Motherhood has been on my mind a lot lately. It's no wonder, I am a full-time mom to three little girls! But I've had a couple of thoughts in particular that I need to write down!
Becoming a mother to my first daughter was heaven! When she and I were together, I felt like I was born to mother. Every second was a fulfillment of my lifelong desire to raise children! (Well, maybe a few of those sleepless nights were annoying, but they were outweighed by the giggles, games of peekaboo, songs, and general joy a baby can bring!) I recall a specific instance of feeling proud of myself for never even feeling angry or annoyed at my child. She was nine months old or so and I felt so successful. I was so patient, so caring, so engaging. Motherhood, while I knew it wouldn't be easy, would be something I enjoyed every second of.
Now I look back and laugh at my 25-year-old self. I also feel a little pity. She had no idea what was coming. The heartache of having a child you can't comfort. The embarrassment of a child flinging herself on the floor in the middle of Hobby Lobby. The years (literally) of only a handful of nights of uninterrupted sleep. Not to mention all the "You're the meanest mom ever!"s and "I'm not your kid anymore!"s. I thought I was patient THEN!? And then people tell me it's going to get worse? My oldest is only 5!! (PS if you are a mom to teens, please don't dishearten exhausted young mommies by telling them it only gets worse! Just give them a hug and offer to do their dishes!)
It took me a while to put my finger on why motherhood has become so hard for me. Why do I sometimes have days when I wish I could be doing ANYTHING ELSE? Why do my patience and sanity seem to hang by a thread with every small trial? The answer came to me last week. My entire life, things have come pretty easy. Learning and school were simple, college wasn't bad, I felt like I was progressing in my career as a teacher and was naturally competent in that field. But nothing compares to motherhood. It's not easy for me! It is all-day, all-night, day in and day out with little thanks and rare golden moments that make it all worth it. Growing up, with a little effort I could master a skill. But just when I think I can handle a tantrumming toddler, I get thrown some major kindergartener attitude and I feel like all the skills I have developed are meaningless.
Tonight I was talking to my dad on the phone. I told him that I felt I needed to get my teacher re-certification done soon. He asked me why. The answer I gave had some weight, but it didn't really describe my true feelings. I told him that sometimes I forget that I used to know stuff. That I used to be good at stuff besides washing dishes and changing diapers. Perhaps I need to dig deeper to realize how much I know about maintaining a home, budgeting, child development, teaching, the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and many other things that I could never have learned as well had I not chosen to become a mother!
Does the answer I gave my daddy make it seem like dishes and diapers are a drudgery? Motherhood is anything but monotonous to me. I mean, at any given moment I could be trying to problem solve my toddler's tantrum, while helping my three-year-old clean up the lotion she rubbed on every square inch of the bathroom (while having the chat "lotion is for grown-ups and it costs money, so you don't get to touch it, ok?"), or teaching my five-year-old how to read (and trying not to get frustrated that she still sometimes just can't tell "b" from "d". Darn those letters that mirror each other!)
When I really think about it, my life can not be called boring. It's still hard, and compounded by the fact that my husband works a lot. I won't go there in this post but if often feels like I'm the lone warrior in a huge battle. (Come to my house at bedtime if you want to see the battle in action!)
So there you have it. My meandering thoughts on motherhood. I'm more patient now that I ever thought possible, and hopefully I will gain even more patience and perspective before the "teenage years" set in. Can I be honest? I am just going to be SO excited when I don't have to help wipe bums, hold the 3 year old down to brush her teeth, or constantly get healthy snacks for hungry bodies. (Why are my kids always desperately hungry 20 minutes after dinner?!) I have hope that they'll be able to do those things on their own at some point. But will I miss the requests for more tickles, playing "I'm gonna get you!", and snuggling sweet-smelling littles while reading books?
I'll end with the words of a wise mother: "Mothers who know do less. They permit less of what will not bear good fruit eternally. Mothers who know are willing to live on less and consume less of the world’s goods in order to spend more time with their children—more time eating together, more time working together, more time reading together, more time talking, laughing, singing, and exemplifying. These mothers choose carefully and do not try to choose it all. Their goal is to prepare a rising generation of children who will take the gospel of Jesus Christ into the entire world. Their goal is to prepare future fathers and mothers who will be builders of the Lord’s kingdom for the next 50 years. That is influence; that is power." Julie Beck