Beauty. Excitement. Joy. Inspiring. Love – endless and incomprehensible. Learning. Changing. Tears. Overwhelming. Fear. Anxiety. Sadness. Hard. Hardships. Defeat.
My children are currently 4.5 (almost 5 – gasp!) and 1.5, and yet all of those words (and more) are words that I would use to describe motherhood. I have had the privilege to experience every one of those emotions and/or bodily functions. Maybe, since this is about motherhood, poo should have been mentioned up there somewhere; it’s not like we can ever get away from it.
When I see newly married couples in the afterglow of a fresh night’s sleep and basking in their unwavering attention and love for each other I feel two things: happy and jealous. Happy because I remember those days, and I remember them fondly. I wouldn’t begrudge anyone that feeling. Jealous because I would really, really like a full night’s sleep. The other stuff I still have. I mean, that love and attention is buried a little, but I still have it. What I don’t have is sleep. I miss it. When these couples ask about motherhood and say, “We just can’t wait to start a family,” I see that rosy hue to their eyes. I remember how I thought it would be.
The birth would be quiet and calm. My husband would gently dab at the two sweat beads that appeared on my forehead. The doctor would say what an amazingly quick and healthy birth that was. We’d get our child home and they would sleep through the night right away. Every two hours (during the day), said baby would reach for me and gaze at my breasts to let me know it was time to eat. At church and in public, baby would be respectfully quiet. The only time we would hear a fit or a scream would be when the poor thing was sick; no matter how much they tried to hold it back (and try they did), it just came out.
Before I could get to any of that, the morning sickness started and the rosy glass shattered. Motherhood is perhaps one of the best things that has ever happened to me. That needs repeating: motherhood is one of the best things that has ever happened to me. Ever. The rose glass didn’t shatter because I found out that motherhood was the worst. It shattered because I never thought about the hardships, and there are plenty of those.
I remember vividly when my one week old daughter (the first one) had to get blood taken every week to make sure her blood levels stayed healthy (she was a bit jaundiced). Most of those times I was in the corner crying while my husband whispered soothingly to her. I wasn’t nearly as strong as I thought I was. I remember when my 2 month old baby refused to sleep or be anywhere other than in my arms (not even dad’s would do). Oh man was I exhausted…..and testy and about a million other not-so-nice things.
But I also remember the first time I ever looked at my babies. The first time they looked up into my eyes. Home, I was home. I never even realized that I left. God has these amazing plans for us that we sometimes don’t know until they happen. He has given us this super-natural kind of strength that we don’t know we possess until it’s time to pull from it. I may have cried in a corner the first month my oldest got poked, but now? Now I hold her in my arms (I still cry too, let’s be honest) while whispering in her ear how much I love her and how much she means to me. I may have been excessively tired, weary and crabby during the first few months of my youngest’s life, but now? Now, when she is feeling overwhelmed or scared or even happy, she knows the feel and mold of my arms like they are hers. For all intents and purposes they are hers, and she will run boldly into them.
Yes, there is pain and hardship more than what I’ve described. There are days when I can’t help but feel overwhelmed; like I am ruining them more than helping them. Those are the days when I have to force myself to hear that still small voice say, “I designed you for this. I called you to this. These babies were meant for you. I don’t make mistakes,” (that was God, FYI). In case that wasn’t enough confirmation (I am a sleep-deprived mother, I’ve become kind of dense), I feel 4 little arms wrap around my person and at least one voice whisper, “You’re the best Mommy in the world. I love you.” And those are the days I hope never end. I hope that when my kids are 16 (oh goodness….I may cry) and 20 and 50 and 80 they still wrap their arms around me and say, “You’re the best Mommy in the world. I love you.” Those days of pain and hardship slowly (sometimes quickly) turn into days of joy and laughter.
That is what I’d tell those fresh, dewy-eyed newlyweds about starting a family of their own. That motherhood (parenthood) is this beautiful, consuming, joy filled experience that is also mixed with days of sorrow and irritation and pain (and no sleep). It’s so worth it – so, so worth it. Just, please, don’t expect purely rainbows and roses and glowing halos. Don’t expect glowing halos from your children or your significant other. Take time to enjoy your spouse (or significant other) and take advantage of all the sleep you can get, because whether you like it or not, when babies come, those are things you forget about real quick. Although, to be honest, you won’t ever forget about sleep; you will just long for it and think about it all day every day. Don’t wait until you’re “ready,” because you never can be. You will never know what it’s like and you can never be 100% prepared for it. That being said, don’t be so quick to jump right into it. You still need to be able to afford health insurance, food and a roof over your head. My last piece of advice: don’t be afraid, or rather, don’t let fear scare you off (see what I did there?). It is a scary thing, but there is One who has already conquered it all and wants to help you do the same.
Motherhood has forever changed me and there are things that I am no longer afraid of because my children have shown me how strong I can really be. Of course there are still some things that I’m fearful of, but thankfully poo is no longer one of them. If that isn’t a testament to the transforming nature of motherhood, I don’t know what is!
I am so very thankful for motherhood. Nothing else in the world can put a smile on my face like it can. What do you think when you think of motherhood or parenthood? Do tell; I’m not the only one with interesting things to say.
For a special treat: here is just one beautiful example of a mom being a mom.