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I Think I Can

I took an objective look at this blog and as I scrolled down the page in its entirety I thought, “A first-time reader would take one look at this, ascertain that I am a weight-obsessed, slighty depressed mother of two and never come back to this domain ever again.”

It’s not totally accurate, but the posts speak for themselves, I suppose.  True, I am fairly focused on losing my baby weight (since I know how much better I feel when I’m not hauling around an extra ten sticks o’ butter on my rear) and I’ve been finding the whole “I have two kids” thing a lot harder than I thought I would, but there is a lot more to me than those two things and I guess I haven’t been letting them shine through in my writing.

Last week the weight of the sleepless nights, the sick kids, the coughing husband, the disastrous house, the molding leftovers, it all just got to me and I realized that I was stuck in a cycle of feeling like a failure.  It felt as though I sucked at all of the things I have been entrusted with: raising our two girls, keeping the household running, and cooking a few hot meals.  Avelyn was acting like a total brat (parenting FAIL), the house was covered in dust and dog hair and a month’s worth of laundry was swallowing our bedroom (domestic FAIL), and if we had a frozen pizza for dinner it meant things were looking up (culinary FAIL).  I am an all or nothing person and since I felt like I was failing at it all, the only option was to stop trying and to succeed at nothing.

I was ranting to Christy about these emotions and she said something I won’t soon forget, “Amanda, you have to give yourself permission to just survive the first year with a new baby, especially when you’ve got two kids to take care of.” If she weren’t a province away I would have collapsed in her arms and cried because that’s just what I needed to hear.  (She’s a mother of three, so she knows what she’s talkin’ ’bout.)  I took her words to heart and my perspective has since changed.  I have taken the pressure off myself to do it all, since I know that right now I just can’t do it.  And with that pressure gone, I don’t have to corner myself into the “I guess I’ll just do nothing since I can’t do it all (PS: pass the bon-bons)” mentality.  I am choosing to focus on the things I can do:  no, I can’t spit-shine the floor, but maybe I have time to run a vacuum over the living room; no, I can’t piece together a five course meal but I can try a new recipe with simple ingredients; no, I can’t control whether my two year-old has a tantrum in Wal-Mart but I can keep a cool head while she’s hurling her body on the cold floor of the toy aisle since I won’t let her keep the Dora umbrella.  I can, I can, I can!  Woohoo!

I don’t have it all figured out, that’s for sure.  But giving myself permission to just make it through the days with the bare minimum accomplished motivates me to add a few things to the minimum, as opposed to throwing up my hands in defeat when I realize I can’t hit the maximum.

Thanks for sticking with me as I muddle my way through, you guys.  I always appreciate your words of encouragement and great comments.

I just might make it after all.

Joanna - Having an all-or-nothing mentality is so tricky, I agree! It’s awesome when you can remember (or be reminded) to adjust your expectations and take pride in what you’re getting done–and the way you write, it looks like you are doing a wonderful job of keeping your head above water.

Elizabeth - Yeah, some days are definitely harder than others, also. Great advice, Christy. That’s why I love you. You’re doing a fabulous job, Amanda. I know you are. (as creepy as that might sound)

Kandace - Seriously, I am half way through the third year of having two and what I can say is that the first year knocks the wind right out of your sails. Well, it did for me.

Having Two in Two years is far more difficult than anyone will ever tell you while you are pregnant. I mean, so many woman do it before you have them you think it can’t be that bad, everyone does it. The truth is, surviving is DOING it!

Hold on, I can assure you the first year is the most difficult. It’s not that you won’t have bad days it’s just that they will get fewer and farther between.

Hang in there. Shoooooooot serving frozen pizza totally counts as a HOT meal :)

Jennifer W. - I love your blog, every post. Weighty, woeful, weird, wonderful I will keep coming back. I have to tell you that in my first year as a new mother sometimes reading your blog is the only thing that makes me laugh at the end of the day. Sometimes I just need to feel like I’m not alone. You do what you can, ask for help when you need it and let people know when you just need a break. And Christy sounds amazing :)

Hali - I can relate through teaching. My first year was all about survival. I am the perfectionist… but I just couldn’t be that person anymore, it was impossible. Things came up that I’d never delt with before and there just weren’t 47 hours in a day. What I learned to do was focus on “small victories” ie. Today I had all my photocopying done and ready to go ;) Focus on the positive, let go of the negative, try again tomorrow!

