Two little kids, pregnant, and overwhelmed – a response

>>I have two kids two and under and just found out i’m expecting my third (my mom doesnt even know!), and I feel so totally overwhelmed. I’m nauseous and tired and most days I wake up wishing it was the time my husband comes home. My daughter doesn’t nap (shes 2 and a half) and my baby (11 months) usually has to spend his days napping on the go bc i’m trying to keep my toddler occupied. I feel guilty he doesn’t get the right amount of sleep (i’m crying just thinking about it). I feel guilty I can’t stay calm most times she decides to hit/bite her little brother just as she sees me slightly occupied. I feel guilty I don’t know how to handle her tantrums most times. And worst, I feel guilty that I spend most of my day wishing they would just leave me alone. I look tired and down, and I hate that because I’m usually cheerful and happy. 

But I feel the most guilty that I can’t imagine how people homeschool, and that I think I’m turning into the mother who can’t stand being around her kids. The mother who is relived the kids are going back to school after one day off. The one who cringes at the thought of the kids being home for one whole week during summer break in between camp. I don’t want to turn into that mother!

The worst is that I don’t just want to send them to a daycare because I can’t handle things. I feel like a child should be at home until the age of 3. Though at this point I’m seriously considering sending my daughter somewhere for half a day.

I just don’t know how you did it! How did you possibly homeschool while your family was growing? It feels so impossible and daunting.  As much as I love the idea of homeschooling, I really don’t think it’s for me. But I do want to do the best thing for my children now and being a miserable mom isn’t helping. Do you have any piece of advice for me?<<

The very first thing I’m going to say is, don’t compete and compare.  When I’m feeling under the weather, thinking about everyone who is more competent than me just depresses me!

Realize that everyone has challenges, and just because you think someone is doing so much better than you, it may or may not be accurate.  Fifteen years ago, I had three young children (ages newborn, 20 months, 37 months).  At that time, my days were non-stop work and I didn’t feel especially relaxed at any point until my children were asleep.  I would go out with them and think to myself how everyone I passed was clearly managing so much better than I was, because everyone looked so happy and content.  And then I suddenly realized, if someone looked at me, they’d be thinking the same thing!

Sometimes in our minds we set people up to be much more perfect and saintly than they can every possibly be in real life.   It helps to remember that everyone has their struggles, and everyone has their tough times.  If we didn’t, there would be no purpose in us being here in this world, since our souls were put here to grow from our challenges.

You can only do the best you can with the tools you have right now.  Some people have more physical or emotional resources than others, and sometimes you yourself will have more or less ability to accomplish what you want than you do right now.  Live the stage of life that is in front of you, doing the best you can.  All you can do is take the next right step.  Sometimes we look too far in advance, and it doesn’t help us.  While I think it’s important to look to the foreseeable future to think about what you’ll encounter so that you can be more prepared when you get there, that’s only advisable if you can actually do something today that will make tomorrow better.

Trust that tomorrow will come, that better and easier days and stages will come.  In some ways it’s easier for me now with nine children than it was with three very young children.  At that point, I couldn’t imagine coping with a bigger family (I dreaded the thought of more children, to be quite honest), since I had my hands full taking care of the family I had!

When you’re pregnant, realize that it’s not really a good time to assess your abilities.  During the first trimester of this pregnancy, I had to consciously remind myself that I’m a competent person who was legitimately very low energy right then.  Without that, my negative mental recording would start playing over and over, focusing on all that I wasn’t doing in the way I felt I should be able to do it.  When we’re at our worst, it’s not the time to make blanket assumptions about who we really are.  Our true self is our highest self; the lower self is just a mask.

Your children are so young!  You don’t have to think about homeschooling them!  Don’t wonder how anyone does it.  Just think about getting through each day with all of you in one piece.  At tough times, that’s an accomplishment to strive for!   When they’re old enough to think about this, you’ll be in a different stage of life and have developed different coping strategies.

I don’t want to tell you to put your children in daycare to give yourself a break – this is a very individual decision – but I do think that you can give yourself a huge break by letting go of the guilt.  It doesn’t serve any productive purpose.   Unrealistic expectations of oneself can be as oppressive and real as a physical load on our shoulders.  The burden we place on ourselves when we tell ourselves we ‘should’ be able to do this or ‘should’ be able to do that is very often abusive, and very rarely productive.  To borrow a twelve step program slogan, “Stop ‘shoulding’ on yourself!”

When you can do more, you will do more.  If that time isn’t now, be as accepting and loving to yourself as you possibly can.  We women hold standards for ourselves that are damaging because they set us up for failure before we even start!

