When I first had Little Sprout, I was stressed. I felt alienated from friends, lacked necessary sleep function, and was largely responsible for keeping another human alive. Who told you this was easy? No one. But they also didn’t tell you how debilitating it could feel. It’s so awkward to go from a thriving social life to literally seeing no one for weeks on end. It’s also hard to see your productivity tank. Do you feel me?
I felt drained. I felt angry.
Just like that, I had gone from an easy going, happy person to a literal witch if you know what I mean. I was crying over ALL THE IT (yay hormones)! I wanted someone to talk to during the day who could actually hold a conversation. #Momlife was getting real.
I started to spend large chunks of my time focused on the negative. I heard myself say things like I didn’t get anything done today. I haven’t showered. I can’t remember the last real conversation I had and sorry honey you don’t count. We never get to watch television. I don’t get any sleep, and I hate you for the time you get that I don’t.
The whole ordeal of parenthood raised my anxiety to levels I hadn’t known before. I was constantly weighing my child to ensure that he was gaining weight. I was constantly trying to feed him for fear that he wasn’t getting full enough. I was begging someone to help me get out of this cycle of feeling like a failure AND I truly felt it at every turn.
Before you start to think I was always in a tailspin, I want to say that wasn’t quite true. I enjoyed so many moments of play, walks around the neighborhood, and even grocery shopping. I loved watching my son pass new developmental milestones. I actually loved every single moment of being a mom. I was over the moon to be with my new little guy and exploring the world through his eyes. I was so excited to meet neighbors who wouldn’t have talked to me otherwise.
I was missing out on these things though.
Around three months, I realized that something needed to change. I came out of the sleepless fog and realized that there were so many glorious moments in my day. I mean I was about to do a cross-country road trip with a 4-month-old. I was going on an adventure. I was learning something new about my child, my husband, and myself EVERY day. It was a glorious thing. Why wasn’t I appreciating it? The truth was in my mindset. I mean I’m sure I was suffering from some sort of anxiety issue with the weighing and stress feeding thing, but I also knew that I was causing a lot of my anxiety. I was putting pressure on myself to show up in my business and life in ways that just weren’t possible for me at that time.
How could I change that? I mean I was starting to hate this mindset.
Because you see, I would’ve told anyone else to look at the good times in their day. I’d have talked to them and let them see the joy of those early morning snuggles, the coos and goos, and of course the literal excitement that could be caused by a dirty diaper (says the mom of a daughter who didn’t go frequently).
I wouldn’t have called it a gratitude practice at the time. I didn’t really know what that was, but it’s a hot topic lately. I wasn’t going down the Pinterest rabbit hole in those early days though, and it would be months before I was able to give what would become my daily practice a name.
I’ll admit that my practice was simple, but it wasn’t easy at first. My practice included writing down 3 things that I was grateful for each day and 3 things I did that were productive that day. Seems simple enough, right? Well, I can promise you that it sounds easier than it was in those first few months. I mean it’s always easiest to remember the 20minute screaming episode that happened right before bed rather than the coos and goos you were getting for an hour before that. It’s easiest to remember that you didn’t finish your to-do list versus looking at what actually got done.
I mean it’s always easy to be grateful for things when there isn’t negative to be seen.
How do you survive the crap?
You start slow. My first days of my practice might have included something like:
- We left the house today for a walk
- I met a new neighbor
- I got 4 hours of straight sleep
My productivity might have looked like:
- I showered
- I ate lunch
- I took a nap.
Don’t we sometimes wish that a nap could be productive? Well, it was during the days I was healing from my c-section. It was a glorious and largely underappreciated part of my day. I miss a nap right now.
What I’m saying is that the process isn’t easy and it will start out sort of clunky. I’m also saying that looking at this side of things will make you feel better about your day. It’s the kind of thing that will help you to look back and feel grateful for the little things your husband does every day that actually is helpful but gets overlooked when you’re overwhelmed. It’s a time to really reflect on how the kids are growing and changing. It’s a great time to appreciate all that you were able to do while keeping a little human alive.
I no longer go to bed angry. I go to bed excited for the next day.
This is actually why I created my gratitude journal. I wanted to help a mom who was in the weeds start to see her day differently. I wanted to provide a physical manifestation of my daily practice that was beautiful and would remind me to do it daily. I wanted to become a mom of the new millenium and see the positive and appreciate my own emotions. I wanted to allow myself to see the light in the world.
Also, I know that this practice has saved my #momlife, because I am no longer grouchy. My default is calm instead of angry. My life is better and therefore my #momlife is better!