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On being the “fun mom”

I started my day laying in bed saying specific prayers over each of my kids and for myself as I prepared to jump into another week filled with unexpected virtual school, unusually extra cold temperatures, frozen water pipes and a stir crazy family who’d been cooped up inside for far too long with dangerously low levels of vitamin D of the sunshine variety. Over the last couple of weeks of buying and selling our homes, moving and just general chaos of settling in whilst homeschooling whilst working from home whilst being snowed in, I could feel my shoulders rising ever so much closer to my ears, my patience wearing as thin as the sheets of ice that have been layering our streets and an instinct to hide away and not engage, instead distracting myself with my phone or book. No more, said I. Not today. Today was going to be a GOOD day. Today I’d be “fun mom,” I thought.

And then…this:

That is a pile of disgusting cat litter.

Yum.

You see, it’s been in the negative teens overnight here in Tulsa, OK, so I didn’t want our kitties to freeze in the garage where they usually spend the night due to their penchant for nocturnal prowling, curtain climbing and general rowdiness that they rarely exhibit during socially acceptable daytime hours. Each freezing night, we schlep one of the litter boxes from the garage into the laundry room for the overnight cat hotel, and then, the next morning, we schlep it back out into the garage into the cat enclosure we built (no liter boxes in the house normally, thank you very much!).

Did you know litter is heavy? Did you know it’s extra heavy when one is bent over at the waist trying to heave and ho an awkwardly shaped box full of it through the twists and turns of one’s home, all the while dodging and swerving around a multitude of cats, dog and human offspring in one’s path while also trying very hard NOT to drop said heavy cat pee receptacle on one’s toes?

Well, I can inform you that it IS quite heavy.

It is also quite messy.

Especially when the (insert curse words here) litter box decides to unhinge itself mid-schlep and spill half of it’s used and quite smelly contents all over the floor and feet of said schleper…me.

Sigh.

All this took place within minutes of rising from my bed post-prayer-time, and, funnily enough, I did NOT sound very holy as I stomped and muttered, sweeping cat poo and snapping at one particular child who, seemingly unaware of the disgusting carpet of litter upon the floor, marched right through the granules to whine that I hadn’t yet found time to a.) make her toast and eggs for breakfast nor b.) find her a new sock because the one on her left foot was “too soggy and floppy.”

No. Nope. Not the fun mom right then and there, I shall admit.

Frustratingly, it only took mere minutes (and one large, stinky spill) to take my carefully curated morning attitude and toss it right into the…you guessed it…litter box. Why? Why couldn’t I make it through one more morning of unexpected swirliness and just find a way to be the “fun mom” I’d set out to be that morning?

Because guess what. The “fun mom” myth is just that. A myth. In my limited experience of mothering a multitude (okay, four) of minions these last ten years, I’ve put so much pressure on myself during different seasons of life. This season is no different, and I think I’ve been overcompensating and over-pressure-putting on myself because we moved recently. After that upheaval, I want the girls to feel secure, loved, seen and settled, and I feel like I’ve only been able to give them two of the four lately. There’s just no way to be a real live mom dealing with the day in and day out monotony and also be “fun” alllllll the time.

But…there ARE ways to find pockets of “fun mom” moments amidst the swirl, the unexpected snow days, the frozen pipes, the days spent living out of boxes where you can’t find your own underwear, let alone the EXACT right stuffed animal that child number 3 neeeeeeeeds right then and there or their heart might break into a million tiny pieces.*

*we can be a dramatic bunch at times.

Anyway, nothing life changing in this realization of mine today. Probably will have to remind myself to take the pressure off and just do my best the rest of my mothering life. I tend to be hard on myself, and that just ends up spilling over and squashing any and all fun, not only for mom but for the rest of the crew, too.

So. In case you too started your day with high hopes and precious plans for patience and a playful attitude…and then you spilled proverbial litter all over that ‘tude…you are not alone. Today I was kind of a crap human for a bit, and I had to put myself in timeout and (once again) attitude adjust. Because isn’t that what parenting is all about in the end? Adjusting oneself to mold around the needs of little people who love you? Lowering expectations of perfection and instead playing on the floor in your PJ’s and having PB+J for dinner…again? Running around in your husband’s sweatpants with the kids, chasing the crazy dog through the snow, falling down and bonking your bottom to the delighted laughter of your children who see that they’ve been SEEN in that snowy moment spent together?

I think that’s what it’s about.

And, if tomorrow I spill cat litter all over the floor again, I’ll just have to adjust, readjust, sweep up my ‘tude along with the litter and start again. And start again. And start again.

Because that’s motherhood. Fun (sometimes), messy (all the time), and constantly adjusting expectations, plans, outlooks…and floppy, soggy socks. 😉

(Edited to add: I see that my friend and fellow Okie Elizabeth from @creekgrown on Instagram had a similar experience today, and if this post resonated with you, you’ll likely feel very seen by checking out her post on Instagram today.)

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  1. Lindsay says:

    This hits home. I’m trying to adjust my ‘tude. Life is hard and filled with lots of “why” questions. I wish there was a way to know that certain things will be resolved, or that magic 8 ball really does work. Here’s hoping tomorrow is better than before. And no more kitty liter spillage:)

  2. Holly says:

    Thanks for sharing, also finding myself having to Jean in on the mercy of the Lord to help adjust my attitude as a mom since the start of the pandemic. Thank you for being real. It’s not all rainbows and sunshine.