Avivah

8 thoughts on “Two little kids, pregnant, and overwhelmed – a response

  1. Hey Aviva,
    Been there, “felt” that! If I knew this girl, I would tell her to let go and just put her kids in playgroup for a few hours a week, so she can get herself together. (she could even hire a lady to come to her house a few hours a week if she cant imagine sending them out…if she has the money)

    I felt the SAME exact way after my 2 was born 13 months after my first, and for a little bit I pushed myself to keep both home. Finally, I sent my older one out for a few hours a week, and it gave me enough time take care of myself.
    Even though I had huge guilt complexes, it was so good for my emotional health, physical health and shalom bayis! Now, many months later, I feel emotionally strong enough to keep both of my kids home- without resentment or guilt. I think once you start feeling those things, its better to take a break.

    I would tell this lady to not get ahead of herself. One step , one phase at a time. You can put you kids in playgroup at one point and later homeschool- nothing is forever!
    This is not to say playgroup is the ideal in every situation. but it sounds like she is way over her head, and a few hours a week gives her time to cope..
    After the same experiance, I enjoy being with my kids, and am so excited to spend the sumer with both my kiddies every day! I don’t think I would have said that before I got the break I needed to heal.
    Good luck to this lady, and this too will be good!

  2. p.s. I just want to clarify , that I am someone who understands and firmly believes in the benefits of children being with their mother, and can easily see myself homeschooling one day. I am not one of these mothers who feel kids must be socialzed from birth.
    Just some backgroung :)

  3. Hi there,
    just wanted to share a piece of advice I keep hearing from my first cousin, “you never know for sure what goes on behind closed doors.” Give yourself a break, no one is perfect, and something has to give somewhere at some point. Of course you’re overwhelmed! Who wouldn’t be?! You have two demanding little people pulling on you, hormones raging, your body isn’t at it’s normal strength, and guilt on top of it all! I think I’d be surprised if you weren’t overwhelmed!
    Is there anything you can do to take care of yourself better? I realize more sleep is probably not possible (although likely the single most useful thing for you right now…). Maybe there’s another mom who would be willing to get together with you and have a playdate share–she has your daughter for an hour, you have her child for an hour another day. That’s free and gives you a bit of time to breathe and your toddler to sleep (because if he’s not getting enough sleep, he’ll be more cranky, too!). Maybe a high school volunteer?
    Think of creative ways to take time for yourself a few minutes at a time. If you’re into this sort of thing, lock yourself in the bathroom for 15 minutes and paint your toenails with some soothing music on. I find that deep diaphragmic breathing (belly breathing) a few minutes a day (in the morning or throughout the day) does wonders to pace myself and lessen the negative feelings. One perk is that you can do that anywhere. And the main thing, recognize that what you’re doing is very difficult and give yourself “permission” to feel overwhelmed. Take it one day at a time–focus on on the present and doing your best as much as you can. If you run yourself too thin, you’re not doing anyone any favors, especially those you feel guilty about.

  4. don’t compare your insides (doubts, inadequacies- real or imagined-, fears, etc.) to other people’s outsides (guests, nicely dressed kids, etc.). as someone else said, you don’t know what goes on behind closed doors… also, it serves NO constructive purpose. rather than being something to aspire to, it too easily becomes one more way we beat ourselves up for not measuring up. now that my kids are older, some of their best memories are from some of the things that i thought i was doing horribly- peanut butter sandwiches on the floor picnic-style (no energy to make supper) made me cringe but makes then smile to remember. family naps on sleeping bags in the livingroom floor (extreme guilt on my part for crashing) is in their memory a super fun family slumber party. letting them eat potato chips straight out of the giant size bag (again on the floor- do you detect a theme here?) made me feel like the worst mother (who gives unregulated portions of unhealthy snacks to toddlers?) but they thought it was the greatest thing ever! and, even though it feels like this is going on forever, i assure you that this time in your life really passes through and your kids will grow up and you will have helpers and you will sleep through the night (i know it’s hard to believe, but it’s true!) and it will all be ok. really, it will all be ok. one day at a time. you can do this…

