We made it.

On Thursday my mom called to wish Austin a happy birthday, and propose that we start a new tradition in our family. One-year-olds do not know what a birthday is, so we should really be congratulating the mother, and her triumph that took a year to achieve. The sleep deprivation, the nurturing, the day to day care, the hip carrying, all those diapers...It's miraculous that a mother can make it through, and it's certainly worth celebrating.

Naturally, I personally thought this seemed perfectly logical and immediately scheduled a long overdue haircut for myself. It was after the cake and fun, after the boys were in bed. I was a mess walking into that salon. I hadn't been there before, but Marlee had recommended it, and her hair is always cute.

There was a bit of a wait, so I sat down next to another girl. I was pretty self conscious, and for good reason. My hair was pulled into a pony tail, but not all of it quite reaches so I bobby pinned in back. But by this hour, the bobby pins are only barely managing to hold the hair out of my face, and the ends are no longer laying flat against my head, but sticking out away from it. It looked a lot like this:AND I had frosting on my chin (though I didn't discover this until I was sitting in front of the mirror, about 20 minutes into my haircut.) None of my jeans really fit right now and my the least embarrassing footwear I could find as I was running out the door were my grey boots that have green paint on them. I was wearing Mikelle's cute coat with the fur on the hood, so I was hoping that made up for everything else.

I looked so disheveled, it would have been best to just not say anything to this stranger and avoid any undue attention. But in my awkward way, I began unloading to her about how desperate I was for this haircut, drawing attention to my hair in particular. I do this sometimes. I feel like I need to explain myself, to let it be known that I know how I must look. There is a reason, or that at least I'm aware of how bad I look. Stop talking Natalie! This poor girl doesn't care that your son just turned one, that you haven't had a hair cut in 6 months or that this is your reward for sleepless nights. But I don't stop. Homeschooled years=social awkwardness, even 20 years later. She was talkative and agreed that that first year is rough. "But if you think one is hard, just wait until you have 2! That is REALLY rough." she responded. "Oh, but..." I began. "WELL, I don't mean to scare you, of course it's different for everyone, so who knows, maybe it won't be as hard for you." She explained as I started to protest. Not that I disagreed, but you know...I've been there. "Michelle=)" said a stylist, and off the girl went. "but.but...I have four...oh, never mind" I thought.

I got my haircut by a cute young girl who agreed with everything I said. It was wonderful. Beautification meets Affirmation therapy. The conversation alone was worth the money I paid her. I felt brilliant for an hour. I do like my hair too, though I wish I'd had it thinned a little more. My hair has gotten thicker with each baby, a trend that I hope does NOT continue.


Yesterday my mom and I were talking about an email she'd received through Asking Jane from a mother of soon to be three that feels in over her head. We talked about how it is so hard, lose your mind hard at times. But then, eventually, it gets easier. She said to me "You've probably been through your worst. It will probably just get easier from here on out, no matter how many kids you have." That was good to hear, coming from her. It does feel like I am more capable and my kids are more helpful now. Who knows what the years ahead will bring, but it feels nice to imagine that I've been as close to insanity as I'll ever get, and I didn't quite crack. I'm not naive enough to believe that there is nothing but smooth sailing from here, and would I really want that anyway? I do know my life will get more complicated as the kids go to school, and that scares me a little.

What about you? Do you believe your hardest mothering days are behind you? If not, are you in the thick of it, or just anticipating harder times? This whole train of thought has been on my mind a lot lately, and I'd love to hear what you have to say about it on either side. What do you feel like you have figured out? What's the hardest thing about RIGHT NOW for you?


  1. The cupcake pictures are great!
    I feel self conscious every time I go get my haircut- like I just look rough, no make up, no fashion sense, rough. But a good haircut makes me feel cute...plus I spend the entire time with my glasses off so I can't notice that I'm a hot mess!
    I actually feel like with 2 boys under 3, I've got my act together. I don't get too stressed very often. So far, my roughest time was the first 2 months with one child. I guess maybe I'm just more relaxed or something. Like I hear other moms comparing notes on how high their kid can count, if they know their abc's, etc. and that's not really what I'm concerned about. We learn about the world and spend lots of time playing and enjoying life together. The rest will come in due time.

  2. I want to see a picture of your new hair!

  3. Beautification meets Affirtmation therapy, indeed! That is so true about stylists. You are so funny, Natalie.

  4. I have a reply for you. I'm going to post my reply on my blog because it's something that perhaps I'd like my posterity to remember about me. But maybe not...either way, look for it later tonight or tomorrow, the in-laws are in town at the moment. Oh, and even though I wasn't homeschooled, I'm totally the same about trying to explain to people why I look like an idiot or why my house is so big even with no income. But since they don't know you, they can just smile and remember they won't see you tomorrow!

  5. It does get easier, in wonderful ways. I love the stage I'm at right now, with both little ones and older kids. Not everything depends so much on YOU anymore; there's other hands to pick up the slack. Even the fact that one of my children empties the dishwasher every day eases the load. My neighbor, whose oldest is 6, has a really tough time any time her husband works later than 6. The evening hours are so tough for her. My husband has had to teach nights often in the past few years and it really doesn't bother me anymore, but I remember when that was the hardest part of the day. The difference is I have three capable children who can read to the little ones if I need them to and I'm just plain not as exhausted as I used to be.

    On the other hand, there are always new challenges, parenting and otherwise. The first three months of every pregnancy are always a huge struggle and the cumulative effects of months of not sleeping through the night for the first nine months of a new baby's birth can still take a toll on my outlook, even if I am more able to get naps now than I was in the past.

    Then there's the challenges that come just because of life. There was the year my health disappeared, I collapsed and was hardly unable to function for several months, finally resolved when my underlying thyroid issues were discovered and treated. There was the year my twins turned two and I was pregnant, when we fixed up one house, tried to build another, suffered delay after delay, moved into a hotel for six weeks, had a baby, brought her home to the hotel, and THEN finally got to move into our new still-not-quite-finished home. After that, there was the challenge of taking over the primary care of DH's grandma, who moved to assisted living near our house while DH's parents were on a mission.

    So yep, one hard stage of your life is behind you, but life always has its surprises!

  6. I agree with your Mom. You are soooooooo outnumbered when they are all little and very dependent. But that all sort of shifts as they grow up and are able to help and entertain the little ones more.

    All that aside, to me as a parent, I think the hardest ages are 21-23. Just home from their missions and trying to figure out what they want/need to do....and me not knowing quite how to be a parent to them. But you have a long time before you have to worry about that.

  7. I don't assume I will ever be over the hump so to speak. My children are ages 13, 5,3,21 months and one due next week. THe older ones are difficult in different ways. While the babies are physically exhausting the older they get the more mentally exhausting they are. I think there is good and bad to every stage of life. I don't think there will ever be a point when the hard times are truly behind me. It is just that the hard thing about life are always changing. If that makes sense.

  8. My mom has always told me the same thing as the commenter above....the "hardness" just gets different....though, these days...I think I'd trade a little mental exhaustion in exchange for some SLEEP!!!!

  9. I am you. The girl who sits down in a salon after not being in for (at least) 6 months surrounded by people who don't have dribble and snot on their shoulder and baby food stains on their jeans.

    I agree with everyone else -- post pictures of your new hair!

    BTW: My toughest days are far, far in the future. I had the dog and the baby in the car this weekend and one was barking the other crying and I heard myself saying "guys...there's no need for tears" and realized that phrase will be much more real when I have a backseat full of carseats!

    Love you!


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