Meet the Mominator

Mom·in·a·tor-

The Scene:  It’s 3 a.m.  Your tiny chunky 3-month-old baby is breathing rapidly, struggling for air.  You rush in to assess the situation.  He calms in your arms, but not enough to calm you.  This cycle repeats a few more times.  You, now sleep-deprived and swimming in a sea of fear and emotional instability, have a choice to make.

The Scene:  You are walking into a baseball game and your princess-dress-wearing 3-year-old falls and cracks her teeth on the sidewalk.  You, already under scrutiny for having the audacity to bring a screaming child out in public, have a choice to make.

The Scene:  You have been dealing with a painful tear in your shoulder for over a year.  Delayed by misdiagnosis and pregnancy, the time has finally come for some answers and some relief.  Already waffling back and forth between whether you want the results of your MRI to show a problem or not show a problem (thus proving you crazy), you hold your breath as the doctor shares that if these cortisone shots don’t work, surgery is the option and you won’t be able to lift your obese infant and spirited daughter for a month.  You have a choice to make.

The choice to make?  Meet the Mominator in you.  In 3 easy steps.

Step 1: Get yourself to a safe and private location.  Usually, the bathroom works for me.  (Pro Tip: Make sure your children are safe, secure, and unable to witness what comes next.)

Step 2: Let it come.  The tears.  The shortness of breath.  The rational fears and the irrational ones.   Let yourself dissolve into a puddle of ridiculousness as you chase every thought down to the worst possible scenario. (Pro Tip: It only takes 60 seconds for an emotion to take you over and let you go again.  It’s science.)

Step 3: Lock it up.  As quickly as you let the emotions come, let ‘em go. Your time for tears, panic, and uncertainty is over.  You are now the Mominator and you will confidently emerge from your hiding place ready to handle. that. business.  (Pro Tip: Removing any mascara/tear stains from your cheeks makes you more believable.)

Sling on the left arm for a month?  No problem, your right side will get super toned.

No two-front teeth for your 3-year-old?  Cool. Now she’s got a Christmas theme song for the next 2-6 years.

Kid can’t breathe? I’m on it.  Call in reinforcements including but not limited to your family, your hubs, and a team of medical professionals who tell you they can’t find anything wrong with him but if it happens again to bring him back to the ER (where they will probably find nothing wrong with him again).

I saw a quote the other day on Instagram, and it was this: God gave those little children to you, Mama – YOU.  No one else can mother them like you can.  You may have your work cut out for you, but you’re the one cut out to accomplish it.  You and your alter ego, the Mominator.  Go get ’em!

god gave those children to you

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Moments that invite fear.

These have happened to me SEVERAL times in the course of my 2 ½ year motherhood.

  • Josie has a really high fever.
  • Josie needs discipline for the first time.
  • Josie’s room thermometer shows a one degree drop, meaning that she must’ve died and is a human ice cube chilling the room. (I didn’t say they were all rational.)
  • Josie is ready for her big girl bed a lot earlier than I thought (as evidenced by the fearless crib climbing).
  • Josie wakes up in terror with piles of barf on her bed for the first time.

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Or the latest, this week.  Twice I had moments of fear (compounded by pregnancy hormones).  One was when Josie was crying in bed after we had said goodnight.  She was beside herself, but we had also been through 2 weeks of her using every trick in the book to get back out of bed once she was tucked in.  And knowing that every possible need of hers was met, we let her cry.  I hadn’t done this since she was a baby, and even then I didn’t ever let her cry more than 10 minutes.  And usually she fell asleep after 2-3 minutes, which still feels like a full hour.  So on this night, Ryan and I set the timer.  5 minutes.  We’d let her cry and then go from there.  But during this time, I was gripped with every possible fear:

  • She hates me.
  • I’m letting her down.
  • I’m scarring her for life.
  • She really does need something and her life is probably in danger. Even though I can hear her crying, somehow she’s already dead.  (Seriously.)

It took me a full two minutes to calm myself down, to start speaking positivity and truth into my chaos, and to switch from fear to faith.  And guess what?  It took Josie 3 full minutes before she was totally passed out and slept all night.  And woke up with her usual smile and affection for her mother.

