“I feel like I’m just surviving. And I hate that. I want to feel like I’m thriving in motherhood, not living for nap time or just trying to make it through the day.”
It was an all-too-familiar post in a moms Facebook group. In fact, it was so familiar that I could have written it myself, perhaps a few years ago.
I have four boys ranging from 3rd grade to 19 months. Two of them have special needs and all four have enough energy cause strangers to cast pitying glances in my direction on a regular basis (“four boys? Bless your heart!”).
Most days, usually before a single sip of coffee hits my lips, my boys are already running circles around me, slamming into walls and each other, asking me questions about TV shows I haven’t watched, all while I beg them to stop talking about Pokemon long enough for me to scramble eggs with some semblance of my sanity still intact before 8:02am.
“What are your plans for the day?” My husband texts me. “Other than survive.”
I smirked at our familiar banter, our fellow commiserating at raising four kids together. But I sighed as I responded, “I wish my life were more than that.”
Like the mom in my facebook group, I often feel like I am in survival mode, just trying to stay on top of meals, laundry, appointments, and arguments, usually feeling like I am failing miserably, drowning in the “I’m hungry!”, “I have no socks!”, “We’re running late!” and “He hit me!” refrains that make up the soundtrack of my life.
Where is the thriving in motherhood?
Are other moms thriving?
Do other people, actually, THRIVE?
I say “thrive” so many times in my head that it loses all meaning and annoys the heck out of me, like when my three year old says “butt butt!” fifty million times in a row.
“STOP!” I holler at my three year old.
Stop. I bid my mind and heart be still in their frantic search for “thrive,” like some bygone quest for the fountain of youth.
The truth is, there is no magical fount of Parenting Bliss, where we can drink deeply as mothers and forever see our children as delightful angels who never stink, who never fight, who never whine, who never talk back, who never make us want to lose our ever-lovin’-minds fifty million times a day.
I’ve been waiting for the thrive, for things to “get easier and better” since my twins were babies and things just get “different,” especially since we’ve added two more boys and an Autism diagnosis into the mix.
“Thrive” hasn’t emerged, but a new truth has, the truth that parenthood isn’t an either/or kind of gig. It isn’t “Survive” or “Thrive.” It’s both/and.
Or even better, it’s neither.
It’s Real Life.
It’s Real Life with its highs and lows, bear hugs and arguments, selfies and selfishness, picky eaters and ice cream sundaes, shouting and I’m sorry’s, therapy appointments and first-days-of-school, blow-outs and birthday cakes, first smiles and sleepless nights, so much anguish and so much love.
It’s everything that drives us insane and makes life worth living: It’s Real Life.
Some days we may feel like we are just surviving. Other days we feel like we’re nailing this whole parenting thing: We’re thriving, if only for five minutes.
But really, it’s a false dichotomy, an either/or that will always leave us discontent or wondering if we’ve really arrived.
Real Life makes room for more, for raising tiny humans, for grace and forgiveness when we screw up again, for the surviving and the thriving and everything in between.
Where are you at today: Surviving or Thriving (or somewhere in between?)
Share your story below!
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