I was the very best mother I have ever been when I was pregnant. I took amazing care of my body for my babies. I was a good protector, nourisher, nurturer. Knowing that I alone was responsible for those little lives gave me immense honor and pride to be a mother.
It wasn't until the moment each of my daughters was born that my confidence took a hit. I was so afraid. Would I be able to protect them FOR REAL ever again, or was that an illusion? Could I be the woman I wanted them to become and be proud to be? How could I even begin to comfort and care for their fragile hearts and minds in the image God would want?
Have you ever had your little girl confide in you that she likes a boy but that boy likes her good friend instead and wonder how you are supposed to even try to comfort her little heart with mere words? Sometimes amazing hugs and I-love-you-more-than-anything-in-the-worlds are all that will do in those times of undeniable crisis. That, and let her know that boy is obviously insane.
I always figured that as a woman motherhood would be second nature when I became a mom. I still struggle daily with my tone of voice when I praise or criticize them, how do I teach them important life lessons, am I being too lax or harsh on them, am I being the compassionate mother that they deserve. What I didn't expect was that motherhood would reveal some surprising and often ugly truths about myself.
1) I am very selfish.
As my daughters slowly gained more independence with each month and year, I expected them to do more for themselves. This wasn't solely because I wanted them to learn but because I realized it would free up more time for me (and sleep). I would actually get irritated if they asked for assistance with simple tasks. These days I try to access my compassion on a much more regular basis than before and take comfort in their requests for help because I know there will be a day when they won't ask me.
2) I am judgmental.
Boy did I snap judgements at those moms that didn't try to breastfeeding their babies beyond the first month. Then God served me a big slice of humble pie/shut the hell up when my second daughter decided to wean herself from breastfeeding a few months before my desired end date. There were many tears and days of feeling like an idiot then.
3) I am ugly with no sleep.
And I don't just mean how I look. I have no idea how I still have a husband and friends or family that speak to me after those months with little to no sleep. Gah! What a jerk I was. Someone should have body checked me every time I started to act bitchy. This alone tells me how blessed I am to have such amazing people in my life. My husband is the best support system when it comes to giving me a mommy break when I obviously need one.
4) I love the blame game.
I like to blame the fact that I've not finished my degree or gone after the job I want on being a mother. I'm working hard on finding the balance that will give me happiness in work and home life and ensure that I'm doing things that fill me up in both areas. Lets face it: unhappy mom, unhappy kids. They feel and feed off that crappy stress that I project. No bueno.
5) I'm never too old to learn a lesson or change for the better. I'm still learning and trying to become whom they deserve almost 9 years after becoming a mother.
I put this image as the background display on my phone as a gentle reminder to myself:
What I never expected in a million years is the unconditional love that my girls show me. No matter how many times I screw up they say, “It's ok, Mama. You're the best mom in the world and I love you.” Even when the I-hate-yous rise up or the occasional You're-the meanest-mom-in-the-world rears its ugly head, I reach into the reserves of all the love they've given me when I didn't deserve it and it is all ok.
This was really one of my favorite Mother's Days ever. I was conscientious about the tone I set for the day with my actions and words. My kids responded like champs. Very little bickering, petty arguing, and whining. A lot of smiles, happiness, and positive energy. It was so awesome not having to scold or raise our voices at all. It was a relaxing family day...the perfect kind of day where we enjoyed each other.
Admittedly, I don't love motherhood every waking moment. Some days it just sucks. But I am working very hard on embracing the sucky days and knowing those days make the good days even sweeter.
So, here's to learning as we go, trying hard to be better, admitting we sometimes suck, and forgiving ourselves one mess up at a time.
Happy Mother's Day if you are one.
. peace .
p.s. thank you to my husband, Joe, who actually makes me a better mom.