...

I think number 4 was a wall for me for awhile. I also ran a licensed daycare at this time. I remember sitting in the car with the kids and thinking " I cannot go in to jcPenny and pick up this package I came for I had the infant and a 1 year old that could not just walk and follow on his own so I had to carry or hold hands to both. I would not be able to carry the box. I just sat in the car and cried for along time. I was never ever going to be able to get anything done again. Well I was right for along time it seems but then number 5 and 6 came along and no big deal I had it down. It is surprising how much you can add to our plate and its just the new normal when you thought you were already at all you could do.

Carrie said...

I have four, 5 years old to 7 months. My wall really came with my first. All of the sudden my world turned upside down and I was STRESSED OUT.

Thankfully, I got pregnant by accident when my oldest was 9 months and then it was, "I've got to figure this out somehow or I'm doomed with two!" I think the biggest thing for me was finding a group of moms with little babies, too, that had days that mirrored my own and frustrations that I had been to afraid to voice. It gave me an outlet and an ability to get through the rough crying and whining days.

But when they are all sick at the same time...heaven help me! :)

Myrnie said...

What a great post! I don't know if I've hit "the" wall yet, but this last winter was a tangle of my 3.5-year-old daughter, a newborn, seasonal-affective disorder, and a 6-months-long case of baby blues. There's been a lot of pruning of the non-essentials, and reminding myself that each day will end and tomorrow could be better.

Funky Junk Interiors said...

God gave me one because honestly, that was my limit. I remember being in Costco when Cody had a breakdown and tantrumed in front of the masses. All I could do was sit on the hard cold cement floor and hold his head on my lap so he didn't hurt himself. And then I laughed. All these onlookers horrified. And here I am laughing.

It's all you can do at times.

And I just wanted to say, your post reminded me to be on the lookout for a mom that is seeking a small break. One is about to be born right across the road. I'll be watching to see what I can do for her.

Thanks for that! My 10 yr old can help after all. :)


Amanda @ Serenity Now said...

GREAT post! I only have two: ages 3 and 1, and even that can be overwhelming at times when they want your attention and you're trying to cook, clean, fold clothes, etc. Sometimes you just have to take a deep breath. ;)

Swing by my blog today if you have a chance...I have a fun announcement up (after the name of the Giveaway winner). :)

shopannies said...

Had 6 children stair stepped all under 6 at one time

Anonymous said...

I had 3 four and under, but honestly, I hit the wall very early with the first one. He was 3 months premature and spent a long while in the hospital. Then he came home with horrible reflux and would only sleep an hour and a half at his longest stretch. And I wasn't allowed to expose him to many germs for his first 10 months, so I was horribly isolated.

The tearful experience taught me YES I CAN. I can rise to the occasion. I can get by on hardly any sleep at all I can do what I could have never imagined doing. Walls are often blessings in disguise.

Brenda said...

I have six, but my hardest time was with my first as she was born at 24 weeks, weighing one pound, three ounces! The stress of NICU, Tracheotomy, oxygen, apnea moniter, suction machine and many doctor appointments tested my strength. I think we find just how strong we really are! We grow and become better for it. When I had my second baby 33 months later (full term) I appreciated the ease and simplicity of a healthy baby!
I've come to appreciate each season of life and the joy that is meant to enjoy! I tell my kids, don't wish your season of life away. I have to practice it myself! I say grasp it, embrace amd grow and appreciate each day! Everyday is a GIFT! I have four boys and two girls. I'm now trying to survive my boys- I have four! They are so full of energy and want to beat each other up and they call that FUN! Best of Luck to all of you! We all need each other!

Jeane` said...

My friend sent me this link, saying she thought of me when reading this wonderful post! As God has such surprising plans for our lives, He also gives grace to rise up and meet those plans. Some days...no...ALL days I really, really need what He has promised. If I claim it, the family is better off for it! ;) I am currently pregnant with identical twins due in October. My oldest little one just turned 3 two weeks ago...and then I have a just turned 2 and about to turn one-year-old...plus a wonderful stepson. So...that brings us to 6, 5 of whom are 3 and under. Amazing...especially since I was one who would have laughed if someone would have told me I would be in this situation. I am terribly lacking in patience and very noise-INtolerant!! :) But again, like you said, you just do it, with the grace of God.(and hope that He erases their little memories of those days in which their mama hit the bottom!!!)
Thank you for the encouragement! I'll keep checking in!

Val said...

You are a hoot! Costco here I come!
I tell ya what, I have learned more about authentically living life after having 3 of my own and taking on a few extras the last coupla years. I was most worried about staying busy, would I get bored with it, that kind of thing. I would have to say, choosing the stay at home mom route has been more rewarding than any other job I have ever held. I love it. I did hit a wall about 3 months after the third one...sleep deprivation at its finest coupled with a few other life circumstances..total meltdown. It passed as it always does, and now I am preparing myself for my youngest to start Kindergarten. anyone gotta tissue?

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