It's hard to believe that a little over 10 years ago I was just stepping out into the journey of motherhood. Eighteen years old, I was totally unprepared, but I've come to realize that no one, no matter what their age, is prepared for such an event. Parenthood changes a person. It doesn't just leave an imprint, it completely wrecks the person and life you once had. At times, we may feel that's a negative thing, but the truth is, it is a beautiful thing.
I think we've all heard someone say, "I'm not going to let kids change me. I'm still going to ______." But the reality is children turn our lives upside down, and no amount of putting your foot down or demanding that it not be so is going to change that. I find that people who stick with that statement often end up walking away from their children (and spouse) altogether because they will not allow motherhood do to the molding and changing and shifting it was meant to perform within us.
While is it a beautiful thing, it usually doesn't look beautiful. It looks like constant messes and blow out diapers and bags underneath your eyes much of the time. I've been changing diapers for ten years now, day after day, and sooner or later, it just become the norm. It no longer becomes about whose turn it is to change the poopy pants, or whose turn it is to get up with the baby. Eventually, one succumbs to the idea that this is her life, and as monotonous and glamourless as it may seem, it's not all that bad.
Motherhood tends to stamp to bits all those thoughts and ideas we had about parenthood. When your child is pitching a fit in the middle of the store, and you find yourself embarrassed and wondering how to handle it, you realize how often you had judged those people before who were in a similar position. You realize there is no one-size-fits-all method of parenting, and that sometimes love is just not enough.
And I'm not saying we shouldn't love our children, because, yes, we should, but love doesn't always sooth every pain or turn their hearts or change their minds. Motherhood teaches us more about ourselves because our children are such a reflection of who we are, which is often summed up in the words stubborn and selfish. When you find yourself wondering why they keep going through the same behavior cycle, you realize that you too go through behavioral cycles... we just don't normally throw ourselves to the floor or stomp our feet and cry or scream. And motherhood, well, it also makes you really thankful for bedtimes.
Motherhood stretches us because it's an impossible job. You will not have everything figured out, and if you think you do, just wait until your children grow up and are able to tell you all the things you overlooked or misjudged or did wrong. Motherhood has made me realize I need a Savior, and that, boy, am I grateful for grace.. because not only do I need it, but my children do too. Motherhood is a struggle to make sure our children turn out okay, and then realizing that we don't have full control over that in the first place. (Which makes me grateful that it's not up to me to "save them"- that's up to Jesus!)
Motherhood is exhausting, draining, and frustrating, but it also comes with these delightful moments that make all of that worth it- like when you see your child take her first steps, or your son begins to read, or all of the kids pitch in to make a big card exclaiming, "Mom you the best! I love you!" Motherhood tests our patience, shows us our weaknesses, and makes us realize we really can't be superwoman.
And it doesn't matter whether you have one child, four children, or ten. It's the same all the way across the board. Really, motherhood is like a meat tenderizing hammer. It pounds and pounds and pounds at us. No lie, it's painful, but it softens us. It changes us.
As I think about having my sixth child next year, I have a flurry of thoughts. First of all, I'm not even thirty, and I'm going to have six children? I did not see my life going like this when I started this journey! I thought we'd have two, maybe three, at most four. Never even considered six. Right now it doesn't even seem real. And January seems a long way off.
I no longer think about whether I can do it, because, at this point, it just because something you do. People often say, "I don't know how you do it," but the simple answer is, "I just do." It's like when your kids are sick and need their mommy. You don't weigh on whether you are going to cuddle them, give them medicine, clean up their sick-mess, or get up in the middle of the night to make sure they are okay. You just do it. Because it's what you do. It's one day at a time, one moment at a time, one foot in front of the other. If we get to thinking too far ahead it gets overwhelming. When I start thinking about all the things they have to learn, know, do, accomplish, etc before they officially graduate into "the real world," it can seem very daunting, especially as a homeschooling parent. But the beauty of it is that I don't have to think about how I'm going to do it for the next five years or ten years or eighteen years. I just have to be right here, right now.
Happy Mother's Day to all of you!
(Also, I want to say Happy Mother's Day to all those mothering hearts who have struggled with infertility and loss. You are on my mind today!)
Speaking of the joys of motherhood- Molly Jo decided that she was going to start walking everywhere! It's so funny and cute to see this tiny little critter walking all over the place. She's such a scrawny little thing! (She's wearing 6-9 month clothing, and can still fit some 3-6 month things. In fact, her pants are 3 month size.)
The other day, my friend Kristin shared this hilarious photo on Facebook- someone had drawn silly eyebrows on their baby, and I just had to do it as well because.. um, it's funny.