  3. Julie says:

    How soon our days can change on a dime. Now especially, I think us moms have taken on a lot. We all need to give ourselves grace. We are in uncharted territories and things just keep getting thrown at us. C’mon 2021!! You were suppose to be OUR year! Hang in there. You are the fun mom and doing a fabulous job!

  4. Regina says:

    Oh the real painful joys of motherhood. I’m such a idealist it took me for-eeeeever to accept that I could not be 💯 all. the. time. Is anyone?! No, but I felt the pressure. Truth I blow it everyday. Also true GRACE. Guess we need the latter on steroids going into snow day four over here. 😳💕🥰

  5. Emily says:

    Oh my! I needed this today. I had to adjust my attitude several times today. Virtual schooling a moody middle schooler is not for the faint hearted. Thank you for showing and being honest about real life. It is not always instagram perfect and I love your account. Hope tomorrow is better!

  6. Jen says:

    Beautifully written. I’ve had more of these days than I care to remember. But I like your perspectives. And as moms, we really don’t get the needed time off often enough to deal with our big emotions because there’s always something or someone waiting for us. As long as our kids can see us have our moments and work to recover from those moments, I tell myself it’s a teaching moment for them too. Besides, it would be so much pressure for growing kids to only see the good times and never when we struggle. They need to see it’s ok for us to struggle and have hard days because everyone does.

  7. Shannon Keech says:

    I love this. As a mama of 5, here in snowy Oklahoma, I am right there with you. You are a great mom and the exact mom God handpicked for YOUR babies. You said it so well, parenting is all about adjusting ourselves for our little people who love us dearly.

  8. Haley says:

    This is great! Thank you for this! I needed to hear it! I’ve been beating myself up at the end of the day for how I handled certain situations with my children.

  9. Kelsey says:

    I can relate! I loved this blog post and felt you on many levels. I always work on saying sorry and humbling myself and being “better mom” after nap time. ❤️

  10. Jenni says:

    Perfectly said. Always readjusting and starting over. We mamas have survived 100% of our litter filled days and we’ll keep going knowing it’ll happen again. And that is a beautiful life in my opinion. Chaos and some joy mixed in. Thanks for the reminder. Stay warm, friend!

  11. Macey says:

    I have a 2 & 4 year old in Houston, Texas. We’ve been coping with long power outages day over day over day plus no water. I can relate to this so much, even when life is “normal”. Your write beautifully by the way. Thank you for sharing.

  12. Joanna Stephens says:

    Yay for happy endings! Motherhood is really hard, and we are all humans (faults and all). Hoping tomorrow is a better day for you Erin! If nothing else, these tough moments help show us how forgiving and amazing our children are.

    Hang in there mama! Sounds like things have been going non-stop. Praying for you!

  13. Paula says:

    This too shall pass. I am a mama of 3 plus a son in law.. A daughter 24, (expecting her second baby🥰), a son 21 (in college in a different area so we can’t see due to Covid) and a son 19 going to college from home because of Covid. I am 46, have been married for 25+ years. Life is full of “those moments”.
    I tell my kids to walk through the fire but don’t smell like smoke! My life verse is Phil 4:13.
    Have a blessed day my friend ♥️

    Phil 4:13. Have a blessed day my friend ♥️

  14. Elise says:

    Love this so much Erin❤️! I have definitely had moments of guilt over not being “fun mom” but at the end of the day my goal is not to be fun. My goal is to nurture and meet the individual needs of each of my kids for whatever the days circumstances bring to the best of my ability. Sometimes my efforts are over and above and fun, and sometimes they are more simplistic but if my children crawl into bed at night cared for and knowing they are loved then that is enough!! God gave these children to me knowing out of all the momma’s in the world I was best suited to raise them!!! What a privilege!

  15. Amy says:

    So … my mom taught me something when my kids were little, like toddler ages, that kinda shook me to the core and I thought of it reading your story. Here it is: if you pray for patience, God will not simply endow you with patience. He will give you opportunities and experiences that will TRY your patience because that’s how we develop Christlike virtues. It’s like a muscle that requires exercising to develop it. Anyway, I immediately stopped praying for patience. 😆 Telling you this not to be preachy, but to maybe help change your perspective. 💖

  16. Jaina says:

    Erin, as a fellow mom and cat mom, this totally resonated! I had to chuckle though- I think sometimes God has a sense of humor & tests our prayers. You want patience? Here- prove/practice it with this kitty litter spill!

    Thank you for sharing- this is a really good reminder of what it’s all about🥰 Stay warm!

  17. Lauren says:

    Thank you for also sharing the hard parts of life and motherhood. Being a stay at home mom can be very lonely and isolating. Especially when you’re husband is in the military, you’re in the middle of a pandemic, and you’re on the other side of the country from everyone you know and love. Sometimes you feel horrible and you think you’re an awful mom. This just helps show that so many share the same feelings. I feel a little less guilty and a little less lonely. ❤️

  18. Marms says:

    Let me take a guess on who had the soggy, floppy sock problem. 😉

  19. Nicole says:

    Thank you for sharing these truths! They resonated with me as I’m sure they did with other moms reading. We tend not to share the messy parts of life, but I appreciate the litter you spilled for us 😉

    Thanks for always being transparent!

  20. Christa Ammerman says:

    This post describes the bane of my struggle I’ve been having most of momhood (my oldest is only 4.5). Thank you so much for being so candid and unashamedly open! It’s a huge relief to know that I’m not the only one who struggles with the same self-imposed high expectations and attitude difficulties when constantly facing the never-ending vagaries of life. Thank you for reassuring me that I’m not crazy or alone in this crazy and sometimes lonely journey of parenting. 😉

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