  5. I need some advice badly! I’m 35 , married with 4 kids. 13,11,7and 18 months. They ALL are big BABIES and do NOTHING to really help..:( I try and try to teach them how to make their own lunch or snacks , or help me by taking turns and making their siblings something to eat ( which I always feel so guilty about) . I give them chores that I have to pull teeth to accomplish. My oldest two , SOMETIMES help with the littlest one but that’s with a lot of bribes, $ and tears..! My husbands Job shut down and now he is on unemployment and he BARLEY helps ! The only time I feel he ” helps” is when I’m running around the house trying to take care of the kids and house and he’ll get off the couch and wash the dishes or something ,,, but it’s RARE and anytime I need to lay down or take a nap he gets irritated and bothers me 100 times to where I really don’t get any kind of ” break”. I’m EXHAUSTED , lonely, miserable , mean, and just A HORRIBLE person! I never want to be intimate with my husband for many reasons but the main one is I am TERRIFIED of becoming pregnant..! Birth control has NEVER worked for me . In fact , I’ve been pregnant 5 times on birth control. 2 live births , 2 miscarriages and I’m pregnant again with a copper iud! I’m losing my mind!!! I’ve been pregant more times than this and I am sooooooooo ashamed to admit that to anyone. My level of guilt is killing me inside and I feel I CAN NOT have another child . I’m on the verge of having a Ab ,, but my soul can’t handle another. I use to be such a great , happy mommy and wife and friend and now I just count the seconds and minutes till it’s bedtime for everyone ,, and even dread that because I know my husband wants to be ” satisfied”. Which he NEVER cares to satisfy me,, I can’t even get him to run my feet for more than 20 seconds each without saying ” is that good” but he wants so much from me and the kids want so much from me but NO ONE gives me anything. :,( I am in tears feeling so unappreciated and so confused and tired. I do t even have time to think about being pregnant and what to do.!! My husband is no help I. Discussing it and definitely doesn’t want another kid in the financial way ( or any way really). He doesn’t get up in the middle of the night
    And help with any woken , sad, wet, hungry , kids or babies and I know if I keep this baby I will be in it SOLO! The WORST part of it all is deep down I WANTED one or two more and I LOVE the thought of having a big family but ” family” is the key word and I just feel so alone in it. I ADORE babies and breastfeeding and nurturing ,, it’s the BEST feeling of peace I have ever came to! But then I think of all the bad , hard times that come with it and I don’t know what to do and have NOONE but kids around me to have conversations with.:( I never go anywhere at ALL but to doc apts or grocery stores. Even if I wanted to go anywhere ,, I wouldn’t go! I would rather sleep or take a Dang shower..! Besides all of that, I get EXTREMLEY I’ll and sleepy my first trimester. How am I going to care for four NEEDY children and a husband and I can’t move for the first three months?? I mean, I PUKE, PUKE AND PUKE and I’m so tired that I forget things, burn dinners, lose money, bring dirty clothes on the bed to fold and put away.. I’m such a MESS the first trimester..! I can’t have a abortion,,, but I feel it’s the best for me and my kids I already have.. I am only 4 weeks IF THAT! I always know when I pregnant from like a week after conception , I SWEAR! I can just feel it . There’s many signs . I knew two weeks ago even though I had bcontrol and my husband usually ears condoms or uses the P.O method . So I am REALLY early! I am still 5 days from my missed period . Someone talk
    Sense into me PLEASE! I don’t want to make a mistake anymore ,, I don’t think I can handle any more guilt , either way really,, whether it’s a abortion or taking away from my kids that I feel already don’t get enough of me,, ,, God help me :,(

    1. Nora, I have so many things I want to say to you. I hear how completely overwhelmed and alone you feel. So many things you’ve shared are very common.

      Since we can’t sit and talk for a long time, I’m going to tell you the primary thing that comes to mind. You deserve to be taken care of. And that means you have to take care of yourself. Really own that right now, in this minute. You are worthy of getting sleep. You are worthy of eating well. You are worthy of being treated with respect. You are worthy of taking time for yourself, to spend with other adults or for solitude. It’s not selfish to take care of your own needs. I strongly feel that taking care of oneself is the most selfless thing a parent can do.

      So the first thing is to honor and respect your needs. Don’t feel guilty about having needs. Don’t feel inadequate because you can’t do it all. No one can. Don’t get resentful because you have needs that aren’t being met. Think of your family as your partners in creating a happy home because truly you all want the same things.

      When you respect your own needs and clearly and calmly communicate those needs to your husband and children, things change. You might have married a completely selfish and narcissistic man. Or you might have married someone who needs clear information about what you need and want, without the tears and drama and emotion, which shuts many people down and makes them unable to be responsive.

      It takes time to teach children to be helpful. It’s not done effectively at times of stress or negative emotion.

      When you’re feeling nauseous and stressed and exhausted, it’s the worst time to make a decision of any kind. I’m sending you my warmest wishes for everything you need to feel better. Please give yourself the gift of treating yourself kindly and compassionately.

      Love, Avivah

    2. I’m so sorry for what you’re going through. I just recently had my 2nd and I’m barely managing, so I can’t even imagine what you’re going through. You will be rewarded for your efforts eventually. I will pray for you!

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