I will just say right from the start; if you are reading this in hopes hearing some of my happy light-hearted thoughts about being a mama, may I suggest that you leave this post and instead read this one or this one or even this one . They are a great deal happier.
I never spent much time dreaming about getting married; other than once telling my mom that if I had a wedding it would be outside at our home (it was), I don’t remember ever really thinking about my wedding much. Not to say that I didn’t hope for Mr. Tall, dark and handsome some day and I *may * have had a few infatuations. What I did dream about was being a mama. I think that I even wanted ten children for quite a long time and I played with dolls for a long time just wishing that I had my own baby. Oh, I had other dreams as well but that was my constant, mostly deeply rooted one.
And now, I am a mama; it is now one of my primary roles. I love that and in many ways it is what I had dreamed it would be. But, (of course there has to be a but) so often lately, I think, “why didn’t ‘they’ tell me?” I say ‘they’ because I’m not sure who they are. They didn’t tell me that those little creatures I would love so fiercely would also have the ability to frustrate and confuse me in a way that no other ever has. I often hear people say that they thought that they knew everything about parenting before they had children only to discover that they knew nothing. Actually for me the basic beliefs and thoughts I had on parenting pretty much remain the same, beyond that I didn’t know that there was “everything” to know.
I didn’t know that having a deep desire to be a mother didn’t also mean that it would be something that came naturally to me. Some areas are definitely my strengths and I would even say that I do really well at them but many feel completely foreign. I had no idea that multiple times during a day I would feel completely inept and at a loss with what next. I had no idea that I would stand squarely with my feet in both the gentle parenting camp and the obedience/discipline camp in such a way that I belong in neither. I wish someone had told me that “go with your instinct” only worked if you knew or agreed with where your instinct was taking you.
And being on display basically 24/7 for two but soon to be three sets of eyes? Who can cope with that? I can’t. Never mind what any one watching thinks, what about those little minds and hearts that are developing based on what they are surrounded by. Dare I express how many times I have wanted to turn in my badge just in the past week alone? I had hear that fear is so much greater after one has children, but I don’t fear things like broken limbs, harm from strangers, or awful sicknesses. Still, I battle fear continually; fear that I am doing it wrong, fear that they are not being adequately equipped for the life ahead of them. Occasionally, I am almost paralyzed by the fear that I am not what they need.
Then there is my selfishness, I just don’t appreciate having it laid bare the way that it is. When I just don’t want to read one more book, or do one more craft, or answer that same question again. Then there are those really selfish days when I don’t want to offer that cuddle, or wipe that little bottom, or cook another nutritious meal. Or when I JUST WANT TO BE LEFT ALONE. I sound pretty selfish right? Maybe I should turn in my badge.
Why is it then that I guard them with the ferocity of a mother bear, determine to provide for them like the vixen who raided our hen house to feed her fox pups, and delight in them the way that Mrs. Mallard does her ducklings in Make Way for Ducklings? Is it because really I am just a wonderful Mama having a bad hour. I don’t think so as I really am everything that I mentioned and more. I’ve thought about it multiple times this week. As I snuggled a sick little one close, as I spoke words sharply to a child needing gentleness, as I guided a little finger wanting to count the animals, and as I hid in the tub and allowed hot tears to flow; I thought about this whole business of being a mama. Would I have chosen it had I known? I don’t know, perhaps not. Yet likely, I would have. Because for all my foolish self-centeredness that thinks I am responsible for whom my daughters become, I know, I KNOW that the same Life that carries me forward when I want to roll over and hide my head under my pillow is the same Life working in them. I could come up with no other explanation, no other reasoning, and no other hope. That Life that won’t let the badge drop from my trembling fingers and that breathes grace into the moments that I have deemed destroyed.
Every mother I have talked to with the exception of three feel that way (ESP when they are on their third;) at some point. I am the opposite with fears. I worry more about strangers and illnesses. ( one moment that helPed was reading Freakanomics. Stats continually show that parenthood does not matter as much as we think. What matters more is genetics, environment, socioeconomic status, and birth. Really. No one wants to believe it but the truth is in the studies. HOWEVER what does affect a child is any sort of abuse and that is where the line is.You are an amazing mom. We all our selfish. If we weren’t we would be Gods and only Satan tried to be that. So don’t beat yourself up when it comes to selfishness. You are brilliantly human. I always think when I am being selfish I am still teaching. I am teaching how to give self time to give more to others, and how that everyone struggles with the same problem. I don’t use this as an excuse but to combat guiilt which leaves me without any resources.