The second moment this week took a little longer for me to move past.  We met Ryan’s parents for dinner to drop Josie off so she could spend the weekend at their place, and so Ryan and I could be productive around our house and have a date night.  I kid you not, I LIVE FOR THESE MOMENTS.  Dropping her off is one of my greatest joys!  Sounds a little harsh, I realize, but when you have loving family members that regularly pour into your child, you take advantage!  And I’m never worried, but as I loaded Josie in the car seat in her Gigi and Papa’s car, I kissed her quickly and ran for my life before she really had a chance to get upset.  Josie was fine, and hadn’t cried when Ryan said goodbye either.  In fact, she said, “Bye Daddy!  See you on Sunday!”  What a relief!  But guess who actually did lose her mind?  Me.  I was crying before I got in the car, my mind racing with worry.  Worry that she wouldn’t sleep well in a “big bed,” or that she would wake up and be a bother to them in the middle of the night, and worry that she would die in a car accident on the way down there.  Seriously.  Every stinking worry I could have, reasonable or completely unreasonable, took hold of my mind.  Until I made the conscious decision to STOP IT.  And move from fear to faith. 

What’s the reoccurring theme here?  My first thought, in ALL of these scenarios is “I’m not equipped for this!”  Sometimes it is specific: My middle child, peacemaker personality is not equipped to be a consistent disciplinarian.  Sometimes it is vague: I’m not equipped for motherhood in general.  If I’m feeling this way as the mother of ONE TODDLER, how will I feel as the mother of 2?  As the mother of teenagers?  As the mother of grown children? 

But this is the trick, the key.  The speed with which I move from fear to faith directly correlates to the amount of joy I experience as a mother. 

Some thoughts on Fear:

  • Silly, irrational fear: Don’t stay here. Don’t live in this place.  Shut it down and move on.
  • Fear of inadequacy in a moment that doesn’t really matter: Figure this out quickly.  In the case of walking into Josie’s room at night and finding piles of vomit on her bed for the first time, I was paralyzed for 5 seconds before my instincts kicked in, and I moved into action.  We may not have handled this perfectly, but we did the best we could and in the end, it doesn’t really matter how we dealt with the barf.  Josie was safe and well-loved.
  • Fear of inadequacy in moments that do matter: Discipline. First, know that there’s a phase of “new stuff” every 3 weeks in a kid’s life. As soon as you get used to one thing, and feel like you’ve got it under control, your kid starts biting or hitting or talking back.  Something totally new.  This has happened to me so many times.  And the key I’ve found is that the more prepared I feel for each situation, the less time I spend in fear.  So, as soon as Josie started biting, I did some research, I asked friends and family for advice.  I chose a course of action, and moved forward confidently.
  • Reoccurring fear: Whatever this may be for you, take the time to dig into it.  Don’t ignore fear and pretend like you’re not experiencing it.  Set aside some time when you’re not crippled by said fear, and figure it out.  Get to the bottom of it.

Some thoughts on Faith:

  • Faith in yourself: When you become a mom, you really do get this instinct and are equipped along the way for what your tiny might throw at you (literally or figuratively). Take heart that you’re doing the best you can!
  • Faith in God: I really believe that God not only chose Josie to be my child out of all the millions of sperm and egg combinations, but also that He cares for and provides wisdom for us to parent her.
  • Faith as a Verb: This is the big one or me.  When I say faith, I don’t mean this abstract, just pray about it, just push fear aside and hope for the best!  Faith in action.  Equip yourself!  Read and research!  Ask for help from trusted sources!  And make sure you’re setting aside time for yourself so that you’re joyful and reenergized when these situations come about, not always drained and at your wits end.   

This isn’t easy.  Moving from fear to faith is super hard and takes lots of practice.  But it’s a skill worth learning – for your sake and for your child’s sake!  The more I practice this, the more confident I feel.  The deeper joy I find in motherhood.  The more freedom I feel to practice self-care and pour into people and things other than my child!  And as my family grows, and our lives transition over and over and over again as we raise our kids into adults, I hope to look back at this time in life and know that every step along the way I did the work to be confident and prepared in the next step.

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