Where to start.
I want to say that I love everything that’s possible to love about being a mom. I want to say that it doesn’t wear me out or phase me, that it doesn’t leave me mentally, emotionally and physically spent. I want to say that I savor every opportunity to love on my children, to instruct my children.
There are so many things that I wish that I could say.
The truth is that sometimes, this whole parenting thing just isn’t for me. The truth is that right now, I’m writing this as an eight-months pregnant woman with swollen ankles, whose husband is on a weeklong business trip for work, and who has to be up at the crack of dawn every day to take her son to Day Camp at the YMCA. I am tiiiiiredddd, folks.
Some days are easy. Some days breeze on by and I hardly notice that the hours have ticked past and that the husband will walk through the door any minute. Some days I feel like I get it right. There are days where I really do feel like I enjoyed pretty much everything about them.
Then there are days where crashing and burning is a vast understatement. There are days where it hurts. There are days where I fail before my feet even hit the floor. At least it feels that way. There are days that I don’t always want to do this.
There is so much to love about motherhood, and yet it’s incredibly complex. Sometimes, I feel like I just wasn’t cut out for this. That this role was meant for someone else. Someone more proficient with Pinterest crafts, who has endless ideas for fun, mountains of patience and a much swankier mini-van.
I used to have visions of the type of perfect mom that I wanted to be. She is the embodiment of grace, lover of little things. Her voice always pure, and gentle. She probably has blue birds flying around her head, singing to her most of the time. And for some reason, in my mind, she wears a lot of flowy white dresses and a big straw, floppy hat.
I’ve never met her. I’ve never even actually seen her. But, for some reason, I still think that she exists, and I still rabidly pursue her. Don’t we all? We tell ourselves that she’s somewhere out there in the distance, just over the horizon. We are supposed to be like her.
She is supposed to be me.
My kids usually get a very different kind of mother. A glass half-full kind of mom. A spirit half-empty kind of mom. She doesn’t believe in herself. She doesn’t think that she can do this. She cringes, sometimes. She grins and bears it. She even cries at times when she’s by herself. Then she feels guilty. For not loving “every moment” that she has. When really, loving every moment is an impossible standard to live up to.
I forget to allow myself to think about and enjoy the things that I love about being a mom, the things that maybe, just maybe, I actually do well.
I tend to dwell on the obstacles of parenting, rather than the enjoyments that I experience.
That my son always feels like he can come in my room because of a bad dream at midnight, and wake me up and curl up with me. That my daughter always knows that she can sit on my lap and snuggle. That my kids usually love the meals that I make for them. That they miss me when I’m gone. That they know the names of the planets. That they hug each other. That they share (even if only occasionally.) That they’re just incredible, though I’m not sure how much of that I can actually take responsibility for.
Maybe when we view parenting in terms of successes and failures, right and wrong, we miss out on seeing the entire picture. Maybe we shouldn’t keep tabs on the things that we do right, but instead keep close to our hearts the numerous things that we can still have joy in.
No parent always gets it right. None. And no parent loves everything about parenting. Find me someone who loves cleaning one child’s poop off of their other child and I’ll go and find you a unicorn. Neither one exists.
Because it really isn’t about loving the repetitive, sometimes gross, ridiculous and annoying tasks that we have to put up with. It’s about not always enjoying them but instead about choosing to do them anyway. It’s about knowing that if you were given the chance to go back in time, you wouldn’t change a thing – you’d still change diapers.
It’s knowing that it all adds up to the collective picture of what it means to really parent. It’s finding joy in those things, if only because on some days the only reason is that we love our children more than we love clean walls and floors.
Parenting is a refining experience. I am not the same person that I was before my children were born. I’m not even the same person that I was a year ago. My children propel me to be better and to move forward. Sometimes, that growth is painful. Sometimes, I move forward kicking and screaming. But it is happening, I see small nuanced things that tell me so. It’s probably happening for you, too. Because no matter the season of life you’re in – there is always growth.
Sometimes, I feel like I get to see through tiny holes in the floor of heaven. I get to see why God chose to create us, even when He knew that His creations wouldn’t be perfect. Why would He even remotely crave the aggravation of dealing with a planet full of ungrateful, petulant children? We do far more damage than a toddler hopped up on chocolate running around with a permanent marker ever could.
He chooses to deal with our flaws and failures, and yet it changes nothing about how He feels and cares for us. I sort of get that now, at least as much as my tiny brain can comprehend. The idea or notion of the flaws just can’t compare with the thrill and depth of the connection we share with Him, the joy in loving someone who loves you back, in loving them even when they are unlovable. The big difference is that if there truly is a parenting right and wrong, God parents perfectly.
We still have miles to go.
There is so much to love about parenting. So much more to it than likes and dislikes, failures and successes.
I’m still figuring all of it out. And maybe I’ll buy myself a floppy hat anyway.