To Fellow Mamas of Multiple Little Ones {When You’re Stretched Thin}

To Fellow Mamas of Multiple Little Ones | Faith and Composition

I called my husband a few weeks ago on the brink of tears. It was 6:15 pm, and those long afternoon hours that precede his evening homecoming (that time any stay-at-home mom knows full well) had already stretched into infinity. Sometimes I think the clock spins backward between the hours of 3 and 6 pm.

He answered at his office. “You’re still there?” I blurted out. Realizing that it would be at least another 30 minutes before he was home. Home to take the baby from my hip, home to wrestle with the boy, home to break-up the sibling argument, home to give me a moment to breathe, just breathe.

“I’m just about to leave,” he said. “What’s up?” And then the dam broke; tears that had been welling up just below the surface all day spilled over into an ugly river running down my cheeks.

“I can’t do it all!” I cried. “Someone has a need at all times. One is hungry, two are fighting, one is bored, one is wet, one is poopy, the house is a mess, the dogs are barking to go out, then they’re barking to come in, they’re shedding all over the floor, the baby cries when I put her down, dinner needs to be made … I can’t meet all their needs!”

It had been one of those days. You know those days too, when you’re stretched so thin it feels as if your skin has become threadbare, your patience worn out. When one more child clinging to your leg may just cause you to collapse into a heap on the floor.

The truth is, I’ve had more than my fair share of days like that lately. Days when a simple t-shirt and jeans qualify as dressing up, when Starbucks is sanity in a cup, when a drive to the grocery store is a reprieve.

To Fellow Mamas of Multiple Little Ones | Faith and Composition

This mothering of multiple little ones isn’t for the faint of heart.
It’s a standing appointment in the refiner’s fire, a harsh pruning of selfish desires, a tearing down of individual independence. Yes, it’s chubby toes and dimpled smiles, hugs that drape around your neck and eyes that melt your heart, but it’s also diapers changed, mouths fed, tears dried, cries quieted, lessons taught, babies carried … all with nary a thanks.

I remember sitting in the rocker with number two shortly after she was born. She was wailing, and I was trying to quiet her while tears fell silently from my own eyes. Tears of intense love, exhaustion, frustration and guilt, all in one mangled mess.

I hadn’t expected the transition to multiple little ones to be so difficult. I was stretched in more ways than I could have imagined. My time was divided and yet my demands had doubled. But slowly sleep-deprived nights gave way to less-sleep-deprived nights. She grew from tiny tot to precocious toddler, and I grew (quite uncomfortably at times) into the new role of Mommy to two, complete with its new set of trials and joys.

And then just six months ago, number three came along, and that intense stretching began again. The heat turned up on the refiner’s fire, the pruning of selfish desires commenced. Number 1 needs help with his Legos, Number 2 needs a diaper change, they’re both hungry, my phone is ringing, the dogs are barking to go out … and all this while the baby is nursing.

The reality is, no matter the number of children, mothering is never easy. It’s a daily (and all too often nightly) laying down of yourself. It’s watching your heart take on flesh and walk around with a mind of its own. It’s a tempering of the spirit: boil, cool, repeat. It brings us to our knees and softens the rough edges.

Those of us who have little ones, we’re knee deep in the trenches and elbow-deep in macaroni and cheese. There are Cheerios underfoot, spit-up on our shoulders, and battle scars in the form of newly discovered crow’s feet. Our knees are bruised from stooping to tie shoes, and our arms ache from lifting up babies.

And yet, we awake each morning, and we do it all over again because our heart swells with more love for those little ones than we ever thought possible. We look at them, and we’re amazed that we have the immense of privilege of hearing them call us, “Mom.” But sometimes, when the days stretch long and the nights longer still, we need to know that we’re not alone in this high calling of motherhood.

So if you’re feeling tired and discouraged, stretched thin and worn out, let me just say that we’re right there with you, and it’s ok. There’s an army of young moms—your comrades in the trenches—counting the hours till bedtime too. And while tomorrow is a new day and those days will  eventually  stretch into years … It’s ok to be worn out now, it’s ok to shed tears. After all, you’re doing the hard work, the sanctifying work. And sanctifying work is nothing if it isn’t gritty. Just know, sweet mama, that you’re not alone!

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” – Matthew 11:28

THE WINNERS OF THE GREEK KEY BRACELETS (according to ARE: Meredith Carter and Hanna Deland. Congratulations ladies! Send me an e mail with your address (shalene(at)shaleneroberts(dot)com), and I’ll ship one to each of you!   


20 thoughts on “To Fellow Mamas of Multiple Little Ones {When You’re Stretched Thin}

  1. Erin

    Hi, I love this post. Made me tear up because at times I do feel so weary. It is a comfort to know we’re not alone.

  2. Callie

    I needed to read this post today! It’s been a really long week with my two little ones, and it’s niceto remember that I’m not alone! 🙂

    1. shaleneroberts Post author

      Callie, thank you for stopping by! I’m glad the piece was encouraging to you. It’s so easy to feel like we’re alone sometimes … when two-year-old banter is our only conversation and a baby pulls at us from all directions. It certainly helps me to read a comment like this to know that I’m not alone! So thank you. By the way, your blog is BEAUTIFUL! And our little girls are apparently very close in age.

      1. callienicole7

        Thanks, Shalene! I love your blog too, and I’m looking forward to reading more.

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  4. Dina

    Your words still hit home even though my littles have grown up a bit. Mothering is a daily dose of humility and the realization, that to do this well, I’m going to need the grace of God. I’m sure that your post has encouraged the hearts of more than just moms of little ones but even the hearts of those like me who have traveled miles through these years of motherhood and sometimes find at the end of the day we are still only hanging on.

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  9. Ronnie

    Being a mother of multiple little ones is not for weaklings,It’s a 24 hour,7day,year round,no holiday,no overtime pay or no pay,multiple occupation,lifetime commitment.Mothers even of just one little one are a special creation from God.Mothers whether they know it or not are super heros saving lives,avoiding dangers,and stopping conflicts. Mothers are super chefs, nurse, chauffeur, party planner, coach, entertainer, teacher, story teller, etc.Their commitment to their little ones or one is a true love story of biblical proportion of laying down ones life for another. A mothers job may seem thankless and unrewarding in the beginning, but it’s like being a artist of precious paintings,the blank canvas is beautiful white with a world of potential at first, but when it is finished it is a priceless work of art. Mothers you are turning your little children into priceless living works of art,with a reflection of their creater mom.

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  11. jane

    Wonderful. Im coming to realize the truth of your post more and more. Having had three kids in 33 months has been a rather quick refinement. But I do try to see that itbis making me a better person.

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