I never wanted to be a mom and yet here I am and I actually like it more than I thought, but I also dislike it as much as I knew I would. I am learning this is ok. I can love my kids without loving some of motherhood. It’s the toughest job. Sometimes I wonder why it is trendy to have so many. (18 kids and counting) perhaps this is only for a few? For everyone’s benefit? I don’t know .sometimes tons of motherhood madness seems selfish too. Or when moms can,t EVER admit it’s tough. Why is it socially unacceptable and considered heartless to say ” I don’t enjoy most of it.”?? I have a huge heart and adore each child so I know I am not heartless. Why can’t one speak truth?
Bravo to you for speaking grace filled truth.
Sorry it has been tougher lately. I found it that way at the end of my third pregnancy too.
And you are right/ God heals and can turn anything into a lesson of good;)
I think your motherhood is ebb more beautiful because of this piece.
Thanks so much, I appreciate your thoughts! And for the reminder that part of the parenting toughness is related to the tiredness of pregnancy…I have never tried to do this before with two little ones and pretty minimal outside support (hmm, why did we think pregnancy was a good time to make a move?:). Funny that you have noticed have lots of kids as being trendy…with the exception of a few of my friends, most that I know or come in contact with view three as being a lot.I must though that regardless of what some studies show, I don’t agree that parenting doesn’t play an extremely vital role in our children’s lives. Perhaps because lately, I have had many verses popping up that speak about teaching our children well (and they won’t leave it), loving them, not exasperating them, guiding them in the right ways. This convinces me and convicts me more than studies that are still being contradicted by other studies (not to say that the things that you mentioned don’t also have a significant role). Not to mention that I have seen for myself the effects of parenting especially in these crucial early years. I don’t think that my controlling every aspect of our lives or aligning all the details exactly will result in perfect (robotic) children nor healthy, well adjusted adults but I do really believe that Dan and I have been given a strong lead in guiding them, especially by example. Where I am mostly seeing a need for change in myself is that of not being led by fear or a need for perfection.
I meant even more beautiful. It is tough to type on a iPhone!
I feel the same way a lot of the time, too. I may not have three children yet, but having a set of twins adds it’s own unique set of challenges.
I feel as though I make a ton of mistakes every single day, and my deepest fear is that they’ll look on me the same way I do my own dad (and, it isn’t positive), and I vow to myself that with every new day I’ll do better. Am I wrong for feeling this way? Probably, but I know I’m not alone. Every other mama feels the same way.
BUT, the times I do step back and let myself relax-because the proof is in the evidence- is when my children light up with delight if they haven’t seen me for a while (even only half an hour), or cry when I leave them, or snuggle up to me even after I’ve been harsh with them, or lean their foreheads close to my lips so I can give them kisses…there are a million and one things they do that prove me wrong each and every day.
Thank goodness for our little ones!!
You are so right! And as I mess up over and over, I hope that as I do one thing that I am pretty good at now which is saying that I was wrong and I am sorry, that they will grow up knowing that there is grace to make mistakes. And that in all of my messiness that they will be convinced of the love too.
I know… Such pain and hardship and yet always the promised blessings. Sometimes there are days and weeks of “hard”, And then moments of beautiful. You’re doing great friend.
Maybe you guys need another date. Drop the girls by soon.
well, I know for sure that if I am EVER a mom I am going to come back and re read all your entries because you are an amazingly creative and sensitive and loving mama to your adorable babies! i love how your ideas just flow from a heart that wants GOOD for her girls. if its food, art, nature, and even where you LIVE its all for the good of the ones you love. I really really can’t tell you how much I learn from you…and how inspiring your heart is to me. I am proud of you missy.love eb
I know exactly how you feel. You are not alone. And any Mama who says they don’t know these feelings, I think is kidding themselves. It seems you are doing a wonderful job as a Mama, despite your unforeseen difficulties. Stay strong!
I really love this post. I can relate so much! My basic beliefs and thoughts about parenting are the same as they were before too… but like you, I had no idea how much else there would be to this whole mothering thing. And how much harder it is to be imaginative and patient and creative when you are tired! I didn’t realize how much of my life I have spent in solitude until I came to this point of not.ever.getting.solitude. I think too that coming out of the workforce into this “job” has often made me go… wait… how are there no lunch breaks anymore?? And what do you mean, I don’t get evenings off!?
There is so much strength learned as we go, I think, and I know that God has made me much more able to handle this now than I used to be. The thing that amazes me over and over is that when I shirk my duty, try to hide from it, things fall apart. But when I embrace the continual self-discipline of kind words, careful actions, etc, God gives me the strength to keep going. He enables me “to walk and not grow faint.”
I had to smile at the “Make Way for Ducklings” reference, because sometimes lately I feel like I am that mama. Not because I am so incredibly good at being a mama, even though I might feel all smug about my nesting abilities or whatever, but because I do things that are really dumb, like that mama duck leading her babies all through the city, totally ignorant of all the big dangers from which forces bigger than myself are protecting me (and them). I make it safely through crazy situations with only an eye to the irritation of it, and my children with only an eye to the adventure of it, while God is protecting and directing all the while.