Jennifer - You are such a great writer and inspiration to others. I too have that all or nothing personality, darn! But you’re right when you say:

“But giving myself permission to just make it through the days with the bare minimum accomplished motivates me to add a few things to the minimum, as opposed to throwing up my hands in defeat when I realize I can’t hit the maximum”

What a great way to think.

Hope your day is a little brighter with that realization. Mine is ;)

p.s. I’m not sure if you’ve ever had a peak at my blog. But I think I might just have to post my weekly weight ins (like you) as well since I’m not getting very positive comments on my weight even though I have posted nothing about such topic (see Vancouver post part 1 comments section….YIKES).
KEEP FIGHTING!!!!

Mandi - Thank you Amanda for sharing, I am where you were last week. Christy, thank you for passing along the wise words.

Coming to kickyboots.com has made me feel like I’m not the only mama that thinks having two kids is tough. I’m not going anywhere. :)

MO - You are doing great! I just have one and he’s a handful and we don’t get much sleep either! Good luck and hang in there!!

Hillary - Good for you.
I’m a neat person, but since having The Boy things might look tidy in the house, but if you look closely, there’s a fine layer of dirt, cat hair, baby drool and god-knows-what-else. It’s taken me a year to come to terms with that.

Emily - I had this same breakdown last night. I’m trying to make it through just one more day, but they just keep getting harder and harder. I know, in my head, that it has to get better, I’m just dying for that day to get here. Also I find that if you leave the vacuum sitting out in the middle of the floor, it’s easier to use it. You don’t have to drag it out all the time. :)

Jen - Really great advice from Christy!

Honestly Amanda, I think you are doing just as well as any of us. We just don’t have the guts to post it on our blogs. I still cry at the end of some days because our house is a mess, I burned dinner and the girls are being brats.

Janet - It is hard with two little ones and managing the house, the cooking, the laundry and losing weight to boot! I’d say you’re doing pretty amazing! And at least for me, this winter cold is getting very old and I think you live in a way colder place than I do. Take it easy!

Janet

Mrs. Wilson - I totally get the all-or-nothing thing. I’m the same way – and giving up is WAY easier. I’m glad that you have a great friend who gives you encouragement!

Heather - In my book, taking a two-year-old and a baby to Walmart at all is an achievement. I rarely leave the house with my two-year-old and baby because it’s just so hard. Good for you!

Karla - Oh babe, I just want to hop and skip over a few provinces and give you a big hug. Here’s to loving YOU and your talent for words!

Angella - You can do it! I think you need to get over here soon for a play date – I miss you!

Steff - I have that mentality too…with your children so close in age I think you should give yourself at least 5 years instead of only 1. :-)

Teresa - I love your friend’s advice- that’s just what I needed to hear too.

Heidi - I remember feeling this way when I had my second and once someone (my dr at the time and mom of 3) gave me the permission to “not have it all together” it was easier to cope. Being supermom is so unrealistic with 2 small children. Love your kids and take care of yourself and the rest will have to wait for awhile. This feeling was the exact reason I waited the extra year to have Brooklyn. You will survive!

Nicole - Thanks for sharing. I’ve been reading your blog for some time now and appreciate the honesty and wittiness.

I cried the other night at the end of my shift at work, feeling like I suck at everything: work, family, life in general. It helps to have friends to help keep us going.

Chris - Wow! I had that same sort of breakdown a few days ago. I feel like you wrote this post for me. Thank you. I actually feel like I might go tackle those molding dishes instead of sitting here reading blogs. Tell Christy I said thank you. *goes back to reading cuz it’s more fun* *grin*

Ashley - I enjoy reading your blog and I have to say, I feel like this post was written for me today!! Thank you!

cara - Ok, here is some unsolicited advice that I’m sure you don’t want, especially since I’ve never had kids, and never even babysat for kids before. BUT in case it does help, my mom said that when I was a kid I was a total brat, and would have these terrible screaming tantrums. She happened to be seeing (or maybe she knew?) a therapist who was also a child psychologist who told her that the next time I dissolved into a screaming mess to hold me really tight and scream along with me. And it worked! It didn’t stop other bratty behaviors, of course, but it totally worked with the screaming tantrums.

Marie - I so needed this today. Thanks for the insight.
(ps: I think you are doing a great job. Really.)

