Keeping My Cool

I didn’t realize it until I just sat down to write, but this morning marks a bit of a milestone for me; it was the start of my fourth year attending meetings with my local MOPS group. Four years? Is that even right? I’m no math teacher (bless my hubby’s heart), but I’m pretty sure that’s accurate. Whoa.

While I lived for attending MOPS meetings my first year, the last two years have been pretty spotty for me. In a way, it reminds me of my attendance with Baby Weighs – which each new kiddo, my confidence has grown and I’ve managed to navigate a little more on my own. I was so isolated and so alone when I began MOPS that I desperately needed that adult conversation and friendly company. But then in my second and third year, as more kiddos came, I thankfully had some connections established which allowed me to miss meetings without triggering sheer panic at the thought. Good thing, too, because a lot of what kept me away was illness from being pregnant (two years ago when I found out Mr. LT was on the way) and then dealing with sick and/or reluctant Littles (um, pretty much all of last year). When you have three under five to haul around but of course you can’t go if even one of them is slightly ill, you get stuck home. A lot.

Anyway, all of this is to say, I’m glad I gave it a go again this morning/this year. I have met some amazing women through this group and to see some of those smiling faces that I don’t otherwise see around town is always a joy. Also, I’ve got a lot going on in my world right now and it was comforting to come back to a space that has seen me up and down (and very, very tired) and be able to share in the excitement that “It’s all happening!” How very blessed I felt to be chatting with various mamas, hearing from each one that they are happy for me or proud of me. Was it an ego boost? A pat on the back? You bet. But more than anything, these moments – these conversations – are affirmation of this journey and this light I now have. The joy I see in their faces and hear in their voices? It’s because I carry the same in my own face or my own voice when I talk about yoga and where my family is today. Last year this time? Totally didn’t have it. Not that I was at wit’s end, but it’s almost unbelievable how much growth and change can come in just 12 months time. And I am beyond grateful for everything in these last 12 months!

For as much as I enjoyed myself this morning, I was also pleased that RL and LT made it through the meeting in their own respective childcare rooms. Linky wasn’t too thrilled when I left him, and Raegan was a little weepy, too, but she was beyond fine when I went back to get her. All smiles and telling me how she had snack and played with five kids and made a budderfy (of the most beautiful coffee filter variety, I might add). Totally cool. And while Lincoln obviously couldn’t report back, he seemed fine. Until he wasn’t.

We got home and sheesh, that kid. He was just super fussy, even after I changed him and nursed him and everything. I just could not figure out what he needed, so I took him for his nap even though I’m supposed to be working on stretching him past noon so I can get to preK to get HD every day without the kid falling asleep on the way to/from the Y. So I got him down and he finally calmed down and then it was time to feed RL and she lost it – because her Kraft Single tore as she opened it. Not even kidding. Five minutes of wailing and tears over a piece of cheese. And then there was Round Two when it tore again as she tried to eat it. In the middle of this, there were lots of “NO!”s and “DON’T LOOK AT ME!”s and lovely two-yr-old-isms such as that. And all of it was LOUD which was great seeing as we were sitting at the table which is in the room directly below where the baby had just started to nap.

All of this is to say, however, that I’m going to pat myself on the back right now because I did not freak out. I did not scream and I did not have the same pangs of guilt and insecurity and doubt that I have had after so many other MOPS meetings. There. I said it. I’ve always liked going to meetings and often times I’d walk away feeling like I learned something or could be a better mom, and then I’d get home and my kids would be tired and I’d be sweaty and everyone would need to eat, and I would end up screaming at some or all of them. Not pretty, but true. And then I’d feel awful because why couldn’t I just be a better mom like all those moms at MOPS?! But here’s the other truth – I’m not the other moms at MOPS. I am just me. And I’m learning, every day, how to be the best version of me that exists, while remaining fully aware that best is never going to be perfect. I’m going to have moments of anger and frustration and insecurity; it’s what I do with them and how I move through them that matters.

Today, I am proud. I didn’t let my fussing, screaming kids agitate me. In other words, I did not take on their behavior or take it personally. Their meltdowns? They were just happening because that’s life, not because I’m a bad parent, which is pretty much why I was always yelling in the past – freaked out that if I didn’t make them better behaved and perfect at home, then what would the public think of or say about them?! Because that’s another lesson I’m learning right now – that I cannot control what others say or think. I can only control myself and right now I’m working, working, forever working, to see the good.

So did my two littlest drive me slightly bonkers for an hour today? Yes, yes they did. But then my oldest got dropped off at home by a friend who also happened to compliment his behavior and then he and I had the best lunch date of sandwiches and chips you ever did see, just the two of us, and I walked away from this whole morning with a smile in my heart after all. Does this mean I’ll never sweat or freak out again? Good heavens, no. And although avoiding all that sounds nice, I know the real growth comes from experiencing those moments; without them, I wouldn’t know just how special today really is.

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