Marin - Good for you. A new perspective is sometimes all that anyone needs.

Michelle - Okay, I’ve never left a comment before but I’ve been
reading here for a long time. I want to tell you something that I didn’t fully realize until I was on
child number three. Going from one kid to two kids
is not just double the work. It is easily multiplied
by ten. Don’t ask me how, but it is. So don’t beat yourself up over having a hard time adjusting to two!
Now if you decide to have a third it won’t be nearly
as challenging because you are already experienced in
dealing with multiple children. I speak from experience as I have four kids ages 13 through 20.
From what I read here it sounds like you really are
doing a terrific job and you are a wonderful writer.

Momma - You are doing a great job, honey, and I am so proud of you. Like I said before, every day yousurvive is a victory in the battle of life. Some days the skirmishes are small, others youfeel like you are in the mother of all firestorms.It took me so long to feel comfortable being at home (I think I’ve got it down pat now!)and I was never the “fun” mommy.You can make your kids laugh,they know they are loved by you.They will remember that and treasure that more than an immaculate house and gourmet meals.

dudeguy - It’s ok to have a comment.

Danica - Look at how many people look up to you! Two is tough, especially for the first year, and no one can do it all, every day. Just keep at it, and it will all fall into place. Trust me.
And Christy amazes me with her advice! I still recall advice she encouraged me with months after Ben and Adora were born and we were both navigating the new baby thing for the first time. That woman’s got something.

Filtering Life - because I have a serious case of comment fail lately, don’t take that as me not caring or reading. I read EVERY single post you write and shake my head in agreement, throw my head back in laughter and sigh with you when you are heavy in heart. I know you are my virtual BFF but Amanda I have been praying for you and to many degrees can empathize with you. The Lord really showed me this year, “KElly, yes you are an amazing task master, multi tasker…BUT YOU CAN’T DO IT ALL….you are awful to live with.” I decided the one thing I needed to let go was the house which I normally take great pride in. Now I just laugh at the dust bunnies that threaten to swallow Bennett alive as he crawls around and remind myself OFTEN…this is only a few years that I have these two kids who will need me this much and someday I will be begging them to need me and stop being so independent. I love your honesty and I know in your humility God will bless your socks off. PRops from your ho down in VA.

Leah - I had this same revelation myself this morning. I’m an all-or-nothing person too, and I’m trying to make myself believe that putting HALF the dishes in the dishwasher, or vaccumming HALF of one room is better than nothing and that I just have to give my permission to let the rest go. It’s going to take work, but I guess that’s just part of the game.

p.s. I totally look up to you (even though you’re, what?, five years younger than I am?). Keep doing what you do. I love you.

Michele - Good for you – You are doing a great job!!!

Vanessa - Your change is perspective is super! You can do it!

Amanda - Hang in there… you’re doing great. I’m right there with you. Dragging myself through each day. Wondering if I’ll ever be on top of things again. And when it gets particularly frustrating and overwhelming I break it down as far as necessary. Day by day, hour by hour, or minute by minute. Whatever it takes. And I try to remind myself that no one cares if I get a shower or not (except my husband, maybe), or if I cook a real dinner, or even if I get the laundry done. My kids will survive in pajamas all day long! For two days in a row… haha!! Take care and hang in there. It’ll get easier and easier.

Rayna - Thanks for being honest and for the great reminder! I only manage to visit your site once in a while, but I appreciate your posts and especially appreciated this one. Dale and I are expecting baby number 2 and I’ve lately been feeling the same pressures and slight dread of a second child ; ) So thanks for sharing and reminding me of what we/I am accountable for. You’re accomplishing more than you think (in and out of your home)!

melanie - I’m the same way with the All or Nothing! mentality. My husband has been very supportive in that he keeps teling me to take it easy and doesn’t expect things like dinner to be ready when he gets home or the apartment to be clean since this whole baby thing is new to me. Still, I feel like I need to do more than I am doing and it is hard. I still haven’t managed to get on the working out bandwagon either but I am giving myself permission to let things slide this first year with a baby. Maybe with two children you get a two year break to let things slide? :)

Just Jiff - I’m very impressed with you, despite not being “perfect.” I think that’s what makes you more appealing to your readers. You’re a REAL person. And you’re a damn good mommy!!

I just hope if/when I have another baby, I can hold it together half as well as you have!